Monday, June 30, 2014

30 June 2014 Monday with a vengeance

          Friday we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.  It was a great weekend.  It is still amazing to both of us, how rapidly the time has flown since we met and since we married.  Thanks, again, to all well-wishers. 
          Yesterday morning brought  0.3 inches of rain.  Not a problem until factoring in the 2.5 inches from Saturday.  The creek behaved according to the laws of physics and demonstrated about a 1 foot rise along with the expected rise in rate of flow.  This morning, it is on its way back to summer conditions. 
          Last night we began to doubt the refrigerator’s function.  This morning there is no doubt.  It is not working as it should, not making ice, and not maintaining the desired temperature.  We’ve called for a service technician to visit it and diagnose its ailments.  The best option may be a new unit.  We would prefer a quick, easy, cheap fix, of course.  (pause for cosmic laughter).  See this space tomorrow for further lamentations.
          The SCOTUS just dropped another “fuck you very much” into the concept of no state sponsored religion.  The idea that corporations are persons was used again to push the nation toward a fundamentalist theocracy driven by evangelical corporations that continue to demand protection and funding as tax-exempt apolitical entities.  In honesty, these corporations and their fund raisers are as dangerous and as vicious as the current murderous bastards calling their selves ISIS, ISIL, or the Islamic State. 
          The Iraqis have received five Soviet era Su-25 close air support aircraft last week.  Iraq boasts it will have them ready for use within 5 days.  I wonder how long it will be before they are used to defect from the Iraqi AF, shot down by ground forces, shot down by other nations’ AF, or flown into the ground by poorly trained pilots. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

27 June 2014 21 and looking forward

          21 years ago today Gloria and I married.  I’ve enjoyed those years with her more than I thought or imagined possible. 
          I have every reason to thank her for drastically altering the course of my life.  I try, not always successfully, to let her know how much I appreciate what she has done and what we have managed to forge of our lives together.  She most likely added years, happy ones, to my life.  She reminded me that I could smile and laugh.  She certainly prevented me from migrating to Alaska to work at Point Barrow. 
          So, Happy Anniversary, Gloria!  I’m eager to enjoy the adventures that we will discover in the next 21 years.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

25 June 2014 Among the many at RFK

          21 years ago tonight, Gloria and I found ourselves in RFK stadium, watching The Grateful Dead.  Sting opened the show and Bruce Hornsby sat in with the Dead.  This was the end of the East Coast Summer tour for 1963.  End of tour shows could be problematic and lackluster.  The 6-25-93 show was well played and was the better of the two RFK shows that year. 
          This show was the opening event in a very momentous and life-changing weekend.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

21 June 2014 No advisors were harmed in making this war

Thursday, the operative phrase was, “ No U.S. troops in combat.”  The advisors will working from desks and will not take part in shooting engagements.
Friday the operative phrase somehow shifted to ,”Advisors will be embedded with Iraqi units.  They may defend their selves, but only after being fired upon by insurgents.” 
          Today the message is that the advisors will be taking part in combat operations.  Not only is this political duplicity, it places our “advisors” at grave risk. 
          The official line is that our advisors need to assess the capabilities of the Iraqi army units.  We know their capabilities, we’ve spent the last decade training them to provide their own security.  Obviously, the lessons didn’t sink in.  What makes anyone believe that 300 or so Spec Ops troops will be able to impart loyalty for a government that is more concerned with religious payback for centuries of fratricide than with building a working nation that considers the needs of all its citizens. 
          The official spiel is that our troops will be there to call in the fast movers, bombers, and other air strike assets if they deem the situation requires them.  Our troops will designate and provide Bomb Damage Assessments.  The Pentagon, supporting our civilian leaders, talks about another round of teaching Iraqis to fight their own battles.  Some mention was made of teaching them to control air assets. That’s the part that requires a lot of salt to swallow.       We own and use a lot of high tech toys and tools to practice the modern arts of warfare.  We’ve been known to share this technology with our most trusted allies; Great Britain, Canada, a few other nations.  Does anyone believe that we are going to hand such equipment over to the Iraqi army?  I’d rather dump it off carrier decks ala 1975 than let the Iraqis sell it on the black market or give it to Iran. 
          The risk of ramping up a 3rd Iraqi war is increasing daily.  The first time we lose an advisor to ISIS, the chicken hawks will be screaming for more troops to be inserted to protect our advisors.  Count on it.  I’ve seen it happen.  Been there, got the t-shirt. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

20 June 2014 Deja Moo

Coming around again, military advisors to “train up” Iraqi soldiers and police to some degree of mythical competency that just might suggest a modern nation with a working and stable government. 
          Who’s going to provide these advisors?  Why the U.S., of course.  Although it has been suggested that such a training mission should include the armed forces and police agencies of other nations, including Europe, Asia, and the “Arab League, “ we need only glance backward to 2003 to see how much interest those other nations displayed then in becoming embroiled in another Middle Eastern morass.  They didn’t sign on then please Bush 43, and they won’t volunteer now to please Obama. 
          The last years the U.S. spent in Iraq were purportedly spent providing just such training to military and civilian agencies.  The current incursion by ISIS demonstrates only too well how much competency was achieved by the trainees.  There is little loyalty to the nation of Iraq among the Iraqi army.  What loyalty exists there is directed to religious sect, tribe, and family.  Sunni have no willingness to kill Sunni.  Shia have no willingness to kill Shia.  They will happily become a chanting mob and kill each other when goaded by sectarian Imams. 
          The “advisors” we are now sending into Iraq will be officially non-combatants.  They will supposedly fill only training and intelligence slots.  This is frankly unbelievable.  They will need to go outside the wire in order to train Iraqis and/or to collect intelligence.  At some point in the future, one or more of our advisors will become WIA or KIA.  The remaining advisors will be allowed to defend their selves with as much force as is required, including the use of manned and unmanned aircraft.  Escalation, just as in VietNam, takes place and the role of advisors suddenly changes.  It won’t be “mission creep” but mission expansion. 
          During the  VietNam war USARV provided a nightly briefing, known as the “Five O’clock Follies.”  There was a standing joke that all troops in Cambodia were required to jump into the air at 1700 hours, so that the briefers in Saigon could state, “As of 1700, we have no troops on the ground in Cambodia.”
          Now the descriptive phrase in vogue to describe troop presence is “boots on the ground.”  The quick and dirty work-around for that may become having our troops wear sandals or running shoes.  
Deja Moo, all over again!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

19 June 2014 Sowing more seeds of destruction

The Bush-Cheney admin are not content with the devastation that they visited upon Iraq.  Nor or they content with the economic damage they wrought upon the American citizens.  For Dick Cheney to accuse Obama of incompetence is a joke.  While I am less than thrilled with the Obama Admin, it’s failure to meet some of the promises made in the last two General elections is primarily due to the blatant obstructionism generated by the racism inherent in the red states and the intent by the GOP/teavangelists to roll the social, cultural, and political conditions backward to the 19th century.

This morning, as I stepped out to retrieve the newspaper and to deliver the trash can to it’s pickup point, it rapidly became apparent that we had been visited overnight by at least one bear.  The trash can was tipped over, trash bags dragged out and sampled or ignored.  One bag of trash was carried about 75 feet along the creek bed and scattered around the yard. Another was dragged down the firing lane and some of this was then carried or thrown into the creek.  This portion wound up in a narrow section of the creek surrounded by high growth of knotweed.  It was rather an uneasy time walking into the overhead cover, knowing that the first sign of a bear disputing custody of the trash would be an up close visual.  Sort of like walking into a likely ambush site.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

18 June 2014 Angry doesn’t begin to cover it

The response to Romney’s lament that “we are about to lose what we fought for in Iraq.  Another goddamned chicken hawk worried about losing his corporate profiteering privileges.
I wish I had written this.

This should scare the crap out of us all.  It certainly does me.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

14 June 2014 They broke it, not our job any longer

A friend of mine posted in a thread concerning Medical Lab workers and OCD -
We lab techs, I think, have certain OCD traits. It helps us do our jobs. I label canned goods with the dates that I get them, to make sure I rotate stock. I also date other things, mostly to see how long it takes me to use them - at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it
My reply was-
Perhaps the ultimate OCD example remains the Dead Head tapers and traders who have systematically collected every possible scrap of live performance related to The Grateful Dead and its offshoots. Despite the Band's breakup following Garcia's 1995 death, these collectors have continued to pursue recordings. They've moved from analog tape to digital tape to CD's and now through various forms of music storage as these have become a higher standard of storage and playback. There are 30 years of live material available, all reviewed and cataloged with venue information, guest musicians, hardware notes, track lengths, etc. . Data bases, annotated lyric websites, tape compendiums and other minutiae abound. This is the home planet for OCD I visit there frequently but since I possess only ca 1100 hours of this library/catalog, I'm not truly hard core OCD.
          There are many destinations in the OCD world, I’ve visited a few of them from time to time.  We tie flies to catch fish or for display.  We build scale model aircraft and ships.  We play chess, we write and play music ,    But these remain, for the most part, pass times rather than true disorders. 
          The 24 hour news cycle can become a source for obsession.  The ready availability of news about wars, natural disasters, and political idiocy can snare someone quite easily. 
          The last several days have doubtless trapped millions of viewers who are following the ISIS terrorists through Iraq.  Not surprisingly, the Iraqi army is crumbling and fleeing in a manner highly reminiscent of the last month of the VietNam war.  Officers flee rather than fight and the enlisted troops toss their weapons, uniforms, and run. 
          Not surprisingly, the Iraqi government is asking the U.S. government for military aid.  After we spent billions of dollars training their army, there is no cohesive military unit worthy of the name in Iraq.  In the presence of organized military opposition, Iraq demonstrates that its soldiers are of little use unless fighting against civilians who have no training and no weapons. 
          We need to  make it clear to Iraq that they will have to face this war on their own, without our help.   That should very well lead to the current government emulating that off the Republic of Vietnam in 1975


Thursday, June 12, 2014

9 June 2014 An elephant never forgets

9 June 2014  An elephant never forgets

11 June 2014  Fear the fed

12 June 2014   Only the names have been changed

The Congress will hold “hearings” to determine why they were not notified of the imminent POW exchange arranged by the Obama Administration.  The partly bi-partisan reaction to the release of five prisoners until recently held at Guantanamo Naval Base has Congress highly offended and feeling as if they were prevented from doing the job they were elected to perform.  Of course, the Congress has spent the last 5.5 years doing as little as possible, while the House has done nothing unless it revolved around making it impossible for Obama to perform his job. 
          I’d have kept Congress in the dark until after the exchange.  The ability of Congress to keep information secret is non-existant.  We’d have most likely have captured bin Laden in 2001 but for the actions of one Senator who leaked the information entrusted to him for political advantage.  There’s been no improvement in the nature of Congress since then
          Now the GOP/teabaggers are displaying the high degree of concern they hold for the average members of our armed services by approving wars but refusing to provide care for the men and women who fight those wars and suffer the injuries and deaths inherent in all wars.  The anger directed at Sgt Burgdahl and his family is a prime example of the makeup of the political base the GOP has chosen to play to in the 15th year of the 21st century. 
          The current war in Afghanistan will spin out of all control once we leave.  The history of the region after the Soviet withdrawal, and the rapidly exploding wars in the Middle East are of sufficient predictive value to erase any doubts as to the future of the Arab states and the SW Asian tribal cultures.  However, the international energy companies, arms manufacturers, and other profiteering conglomerates such as Halliburton will make every effort to keep us involved in Afghanistan, while pushing us back toward military intervention in the religious/cultural upheavals that are currently consuming the Arab states. 
          The video images of Iraqi “soldiers” throwing down their weapons, or even worse, handing them over to the advancing ISIS forces is highly reminiscent of the final months of the VietNam war.  We need to remain outside that conflict.  We can’t solve it and we can’t superimpose over a thousand years of Western Civilization onto the basic mental maps of 9th century tribal cultures.  The Islamic part of the world will have to decide if another Caliphate is what it wants to live with and under.  The next Caliphate, if it comes into being, will most likely bring about the next dark ages. 
          Someone should tell the teabaggers that the Gadsden Flag was intended to be a symbol of unification, not of cultural destruction.  The misappropriation of historically significant symbols by splinter groups of pretend soldiers who fantasize about attacking and destroying the U.S. government without realizing that they are being used to further enrich the upper 1% needs to be halted and reversed. 
          The comparison of the teabaggers to Afghani Taliban is entire accurate and bodes nothing good for the future United States.

Friday, June 6, 2014

6 June 2014 short walk on a beach

70 years ago the Allies launched the Normandy invasion to retake Europe from Hitler’s 3rd Reich.  This was the largest amphibious assault ever staged by modern armies.  130,000 Allied troops  took part in the initial report.  By 4 July1944 over 1,300,000 had been poured into Normandy.

          They were opposed by over 380,000 German troops   Allied losses were computed at 120,000 killed and wounded.  German losses were calculated to be 113,059 killed and wounded. 
          The landing was in doubt for much of the first day.  Assaulting units were stopped by heavy German fire.  Entire units became non-functional due to casualties. 

          The numbers can only begin to detail the courage and determination of the men who made the long slog into the beaches in deep cold water, under continuous shelling and nearly solid walls of small arms fire from an enemy well dug in and protected by natural and man-made bunkers and shelters.
          The courage it took for men to leave the meager shelter of their landing craft and begin the long walk to the beach head carrying 80 pounds of equipment in water neck deep or deeper is beyond measure. 
          The men who fought at Normandy and/or other amphibious assaults, are true American Heroes.  It is unlikely we’ll see their match again.