Sunday, December 18, 2005

Life was different then.

I have been doing a lot of thinking on the present state of the country and I constantly arrive at conclusions that I find upsetting. If I may digress a moment, when I was a young warrior, full of lightning and thunder it was a different country then. It was 1964; the pledge of allegiance was still a mandatory part of each school day morning.  I had recently enlisted in the U.S. Army and spent a considerable amount of time attending farewell parties to me and explaining to buddies why I enlisted. The country was a different place in time, not a Normal Rockwell painting, but different. Family values were everything, holidays were an intricate part of that life and life seemed to be a bit slower.

The events, which lead me to enlist, were still fresh in my mind.

On November 23rd, 1963, the day JFK was assassinated, I was a senior in high school and I remember well the teacher asking us all to bow our heads as she said a small prayer. My class was a mixed religious bowl of values, but not one person said a word. We all simply bowed our heads and prayed. We felt better too. Most of the class was crying, some holding others. School was let out early to allow us to be with our families. I recall walking home a bit confused and dazed wondering how this could happen in America. Once home the rest of the week found the entire family glued to the television watching a great man laid to rest.

Life prior to this had been a mixture of emotions, I was a teenager and life was strange. But through it all my values had remained. We were a close family and brought up that our country was foremost in our lives. We were a part of a wonderful concept and it was to be guarded, defended at all costs. After school I had seen the prospects of becoming employed were rather bleak and decided I would enlist in the U.S. Army. My Father was not happy at first and after a rather emotional discussion with my Mother we all agreed it would be better for me.

At that point in time I really had no concept that a war was secretly being fought. That had not lead to my decision. In truth, I did not find out till a rude, obnoxious; Sergeant screamed it in my face a few weeks later while I was standing in sweltering heat in the south. I had never had a man two inches from my face before calling me so many names at one time and telling me in such eloquent words how I would die in Vietnam. That was my indoctrination to a war.

That was a different time and place, a world filled with family values, love of country and love of the life we had. It is sad now to see that it is gone.

Today when something goes wrong, we blame everyone but ourselves. We blame society for our children not turning out well. We blame our Parents for us not turning out well. And worst of all, we take no blame for anything. We have people fighting to pull the pledge of allegiance from schools and others fighting to get rid of any word associated with Christmas. We have media watchdogs marking down every moment of our President’s life and tearing each comment apart. We put troop strengths; movements and information in newspapers while the terrorist are busy guarding their secrets. We publish, comment, critique each and every word from our elected officials and conduct daily polls inquiring if they should be impeached. We can’t pick up a newspaper; turn on a television or radio without hearing how bad the government is running this country. Terrorist attacks us and for one brief moment the country stands together. Four years later we are tearing it apart. Questioning everything that was done that day, month or year. It is their fault, others, someone else’s, anyone but our own.

I miss the 1960’s. I miss the life we had then.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Elections and a Heart Warming Story.

The people of Iraq are exercising their new constitutional rights to elect their representation. A new word is on their lips today – Freedom.

They no longer live under the constant threat of persecution, death, and torture. They are a new nation, conceived under freedom’s name in a new era of life. The people turning out at the polls honor our fallen in their quest for that one word – freedom.

Our nation’s thought and prayers should be with our military and those fallen to give these people the freedom they have long deserved. Our prayers are for the safe return of those serving.

Their right to vote is something we as American’s take lightly. We go to the polls, or sometimes we don’t. It depends on the mood, weather, who is running, what is on the ballot. We sit in our homes reading papers, watching the news and thinking we need to change things. At times the turnout is large and at times it is small. But one fact remains, we are free to vote or not. Free to decided, free to choose.

Simply put - They did not have that freedom. Now they do.

A Mother’s Quest.

There is a story to touch your heart on 365 and a Wakeup. While on a mission November 23, Danjel, a Commander of A Co, 1-184 IN, 3ID serving in Southern Baghdad and his unit came across an Iraqi mother holding a small child with birth defects seeking any assistance possible. I found it moving and it speaks volumes for the depth of character of the men and women serving. Stop by and read it.

I want to thank CJ, A Soldier’s Perspective, for the lead in on my last post. I want to thank all stopping by, the comments and the e-mail. The positive response I received was wonderful. I did not expect it. Thank you. I am a bit sorry for the length of that post though. To say that it was a rant is putting it mildly. Thank you for reading through it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

They have gone too far...

They have gone too far….

I owe a note to the majority of people out there; this is not intended for you. This is only to the ones taking down and hacking into the sites and blogs of our military and only those protestors attacking our troops verbally or physically with objects. The majority of humanity within this country know and understand that our troops our doing a job they were sent to do and not out of their own volition. They do not have the luxury of politely saying they wish to remain home, not participate, don’t want to play. They are Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen out of many services, branches; National Guard, Reserve, Coast Guard and the men and women are doing the job they agreed to do.

So if I offend anyone that I have not intended to do so with this article, to you I apologize. It was not for you. It is for those hiding under assumed names on the net attacking military blogs. It is for those protesting in the wrong way by attacking military with names and eggs. It is for some of, but not all of the media, only those hiding behind their liberal amendment rights that have the unmitigated audacity to lie on a moment by moment basis to America and the world; reporting what they want the story to be, not what the story is. It is to those dishonoring the names of our fallen, this is the worst offense to America and perhaps the most unforgiving. If you really want to know the story, read their blogs, learn the truth. Be informed.

As an American citizen you have the right to disagree with any policies or actions of the government, as a whole, or branches thereof, executive, legislative or judicial. You have the right to protest, telling anyone who is willing to listen your side of the argument. The founding fathers gave you this right to disagree and the ability to gather to protest in a peaceful manner without fear of persecution or reprisals. They did this with the knowledge that to protest is to be free. But, there is a basic key word in this concept, peaceful.  The inherent problem to today’s protest is the lack it that word. It is your right to protest against the war, but it is an insult to the men and women of the military when you assault them, verbally or physically.

There is nothing wrong in disagreeing with the war, or to gather and protest your argument with hopes of possibly changing the course of events. Many heroic men and woman exercising these rights have successfully accomplished it. Some have been awarded prizes in peace for it. I could fill a blog with names I have respected, followed and yes at times even joined with. This is the right you have as an American.

There is nothing wrong in truly believing within your heart that war is bad. Contrary to popular beliefs most men and women in the armed forces feel the same, but they have a job and they perform it to the best of their capabilities and training. Some individuals have stated that protesting is simply creating a paradox; hating war – but supporting troops. They point out that this is a philosophical contradiction. This is simply untrue; one can support a cause and reverse opinion to the catalyst of that cause. It is not a contradiction; it is a duality of feelings. The Yin and Yang of truth to all feelings.

What is wrong, immoral, and bordering on illegal is to state these same facts, supporting one and not the other while attacking the men and women in harm’s way protecting your right to do so. That is not duality of feelings; it is transference of hate from one conceptual line to that of a corresponding line. In other words, hate one - hate the cause.

This is what is being accomplished by this two-sided blitz presently being wrought upon our troops. Their blogs are being hacked, not out of meanness, but malice and forethought. They are being changed, the statements the troops are making in their blogs are being hacked and changed to lies with the singular desire to shut down the blog and get the soldier in trouble with their command. You’re not supporting you are getting even.

What is wrong is attacking nearby soldiers with eggs, tomatoes and verbal barrages of hate; baby killers, killers of women and children. These are the same individuals giving you the right to even be there. Wrong is cowardly attacks upon our troops which become media headlines. This is simply serving the needs of the terrorist. In truth, protesting serves the needs of the terrorist as well. It feeds them, gives them hope and in doing so they increase the attacks on the military, killing and wounding more soldiers. Of course, if the terrorist mental needs were not fed with hope they would still fight. It is a war, that point is moot. But filling them with media lies and hope motivates them to attack in the belief they are aiding the protestor’s cause and through their killing will lead to troops pulling out. Follow the attacks in Iraq after a headlining protest; count the number of attacks and deaths. The media hype and love fest with the Anti-War, Anti-Bush protests only lead to more killing of our troops.  This is not only wrong, but when occurs should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

These types of protestors have not altered their headline grabbing attention tactics of maneuvering the media into negative coverage of a war since Vietnam; they have however, radically transformed and refined them. In that war they hated the war and the military with an equal amount of passion. This afforded them the opportunity of not being caught within the conundrum they now paint to the media. The self-serving lie they support our military yet hate the war; repeating to any cameraman within range. They face their quandary of contradiction into the camera spouting their rehearsed logic.  This method of lie allows these individuals to sleep at night, because two-sided logic is an easy way out. The science of psychology dictates they must perceive this action as the truth, not only saying, believing. They must loudly paint their misrepresentations of logic or in sharing this knowledge with both hemispheres of the mind it would force them into depression, uncertainty, perhaps even insanity. The depression derives from exacerbation of the knowledge their false dichotomy knowingly created a chain of events that directly or indirectly made them responsible for intensified attacks and deaths of our military men and women in Iraq.

The contradiction, or two sided false and positive logic can be accomplished through a sub conscious degree of controlled thought, but times have changed, humanity has grown and along with it our intelligence, logic and motivation of self preservation. Who really wants to carry the burden of truth that your actions cause the death of another? Of course it can also be argued that this is not a logic cover up, but a lack of courage or being a coward.

Perhaps that is the real issue here and no one wants to say it. This is the dawn of being nice to others, new terms, new phrases and an abundance of political correctness large enough to sink Atlantis. The knowledge they do not have the courage or fortitude to face another human being overwhelmed with false knowledge spoon fed by their false prophets whose only desire is to kill you as our military in Iraq face on a daily basis. The depth of sadness to that statement is they face it to protect these same lack of courage sycophants hiding behind their own false self-righteous fears and screaming loudly when within range of any media recording device which affords them a platform which to sputter more self protecting lies.

Cowards that knowingly created a chain of events that directly or indirectly made them responsible for intensified attacks and deaths of our military men and women. That is the knowledge they face and thus they paint their quandary of false logic to the media.
How can American citizens sink this low? The depth to which the country is headed in their attacks is not only disheartening to a soldier, but to other American’s as well. Believe me, we don’t all feel that way. In fact the protestors are not even the vast numbers portrayed be the television stations on a daily basis. The media is just as, if not more responsible for the present state of events and disgust growing within this nation, but aiding in it, misstating it and misreporting it in their misguided reporting.

I will give you a recent misreported protest event. A few weeks ago President Bush was in a western city. I read in one of the national papers that protestors, large in number screaming loudly, surrounded him. The paper did not state the number of people there. I read in another paper the amount was over a few hundred. Then I google the city, find their local papers and discover the crowd was approximately 60 or less protestors. I checked and found the population of that city was in excess of 550,000 people. Either someone lost their calculator, failed math 101 or simply decided to lie. Wait a minute the media lie? It is business as usual with them. Their desire is to create as much embarrassment for President Bush, his administration, cabinet and this country as humanly possible. Embarrassment sells papers and that is what they do.

While America’s sons and daughters are dieing and wounded in Iraq for a war on terrorism precipitated by the hijacking and flying of our own aircraft filled with passengers into the World Trade Center killing thousands, these sycophants of the media cry into cameras mourning the military’s losses. They support our troops, repeating it constantly for all to hear, but not the war. Then manipulate the media, plant misleading, at times outright false news stories of how the war was initiated by a corrupt administration with lies gathered by false intelligence. With the rehearsed talent of an actor they paint their dichotomy of supporting troops, not war. Heads hung low, tears in eyes, saying they are trapped in a quandary of unknown logic that as citizens this conundrum of life, death and war is destroying them and the souls of America.

These poor, brave, sons and daughters of America, they say with tears in their eyes, are fighting and dieing for a cause only supported by the Bush administration, not the people of America.

They were sent into a war, that in their words, America did not, does not and will not support. They will go any distance, pay any media price and speak to anyone who will listen to remind the media this is their true intent. They cry into the cameras, parade coffins draped with America’s flag that these same men and women are dieing for, photos of maimed, killed corpses of civilians burning in the desert in front of any camera within 50 feet and when interviewed speak, cry, utter with fear how much they respect and support these men and women fighting for us. War is bad they utter to any media outlet within arms reach of them. While in the background, never and I repeat never reported by a media source they disrespect, verbally attack, insult, throw inanimate objects, eggs, tomatoes, anything messy and insulting and will do anything necessary that will demean our troops. Now they step into a new venue, they move their hatred for the military and the Bush administration to the malicious destruction of the soldier’s blogs, their personal lives.

It is offensive to me as a veteran, offensive to me as an American and offensive to me as a human being that these people relish in the knowledge that soldiers are called to answer for their childish, schoolyard antics. When in truth it is simply disgusting, and abusive!

To Grey Eagle, you are serving in a unit with a proud legacy of courage, honor and sacrifice. Your unit’s history has already been written, songs sang, movies made and there is still more coming. You are a brave woman doing a job for her country. God bless you, stay safe and come home soon. Increase the security of the site and keep up the wonderful statements and photos you post.

To the men and women in harm’s way. God bless, stay safe and come home soon. America does support you. Keep your words flowing and your photos posted. We do care.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Daily I read negative news reports from all of the major news services regarding the on-going war on terrorism. I read the negative and unfavorable statements on Iraq and President Bush for sending and keeping a military presence in that impoverished country. I read the cries from the anti war liberals and watched in sorrow as Cindy Sheehan camped out at the Bush ranch stating at first America was not worth dying for then changing her tune to Iraq is not worth dying for. I read it all and inside I wonder when the media will ever change.

I wonder why in their continuous quest to provide news they slant it towards what they want us to hear, not what is the truth. I wonder when, as a country, we the citizens, which comprise it, will stand up and say, “Enough is Enough!” I wonder when someone, somewhere has the guts to utter those famous words from the movie, Broadcast News and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” I wonder all of this and watch our brave men and women of the military fight for something they believe in, Freedom.

We all watched in awe as William Wallace, as played by, Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart screamed “FREEDOM” as the executioner’s axe fell onto his head. Some of us actually had tears on our face from that scene. It was powerful and it affected us deeply because we, as American citizens enjoy this word. We are born with it, live with it and die with it. Freedom, one wonderful, yet powerful word which instills a sense of pride within each and every American.

Freedom one word, the quality of being and living free. Free of the threat of coercion, or constraint in our choice and actions. We decide the course of our lives. We elect, choose, who governs us. If we are unhappy with that choice, we have the freedom to change it. Freedom. The choice of our religious beliefs, to attend the college of our choosing, to work in the field we desire.

We as American’s can do this because in 1176 a group of men were tired, disgusted, with the relentless persecution of another country. They made the choice that freedom above all was a given right that cannot be ruled by a king, country or person. They made that choice and wrote one letter, a document and they called it, The Declaration of Independence and it truly did shape the course of human events. Then as newly anointed citizens of a country they called, America they gave their all, their lives, their souls to insure that dream was fulfilled.

Freedom. This is what our military stands for, fights for and yes, gives their lives for. It is what every veteran of every branch of service knows and understands. Free the oppressed is the motto our U.S. Army Special Forces live by. Freedom. Think of this word sometimes. The people in Iraq could not. Not until we gave them that right.

Letter to America

A quick note to all, I have permission from CPT who runs 2Slicks Forum to republish the letter from Sgt. Rausch. Here it is in its entirety without comment. And a salute to the Cpt from an old warhorse Sgt with forever respect for chopper pilots.

SGT Rausch's email follows:

Mom Be my voice. I want this message heard. It is mine and my platoon's to the country. A man I know lost his legs the other night. He is in another company in our batallion. I can no longer be silent after watching the sacrifices made by Iraqis and Americans everyday. Send it to a congressman if you have to. Send it to FOX news if you have to. Let this message be heard please.

My fellow Americans,

I have a task for those with the courage and fortitude to take it. I have a message that needs not fall on deaf ears. A vision the blind need to see. I am not a political man nor one with great wisdom. I am just a soldier who finds himself helping rebuild a country that he helped liberate a couple years ago.

I have watched on television how the American public questions why their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are fighting and dying in a country 9000 miles away from their own soil. Take the word of a soldier, for that is all I am, that our cause is a noble one. The reason we are here is one worth fighting for. A cause that has been the most costly and sought after cause in our small span of existence on our little planet. Bought in blood and paid for by those brave enough to give the ultimate sacrifice to obtain it. A right that is given to every man, woman, and child I believe by God. I am talking of freedom.

Freedom. One word but yet countless words could never capture it's true meaning or power. "For those who have fought for it, freedom has a taste the protected will never know." I read that once and it couldn't be more true. It's not the average American's fault that he or she is "blind and deaf" to the taste of freedom. Most American's are born into their God given right so it is all they ever know. I was once one of them. I would even dare to say that it isn't surprising that they take for granted what they have had all their life. My experiences in the military however opened my eyes to the truth.

Ironically you will find the biggest outcries of opposition to our cause from those who have had no military experience and haven't had to fight for freedom. I challenge all of those who are daring enough to question such a noble cause to come here for just a month and see it first hand. I have a feeling that many voices would be silenced.

I watched Cindy Sheehan sit on the President's lawn and say that America isn't worth dying for. Later she corrected herself and said Iraq isn't worth dying for. She badmouthed all that her son had fought and died for. I bet he is rolling over in his grave.

Ladies and gentleman I ask you this. What if you lived in a country that wasn't free? What if someone told you when you could have heat, electricity, and water? What if you had no sewage systems so human waste flowed into the streets? What if someone would kill you for bad-mouthing your government? What if you weren't allowed to watch TV, connect to the internet, or have cell phones unless under extreme censorship? What if you couldn't put shoes on your child's feet? You need not to have a great understanding of the world but rather common sense to realize that it is our duty as HUMAN BEINGS to free the oppressed. If you lived that way would you not want someone to help you????

The Iraqi's pour into the streets to wave at us and when we liberated the cities during the war they gathered in the thousands to cheer, hug and kiss us. It was what the soldier's in WW2 experienced, yet no one questioned their cause!! Saddam was no better than Hitler! He tortured and killed thousands of innocent people. We are heroes over here, yet American's badmouth our President for having us here.

Every police station here has a dozen or more memorials for officers that were murdered trying to ensure that their people live free. These are husbands, fathers, and sons killed every day. What if it were your country? What would your choice be? Everything we fight for is worth the blood that may be shed. The media never reports the true HEROISM I witness everyday in the Iraqi's. Yes there are bad one's here, but I assure you they are a minuscule percent. Yet they are a number big enough to cause worry in this country's future.

I have watched brave souls give their all and lose their lives and limbs for this cause. I will no longer stand silent and let the "deaf and blind" be the only voice shouting. Stonewall Jackson once said, "All that I have, all that I am is at the service of the country." For these brave souls who gave the ultimate sacrifice, including your son Cindy Sheehan, I will shout till I can no longer. These men and women are heroes. Their spirit lives on in their military and they will never be forgotten. They did not die in vain but rather for a cause that is larger than all of us.

My fellow countrymen and women, we are not overseas for our country alone but also another. We are here to spread democracy and freedom to those who KNOW the true taste of it because they fight for it everyday. You can see the desire in their eyes and I am honored to fight alongside them as an Infantryman in the 101st Airborne.

Freedom is not free, but yet it is everyone's right to have. Ironic isn't it? That is why we are here. Though you will always have the skeptics, I know that most of our military will agree with this message. PLease, at the request of this soldier spread this message to all you know. We are in Operation Iraqi Freedom and that is our goal. It is a cause that I and thousands of others stand ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice for because, Cindy Sheehan, freedom is worth dying for, no matter what country it is! And after the world is free only then can we hope to have peace.

SGT Walter J. Rausch and 1st Platoon
Charlie Co. 2/327 Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fighting a War

Fighting a War.

I read a wonderful poem today at A Soldier’s Perspective. I would like to post it here as well. I consider it a warrior’s prayer.

May God bless those in harms way
And may he enlighten those objectors
Who never sacrificed their own personal time or comforts
For the freedoms they enjoy the most


I also read an open letter to America on the blog, 2Slick's Forum. This letter not only made me feel as patriotic as I did in the 60’s when I joined the Army, I urge all to read it. It also tells the world the truth. Everyone should read it, copy it and send it to their congressman. I have asked the blogger if I can post the letter here.

A few notes and updates today. First, I see the Screaming Eagles, 101st Airborne Back in Action in the sand box, Iraq. The world should feel a little safer now. God Bless, and be safe.

This one just caught my eye and brought a lot of anger to me. I read it at the Chicago Tribune site: Attitude shifts on Iraq pullout. White House seems willing to conceive of future drawdown. Folks, it really is a simple matter. If someone is going to dedicate troops, resources, funds to fighting a war, then you must do it 100%. It is simple as that. Why are we always the ones to leave before something is done? As we speak Saddam Hussein, once the hunted bad guy, still claims to be the president of Iraq and immune to prosecution. Interesting is it not? Here is a guy responsible for the outright murder of his own people and wants to be treated as a president. I don’t think so, and neither does most other people.

Let me say that I too cry inside each time I read of a death or wounding in Iraq or Afghanistan. It tears me up. As a vet it may hit me a little harder, but as a vet I understand. They have a job to do and by God, they are doing it. And yes, I want the troops home, but not until the mission is complete. Why are we playing politics as usual with a war? I know there are many readers who could post multiple checklists why they should be home. But that is not it folks. We have to finish a job. Do you realize what the terrorists think and say each time they read of our petty politics and arguments regarding bring them home? They already know we will leave. To them it is simply a matter of time. Wait us out, create damage, havoc and unknown and they feel we will leave. Why are we playing right into their hands?

Yes, we need a timeline, yes we need an exit strategy, but not until the job is done. Look at our past history of pullouts. Somalia, Mogadishu, the fiasco that went on there. If you did not read the book, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden, then I’m sure you saw the move of the same title. We never finished the job! We lost lives, and that was the ultimate sin in this day of technology. We lost them because they had no means of support or backup except for those brave crews in the Little Bird A/MH-6 gunships that kept them alive through the night. When it was over did we go back and get our man? Did the military get him back? Politics did and then we left. We left a mission that we never completed. If not for the Delta, and Rangers involved and the support they received it could have been worse. But we had our best there and they did their job. If this had been any other military from any other country it could have gone a lot worse. But again, we had our best, they did their best and as vets like to say; all gave some and some gave all.

I recall when this occurred a newsbreak caught my attention of it. The reporter was standing with the battle far behind, I could hear the chatter from the Little Birds as he was saying what had happened. I knew all hell was breaking loose. I knew the Rangers and Delta were in the fight of their life. I was glued to the set, listening to newsbreaks until it was over.

Then we left and today it is still the hellhole we found, starving, death, it is the same. We left and nothing changed. What changed? We lost brave men and did nothing about it that is about all that happened; pure and simple.

The terrorists know our methods of pulling out. Why do you think Usama bin Laden called us paper tigers? We need to complete the mission. We need to allow our troops to do what they were trained to do. We have to be the tiger we are and not a paper tiger.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Xbox 360 Oh My!

Xbox 360 – Oh My!

Day before yesterday I stopped at one of my favorite coffee shops for a double espresso of morning courage. My buddy and I were sitting at a table watching the flow of people congregating around the coffee order desk. They all appeared to be in that half-here look that tends to emanate from individuals not quite with the living, but still in the netherworld of dreamland. All but one man who was so excited and animated while talking on his cell and carrying a large bag. He was pumped! His free hand was gesticulating wildly while he talked, I saw that he was holding the bag close enough to him that he looked like one of the Knights Templar protecting the elusive Holy Grail from advancing Mongol Hords.

He ordered a dark roast and I was seriously thinking the girl at the register was going to suggest decaff to him when I saw what was in the bag; a brand-new Xbox 360 with hard drive! This guy truly did have the Holy Grail! He had done it! He had gone where no man had gone before. He not only conquered lines of salivating people, but Microsoft in their typical games of driving up demand by not releasing enough products. I had to talk to this guy. He was my hero. I wanted this man’s autograph. I wanted that Xbox 360!

Fate prevailed when my buddy told me he knew the guy from work. We invited him to join us. He began weaving a tale of intrigue, sleepless night, attempted theft, greed and eventual success. It was like listening to John Grisham reading his latest novel to us.

At 2:00 am that morning he had joined a line already forming at the retail store. (I am not going to mention the name) He said that by 9:00 am there were a hundred or more people in the parking lot. The front door to the store opened and two people walked out announcing to the crowd they only had a limited supply of Xbox 360’s. Numbered cards were being passed out to the first so many people in line. Each of these cards would entitle the bearer to one Xbox 360. Pandemonium ensued. Pushing, shouting and he related, some even came close to physical violence as tempers flared. The management and security quickly gained control with threats to not sell any of the precious commodities if things did not calm down. Numbered cards were passed among the line and those not receiving one departed with heads bowed in shame, the younger of those were actually in tears he said and seeing what this man held, I was a believer.

Then the true depths to which humanity can sink to began. First, in a move out of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a quest for domination occurs as two men in the middle of the line argue over who will go inside while the other stays by the car. He related these two were really heating things up until a younger male suggest they flip a coin and stop arguing. The store opened a few minutes later and another pushing and shoving contest began as people attempted to all force their way in. Security calmed this situation down by calmly explaining the numbered cards were being served in sequence. Our hero, now calmly sipping coffee and enjoying the looks of passers by starring at the Xbox 360 package now sitting on the table with his arm laying across it. I noted some were actually talking in hushed whispers when passing, their heads nodding to him as if he was the holy man of the coffee shop. I was enjoying this as much as I did The Lord of the Ring’s Trilogy.

Next he related that he saw new crowds gathering in the lot. They were told the numbered cards story and the fact all was passed out. None of these poor souls stood a chance. Some departed, but others remained. The reason some stayed became evident when individuals began departing the store, Xbox 360’s held tightly to them. The people in the lot began offering sums of money for their prized possessions; he stated outright bidding wars were going on. Seeing this take place enterprising people would now go in, purchase the Xbox 360 and come out stating their asking price; some in excess of more than double the amount. We now had $400.00 units selling for $900.00 and people were buying them! My hero said, “I don’t know if this is true or not, but one person who paid the $900.00 said the exact unit was on ebay an hour ago, asking price $2700.00.”

The tale continued with the attempted theft of a unit by a person in the crowd; thwarted by two others twice the guy’s size. This same guy also attempted a grab and run of a numbered card before being apprehended by store security who had came out to quiet things down. Our hero gets to the checkout, presents his number and was told this was the last of the units in stock. As he departs he sees store personnel putting a large banner in the window stating this fact, and police now in the street and lot clearing the crowds away.

My friend and I were clearly impressed with what this guy had done. As in Greek tales of old, he had been given a task, overcame impossible odds, vanquished the foe and won the Golden Fleece. We paid for his two coffees and left with the knowledge that we had just had coffee with Jason of Argonaut fame.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Soccer Victories

Soccer Victories

I am going to stray from my normal wit, wisdom and intelligent perspective on the world today to share a wonderful, heart warming story that I read at one of my favorite mental watering holes, A Soldier’s Perspective, written by CJ which offers views and news on the military and the war in Iraq. CJ, in his infinite wisdom has agreed to share this with you. The men and women in our military do a lot more than protect and serve; they care.
I am only quoting part of it; stop by A Soldier’s Perspective for the rest of the story.

“There’s a story that has made its rounds here in Iraq. A Blackhawk helicopter is hovering low, running a mission in the Sunni Triangle. Alone in a field there’s an unkempt child of about twelve. The boy, acting on everything his father has told him, looks up at the chopper with hatred in his eyes, picks up a rock and cocks his arm, ready to throw. But the gunner in the Blackhawk has something in his hand too, and he’s a bit quicker.

Whoosh! A soccer ball flies out of the door of the chopper. The boy stands in disbelief for a moment, and then collects himself enough to run after the ball. Once he retrieves it, he looks up and with a smile from ear to ear, and excitedly waves to the American soldiers in the Blackhawk.

Another friend is made; another member of the next generation is converted.
National Review Online is focusing on good news out of Iraq, and that includes inspiring examples of the Iraqi spirit. It’s too often forgotten, though, that this war has rekindled the spirit of people in America as well. That soccer ball found its way into the Blackhawk gunner’s hands because of the generosity of an American citizen back home. Someone who wanted to help out, who wanted to do what he could to improve things in Iraq, one person at a time. So he filled a few boxes with soccer balls, and spent the money to ship them over here for soldiers to hand out.

Soccer balls aren’t the only things being distributed. Candy and stuffed animals are tossed overboard from choppers and trucks. On patrols, soldiers deliver school supplies, clothes, and toys. On bases throughout the country, much-needed supplies are being given to Iraqi soldiers and policemen. All of this is courtesy of American civilians back home. “

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Battle on the home front

Battle on the home front, or how not to pick a fight.

It fascinates me to see what is going on in the media today; reminiscent of a war long ago, but with a new twist. Many Democrats are calling on Bush to present a plan to end the war and provide an estimate of when U.S. forces can start to be withdrawn based on conditions on the ground. Not a bad suggestion, but untimely. Let’s face the facts. We are there, pure and simple. How we got there, why we got there and if we need to be there is not the question. Old news. As far as pulling out right now, without an effective standing army to protect itself, Iraq would be cannon fodder to all those waiting in the dunes the moment the last chopper lifted off. Vietnam Redux.

While the brother’s and sister’s of this old warhorse are in harm’s way dodging a bullet or two and worried about IED’s while protecting Iraq in Humvees that need to be armor plated enough to withstand an attack, their congressmen are standing in line attempting to outdo one another in name-calling. Yesterday tempers flared over the withdrawal demand by Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. John Murtha. Which lead to One Republican calling Murtha a coward. I confess, I am not a Democrat, but I was hoping Murtha would throw down and pound the potatoes out of him for that comment.

I was not in the corps, I was a Hooah guy, but in my opinion the corps is comprised with the bravest men and women I have ever had the honor of knowing. As well as a few major hangovers I have yet to get over from drinking with. Although I do not agree with the comments made by Murtha, calling him a coward is low. With that in mind I checked Murtha’s war record, which proudly shows that John Murtha spent 37 years in the Marine Corps, earned the Bronze Star, two purple hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. Coward? Go ahead John show him what the corps taught you to do in close quarters combat.

Another one that blew my mind recently was when the White House made threats to veto the Senate's anti-torture measure. They took on the anti-torture measures’ biggest supporter, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain. Real Smart! In case anyone in the free world is still not aware of this, in 1967 McCain was shot down over Vietnam, and was held as a prisoner of war in Hanoi for five-and-a-half years, mostly in the infamous Hanoi Hilton where he was tortured constantly. This is not a man to go toe-to-toe over a measure on anti-torture with. By the way, just to show you what McCain is made of, beyond withstanding torture, When the North Vietnamese discovered he was the son and grandson of admirals, he was offered a chance to go home, but he refused to break the military code that POWs be released in the order that they are captured. Hero? You’re damn right! The White House needs to pick their fights better.

I can’t wait to see what happens next week. Reality TV? This beats them all hands down.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The 1960s Redux

The 1960’s Redux, but this time we have a reason.

The 1960’s were a specific moment in history that brought about the winds of change to wipe the world clean and bring forth a new beginning. Time was sitting on a cusp of a rudimentary stage in history that was evolving, and it was going to evolve with or without input from humans. It was an infant and like all children born onto the world it required direction. The change was there, hidden, lying dormant, in a state of semiconsciousness waiting to usher in a new way of thinking, a new way of life. Technically that is called a hypnopompic state, and like it or not, it was about to be heard with a vengeance.

We had gone from Camelot to waking up and seeing the truth of our times. As young, impressionable individuals we grew up during an undeclared cold war. Our home activities filled to capacity with back yard bomb shelters and discussions of the Berlin Wall. Our minds overflowed with visions of bombs falling from the sky. All the while African Americans in the south were banned from sitting at the front of the bus, had to use their own drinking fountains and public restrooms. The news media plied our organized conscious thoughts with the Soviet menace and filled our unconscious adaptive mental activity with attending weekly air-raid drills in school, kneeling against the wall, hands over the back of our heads.

We saw Gary Powers, the U2 spy plane incident paraded on Soviet television. The Bay of Pigs debacle as America underwrites a coup then changes their mind leaving those brave freedom fighters to the whims of Castro. We watched Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the UN podium, screaming, “We will bury you!” We sat together as a family, filled with trepidation and fear of the unknown as we watched the Cuban missile crises unfold before us. We all cried one brief moment as history stopped, our very lives stopped as we saw the assassination of John F. Kennedy. We watched with wonder and doubt as Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office. Jackie Kennedy, our beloved first lady standing next to him.

Our generation was different. We too had evolved. We thought differently than our parents and grandparents. We worried about civil rights, and we wanted change. We wanted all men and woman, no distinction between races, living together as one. We watched in awe as Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream.” Speech. It moved us, awakened some and yet in the south, enraged others; it was definitely time for a change.

The anger of Malcolm X, and then his acceptance of brotherhood brought about his death by those who disagreed. The peaceful attempt to march on Selma, songs of “We Shall Overcome”, got them as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge six blocks away, where state and local lawmen attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas and drove them back. The Vietnam conflict, The Watts riots, The assassination of Robert Kennedy, the presidency of Richard Nixon, The White House Plumbers, Watergate, The resignation of a president. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Civil unrest, Civil rights, Political upheaval, Cultural divergence. The wrath of injustice was swinging its arm and laying devastation to all it touched. Something was destined to stop it. We had grown up and were tired of the injustice, tired of the lies, deceit, tired and determined to do something about it.

The 60’s not only represented the hippy movement, but a fresh outlook on humanity. The flower power generation was born out of the frustration of the Vietnam War. It provided the perfect catalyst for an imperfect time. If the war had not existed it would have been something else. We had so many injustices to choose from. But we had our banner to wave. The war was so misreported by the biased media that it was made for us. For every one truthful, good reporter wanting to write what was really happening, there were five more who wanted to write their view; slanted, biased, untruthful. For every Joe Galloway writing about the hell the 7th Calvary commanded by Lt. Colonel Hal Moore went through when in November 1965, 450 U.S. soldiers were dropped into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They quickly discovered 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers surrounded them. It did not matter that these actions at landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War. What mattered to America were the dozen reporters willing to show the death and devastation we caused in winning that battle.

If U.S. forces took a village, fighting courageously, loosing lives, the media did not cover that. The media covered the people hurt, misplaced, out of a home. Never mind those three days before our attack a Viet Cong commander had tied the village mayor to a pole, cut his stomach open while he was still alive letting the intestines fall to the ground where the pigs could eat them. Then his entire detachment raped and killed the small girls and women in the village. See, that was not the news. The news was the military burning the village so the Viet Cong would not return. Wide-angle shots of homeless Vietnamese families standing there watching their huts burn. Never mind the fact that we moved them to a new village. Or even that the times we built them a new one. No, can’t report that. Not news, only tears were news, our demeaning, dehumanizing methods were news. The radical arm of the movement loved it. They reveled in it. They rolled over the news like a happy puppy marking its territory. It was custom made for them.

I was never a hippy in the visceral sense of the term. But I was a part of it, I was a retuning vet disgruntled and disturbed over the way the war was going. Like my brothers in arms, I had seen first hand that we really had no plan. We really had no idea what to do. This was a different kind of war; it took a different kind of tactics and the military refused to acknowledge this. This was not a war of attrition, we were trained to win a battle sending the enemy home and this enemy was already home. After much thought my voice was with them and like so many others my age; we changed the course of a few moments in history.

There are those today who think they can do the same as we did then. It will never happen, not in this time and generation. The people are gone, the profits, the songwriters, the singers, the feeling, the times they were a changing and they will not change again.

This is a different war; it is not a war on a given enemy, fought with fronts and tactics. It is a war on terrorism and as long as one person is willing to strap a bomb to their chest, walk into a crowd and blow everyone up, our way of life is at risk. As most people, I feel something needs to be done about Iraq. But the fact of the matter terrorism will continue. And as Americans we tend to forget things. We tend to forget our losses. But, I will let you in on a little secret. The military men and women never forget. Each man and woman can tell you with perfect clarity what happened. Perhaps that’s the distinction between us. They remember and fight to insure it is never repeated. We put it in the back of our mind and think it will never happen again.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A moment in my mind.

Just a Thought.

I love the Internet. The World Wide Web is my playground; servers and routers are my classroom. The modem is my ship to the stars. The void of cyberspace is my new frontier. I speak many languages and understand many cultures as I converse with my keyboard. My eyes are the monitors of space and time, its pixels challenging the imagination of my mind.

I don’t have to worry about my frequent flyer miles, passport or immunizations. I simply sit down and travel through the electronics of today into the concepts of tomorrow. I can visit as many countries as I wish. I can be in Japan in the morning, New Zealand in the afternoon, and spend the night in Scotland, England and Ireland. If I wanted to, I could drop by China, Russia, Canada and Australia on the way there. I could do that in an hour or less while I am having a morning cup of coffee.

I can read the news, watch a movie, laugh at a comic, wonder about the strange and weird and be in awe watching a shuttle take off. I can peek into people’s daily lives, laugh with their families and shed a tear with their misfortune. I can be with the brave men and woman fighting against terrorism, saluting their courage and crying with their loss. I can discover the latest trends in electronics and shop for the right price I want to spend. I can read the movie reviews, see what is on television that evening and schedule my flight to New York next week. I can operate my business in Chicago while I am vacationing in Hawaii. Run my spreadsheets, check into my customers and make sure the staff is on time.

I can make sure my child’s grades are up to their standard and chat with their teacher. I can read the latest ways to insure their safety and health. I can read about parenting and being a dad, as well as find out the latest baseball score. Watch the game, listen to music, talk radio, get down and funky, be in the groove and I can do all of this from the comforts of home while sitting in my chair.

I love the Internet.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Scattered musing, or guy gets glued to toilet?

Scattered musing, or battle it right, stop torture and a guy gets glued to a toilet!

President Bush unveiled his long awaited Bird Flu Battle Plan. The President will ask Congress for $7.1 billion in emergency funding to prepare the country for a possible flu pandemic. The plan also calls for spending $1 billion to stockpile antiviral drugs -- such as Tamiflu and Relenza.

An interesting side note to Tamiflu is its derived from an ancient Chinese spice star anise. It is an ingredient of the mixture known as “Chinese Five Spices.”

The plan was just released November 2nd and already it has become controversial. Such as the lack of health care coverage, and a health care system is too limited in capacity to provide it.

Here is a fantasy scenario; all the worlds’ leaders join forces to combat this ever-increasing health threat. The Senate agrees to provide any funding necessary to stop the flu in its tracks. The world health organizations join with the scientific and pharmaceutical community to develop a new and effective means of stopping the possibility of mutation and the present infection among the world’s birds.

Now that is a Bird Flu battle plan.

I have been trying to understand the White House on opposing a congressional drive to outlaw torture. President Bush was quoted as saying, “We do not torture.” Okay, if this is true, why is the White House against the establishment of an act prohibiting it?

Personally I feel torture is a reprehensible act that should not be condoned by any government. Of course this is not the case in some other parts of the world, but have we not set ourselves above these people? Another point that bothers me is Vice President Dick Cheney wants the CIA excluded from any law passed. Excuse me? In the past the CIA has been the agency accused of it. And we want to exclude them? We have all read the stories from those in Iraq who were tortured under Saddam’s regime.

This is just one of those instances that I scratch my head and wonder.

Just when I’m down in the dumps reading news stories with death and devastation I see this and my sense of humor is validated.

Man glued to toilet seat, sues store - Yahoo! News
Retired electrical engineer Bob Dougherty, 57, said on Thursday he was stuck in the stall with his pants down for about 20 minutes and that two years after the 2003 incident he was suffering from post-traumatic stress, which has triggered diabetes and heart complications.

"I have these nightmares every night where I am locked in this dark room, with no windows, no doors, no fresh air, no route for escape. I wake up in these cold sweats," Dougherty said

I realize that poor Mr. Dougherty may never be the same again. But damn this is funny!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Internet Pornography - Out of Control

The Porn Industry is spying on you and nobody cares

The World Wide Web is turning into a major porn industry and it sickens me. Pornography has taking control it can be found everywhere. There was a time porn sites were a closely guarded secret. People would have to know someone who had information on where the sites were, subscribe to an x-rated news group, or search for hours trying to find the “Debbie does everyone but you” sites. Back then finding a porn site was harder then finding both socks after getting them out of the dryer. No longer.

I am an adult male, over 21, healthy sexual appetite. Perhaps I’m one of a kind, or the last of a dying breed, because I don’t bother with pornography; could care less. Of course I find it sexually stimulating. My mate always said to turn me on, all she had to do was show up naked. See, typical male. The wind blows, I’m ready! I just don’t care about porn. I like the look and feel of the real thing. I also find it a lot more satisfying than a photo staring back at me. That’s just me though. Here is the kicker. I support the right of any adult female or male to view whatever they wish as long as it’s legal. As long as the Supreme Court says adults can look at staged love lunches on the web, then I support it. I told you I am the last of a dying breed.

It has been demonstrated through the courts that the display of pornography on the Internet are protected constitutional rights as governed under the First Amendment of the Constitution. This very fact went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Basically they have stated that under the First Amendment the Internet can display pornography and as Americans we can look at all we want. As the comic, Yakov Smirnoff used to say, “What a country!”

The same industry that is successfully defending itself from being governed through the defense that their constitutional rights are being violated, are continuously and indiscriminately violating our constitutional rights and federal laws. Their practice of spying on our personal lives through electronic means violates our right to privacy, as protected by the First and Fourth Amendments and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 2000. Their spamming techniques are a direct violation of the new Can-Spam Act of 2003, which contains a provision for protection against spam containing unmarked sexually oriented or pornographic material. They also violate many federal, state, city and local obscenities laws.

The porn industries invasive use of spyware tactics also violates various laws under the Federal Trade Commission, and the pending Spy Act, which will grant the Federal Trade Commission broad new powers enabling them to police America's software industry. If someone really wanted to push the envelope they could charge violations under the USA Patriot Act. After all, spying into ones computer through electronic means could be construed an act of spying.

They will try any tactic, install any software, and send any e-mail with the ultimate goal of bringing you to their site. The majority of it is unsolicited and unwanted. Some Porn sites will hijack your home page, changing it to their location. They will change your default search engine to theirs. There is the ever popular installing an additional toolbar on your browser, which of course is a porn toolbar. This is such a favorite tactic that you can google porn toolbar and find instructional pages as well as pre-designed porn toolbars to purchase for your company.

They inundate us with adware, pop ups, spyware, anything they can think of to get you to view their sites. Recently a friend of mine was on a commercial porn site, clicked on a link and over forty new windows loaded in his browser. He said, “I really don’t know how many new windows the site loaded, because the system crashed at forty.” “It was so bad I had to reinstall the entire operating system.”

Remember, Spyware is a parasite, which lives in your computer, feeding off you.

Spyware changes system settings, installs other software, monitors where and what you surf. It creates data files on your hard drive of your surfing habits and intermittently sends this data to their servers; that is the nicer versions of spyware. It can be used to assist in identity theft, tracking your personal data, capturing your keystrokes, invading your privacy, searching your computer for credit card data and social security numbers, all with the intended goal of stealing your identity.

Pornographic spam, unsolicited e-mail surreptitiously sent by the porn industry with no-choice-but-to-view inline photos openly displaying nude couples having sex, afternoon delights, love lunches, photos of women’s legs spread wide enough for three Gynecologists to work side by side while a professional team of cinematographers capture video footage, photos of Bambi, Thumper and the entire college football team having sex on a tennis court while the freshman class keeps time with the nude cheerleaders and dancing security staff.

There is a distinct possibility a child could unknowingly be standing next to someone while they are checking their e-mail. “Spam central” as some call it. We often sit at home or in a coffee shop, laptop online, surfing away. A child could be behind you, off to your side and you are not aware of it. You open your e-mail and an unsolicited porn photo opens in the middle of the document. That scenario is not the users fault; they had no idea it contained porn. Why? Because it had a false, contrived from field and the subject had nothing to do with the photo; simply words or a phrase to make the user open the message. We have all received them, we know.

These are in direct violation of the new Can-Spam Act of 2003. Under this act, if the e-mail contains porn, the term “sexually explicit” has to go in the subject line. The porn industry will simply conduct business as usual with their spamming, attempting to throw off the enforcement by engaging in deception, through bouncing emails off proxy servers, or lying in the subject line, or a new concept, spoofing, where the from line is forged to give the impression it is from a friend.

One would assume the government, ever vigilant, would want to protect our children from pornography. Let’s be honest, we are not speaking about an adult wanting to look at porn. We are talking about a child and the possibility they could be subjected to this. The Supreme Court blocked enforcement of a law intended to protect children from pornography on the Internet, They said the law probably violates free-speech guarantees, and by a 5-4 vote, the high court said it "likely violates the First Amendment."

Perhaps the outcome would have been different had the porn industry been brought before the courts on the invasion of privacy issue, first and fourth amendment violations through indiscriminate spyware and spamming. This issue should be seriously considered it might hold the key to achieve the same desired effects. Not to shut them down, I don’t support that in any way. I support holding them accountable for their actions through implementation of a form of protection for those too young to protect themselves.

We can all do something about this. Research it on the net; find out whom to turn to. The new Can-Spam act is enforced by The Department of Justice. If you want to tell someone you are receiving porn e-mail and want something done about it, notify your local Internet Service Provider, they will point you in the right direction.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Politics War and Bird flu

Politics, War and the Bird Flu, is anything going right these days?

The Bush Administration:

Looks like some of the Bush and Cheney staff is getting ready to visit G. Gordon Liddy’s old finishing school. For those who don’t recall, Mr. Liddy spent 54 months in federal prison following the Watergate scandal. Speaking of the G-Man, now there is a man. He stuck to his principals, never gave in, paid his time and is now anchoring a syndicated radio show broadcasting on 232 stations nationwide. Bless you G-Man and thank you for your service. As my Grandfather used to say, “May you get to heaven five minutes before the devil knows you’re gone.”

President Bush, you could have gone down in history next to Ronald Reagan, Roosevelt - Teddy and Franklin, the greats. When you stood at the devastation of the World Trade Center, the fireman standing next to you, you defined your presidency. You said to a fireman, “They can hear you.” “The Whole world can hear you. And soon, (pointing to the devastation) the people that did this will hear you!” For one brief moment you stood on the precipice of history. You were and are a great man. You have a strong belief in your principals, God, and this great country. Within that same period of time when asked what your response would be to the attack on the WTC, you were quoted as saying, "I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive." Then slowly you fell. Not because of your principals, nor your response. You fell because of those you surrounded yourself with. You made the same mistake as other presidents, you trusted the president’s men. You remained loyal to them, supporting them in their mistakes.

Loyalty is a wonderful virtue. In everyday life this one act will make a difference in a friendship. But, you are not in everyday life. You are the most powerful man in the free world. The individuals you consult with need to be untouchable. They need to be qualified for the task you have given them and to the presidency in which they serve. If and when one of them does not live up to your expectations, or those of the nation, you replace them. I for one am very sad to see the decline of your presidency. You are a Texan, a proud state with a prouder history. Great men carved that state out. They paid in blood, sweat and lives. Be a Texan. Surround yourself with the greatness preceding you. The Alamo lives as a monument to their bravery, courage and principals. The blood of legends lies on that sacred ground. Grasp the greatness that is Texas and declare war on the ineptness surrounding you. Become the great man a lot of voters feel you are.

Iraq and Afghanistan:

Iraq and Afghanistan scream at us from the headlines. Our troops rise up to meet insurrection and terrorism head on and kick it in the ass. Bless the men and woman who have given their lives for this great country. They are guarding heaven’s gates and enlisted in the corps of angels. Rest in peace my brothers and sisters.

I hate what the media has done with the lives lost by these brave men and woman. They have turned it into another anti-this, anti-that media event. When writing or publishing their dribble, how can they neglect to mention the reason American lives are being lost? How can they forget about the thousands of lives lost at the WTC, on September 11th, 2001 or the 343 lives lost by the brave New York City firefighters, or the police officers, or the lives lost in the terrorist attack on the USS Cole. The list of American’s loss of life is quite large. We are in a war on terrorism. It has no name, no country, no front lines, and no boundaries. It does not have a person, like Adolf Hitler to hate. Although Usama Bin Laden is right there on the top of America’s hate book. But there will be terrorism as long as one person wants to strap on a bomb and run into a crowd. The media sickens me at times.

Avian Influenza: The Bird Flu (Center for Disease Control, CDC)

Avian Influenza, The Bird Flu, H5N1 could become the black plague of the 21st century. The Bush administrations Bird flu battle plan reportedly predicts that almost 2 million Americans could die in a major outbreak. States and the federal government have already prepared emergency plans in the event it turns into this. The best way to find emergency plans for your state is to google with “Bird Flu Emergency Plans for Insert You State”. Example, bird flu emergency plans for new york. Presently the US is preparing to fight this virus. But it is attacking it five years too late. We have been aware of the H5N1 strain for that long. It took a lot of recent media attention to get it off its collective butt and begin doing something about it. Only recently has the Bird Flu been the talk of the media, yet if you google the words, Bird Flu you get back 47,000,000 hits, the term H5N1 will return another 6,130,000 hits. We need to all be concerned about this.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, October 14, 2005 “U.S. not ready for bird flu”, staff reporters, Jeremy Manier and Tim Jones wrote, “Congress and the Bush administration are scrambling to improve the nation's scant supply of vaccines and anti-viral drugs that could fight such infections. Lawmakers said the government's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina highlighted weaknesses in disaster readiness”. They stated that Michael Osterholm, an adviser to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy was quoted as saying, “Quarantine will be playing a very limited role," "Influenza is such an infectious disease that unlike some diseases where quarantine can work, with this one it will not.” and Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), who heads the House subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said “disease control has surpassed war and terrorism as the nation's top priority”. “Everything else pales in significance”, Leach said.

Recent news articles showed there are plans in place to turn our schools into emergency hospitals, our office buildings into morgues. The probability of expected death from this flu is expected to surpass the Spanish Flu of 1918. Presently a human must come into direct contact with an infected bird. Such as in Asia where cages holding hundreds of birds are stacked atop one another in market places.

The time will come when the virus mutates, jump species as all influenzas do and begins infecting humans directly. Jumping from one infected human to another. This type of infection occurs all of the time. We feel a bit under the weather, or get hit with a cut-down version of the virus, spend a few days in bed, recover and get back to work. Because we have immunity, we have had versions of it before and our body either ignores it, or gets a little of it and builds more immunity. The problem with this particular strain, H5N1, is that human beings have never been subjected to it. We have no built-in immunity. If this strain mutates it will hit humanity like a ton of bricks being dropped on it. A pandemic of proportions never seen may hit us. Some sources are stating that the “Bird flu 'could shut down world travel'. The United States is now stockpiling more of the vaccine, Tamiflu.

To find out more check the NewsXS feed, or the CDC, Center for Disease Control.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hey Media its war deja vu again

Hey Media, it's war, deja vu all over again!

I swear I am getting flashbacks to the 1960's! I am inundated with negative press, slanted press and at times, downright wrong press statements and they are all pertaining to the on-going war. Bob Dylan is on the radio, “How many roads must a man walk down, before they call him a man”. I hear it, plain as day! Man, I hope the Old Lady’s in the kitchen whipping up a batch of brownies from that Alice B. Tokla recipe my bud gave us. (Nope, no link for that one. Find it yourself,) It’s back! The summer of love, 1967. Reality hits! It’s 2005! Dylan is an icon and deserves it. The man is a poet. No drugs, booze, caffeine or cigarettes. We are all healthy now. Not as much fun as it was, but healthy.

The media never changes. It simply changes reporters. It instills, controversy, makes you think, your hearts bleed and tears fall down your cheeks. That is what it is supposed to do. They are supposed to do it by reporting the news in a fair and unbiased manner. They are to report it accurately and without prejudice. But, just as in the 1960’s they have began their little slant towards reporting what they want, not what is happening. A cameraman can capture beautiful images. The problem is these images can be construed many ways. One picture is worth a thousand words, but is that picture accurately telling the truth?

How many times do we see a reporter in Iraq or Afghanistan, standing in the desert, smoke billowing behind him, people running, and solders standing around with M16’s. He is reporting on a bombing that had occurred, an IED, (Improvised Explosive Devices) had gone off. He is in the middle of hell, reporting on something he was able to gather the facts on as quickly as possible. The problem is he may not have all the facts. That I understand. What I don’t understand is how many articles I am reading pontificating the failures in the war in Iraq. Who told them that? Where are they getting their sources? It is nothing but one sided, biased, pure crap the media is spoon-feeding the American public on a daily basis, and the problem is, the media knows it.

Do you want to know what is really happening? Who is really winning? Start reading the MilBlogs, (Military Blogs). These are posted from solders, marines, sailors, men and woman who are there, front line, see it, doing it, and wearing the t-shirt. Granted, they talk about a lot of joking, insanity and pranks. At times their idea of a joke we find offensive. Of course they do. They are in a combat zone. People die. At any moment they have to be able to pull the trigger and kill. Why, they are the United States Military, that’s why. Black humor, insane humor, and just plain boyish humor are part of the norm. I’ve been there, and that type of humor helps keeps the flying monkeys from attacking you, in other words, keeps you from going crazy.

Everyone should read the open letter to the media that LTC Tim Ryan, CO, 2/12 Cav, 1st Cav Div, a Battalion Commander presently serving in Iraq wrote. It is titled, Aiding and Abetting the Enemy: the Media in Iraq.

Colonel Ryan has not only printed the truth, but he is telling it like it is. The United States Military needs the support of the media. It needs the support of every man and woman in the United States. I can tell you from experience, that being in a hot zone and reading how bad we are doing hits you like a ton of bricks. It does more damage to the troops then a terrorist ever could. The media loves to say how many of our men and woman died, but do they tell the whole story? The truth of the matter is, in Fallujah. We faced a well-trained, well-entrenched enemy. Colonel Ryan equates it to the Allies breakout from the hedgerows in France in WW11. He states that in both cases our troops overcame the enemy and began what could be the latter’s last stand. Read this yourself and you will understand.

The inherent problem with slanted media coverage can be described in two manners. First, it dramatically affects the moral of our men and woman in uniform. Second, and I wish a politician would get off their buts and say this, “Media, you are Aiding and Abetting the Enemy when you print crap like that.” A terrorist wants slanted, biased, inaccurate reporting. They want to undermine the people at home. They want to pull support away from on-going military operations. People, this is what the terrorist wants. Don’t you understand that? Lately I often hear the quotes of Sun Tsu. For those of you unaware, he wrote what is referred to as The Oldest Military Treatise in the World. Further, this is not yesterday’s news, nor written last month. It was written over 2400 years ago, and is still in practice in some way or manner today. In this, Sun Tsu is commenting on "Kill one, scare ten thousand". This is the basis and strategy of terrorism today.

Even Senator James Inhofe, Oklahoma, returned from visiting our troops had conveyed their thoughts about how our own media undermine their mission. According to an article The Inhofe survey, compiled from the LexisNexis data retrieval system, shows that the Post and Times have run 90 editorials since March of 2004 about U.S. detainee policies and treatment of prisoners at facilities such as Abu Ghraib. By contrast, since March of 2001, these papers have run only eight editorials about the terrorist tactic of beheading hostages in Iraq and elsewhere. These papers have run only three editorials about the estimated 290,000 to 400,000 bodies found in 300 mass graves in Iraq. These papers have run no editorials about the accusations of rape of women and children committed by U.N. peacekeepers and U.N. personnel in the Congo in Africa.

One more item was the recent coverage of a woman prompting U.S. troops prior to being addressed by the President. The video showed her telling the solders what to say, who to give the microphone to, etc. The media loved it; they ate it up and spit it out to us in volumes. Did anyone every think that this was inaccurate? Did anyone ever wonder what really happened? Think about this. They are going to be interviewed by their Commander in Chief. The President of the United States. Wouldn’t it be nice to have things prepared? Wouldn’t it be nice not to choke up on camera? Want to read what really happened from a solder that was there, bottom right corner of the picture. Read They Call Us, "Doc", subtitled, Speaking with President Bush by Sgt Ron Long. Find out the truth. There is a concept.

This improper use of the media to convey the agenda of another has got to stop. We don’t want biased coverage, no coverage, partial coverage. We the American public deserves and demands fair, timely and factual coverage of the war. We are tired of being portrayed as the schoolyard bully. We are tired of inaccurate media. We deserve better. Why? We are Americans.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Customer Service. We hardly knew you.

Customer Service, Rest in Peace my friend, we hardly knew you.

Whatever happened to Customer Service? I mean real Customer Service, not the 1-900-“Who Cares” we are subjected to. I mean providing service for your customers. I had an Uncle who owned a furniture store. He would often say, “The customer is always right”. He meant it too. He demonstrated that to many customers over the years. They rewarded him with coming back and telling others. He had an excellent business.

Treating your customer’s right. Showing them that you care about them more than the product you are selling. That was the way it used to be.

Just to test my hypothesis “No One Gives a Damn” I decided to search Encarta and Wikipedia, I wanted to see just how Microsoft would define it in relation to another encyclopedia source. It makes me feel good when a theory is validated. Here are the responses:

MSN Encarta defines Customer Service as: business department dealing with customers: a department of a business that deals with routine inquiries and complaints from or disputes with customers.

I found it interesting that Microsoft failed to describe it as a service to customers, nor a behavior, but a department dealing with complaints. That comment alone speaks for itself.

Wikipedia defines Customer Service as: a set of behaviors that a business undertakes during its interaction with its customers.

I had to search Encyclopedia Britannica Online to find the answer I was looking for: Customer service involves an array of activities to keep existing customers satisfied.

Yes! Validation. Keeping customers satisfied! One can argue that a set of behaviors falls into the same definition, but the answer I was brought up with is satisfied customers, and it was free. It was not, the Gold Plan, Silver Plan, a paid 900 number, nor was it grudgingly given, while some guy is cussing you out in the back. Some person reading the answer off a monitor did not provide it either. The person you dealt with knew the product, sold the product, believed in the product and was more than happy to help you.

A few months ago I accompanied a friend to a home supply store. He is a licensed contractor and deals there often. We were in the electronics department. I was watching another customer argue with a salesperson dressed either as one of Santa’s elf’s or wearing the latest fashion in coveralls. The customer had a very red face and Santa’s elf was trying his best to look interested. My friend could not find whatever it was he needed and I knew we were in for trouble. I watched as the customer stormed out and Santa’s elf went off to feed the reindeer or hide somewhere. It did not matter that my friend had tried three times to get his attention for assistance. Santa’s elf was not in the mood to deal with another person right now.

My friend walked up and down a few sections. Then began storming down others. Try as he might, no one would help him. Let alone be found to ask. My friend never misses a thing. Often he had seen a salesperson pick up one of the phones attached to every area and dial a number to access the speaker. He gave up searching, walked to a phone, picked it up, and dialed whatever number he had seen. Magic! He was on the store speaker. He said, “There is a customer in the electronics section that has dealt here for years and would like some help before he leaves and never deals here again!” I watched with interest as three salespersons and two men in suits came rushing to his assistance.

“Sir, you are not allowed to use the store intercom”, the first suit exclaimed. Suffice to say, it was on now. They were all arguing. Finally my friend raised his voice higher than the others and said, “If you would give your customer’s service, then we would not have to pick up the damn phone and beg for it!” The quietness was so loud it was uncomfortable. It was actually quiet as a church for a moment. What transpired next truly impressed me. Not only did my friend find what he needed, he was given a 15% discount for his trouble along with his normal contractor’s 10%. He also agreed never to use the store intercom again. I guess one has to give to receive.

I can’t say if this changed any of their service policies. I can say that whenever he is in the store he is well taken care of though. The sad footnote to this is it should not have happened in the first place. Nor would it have happened 20 years ago. Back then a salesperson would have been fired over that, not today.

We can’t go into any store and get customer service. Nowhere. I was at a Walmart recently and watched as the complete sales team for a department stood in the back of the store. One woman stood in front and was actually leading them in a chant. They all began clapping their hands, jumping up and down and hollered something about Walmart. They ended with a group hug. Then each went a separate direction. I was in awe. I felt as if I was intruding on some ultra-religious experience. It seemed that personal. Impressed? You bet I was. I felt that I had just witnessed the holy grail of retail. I felt they loved their store, their products and was going to go the extra distance for their customers. Damn, I felt good. I wanted to hug someone. But my buddy that was with me would probably have punched me.

This good feeling lasted for a whole five minutes. For about that time later my buddy went searching for help. He found two of that same team and went up to them. I was so happy for him. This was THE team. I saw them. I watched their holy sales ritual. Damn, they had actually all hugged! I knew he was in for excellent service. Boy was I wrong! Not only did they not help him, one was actually nasty about it. I don’t recall what it was he was looking for, but they didn’t know where it was, nor did they care. They also left the department quickly. We ended up finding it ourselves.

I have reached the conclusion that customer service has died. It lays somewhere in an unmarked grave. Some of us mourn its passing. There are those of us who never knew it. Where ever it is, Rest in Peace my friend. You are missed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Thousand-Yard Stare.

It is not a natural act.

It is not a natural part of life to be shot at. It is not natural to take another's life. It is not natural to be placed in harm's way every moment of each day of your life. It is not natural to be 18 years of age and killing someone is part of your daily routine instead of playing football, going to college, working at the corner store, or learning the ropes of the family business. Let's be honest folks, it is not natural.

It used to be called, "Seeing the elephant", facing the enemy, shots being exchanged, people screaming, death, destruction, devastation, bombs raining down, missiles flying, the rocket's red glare. People bleeding, gore, body parts and that sound no person ever forgets, the crack of a bullet breaking the sound barrier as it is flying past your ear. It pops! Then you see the flash of the weapon firing.

It is not a normal part of a teenager's life to patrol areas, weapons locked and loaded, taking fire while on patrol and having to kill another human being so you may survive the night and write to your family the next day. Moments packed with adrenalin, people screaming, explosions, gunships flying overhead, rockets flying, doors being kicked in or blown down with prima-cord. Kevlar, helmets, gear, packs, boots, 9 mm automatics, M16's, these are not part of the normal dress for a teenager. Mine wear pants down to their butts; headphones glued to their ears and once in awhile will actually make a sentence structure to ask for money. They live in the real world, not the other side of the looking glass where the white rabbit is trying to kill you. The mad hatter just set a roadside bomb to take out your vehicle and you distrust every person you see not wearing your uniform.

It is not a natural act.

Seeing your buddies die. Seeing other's die, being responsible for some. So, how do they cope? Easy, with black-humor. Humor based on death. Instead of keeping it inside you it is let out in the form of insanity. You take pictures of the destruction; trade them for porn, anything of value. Sex is constantly on your mind. Why, it is a release from the devastation you see. It is the proverbial warrior thinking about their mate and what they will do to them after the battle. A release. You are Achilles, slaying ten or twelve trojans. You want to go back to your tent, and have sex with three women. You just survived hell. You made it. You have to cope somehow, someway. So, it's sex. It's anything that will make you feel better. If you don't let it out of you it stays there. It eats your soul.

It is not a natural act.

You see it is not like the movies. In the movie we see the hero, anti-hero, charging into battle with a machine gun on his hip. They never die. Those around him do. They always go out in a blaze of glory. Movies are great, but that's not how it happens. Normally they cry, their last words are of their mother. That's life, truth. That's what our kids are seeing.

So they stare into space. They see what has happened, not what is happening. They are reliving it. Shocked by it. Coping in the only way they can. They stare. Looking into infinity. Staring for a thousand yards.

Our brave military, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters have been seeing the elephant far too long. After awhile it is no longer an unnatural act to see it every day. After awhile it becomes part of you. It defines you. Worse, you become it.

It is not a natural act.

To the brave brothers and sisters serving in harms way. The thoughts and prayers from your brothers and sisters of another war are with you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Did we put any thought into getting back?

Did we think about getting back home?

Okay, I'm old, set in my ways, vote often and I'm a vet. I support our troops in whatever mission they are sent to accomplish. They are in my prayers nightly, when in harm’s way and when they are not.

I watch the news, read it on the net, read anything I can find on Iraq, Afghanistan, read the soldier’s blogs and one thought constantly comes to my mind. President Bush, what were you thinking when you sent these men and woman into harm's way? Did you think this would be an easy in-out combat? Did you think we are America, the land of the techno-weapons, and we would have an easy time? Did you and those you consulted with, your advisors; Joint Chief’s of staff, etc put any thought into getting the troops home once they completed their mission?

See, that is the part of the equation that was not thought out, getting out. Returning home. You know, to the parades, the pieces of paper floating all over, the medals, the troops smiling and hugging. I'm sure all of the vet's from good-old Viet Nam, the home of the red mud, remember that parade. Oh, forgot, wrong topic.

Tell me the truth, how many of you know a vet, or someone from the Vietnam era that did not say, "Yep, gonna be another Vietnam." And to which most replied, "Not another." "Nope." "Never happen again." See, we all knew it would happen again. Forget this crap about history repeating itself. It all has to do with politics; just as it did then. Back then politicians would call in the daily bombing targets, wait for a body count that was made up to begin with, then go home to their wives happy they accomplished something.

Nothing changes it all stays the same. The only changes are the names of the dead and wounded. The problem? If I were still 18 years old, full of lightning and thunder, I would be there right now. Why? Not because of the politicians, nor the president, nor anything except for the person next to me, because in the military that’s all that counts.

I support our troops 100%. They did not go there by themselves. They were sent to do a job and they did it. Remember, they are our military and they need our support now more than ever. Let's support them.