Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day - 2010

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

It is Memorial Day weekend.  There are flags on new graves again this year, graves of men and women who did not imagine themselves dead as a result of combat this time last year.  New American martyrs who last year hoisted a cold one to those who could no longer join them but with whom they are now forever joined.  Before the end of this weekend there will be newly killed Americans to remember next year.  As ever was.

I always think of Larry Swarbrick, my friend the gentle giant, on Memorial Day.  He was killed in Vietnam, in a particularly mean way, forty years ago this coming August, ambushed in some God-forsaken place called Thua Thien Province.

You didn't know him.  Most of us alive today were then yet to be born.  I know almost no one who remembers him.  But I remember.  I hope I always will.  Allow me to introduce him:

If you were there, you know.

As happens every year, some will wish me a Happy Memorial Day.  I no longer take umbrage.  They care, at least enough to know that there's something about this day that should prompt them to say, well, something.  To someone.  Maybe to anyone who once wore the uniform.  You know, the uniform that most Americans have declined to wear. 

Barack Obama:  Didn't serve.  Claimed his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz in 1945.  Problem is, Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army.  Oops.  Claimed his grandpa enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor.  Nope, he didn't.  Claimed the same grandpa "marched in Patton's army."  Nope, didn't.  Oops and oops. 

Joe Biden:  "I didn't serve in Vietnam.  I don't want to make a Blumenthal mistake here." -- Jokingly, at Walter Reed Army Hospital this past May 25.  He didn't serve anywhere else, either.  The joke was on the patients. 

Bush 43:  Served in the reserves and without note. 

Dick Cheney:  "I was otherwise occupied."

"That Bill Clinton went to great lengths to avoid the Vietnam-era draft, that he used political connections to obtain special favors, and that he made promises and commitments which he later failed to honor, are all beyond dispute."  Snopes. 

Bush 41:  Served with honor in combat in WWII. 

Reagan:  Enlisted, then commissioned, honorable stateside service in WWII. 

Jimmy Carter:  Served with honor in a boomer. 

John Kerry:  I admit to a bias against, but he served honorably in combat.  I respect him for that and I do not question the nature of his service.

Even Elvis served, and with honor, back when it was compulsory and expected of all able-bodied men. He was otherwise occupied too, and he could have avoided serving.  Unless, that is, you believe that mega-stars can't buy their way out of most anything or that Col. Tom Parker didn't really have any pull in Tennessee.

I was otherwise occupied too, but I served.  My day of honor is November 11, not Memorial Day.  You can give me a brief nod of thanks then if you must, but not this weekend.  Please, not this weekend.  This weekend is for Larry Swarbrick, for Chance Phelps, for my dad.

Memorial Day is also for Sgt. Ed Rivera, although he didn't know it.  Sgt. Rivera died last Tuesday, May 25, at Bethesda Naval Hospital, of wounds he received at some God-forsaken place called Contingency Outpost Xio Haq, Afghanistan.  The same May 25, remember, that Joe Biden was making jokes about his own non-service just a few miles away.  Biden laughing, Rivera dying.  Could anything better illustrate our remove from the suffering of men and women who are giving so much for us?

Thank you Larry, Chance, Dad, Ed.  You gave all.  I will remember you this weekend. 

* * * * * 

Civilians seldom understand that soldiers, once impressed into war, will forever take it for the ordinary state of the world, with all else illusion.  The former soldier assumes that when time weakens the dream of civilian life and its supports pull away, he will revert to the one state that will always hold his heart.  He dreams of war and remembers it in quiet times when he might otherwise devote himself to different things, and he is ruined for the peace.  What he has seen is as powerful and mysterious as death itself, and yet he has not died, and he wonders why. -- Mark Helprin, A Soldier of the Great War

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Richard "Hulk" Blumenthal vs. Jeremy "The Fighting Sailor" Boorda

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

You've likely heard Richard Blumenthal say that he served in Vietnam.  No?  You can watch him HERE.  It's as unequivocal as a pol's words get.  No, he did NOT serve in Vietnam.  He was a Marine reservist who wasn't called to active duty for other than training.

OMG!  Politician's LIE?  Yes, sad to say they do.  DickyB isn't the first and there are countless more to come.  They are venal and, in the main, serve only themselves.  Poor us.  In his defense his campaign says he only told that particular lie, um, four times.  On the record where he could be video'd, that is.

Jeremy Boorda was the first man to rise from the ranks to become Chief of Naval Operations, our highest Navy office.  Adm. Boorda DID serve in Vietnam, and honorably.  Problem was, he later chose to wear a "V" device (for Valor) on a couple of low-level medal bars.  He wasn't authorized to do so and when he was exposed he killed himself in disgrace.

OMG!  CNOs lie?!  Yep, same answer.  We are all weak and we all fail. 

Should DickyB take the same way out?  Well, doesn't seem he WANTS out.  Yesterday he said "I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I truly regret offending anyone.''  But I have a chance to be a freakin' senator and I'm not going to let those lies get in my way!  (OK, I made the last sentence up.)

DickyB said "in Vietnam", not "during Vietnam."  I could overlook that once.  Maybe.  But four times?  Trust me, serving in Vietnam isn't something anyone ever gets confused about, except perhaps in senility.

Disclaimer:  I served in Vietnam.  No, really.  Hmmm, Oregon has senators too, and I haven't been caught in a public lie yet.  Maybe I oughta give it a shot.  Maybe something like "Vote for Chuck - You haven't caught him lying yet and he isn't faking his insignificant medals!"  Not much of a ring, I guess.  

Shouldn't lying to further one's political agenda disqualify you from public service?  Yes it should, but only if you think honesty should be a requisite trait of US senators. 

DickyB's got a good chance, too.  His one viable opposition candidate, an actual Vietnam vet with real medals, withdrew.  Now it's Linda McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.  

The good:  She is a VERY successful businesswoman and WAY rich.  

The bad:  Her entire industry is based on a lie.  The word "entertainment" in the company name means "Warning:  This isn't a real sport.  We know who's gonna win."  Oh, and she doesn't have any medals.

If I was to be caught in a lie, that's who I'd want running against me.  Might not be Linda but she's the GOP's choice for now.  DickyB:  "Yeah, well, my opponent's an even BIGGER liar and, er, um... she lied to your kids!"  Did not!  Did too!  Poor us.

One of these people is going to be a senator and, thus reinforced, will immediately believe her/himself destined for the presidency.  What has America done to deserve that?  I don't know who's going to win this election but I do know who's going to lose.

Hello, loser.

* * * * * 

I have made mistakes. I regret them. And I have taken responsibility ... But this campaign must be about the people of Connecticut.   
Richard Blumenthal 

I venture to say we're going to lay the smackdown on him come November.
Linda McMahon 

With lies you may get ahead in the world - but you can never go back.
Russian Proverb

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Oops from Mike Mullen

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

[Disclaimer:  I am a life member of the DAV]

Fox News reported today, after I wrote earlier about Mike Mullen's strange remarks:

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen has apologized to the Disabled American Veterans for a comment he made during an address to the Council on Foundations.

During the April 26 address, Adm. Mullen said non-profit groups, and not government, should take care of veterans.

Adm. Mullen said in a statement that it was a "poor choice of words."

"The point I was trying to make -- and perhaps not so eloquently -- is that the scope of the needs confronting our troops and their families is too great and too deep to be met only through the bureaucracy. Yes, the government must provide our veterans with educational opportunities, employment assistance and quality health care. But we must also recognize there are some needs best delivered and best administered at the local level," the statement read.

The Disabled American Veterans said it is the "exclusive responsibility of the federal government because it creates disabled

MikeyM, you blamed the skipper of the USS Cole for an unforeseeable event to which, in fact, he responded well and in accordance with his training, such as it was (and his training was your responsibility).

Let's apply the same vague standard to you, Mike.  You, who never fired a shot in anger, slimed the entire universe of disabled vets and you did it on the record.  Now it's your time to go.  Go, Mikey.  Shoo.  Get off the porch.

Pennsylvania and Turkey


We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

It only took a month for the Pennsylvania deficit to balloon from $700 mil to a bil.  If you can believe Gov. Ed Rendell (you can't) he couldn't possibly have predicted that last month.  See our April 4 column for details, such as they are.  NOW Ed wants "spending cuts, new taxes and revenue transfers" to address the problem.  Seems his income and corp tax forecasts were off by, oh, call it $376 mil.  Now the state senate is predicting a $1.5 bil deficit by... wait for it... the end of next month.  Nope, who coulda seen THAT coming?  Not Ed, that's for sure.

Good-bye Ed.

* * * * *

Sadly (and tellingly) for me, I neglected to write my Armenian Genocide column on April 24.  I wrote one a bit earlier but that's no excuse.  Remember that one?  And the one I wrote last year?  And my brief mention on March 12?  The inevitable has happened, as it is wont to do (Ed Rendell's myopia notwithstanding).  The Turkey-Armenia talks have broken down because, to no one's surprise, the Turks won't discuss their massacre of 1,500,000 Armenians.

And so it goes.  All those little kids' skulls and tiny skeletons in the desert?  You can just forget them.  Or you can try.  

There is plenty of shame to go around.

* * * * *

I see that Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thinks that gummint shouldn't be responsible for the care and treatment of wounded and disabled American military personnel.  Say WHAT?!  Yep, here's what he had to say as quoted in a DAV press release a day or two ago:

 "I am not arguing in any way, shape or form that this should be the purview of our government because what I would like to see happen is community outreach to [servicemembers] and the government just be out of it," Mullen said.

Last November MikeyM said, regarding the Ft. Hood shootings, "We're at a point now where we really have to move forward to aid those families, the wounded and those who are suffering so much... (T)hat's really where we are putting our main effort."

That was then, this is now.  Things can change in six months, as soon as the news cows move on to graze greener pastures.

I thought Mike was a good guy until that brain fart.  Try telling the soldier with a recent TBI (traumatic brain injury) that his local docs back home will be his primary care-givers from now on.  You know, because they've seen so much of that sort of thing.  

I keep hoping to see a correction or retraction ("Sorry, I must have been drunk" would do) but nothing yet.  Failing that, it's time to call for Mike's departure, with thanks for his previously honorable service.

* * * * *

There is no cannibalism in the British navy, absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount. -- Graham Chapman (of Monty Python)