Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scale Model

--The Treachery of Images
This is Not a Pipe),
Rene Magritte

The territory never gets in at all. ...

Always, the process of representation

will filter it out so that the mental world

is only maps of maps, ad infinitum

--Form, Substance, Difference,

Gregory Bateson

[T]he Cartographers Guild drew

a Map of the Empire whose size

was that of the Empire

-Exactitude in Science,
Jorge Luis Borges

The map is not the Territory

--Alfred Korzybski


The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have moved beyond wars of liberation -- they are
Wars of Identity.

The inhabitants of those nations are fighting to maintain their identities, and we are fighting because war has become, as Glenn Greenwald recently noted, our national identity. When non-veterans like Obama call our armed services a "warrior elite", then it is obvious we have re-defined our national ideals.

The U.S. cannot win these wars as we lack the scale to deal with them. Using military maps as metaphor, Ranger will explain his concept.

Higher headquarters, Department of the Army, Theatre, etc., use scales larger than 1:250,000 on a daily basis. Corps and Division use 1:100,000 and 1:50,000. The larger the scale, the smaller the detail, the less exact the rendering of any meaning
ful reality.

Maps of this scale are deceptive as they can show nothing of significance beyond gross features which are beyond the comprehension of the planners. On the news, it is common to see maps of the region which imply that we civilized, mechanical western men can impose our will on those borders, by means of animations showing movement and occupation.

That is the illusion of maps, which reflect terrain features but can never express the reality of the situation on the ground.
Maps are one-dimensional, hopelessly limited representations of gross outer spaces. Maps at this level are optimistic briefing points which are easily digested. They can handily represent any illusion.

The reality devolves down to the Battalion, Company, Platoon and Section, which are operationally bound to 1:25,000 scale maps for daily use. Even though these maps show features more clearly, they still do not reflect reality.

Take any fight in Iraq or Afghanistan and look at the reality versus the map. U.S. units never move without maps distributed down to Platoon, and often, section. Now we probably have GPS in every vehicle and at Platoon level, and what good has that done?

It doesn't matter what the HQ level or the map scale. The U.S. faces implacable adversaries that have no need for maps since they use local guides, have indigenous intelligence assets and are intimately knowledgeable about their Areas of Operation. Add to this their belief that they are fighting for their identity and have no place to go except their tribal homelands and it adds up to an unpleasant reality from which maps, no matter how precisely rendered, can save us.

The Afghanis and Iraqis need no maps; they will steal and extort weapons and remain willing to delay, disorganize and deceive the foreign invaders in perpetuum. That they can do this for generations is not something that can be depicted on any map in any Army HQ.

It is all a matter of scale. The President can look at his One Over the World scale map and feel perfectly in control; meanwhile, an infantryman stows his 1:25,000 and prepares for another night of touch and go.

Wars are always a 1:1 scale.

Abed with Mrs. Loring

At GFT, the decisive battle for June: Bunker (Breed's) Hill, 1775.

Rebels and redcoats, heroism, cowardice, fleeing redlegs, grouchy sailors, the Death of Warren and the hoochie mama of colonial Boston.

Check it out.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

History Quiz

Extra Credit Bloggie Points: Who, Occasion, and Why I Put It Up.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Are you ready for some futbol?

So while I may be an angry ranter, like Hitler with his Alpine walks and Stalin with his...OK, maybe Stalin was just a hideous despot lacking any pleasant hobbies...and for all that I'm not so sure that we're going good places and, hey, what the fuck are we doing in this handbasket..?

It's a sunny day in Portland and the U.S. men's soccer team is playing in the Round of 16. So I'm going to take the day and enjoy the pleasures thereof, and I hope you will to. Today, on my shift, the MilPub is going to be a sports bar, the waitresses will be in the respective national team jerseys and the big-screen TV tuned to ESPN for the kickoff at 11:00am...

For those of you who have been following the World Cup, I append this silly little video. For those of you who haven't, the "big controversy" this year has (other than the usual moaning from keepers about the match ball) been the constant droning of something called a "vuvuzela", which - for all attempts to turn it into some sort of South African cultural thing - is just that damn cheap plastic crap horn that has been an irritating feature of sporting events since the 1970's. Every match this year had been accompanied by these frigging things, and it's gotten to the point where vuvuzelas, and hating vuvuzelas, has gone viral. Here's the funniest "vuvuzela video" I've seen; for your entertainment, ladies and gentlemen, the Fellowship of the Vuvuzela...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Channelling Charles

Andy his accused me of an unseemly vindictiveness regarding the former ISAF commander. And that took me aback, because I like to think of myself as a thoughtful kind of guy, not the sort of streetcorner shouter who hectors passersby about conspiracy theories and the Club of Rome. And, frankly, I know nothing about the officer relieved except what I have read, and the Ghost of Judith Miller should have if nothing else cured me of believing what I read in the papers...am I losing my perspective? Am I ready for my tinfoil hat?

So I took lunch break, went outside in the sunshine, and thought about it for a while.

And I realized that, goddamn it, I AM becoming vindictive, cynical and sour.

I'm feeling vindictive that my country continues to spend bagfuls of money on Great Power games in the global hustings while its economy falters at home.

I'm feeling vindictive that the people who got us in to many of these quixotic (at best) or criminal (at worst) misadventures, who blew smoke up our collective ass, who were proved wrong again and again, are still there, still at it, still trying to convince us that dark is light and down is up.

I'm feeling vindictive that judges are sending poor people to prison for debt while showering the gentle rain from heaven on the oil majors "right" to drill in offshore deepwater despite the ongoing proof that they have neither the experience nor the capability to deal with the inevitable well problems that will result.

I'm feeling vindictive that money and influence make it harder for you to get out from under a $10,000 debt but easier for a Goldman Sachs bankster to slip out from under a cool couple of billion he lost on a bad margin call.

I'm feeling vindictive that my newspaper and television news are virtually content free, that I try and contact my "elected representative" and I get at best a form letter, that my countrymen seem determined to remain clueless and uninvolved while my Army is sent to fight badly thought out and problematic wars.

I'm feeling pretty vindictive towards all those people who seemed determined to keep things that way: from media conglomerates to editors to reporters to op-ed writers. From city councilmen to mayors to governors to congresscritters to lobbyists to Presidents. From admirals to generals to national security advisers to cabinet secretaries.

I'm not one to pretend that my country has EVER been perfect, or that even its recent past was "better" or "brighter" than the present. But it's frustrating and meddening to write and phone and pester my supposed-representative, the one that we theoretically elected after kicking the crony-capitalists and the foreign-adventurers out of office after eight years...and watch the same damn things happening, the same people spouting the same rubbish about the same damn garbage.

Back in the old Intel Dump days I used to get a little patronizing to Charles Gittings because he would lose it with people like MSR or Dionysus. I'm sorry, Charles, I admit it. I would think to myself, damn, Charles, chill, man. We're all here for the discussion.

But I'm starting to find myself coming to agree with Mister Gittings more and more; I think he'd just been staring into the same political and intellectual test-pattern for longer than I had and got angrier sooner.

I thought I was resigned; We Are So Fucked, right? But I find myself becoming, instead of more philosophical, less tolerant and more angry with the powerful fools and the fools in power. Like Charles, I'm having a harder and harder time pretending that everything's going nice and sleek and happy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kamisori Stanzō

And speaking of General McChrystal...Since the man got the top job in Afghanistan, we've been slathered with accolades to his manly manliness and his warriorish intellectuality:
"...the ascetic workaholic seems to have modelled himself on a classical ideal of the warrior straight out of Herodotus or Thucydides. Eating once a day, it is said, and often sleeping little, he was noted during his time as a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations for running 12 miles a day, part of his rigorous fitness programme conducted while listening to audio books on his iPod."

"Mastermind the hunt for Al Qaeda in Iraq and plot stealth raids on Taliban strongholds in the Hindu Kush while getting just a few hours of sleep a night, exercising enough to exhaust a gym rat and eating one meal a day to avoid sluggishness. One meal. Who was it who said an army runs on its stomach?"

He’s lanky, smart, tough, a sneaky stealth soldier,” said Maj. Gen. William Nash, a retired officer. “He’s got all the Special Ops attributes, plus an intellect.”

"The friendship (between McChrystal and GEN Petraeus) that ensued stands at the heart of the transformation of the U.S. Army in recent years, from the world's most fearsome conventional-warfare force to the world's most sophisticated counterinsurgency force."

An uncompromisingly innovative, ruthless and manly man among men? Terror of terrorists and brilliant warrior-ascetic. It took me a while, but I suddenly realized who GEN McChrystal really was.Hanzo the Razor.
I wonder if he had a bale of rice with a hole in it stashed somewhere in the ISAF HQ CONEX?

As my old first shirt would say; there's some good training.

Hey, Omar? What the fuck is Arabic for "tiger, tiger, tiger"?

Quote of the day on the Three Days In June (a.k.a the McChrystal Affair) from "DoD Buzz":
"A former Republican Pentagon official who knows McChrystal well and helped select him for the Joint Special Operations Command, said that the president’s decision was, “understandable because civilian control of the military must be maintained and not be denigrated. But,” said Marshall Billingslea, who headed the Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict office, “the nation nevertheless owes Stan McChrystal a tremendous debt of gratitude. The nation is safer today because of Stan.”

Oh, yeah, right, safer. Sorry.

I almost forgot that it was only Stan's hard, indomitable missiony-ness or something that foiled the Taliban High Seas Fleet and the Al Qaeda Luftwaffe strike on the naval base at Pearl Harbor.I know he's a Republican and required to say shit like this, but, really! WTF are these people smoking?

(h/t to Jason at Armchair Generalist, and cross-posted to MilPub)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chrystal Clear

A clever man commits
no minor blunders

Be, all that you can be

in the Army

--Army recruitment jingle


[The previous post here contains an excellent discussion thread, which should continue. Ranger just wanted to place his bets -- which he did prior to the UK Telegraph's reporting last night that McChrystal would tender his resignation.]

In the past, Ranger predicted General David Petraeus would be the 2012 Republican presidential candidate running on the platform, "We lost because Obama didn't fight the good fight, etc."

It is possible that he was four stars off in his prediction? Another interpretation of the current McChrystal brouhaha is that the General is intentionally forcing the moment to a crisis, to bolster his chance to run for the presidency in 2012. What could be a better vote-getter than the game plan that is presently playing out?

New, updated Ranger Prediction: If McChrystal stands up to "I know whose ass to kick" Obama and holds his ground, then this is the opening salvo in the 2012 presidential campaign.
McChrystal knows that Petraeus will be the Army Chief of Staff and that he therefore has no chance to occupy that slot.

Why not go for the gusto?
No guts, no glory.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bite Me

The latest pearls of military wisdom from Our Man in Bananastan:
"One aide as saying McChrystal seized control of the war "by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House."

"One aide called White House National Security Adviser Jim Jones, a retired four star general, a "clown" who was "stuck in 1985."

"On Holbrooke, an aide is quoted saying: "The Boss says he's like a wounded animal. Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to be fired, so that makes him dangerous." McChrystal is also described as exasperated on receiving an e-mail from Holbrooke. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke. I don’t even want to open it."

Obama agreed to dispatch an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan only after months of study that many in the military found frustrating. And the White House's troop commitment was coupled with a pledge to begin bringing them home in July 2011, in what counterinsurgency strategists advising McChrystal regarded as an arbitrary deadline.

McChrystal's team disapproves of the Obama administration, with the exception of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who backed McCrystal's request for additional troops in Afghanistan.

A member of McChrystal's team making jokes about Biden, who was seen as critical of the general's efforts to escalate the conflict and who had favored a more limited counter-terrorism approach. "Biden?" the aide was quoted as saying. "Did you say: Bite me?" Biden initially opposed McChrystal's proposal for additional forces last year. He favored a narrower focus on hunting terrorists."
That's it. I'm now officially sick of my Army's general officer corps. From Ray "The Desert Ox" Odiernio, Abizaid, Sanchez, Slick Dave Petraeus, and now this idiot McChrystal - and remember, though none of these quotes come from the Man Who Wears The Stars these are his dogrobbers, selected for their enthusiastic syncophancy and utterly craven lickspittality...if they had an independent thought somewhere in their bullet heads they would be out leading a presence patrol in West Buttfuckistan - I swear, I can't find one of these douchenozzles I'd consider capable of leading four privates to a latrine.The quality of American general officers has never, in my opinion, been truly high. The officer selection process has always seemed to follow the old Japanese adage "The nail that sticks up will be hammered down". And we've had eight years of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld ideal of the big-R Republican general, committed not to the safety of the small-r republic but the geopolitical fantasies of the red-meat wing of the Grand Old Party.

And here is the result.

I have no doubt that Holbrooke is a paranoid dick and Biden an interfering old nanny goat. But;

1. Our entire system is built around civilian control of the military. No doubt that George Washington and Ulysses Grant thought that their civilian masters were dicks and nannies, too. But they got it, and kept their fucking mouths shut.

2. And this entire clusterfuck in central Asia is all about civilian political objectives. Killing raggedy-assed Afghan hillmen is utterly meaningless, and if McChrystal doesn't get this - and these quotes suggest that he and his dogrobbers don't - then he's not just a problem but THE problem and needs to go, like, yesterday.

3. And the final word on this comes from my old First Sergeant Holmes, uttered when he caught me mouthing off about the political situation in Panama, circa 1986."Who da fuck elected you, sergeant?" he snarled.

"Nobody, First Sergeant." I replied.

"You gots a whole bunch of politicians folks in CONUS done elected they ass and they job to tell yo ass what the fuck you gotta do. It you job to shut yo piehole and get the fuckin' job done they tells you to do. You gots a problem with that, you can tell yo momma. But you shut the fuck up around the troops, and around the civilians. Are we Airborne?"

"Airborne, First Sergeant!"

It seems that if we're going to keep him around we need to recall First Sergeant Holmes from his well-deserved retirement to adminster some Old Army wall-to-wall counseling to the good general and his aides.

The sooner the better.

Update 6/22 p.m.: So it seems that the good General has "offered" to resign.

Well. Aren't we the speshul snowflake.

I can't think of anything that demonstrates the degeneracy of both our Army's general officer ranks and the level of "geopolitical" thinking inside the Beltway.

OK, first, sir, man the fuck up and officially submit your resignation. Put it on the SecDef's desk. If he tears it up, scoop up the pieces and scuttle back to Kabul; you've won the Dugout Doug Lottery and Obama has just handed you his babymakers for the rest of his one term.

Second, Obama; this man serves at your pleasure. If you think, given the level of contempt this entire business shows (regardless of who actually said what to whom), that this man is going to execute the strategy that you and your advisers formulate, I will carry your rucksack from here to the Halls of Montezuma and kiss your fucking ass when we get there. He's a general; there's an assload of 'em, cross the river and knock on the door of that wierd five-sided office. Betcha you'll trip over one within two minutes. Afghanistan is a goatscrew - pretty much any one of them can hand over our cash to corrupt Karzai cronies and fail to figure out that killing 29-cent muj with million dollar missiles is a mug's game. Pick the first one you see. Trust me, he can't do that much worse.

So why haven't you sacked him yet?

As First Sergeant Holmes would have said; you fuck up and I will personally fuck you up in reciprocity, and if you think I'm joking, fuck up.

Or as Sergeant Lawes observes, what a fucking fuckup of a fucking fucked-up fuckstory.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The American Dream

Inspired in part by our friend Sheerahkhan's rant and partly from a couple or more things that our friend Ranger wrote on RAW and a bit from the education posts here, I present George Carlin.

Our president recently set up a commission ( something he said was a sign of the failure of government to solve problems during his campaign, I guess he's changed his mind about that ) to look into ways of controlling the federal deficit.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which first met this past April.

Weekly closed door sessions, not open to the press or the public, no news releases. Apparently, to my way of thinking, something either to shut the lid on conservatives' pressure for deficit reduction or to open the door wide for that long-time conservative wet dream, part or full privatization of Social Security.

There are people who are trying their level bests to pry the door open a bit, with some luck:

But for now, I’d like to come back to a point that Trudy made before, about the alarming lack of coverage of the commission. This is a high-powered group, charged with a hugely important task: “identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.”

Yeah. Important, right? We’ve all got a lot at stake in the commission’s work. And there are early signs that Social Security will be a key issue in the midterm elections.

Well, you wouldn’t guess that from the press coverage of the panel. Make that the lack of press coverage. Sure, there are those fiery interviews with Simpson. That’s what he does best, and that’s why reporters like him. But on the real work going on behind those closed doors? Not much.

Go here for what coverage and news we are able to get:

With unemployment hovering around 10 percent following the worst economic collapse in 70 years you would think that members of Congress would be working day and night to get Americans back to work. You would be wrong.

The deficit fear mongers have done such a number on the thinking in DC that members of Congress think that when the American people say "we need jobs!" that they are really saying "cut my Social Security." But, I guess that when a
billionaire Wall Street banker spreads $12 million dollars around town it can really confuse people.

Peter Peterson, very rich deficit hawk and very concerned about the financial well-being of the country:

This week, Peter Peterson [net worth $2.8 billion] and his foundation convened a closed-door meeting of Wall Street billionaires and millionaires at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building in D.C.

Peterson is a former CEO of Lehman Brothers and former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He underwrites the foundation with his own money, and his agenda is not a secret.

Peterson says the coming retirement of baby boomers is a threat to the economy and the federal budget. He wants to see significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits, and would prefer a stream-lined process via a commission to implement these changes to "reduce the deficit."

After taxpayers bailed out Wall Street for over $700 billion, Peterson is worried about the deficit. And, of course the real problem is… Social Security. (The problem certainly would not be recent tax cuts, unfunded wars, and billions of taxpayer dollars squandered as bonuses to the very financial managers who brought the economy to near-ruin.)
The group today which included Alan Greenspan [$5 million]; Robert Rubin [$124 million]; Congressman Paul Ryan R-WI [$2.8 million]; Erskine Bowles [$71.5 million]; John Castellani [$5.57 million 2008 salary]; Sen. Judd Gregg R-NH [$10.2 million]; and Bill Clinton [$35 million], didn’t catch the show outside the Ronald Reagan Building over lunch hour.

Some "Billionaires for Social Insecurity" in tuxedos and gowns countered the secret meeting inside with a more public ask of the public (today this happened to include large groups of children on field trips) to donate their Social Security benefits so that they, the billionaires, could continue business as usual.

Another example of life imitating art, or to get Old Testament about it, the true test of a True Prophet is time. And Time is rapidly proving George Carlin true.

I do not know what power we as individuals have against the overwhelming influence of these people and their over-reaching media mega-phone. Politics in my home state Kansas is picking up, with the usual mess of candidates, like Tim Huelskamp. These are a dime a dozen, and they all say the same things, with the exception of trying to out-scream the proclamations of "cut taxes" and the false religiosity of their opponents. What I do know that we can do as individuals is to gum up their plans as much as possible, oppose them and their media cheerleaders, do what we can to inform, plead and reason.

If that fails, declare jihad, ragnarok, armageddon, whatever your particular religion requires, and we'll all eat lamb in paradise. ;)

Or, just cuddle up with your bear and remember what you love most of all.

Update 1: Judge sells out:

Judging from his reasoning (see Savage’s piece in NYT), which buys without question the industry’s arguments, this particular judge probably wasn’t ideologically inclined to accept the government’s arguments in any case. And there’s the little matter of his reportedly having an apparent financial conflict in the industry stocks he owned.

But when a judge argues that we would never ground all airplanes just because a wing fell off one plane, you have to wonder.

Update 2: Senator sells out, again:

Lincoln isn’t really showing her “true colors” here since they’ve been so obvious to anyone paying even a little bit of attention. She’s the Senator from Wal-Mart and pretty much always has been.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Removing the Teat

Sorry if I got anyone excited for the wrong reasons. It's just more foreign policy.

Interesting post over at Spenser Ackerman's place here about the whole "COINdinista" trope and the question of whether we are really thinking through what we're doing in Central Asia.

Jason at Armchair Generalist discusses it - and the Cordesman piece that set the discussion in motion - and he is somewhat skeptical of Cordesman's unwillingness to come out and flat say "this isn't do-able with the resources we're willing to commit and the political capital we have to spend".I'll go further than that. The problem with the way Western nations - or at least the U.S., does foreign internal defense and rebellion suppression (which is all this is - it's trying to gut a slave revolt, same-same as in Cicero's time.) is that by our very nature we infantilize and marginalize the local proxies we adopt. We make them into little local copies of ourselves, or as close as we can. I don't know why, but it probably has a lot to do with our incapability to imagine a better way to fight war than the American way - lots of firepower and mechanization, lots of dead stuff, the liberation-of-Metz kind of war.

But this kind of war - and this kind of government, since we tend to do the same thing to the local political elites - takes an obscene amount of jack, cash which these crappy little countries don't have. So essentially these supposed foreign proxies get locked on to our military and economic teat and neither want nor try to let go. We end up with a crippled proxy run by a kleptocratic parasitic elite whose "army" is a little Mini-Me, a U.S. Army minus the air, armor, and artillery support, minus the trustworthy officer corps, a brutally incompetent bayonet-prop for the Quisling throne.We've been here before, remember?

The U.S. Army has always sucked at this. You could trace it back to George Washington's day, when the "lesson" he learned from Braddock's defeat wasn't that low-tech irregular soldiers do better in low-intensity guerrilla wars than expensive, foreign regulars, but that you just have to be more...regular. The last chance we might have had to produce genuinely effective foreign proxy armies - the sort of thing that people like "Chinese" Gordon used to do for the British - vanished some time in the middle Nineties when the Charlie Beckwith/SAS/Ranger faction captured the U.S. Army Special Forces and turned them into a glorified SWAT team. We haven't managed to create an effective foreign armed force - particularly one that can stand on its own for more than the time it takes to load the swag into the trunk of the Lexus, huck the door keys at the maid, and grab a hat - since the fucking Apache Scouts.

And they were pretty much "trained" when we got 'em.

So I'm not sure why we suck so badly, but we do. Think about it. The Americas? Africa? Asia? Where has a large American maneuver Military Assistance Command produced a local military that successfully resisted a truly popular local guerrilla movement - none of this crappy fake-ass MRLA stuff like in Malaya - serious, hard-core G's like the Shining Path or the Tamil Tigers?

We just don't have the right stuff. We're shitty colonialists. That'd be a good thing except we've apprarently decided to pick up the White Man's Burden in central Asia.

Look at what we're doing now in Afghanistan in "going after corruption". Think about that. Let's say that American culture was permeated with a tradition that put family loyalty first, that rewarded compliant and sycophantic servitude with largesse and the dibs of the public purse, where bribery and kickbacks were an accepted part of doing business.

Yeah, right, like the Bush family, right, you get it.

So along comes the foreigner with a poker up his ass and says "No more fucking baksheesh, Ali, get it? No more mordida. Get you fucking hand out of the till and get your fucking cousins off the payroll most rikki-tik."

Would that make you happy? Would you want to be like the foreigner - even if the defenestration of the insiders made it easier for you, the outsider? Or would you be irked because it meant that when you got a shot at being the insider you'd miss out on on the lovely lush? Would you want the irritating bastard to go home and leave you to the ways you were used to?

Thought so - might be why the Indians and Pakis and Kenyans never invited the Brits back...


In my opinion the problem is even simpler than Ackerman or Exum or Cordesman lay out. After eight years we've done nothing but create a self-licking ice cream cone. Every "victory" we shoot out over the locals makes our local "allies" weaker, more dependent on us. We can't "win" because the longer we stay the worse we'll be for our Afghan proxies. We've given them eight years of "breathing space" and so far they've sucking in Sammy's teat and are giving it all the tongue love they can manage.

It's time to wean this monstrous infant.Before its habits of sucking cash out of the government teat begin to spread even further.

(Cross-posted to GFT)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Warning, this is a rant...

Sorry guys, but I need to get this off my chest...the news...I'm pissed!

Begin Rant

I'm calling bullshit on the following...

Republicans and Tea-partiers

Get over yourselves already.
You lost the 2008 Presidential election, quit whining.
You're acting as if it is ordained by divine writ that the Republicans win all elections, and I'm more than willing to point out that that writ only exists in your juvenile mind.
Oh, yes, and further more, before anyone of you asshole GOP'ers or Tea-Partiers are ever allowed to comment to any newscaster or journalist you must first read the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, take a competency test to ensure comprehension, and then, and only then can you open that pie hole you call your mouth.


You...seriously, what the hell?
Who are you?
A Republican doppelganger?
I don't know who the f**k you are, but I certainly didn't vote for your ass. I voted for Obama, but somehow, someway it seems John McCain became President...and I wnat to know...what the hell happened...a soul switch?
I want that Obama guy from 2008 to be running this country, not you...whoever you are!

And finally..


Seriously people...your worldview blows chunks!
Your bullshit worldview is what brought us to this point.
Guess what...America, you are not the good guy.
America has done, and is doing evil.
That's right, I used the word that throw atheists into fits because it means that an opposing moral exists called holy, and we are so far from holy we reek of shitty results that we have authored, and that needs to come to a freaking halt.
Now, America, you may be wondering, "what is he talking about" so here it is...

Your bullshit worldview is what brought us GITMO, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan war, the failed banks, the BP oil spill in the gulf, our trashed economy, and most of our problems stem from our gutless inability to confront our irrational fears of sickly little wannabe-Caliph hiding in dimly lit caves coughing his gloating rants over grainy videos.
Seriously, I think our forefathers would roll their eyes at the lot of us, and tell us to GROW THE FUCK UP!
How you go to this point?
It wasn't overnight, sweetpea, it was a series of fucked up, bad decisions that you said, "okay" too each time our government crossed the fucking red "never-cross-this-line-ever-no-matter-what!" line.
So consider this your wake up call, America, Grow the Fuck Up!
Learn your history, stop being afraid, live within your means, stay the hell out of other countries, be practical and fair in your business dealings, and don't give a motherf^&%9^&*% inch on your freedoms and rights that our ancestors paid dearly.

You are too willing to cashier your rights for unfulfillable promises, you need to stop that, and now!
Because if you don't...you will get.exactly.what.you.asked.for, and believe me you are not going to like that one.damn.bit.


thank you.

End Rant.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time Warp and Inflation: Where Does the Money Go?

I want to take a little journey back in time, all of the way back to 1965. But first, I'm going to tell you what prompted my decision to look back. First, Al the Aviator told us about how the Greek government has averred that, despite the current fiscal crisis, education and health care will be spared any cuts. Then came Basil's post about education in general.

Each post struck a chord with me. First, Al. Now, I'm an investor and whether I want to ignore it or not, Greece and other European nations are having a great impact on my personal finances these days. It's apparent that some of these nations have really screwed the pooch, to the point where I guess Americans can no longer be viewed as the poster children for irresponsibility. I never paid much attention to Greece until earlier this year; now I know I should have—specifically because it's clear that Greece is a totally dysfunctional nation. My financial adviser is a native Greek; she emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 16, but still goes every year to visit family and assist them financially. She's related some horror stories about the underground economy and the Greek aversion to paying taxes—she mentioned a recent Wall Street Journal article citing the fact that some 800 or so homeowners in Athens admit to having swimming pools (which are taxed separately) where in fact satellite photography identified something like 8,000 pools. Don't hold me to these numbers; I'm too lazy to look them up. According to my financial adviser, tax evasion and baksheesh are the national sports in Greece; she would never advise a client to have anything to do with Greece.

Not picking on Al here. Just saying. And wondering if he's not being a little naive in believing these Greek government "pledges" about sparing education, etc. From where I sit, and watching the financials, it's my sense that Greece is about to embark on a period of extreme austerity, to the point where nothing will be spared. The Germans and the rest of Europe won't have it any other way.

The point of my look at Greece and then my visit to Basil's excellent post about education—which brings us back home—is that every developed nation on earth is in the same boat. Al says the Greeks won't cut education. Al thinks they're somehow superior to us or somehow immune to fiscal realities. I'll bet the Greeks do cut education. Just like we are, which is what's gotten Basil into his current fix. In fairness to Al, as I develop my thought here, I suspect I’ll show some figures that somewhat substantiate his argument.

Now we get to the time warp, which is, as noted, occasioned by some thought about education, dollars and quality. Thinking of the whole education mess, I did some research into various budget figures from the past. I wanted to use 1962 as the base year because that's the year of my high school graduating class. In Los Angeles. Yeah, L.A., the city that's the poster child for dysfunctional education. But L.A. wasn’t always the way it is now. In 1962, California had the best schools in the nation and L.A. was the top city school system in the land. “Oh, yeah, but L.A. wasn’t the mega-city it is now,” you say. Guess again. In 1960, the population of Los Angeles was right about 2.5 million. There were lots of immigrants—yes, they’ve always come from Mexico—in L.A. and in the schools, yes there was a lot of crime, yes, there were gangs, minorities, etc., yet, somehow, most kids learned the three R’s. It’s amazing as I think back, and then contrast how it was for me in big city schools in the 1960s and how it is today, even in small city schools.

I ended up with one hell of a fine education in L.A public schools. Was it money that did it? I wondered, so I went back in time, courtesy of Google, to look at budget figures. As noted, I wanted to use 1962, but as it turned out, the budget programs I found only went back to 1965. That’s close enough. Here’s what I found. The California state budget in 1965 was $4 Billion. I couldn’t find a breakdown of how much of that went to the K-12 schools, but it couldn’t have been even half. Recall this was the era of great projects, road building, etc., in California, a time when somehow the state always had a balanced budget. And speaking of education...California state colleges were free. Free! All of this on $4 Billion. Imagine. Berkeley for free.

In 1965, public school teachers lived a normal middle class life. I don’t know what they made, but they weren’t in penury. They bought homes, cars, all of the rest. Shit, nobody made a lot of money in those days. It’s my sense that teachers made a decent living, although most did work during the summer—because the salaries were geared to what was not quite a full time job.

Now I’m going to crank in inflation. It’s somewhere between 7x and 8x from 1965 to 2010. What this means is that merely keeping pace with inflation the $4 Billion California state budget of 1965 would be in the neighborhood of $28-32 Billion in 2010. The 2009 California budget is $118 Billion, with a multi-billion dollar shortfall, which California is trying to address with all kinds of budget and accounting tricks. I don’t have a specific figure, but everything I’ve seen indicates that the public schools get about half of the total budget, or somewhere upwards of $50 Billion.

To be fair to California, the population of the state has more than doubled since 1960, when it was 16 Million (1960 is used because it is a census year). So, a simple calculation tells me that, keeping pace with inflation and increasing along with population, the California state budget for 2009 should be somewhere around $75 Billion. It is $118 Billion, or about 60% higher than it would be if the state had been happy with keeping apace of 1965, a time when it was the envy of the nation for its public works system and its educational system.

In 1965, I was a 20-year-old single buck sergeant, making around $3K a year in base pay, almost none of which I could spend in the garden spot where I was at the time. Throw the inflation multiplier in and I was making $21-24K a year in today’s dollars, not too far off what today’s junior sergeant makes. This does not include quarters or rations, BTW. The Department of Defense budget was $61 Billion, or in today’s dollars, somewhere between $400-500 Billion. Leave out stupid wars and there’s not a huge increase there. The overall federal budget was $194 Billion, or somewhere around $1.5 Trillion in today’s dollars. That was for a population of around 180 Million. Today, with a population of more than 300 Million, we shouldn’t be surprised at a federal budget of well over $2 Trillion.

So what does all of this tell me? First, it tells me that the U.S. Government isn’t hugely out of whack when it comes to what it spends over the years. It’s actually pretty level over a 45-year span. Today’s sergeant doesn’t make significantly more than yesterday’s sergeant, nor does today’s field grade officer. Surprisingly, defense spending hasn’t gone up all that much, something that tells me that we were overspending for defense all of the way back in 1965—although we did have a little thing called a Cold War and a much larger military establishment. 1965 is a good year to use for comparison because that was the last “normal” year before Vietnam took off. The overall Fed? Well, take away the stimulus and the federal budget this year is pretty consonant with the 1965 budget.

So why are we hurting now? And why weren’t we hurting then? And where are we hurting?

If you look at the budget numbers from California and extrapolate them to all of the 50 states, it’s pretty clear that it’s the states—not the Fed—that somehow got off track and went on spending sprees. I mean, a 60% overrun is nothing to laugh at. And, then—and this is where Basil and Al—come in, the state increases in spending coincided with the spread of tax cut mania across the land. Sure, the Fed did it, too, but most of it was during the Bush years when the illogical and dishonest tax cuts were passed, and, face it, the Fed can run an unbalanced budget. The states can’t. Despite this, the citizenry of the states cheered for every politician who pledged to cut taxes, not realizing that in a zero sum game—which is what it is at the state level—real people and real programs will have to pay for those tax cuts. The Fed just prints more money.

Where I think Al is off the mark in trusting Greek government pledges to avoid cutting in certain sectors is that, in the European Community and tied to the Euro, Greece is not a sovereign state when it comes to financial matters. What the EC did in coming up with the Euro is put the member nations into the same position as the U.S. states: no sovereign money. This is why England did not sign up. Serious austerity measures are a must for Greece and other European nations; if they don’t do it, the money will dry up. This is what is happening to many of the U.S. states, California being the poster child.

We know why Basil and thousands of other teachers are losing their jobs. The money’s gone. What he and other teachers, along with all of the rest of us must do is take a hard look at this educational system at death’s door and ask where the money goes. Teachers aren’t getting rich, although it does seem that in some states, they, along with other public employees, have leveraged themselves into very lucrative benefits packages.

The states are broke. Education is broken. Yet, despite this, enormous sums of money continue to be spent on education. I haven’t even gotten into the problems educators face, what with a student population often reminiscent of Mongol hordes, a population made up of “minors,” who are all too adult in their outlook and in their attitudes, a population with way too many parents who don’t seem to care one bit about their childrens’ futures.

Tough times call for draconian solutions. Do away with all federal funding for education. Fire all of the school boards nation-wide. Do away with education majors. That’s a start.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Education in America part 2

Since our own Aviator suggested it, and since technically his post is part 1 of this topic, so this piece shall be part 2. First, you should go back to read Aviator's "Priorities" post and read through Chief's enumerated list and the other comments. There is not much more that I can add to them. However, there does exist quite a lot of the "lumpen" outside the school buildings. There is quite a bit of it outside hawking their own stupidity, agenda, personal likes and dislikes, and just outright ignorance about how a public school district operates.

Just as an example of what I just wrote, check out this clip from TDS last Monday, June 7. The Chinese government has been offering money to school districts in the US to teach Chinese. According to some, this is indoctrination of our young to become communists.


( One disadvantage in working around inside the Comedy Central site is it's clunkiness. One cannot just get to a specific clip; look for Aasif Mandvi's bit. )

So much of the discussion about education in this country is tied up in politics, religion, et alia that it is difficult to formulate a standard, sane and rational system of educating our people. Tell me why the schools around the Gulf Coast have always been so abysmal, or tell me why the Texas State School Board committed their recent atrocity with regard to curriculum, or tell me why the funding of public education vacillates from one extreme to the other, and then I'll be able to tell you that you have all the answers.

Because I do not. A large part of the answer is due to the fact that education in this country is localized. Much of the friction comes from federal mandates to the states that enjoin them to have certain standards of education, but without adequate support in funding. A good example is special ed., which is expensive and which for the most part is funded by the states. I do believe that SPED is a good thing to do, but politics at the federal level being what they are, the states often get the short end of the shaft. The states then pass as much of the shaft as they can down to the local level, which, depending upon the wealth of each local level, determines the level of funding of individual public school districts and also to a great extent what will be and what will not be taught in each curriculum. I would hope that the denizens and casual readers of this site know this much.

My home state Kansas has been notorious for funding difficulties for a long time, not to mention our recent foray into the controversy over the teaching of evolution and creationism. Aviator's "Priorities" post is at once a brilliant example of the basic reason for the establishment of a state, but also a glaring shame for this country. John Edwards, for all his personal faults and betrayal, had it right about 2 separate Americas. It is an egregious disgrace that there is such a wide gulf between the public schools of the poor and those of the wealthy; it is an obscenity to spend so much of our resource upon weapons and pointless foreign wars and leave public schools scraping by.

Much of the financing for public schools comes from property taxes, which goes a far way to explain the differences between school districts. The state courts have tried to remedy this, but sometimes that backfires. Glance through this story for a narrative of how education in this country can go haywire:


With boards and administrations always in upheaval, little attention was paid to a sustained plan for teaching and learning. Because of poor academic performance and other issues, the state of Missouri revoked the district's accreditation in 1999. It has never regained full accreditation.

Families of all races sought other options. They moved to the suburbs, or turned to charter schools, or sought refuge in private and parochial schools.

Despite repeated warnings that the district was tearing through its financial reserves, the board and administration continued to run half-empty schools, just because one faction or another demanded it.

That's how the Kansas City School District arrived at its current lowly state. It wasn't for lack of money -- $2 billion should be plenty. It wasn't for civic ill will; numerous good people have tried to help the students over the years.

But people with good intentions retreat quickly when confronted with race-based animosity, which has been an undercurrent in school district affairs for decades. That leaves opportunists and meddlers to have their way.

"Opportunists and meddlers". Yes indeed, and anyone feels up to that, another post at MilPub!

I've been a public school teacher ever since I started in Philadelphia in 1974. I've seen so many different forces banging away at the structure of public education, each trying to force its will upon our young. Some were good, IMO, some were retreads of earlier theories, some were crap. But what outstrips everything in stupidity and foolishness is that idea that we must balance state and national budgets by cutting our public education funding. I am a victim of that, my career in education is most likely at an end. RIF'ed. We're not moving and we'll take whatever comes our way. ( One possible exception, a way to escape to a more civilized, sunny and carefree area where the development of the mind is valued above all else! ) My efforts over the years have always been to give my students something of value for their use and enlightenment, something both useful and encouraging.

Is there anything more I could have done?


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

USS Liberty

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the attack against the USS Liberty by elements of the military of one of our closest allies, Israel. I was 16 when it happened, and I vaguely remember the brief news stories about the event. For many of us then, I would assume, this was just some friendly fire mistake which was overshadowed by the much larger drama, the more gripping news story of the 1967 Israeli conflict with her Egyptian and Arab neighbors, the war pitting David against Goliath and ending in just 6 days. A tragic sidestory outmatched by the hero of the day, the unforgettable and striking figure of Moshe Dayan and his outmanned, outgunned, but not out-spirited defense corps. Indeed, it was a remarkable victory, the telling of which I'll leave to another more willing and able to analyze it.

All swept under the rug, hidden away, and it's better to let sleeping dogs lie. You won't find anything about it in this history, for instance. However, these days it seems to me that that rug is woefully overburdened by all the debris swept under it over the years. That poor rug now is leaking and demanding a thorough cleansing and airing out.

The story of the Liberty was resurrected for me when I was posting on a favorite message board about Operation Cast Lead last year and did some research. And now we have the recent story of the Gaza aid flotilla with a veteran of the Liberty aboard, Joe Meadors, whom I mentioned in my earlier post below.

1. Did the Israelis know that they were attacking an American ship?

Another reason why Lockwood is so certain that the attack was deliberate is because he watched Joe Meadors hoist three U.S. flags up a pole in an attempt to ensure that the Israeli pilots knew they were firing on a U.S. ship. "The Israelis claim they didn't see a U.S. flag, but they shot down two, and Joe raised three of them, since they kept firing on them," Lockwood explained. "They riddled the third with bullet holes, but it stayed up."

2. Did the US fleet in the area know about the attack and did it do anything to help the Liberty?

"The attack lasted 90 minutes, during which we got a message off to the 6th fleet asking for assistance, and we learned later, Joe Tully, commanding officer of the USS Saratoga, launched aircraft within minutes of the attack, but he told us later they were recalled before they reached the horizon. We found this out 20 years after the attack."
Meadors said he and his group, the USS Liberty Veterans Association, believe that Rear Adm. Lawrence Geis, the Sixth Fleet carrier division commander at the time of the attack, was following orders from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who called off the Navy's rescue mission for the USS Liberty.

3. Did the Israeli government or their military intentionally order this attack or was it some weird foul-up in their chain of command?

This is where it's vague. The how and why have not been revealed. You can go to this site


to find some theories and opinions on the matter. You might mention this story to the next member of Congress you happen to run into, or even the President himself.

It's very hard to tell what will pop out from under that rug next.


Snooping and Pooping

Not sure how I missed this back in May:
"The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate."
Now I don't know about you, but if I were to catch foreign soldiers sneaking about my country gathering intel I'd

1. treat them as spies and hang them, or

2. treat them as invaders and their actions as an act of war.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a sergeant so I loves me some war. But if we're sending troops into other nations without their consent shouldn't this be something that comes from the National Command Authority and not from some shoulder-strap MACOM commander? Am I way off base here? Help me out, you ConLaw freaks and Small Wars types; wassup?

Interesting Contrast in Priorities

We are between Vespa rallies, so I have a week to relax and catch up on pontification!

Was interesting having a dozen Yanks in the group that was here the past two weeks. Gave a chance to compare how the US and Greece are addressing their financial woes. Between reading the International Herald Tribune and talking with my US Vespa compadres, it seems that you folks back there are making serious cuts in education and health care programs, amongst other services. Here, the government has explicitly said that education and health care are vital services for today and the country's future, and will be preserved. While there is a focus on eliminating waste, there is no cut and dry massive budget cuts as seen in the US.

In the past few days, both the Minister of Health and the president of the Physicians Union independently issued statements calling upon the national health care (NHC) workers to rise to the occasion and continue to deliver top rate services to the people, even if the workers have seen their "13th" and "14th" month bonuses reduced. This is a very important call to action, as many Greeks have elected to use NHC over private providers during the past year to save on medical expenses.

Equally important has been the commitment to education, to include the universities. The state universities remain free, without a reduction in student admissions, which are on a competitive basis. There's a woman joining our Vespa group in Italy next week. Her school major urban system doesn't know exactly how many people will be laid off this Fall, so everyone was told to take all their personal belongs home so that those who are laid off won't have to come back to pick their things up. Any personal belongings left on school property on 1 July will be trashed.

In short, two very essential national services will not be hamstrung to balance the budget. As the ruling party put it, "We cannot totally undermine our future simply because of mistakes in the past."

Friday, June 4, 2010


Sorry to break in, but...

One of our contributors - Lisa, of RangerAgainstWar (as well as the Story Project and an author over at Big Brass Blog, among others) - is under the weather from the dreaded Fever of Unknown Origin (medspeak for "Fuck if I know...give 'em some antibiotics and hope it's some sort of infection.").

You might drop by RAW if you get a moment and send her a get-well card. Or a mash note. Something. She's good people, and isn't feeling quite the thing at the moment.

"Though I am wounded, I am not dead.
Lie me down to bleed awhile and I will rise to fight again."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The strong do what they can...


I know I promised to STFU, but I came across this at Bob Farley's blog and wanted to chip in my $0.02...

This is a "Wordle" word cloud of the Bush Administration's National Security Strategy (NSS) of 2002:The application prepares a graphic measure of the number of times a word is used in a text. It is, then, a graph of the individual word density in the document.

Now, here is the same application product for the Obama Administration's 2010 NSS:I have to echo Robert Farley - I'm intrigued by the prominence of the word "must" in both documents:
"It’s interesting to me that “must” is so big in the tag clouds of both the Bush and Obama NSS." Farley says; “Must” implies a lack of freedom; it’s much different than “may” or “can.” It seems odd that the world’s sole superpower, hegemon, unipolar state etc. thinks strategically in terms of “must” rather than “can”."
Now part of this is, I think, a subset of the U.S. military habit of stating objectives in affirmative terms ("First battalion, Empty-empth Infantry WILL maneuver to secure such-and-such by 0700 21 JUNE 2010", for example).

But another part and, I think, the more substantive part, is the purpose this document and others like it have come to play in the propagandization of and psychological warfare directed towards the U.S. public.

Because of the very condition of our adventures in central and southwest Asia I suspect that the authors of this document intend it to hammer home the cruciality and centrality of military action as a means of enforcing national will and achieving national goals. "Must" is so much less negotiable than "can" or "should". "Must" sends the message that the Evil, Scary Bad People are going to taint our precious bodily fluids now, today, and MUST be defeated even if we have to sacrifice things like civil liberties and diplomatic finesses to do so.

So where I disagree with Farley is in my interpretation of the intent of the word "must". I don't think that "...psychologically, institutionally, and politically the imperative of “must” becomes real for policymakers..." I think that the policymakers know perfectly well that we have other options. But I think that they also know that those options do not have the potential for the optimal result they wish to obtain, regardless of the strong potential for a anti-optimal (that is, not merely less than the outcome that these policymakers wish completely for but a completely antithetical result; blowback, unanticipated outcome, disaster...call it what you wish) result.

They want to convince you, and me, that theirs is the ONLY option, much as BP wants you to believe that the only choice is between continued deepwater drilling using the current means and methods - and accepting the subsequent environmental disasters such as the one we're watching - and complete petroleum depletion and the End of the Industrial Era.

Farley seems to think cynically that the powers-that-be have been captured by their own apocalyptic rhetoric. I'm even more cynical; I think that the thrones and dominations are using these semantic smoke-and-mirrors tricks to continue to supinely ignore their foolery. He thinks that our leaders are fools. I think that our leaders are manipulative bastards who are playing us for fools.

I'm not sure which is truly worse, but I suspect that neither leads to a happy land of sparkle rainbows and fluffy puppies.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day with an Update

"So, where've you been?" you may ask, as some have.

I've never really left, dropping a few comments here and there, from time to time. But I'm at that stage of my life ( I hit 60 next month ) where one starts thinking about one's impact upon the universe.

I don't want this to go on about me, as there is someone else who precipitated what I'm writing here, as you shall soon see. But I imagine that you would want at least something about the former. It's sufficient to say that this year has not been good so far for me. Last year I was demoted from full-time to part-time teacher for reasons I won't go into here, but I was OK with that since I was qualified to retire from my work for the state. State pension + part-time pay was good enough for what I needed. I got another part-time minimum-wage job outside education to accelerate house payments, and life seemed to be back on track.

This past February my principal informed me that due to budget cuts I would not be asked to come back this fall. March I get T-boned and lost our car, but not life or limb. May, I'm threatened with termination from my second job and I'll be damned if I get fired from anything the first time ever, so I quit. And to top it off ( I hope! ), our computer gets zapped by lightning. A tip: even if it's soft, distant thunder, yes, it is very possible to get zapped.

So here I am, looking out at a "doughnut hole" of 2 years before Social Security kicks in, getting by on less than 20K per year, and no health insurance unless we give up all, drain our savings, and live in our car. Luckily, we're both fairly healthy, although the wife hasn't been able to work for years.

Furthermore, my Outrage Account is very much in the red for a whole lot of reasons. We're not moving and I'll be looking for work. Many school districts in the area are looking for janitors, so maybe I won't have to leave education after all!

All this leads to Joe Meadors. He's another old fellow who apparently does not know how to quit, roll over, shrivel up and die. I had planned to write on another completely different topic, maybe later, but recent news intervened, and so did a veteran from our military, Joe Meadors. And it is Memorial Day. OK, a day late.

Coming up June 8 is the 43rd anniversary of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, Joe's ship. He survived that. He was with the Gaza flotilla that was confronted by the Israeli navy a couple of days ago, and as of this writing, he's confined in an Israeli jail. He's got to be in the same general age range I am in, so why did he do it? A chance to give the folk who killed his shipmates a poke in the eye? True concern for a truly suffering community of people? I don't know about any of that. But what we all know is that he's a veteran of our country's military doing something to help others anyway he can. Trying to fathom why would just be guesswork right now.

I do know that killing and wounding and dying and suffering in war are truly perverse. It is not what our capabilities and intelligence call us to do. However, I'm sure we've been doing that ever since whatever creature that could be called human first arose from our far dim past. There's no end to such conflicts in sight and that's a terrible pity. Indeed, Memorial Day does recall the horrific scenes of war and great stupidity, but it also recalls sacrifice, love and compassion, even for the enemy.

We all need friends to encourage us, we need examples to inspire us and to show us how. We've had many over the course of human history and veterans like Joe and so many others like him, veteran and non-veteran, past and present, will always be there for us to see. For these things on Memorial Day 2010, I'm extremely grateful.

Update for the Update: A couple of clicks from here and look what I stumbled upon. A heartwarmer to start your June.