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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 06/30/2009 10:39:16

Good Morning.

Today is our 2,295th day in Iraq.

We'll start this morning as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from Iraq and Afghanistan, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

American Deaths
Since war began (3/19/03): 4319
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4180
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3858
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3460
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 91

Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 318
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 715
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 486
Journalists - Iraq: 138
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq: 1,306

We find this morning's cost of war passing through:
$ 873, 889, 350, 000 .00

Well, is today the day? US forces have pulled out of major Iraq cities and have turned over security to native forces. This has been a long time coming, and the US and Iraqi armies have spent many long months in training and preparations for this day.

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112 comments (Latest Comment: 07/01/2009 03:20:47 by BobR)

A (D) No and (R) No are still 'No'.
Author: Raine    Date: 06/29/2009 12:32:22

This week, the House managed to pass what some would say is a landmark energy bill. Others have said it is just arranging the chairs on the deck. I happen to believe that this is a good bill and will create what has come to be known as green jobs. It's not perfect but I fully agree with Al Gore:
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59 comments (Latest Comment: 06/30/2009 02:35:51 by Raine)

Onward Christian Poll & Pundit!
Author: velveeta jones    Date: 06/28/2009 13:03:28

In this topsy turvy time of societies downfall, where gays have the audacity to walk the streets hand in hand and own their own business, and women not only wear mens clothing but at times the shortest of shorts so their knees are showing (!) it's great that we have people who are still brave enough to come out and tell us how we are supposed to be living. With the death of Jerry Falwell our moral compass' seem to spin in a circle never knowing where to stop!

Should I love my neighbors whore wife, only hating her sin? Or, should I stone her as required by the Bible?

Recently ads on my computer have been popping up telling me that a new show is coming out on the TV about a man who works as a "gigolo". The show, called "Hung" will surely be a hit, though Velveeta will never watch it, and not just because she can't afford HBO, but because its premise about a man with a rather large thingy will only perpetuate the stereotype that a man can only be manly with a large who-haa. I have scoured my Bible to find reference to this, but could find none, so it must be false!
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13 comments (Latest Comment: 06/28/2009 22:31:17 by livingonli)

Airshow! or is it selling war?
Author: TriSec    Date: 06/27/2009 11:42:32

This morning, Narragansett Bay is going to reverberate with the mighty roar of the General Electric F-404 turbojet. (Union-built in Lynn, MA....probably by my brother!)

Tomorrow, I'll be making the trek myself and doing one of my favorite things...sitting on a hot airfield, having my ears assaulted, and sniffing jet fumes.

Ah, but there's the rub. I grew up not too far from Logan Airport (Boston) and now I live and work not too far from Hanscom Field. I was always looking at the sky, and aviation and things with wings have been a lifelong interest of mine.

But then came September 11 (sheesh, maybe it did change everything?) and with it some changing attitudes and politics for me. Not that many years ago, I watched the invasion of Kuwait with rapt attention and pride; I celebrated the glories of war and the superiority of our technology with a lot of folks in those days. (We're talking 1991, people.)

But especially since 2003, and even more so writing "Ask a Vet" every week....I wonder about some of the things that I love so much. I am looking forward to seeing an F-22 Raptor in the sky for the first time tomorrow, but the intellectual part of me questions the need and the cost.

I haven't seen the Blue Angels since 1998, but now I wonder about the kids that are going to be watching and thinking they're the coolest thing, and all the recruiters that are going to be swarming the airbase this weekend 'just to talk'.

Curiously, I don't have that ambivalence towards the Canadian Air Force "Snowbirds". They fly 1950s vintage trainer jets, and their show is what a flight display should be about; it's artistry in the sky. (The US display teams do it with brute force and noise...how American, hmm?)

It's not a "warbird" show this weekend, but I do know that a few C-47s and a handful of Mustangs are showing up. There is truly no finer sound in all of aviation than a Merlin engine in full swing. (And in a side note, that's how you can tell car people and plane people apart....just do the word-association thing and say "Mustang".) Alas, no B-17 this trip. But they will be around in September.

In any case....it's been 8 years since I last stood on an airfield immersed in aviation and the US military. The intellectual part of me questions the need, and wonders about the recruiting trap that's been set this weekend. Of course, the little kid and the av-dork parts of me are going to be in fine fettle.

14 comments (Latest Comment: 06/28/2009 06:26:26 by livingonli)

The King is Dead - Long Live the King
Author: BobR    Date: 06/26/2009 12:40:31

I heard the news today, oh boy. Michael Jackson the King of Pop is dead of a heart attack at 50. He was the man-child wunderkind that never had a chance to be a boy, burning bright at a young age, and burning out too soon. His quirkiness was an easy target, yet his music was beyond critique. He set a new standard during MTV's heyday, flying so high that it was inevitable that his fall would be that much harder.

Despite being "of a certain age", I remember Michael Jackson from childhood. I used to sing "ABC... as easy as 1-2-3". I used to watch the animated "The Jackson 5" TV show. Driven by his father, he achieved success as an entertainer at an age when I was still playing with LEGOs.

He was 10 when he did this. 10. Years. Old.

Most of us have had the "privilege" of growing up "normal". We've all had those moments in our formative years that scarred us for the rest of our lives. How would our emotional development have progressed had we grown up in the spotlight? The saga of the "child star" is well-known: success at a young age, followed by growing pains, obscurity, drug abuse, a "come to Jesus moment", and then a comeback. Except - Michael Jackson never had that moment of obscurity. He kept going higher and higher, with no chance to rest and reflect.

He and MTV were a match made in heaven. His music and videos continually broke new ground and set new standards. Everybody tried to learn how to moonwalk. The "Thriller" video created a paradigm shift that bridged the gap between music video and cinema.

And with every video he seemed to keep getting... whiter. There's no other way to put it. First it seemed like he was trying to look like Diana Ross. His skin kept getting lighter, he had more plastic surgery. You have to wonder if anyone tried to intervene, to ask him "what the hell are you doing?". Add to that the stories of strange behavior and strange purchases (some true, some false, some concocted by Jackson himself and leaked to the press), and you have a picture of a man in the midst of an emotional crises.

Perhaps once he was out from under the oppressive hand of his father he just let loose. It was all fodder for the people that feed on the pain and troubles of the famous, and - as seems to happen too often - became a vicious cycle, a swirling abyss that swallowed him up. You have to wonder why the plastic surgeons didn't just say "no"...

I don't know if this was a cry for help, or just him lashing out at the media, but I remember this song/video distinctly and thinking "way to go!":

His downfall, though, was a combination of his apparent repressed sexuality and repressed childhood, which manifested itself with his desire to have kids around all the time, particularly boys. It seemed he was trying to recapture the childhood he was never allowed to have, while trying to come to grips with an attraction to males that he didn't know what to do with. That doesn't excuse his inexplicable and occasionally inappropriate behavior with children, but perhaps it can give us a better understanding of how people like him wind up like that.

Despite these emotional troubles, he continually put out incredible music that ran the gamut of soul, pop, and rock. He collaborated with everybody, and it seemed he always allowed them to shine, rather than overshadow them. He donated millions upon millions to charities and set up several charitable foundations that will continue to help people now that he's gone. Did he ever put out a bad music video? I don't know of any. I don't even remember seeing this one, but it packs a punch:

I just hope that history treats him fairly - something he rarely got from a bloodthirsty press. Rest in peace Michael - the press can't hound you anymore. Your music will be your most fitting epitaph.

78 comments (Latest Comment: 06/27/2009 01:23:16 by Raine)

Morality and Hypocrisy
Author: Raine    Date: 06/25/2009 12:34:59

So another GOP contender is out of contention for the 2012 presidential race. Last week it was John Ensign. This party of Family Values, this party that believes that the Gays will destroy marriage are doing an awful fine job all by themselves. Can someone please explain to me tho, that when a Democrat does a 'naughty, naughty' thing, they are no longer in office and when a Republican does the very same things (or similar) they are commended?

For example:
Rod Blagojevich -- Out;
Eliot Spitzer --Out.
Gray Davis --Out;
Jim McGreevey --Out;
Mark Sanford -- Still in office.
Larry Craig -- Never resigned.
David Vitter -- Relected. (given standing ovation on Senate Floor)
John Ensign -- Still in office. (another standing ovation)

Granted these situations should be taken on an "as they come" basis -- I say that as a Democrat. I view our party as one with a little more tolerance, and a lot more compassion. I don't like hypocrisy. The Dems were never the party of Family Values, and Marriage Purity. Does that give us a pass? No. We want to hold politicians accountable for their actions. It seems like the GOP doesn't really like to do that. As a matter of fact, Grover Norquist believes such infidelities make the party more manly:
“I disagree with the idea that this shows problems for the modern Republican Party,” said Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, a group that applauded Mr. Sanford’s attempt to refuse some federal stimulus funds earlier this year. In reference to the fiscally conservative philosophies of Mr. Ensign and Mr. Sanford, he joked, “I think instead it shows that sexual attractiveness of limited-government conservatism.”
Both John Ensign and Mark Sanford were Republicans who called for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. The GOP's other great white hope, Newt Gingrich is hoping that people will forget not just his infidelities, but also his reasons for stepping down as speaker of the house. He was leveled with 84 ethics breaches (all but one that were dropped). He also shut down Congress in a hissy fit hen he felt snubbed by the President. This guy is the face of the GOP along with Rush -- who we don't really need to rehash here. Tom Delay has not seen one day of jail time for his Abramoff dealings. Granted, not all Republicans keep their power... Mark Foley being a good example. In my opinion, diddling with pages was the bad bad thing in that sordid drama, but the GOP seemed to be far more concerned that he had 'the gay'. God forbid-- they need to protect the sanctity of marriage. Affairs are good with women -- but not with men it seems.

I personally feel that what happens between grown adults is ultimately their own business. That said, those that have the power to make laws and legislate should be held to a higher standard when they try to legislate their own morality upon the American electorate. I don't expect any politician to be perfect, I expect them to strive to be the best that they can be. No party can claim the moral majority as the GOP did, but they should be held to a higher expectation. They are in charge of running our government. We look to them to do the right thing for their constituents, and make the right choices when called upon. It's not gays that are hurting marriages, it is the GOP and the hypocrisy of their 'family values' and the so-called 'sanctity of marriage'.

:peace: and

107 comments (Latest Comment: 06/26/2009 01:15:20 by TriSec)

Iran - Day 12
Author: BobR    Date: 06/24/2009 12:20:28

It's been twelve days since the Iranian people voted. We've seen the protests go from violent to peaceful, to violent again, the violence initially coming from the protesters, then shifting to the government forces. It's a standoff on a national scale, both sides waiting for the other side to blink. It appears that won't happen any time soon.
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87 comments (Latest Comment: 06/25/2009 03:07:24 by clintster)

Scooby Doo and the Mystery of the Missing Governor
Author: clintster    Date: 06/23/2009 12:27:48

It stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the news of Iranian voter unrest, the train wreck in Washington and, most importantly, John and Kate getting a divorce. There were reports that Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, was missing.
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104 comments (Latest Comment: 06/24/2009 01:47:02 by TriSec)

They blacked out the media. Poor Iran
Author: Raine    Date: 06/22/2009 12:40:15

Like many others, I have been watching the events in Iran unfold over these past few weeks. It is frightening, terrifying, fascinating and exhilarating. It's dangerous, though. People are dying. More people you can safely assume, than is being reported. This green revolution is growing and morphing into something else, but it started with a simple idea: Count Our Vote. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
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73 comments (Latest Comment: 06/23/2009 12:13:17 by TriSec)

Enquiring minds.
Author: velveeta jones    Date: 06/21/2009 13:52:26

Why would I want single-payer health care? I don’t want to be single!

No you will not necessarily be single. Single payer is a term used to describe the payment of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers from a single fund. According to the National Library of Medicine's Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus, a single-payer system is:

An approach to health care financing with only one source of money for paying health care providers. The scope may be national, like the Canadian system, state-wide, or community-based. The payer may be a governmental unit or other entity such as an insurance company. The proposed advantages include administrative simplicity for patients and providers, and resulting significant savings in overhead costs.

Single-payer health care does not necessarily mean that the government or some government agency delivers or controls health care services; it could be similar to a public utility that provides electricity for example, to everyone.

More info can be found here.
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19 comments (Latest Comment: 06/21/2009 22:13:30 by Mondobubba)

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