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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/29/2008 11:41:44

Good Morning.

Today is our 1,777th day in Iraq.

We'll start this morning as we always do, with the latest casualty figures in the warron terra, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

American Deaths
Since war began (3/19/03): 3940
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 3801
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3479
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3081
Since Election (1/31/05): 2503

Other Coalition Troops: 307
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 481

We find this morning's cost of war passing through: $ 489,803,250,000.00

In doing some research for more sources, I've found some more veterans sites...so this morning we'll turn to a new one, Iraq Veterans Against the War. They too have a multitude of veterans to tell their stories...and there are some slightly different points of view. But in the end...a soldier's story is often one of frustration.
A lot of this will be no surprise to those of you still in the service. These are things that everyone complains about, but that largely don't make it to the public for several reasons. One is the 'camouflage wall of silence', similar to the police's 'blue wall', which translates in the vernacular into a lot of 'Only I can beat up my brother'. Military members have years to start disliking the press, and believing that civilians can never understand their issues. And to be honest, a lot of the issues are pretty hard for civilians to understand.

Such as the No Specialist Left Behind program. Yes, the Army was hurting for good NCOs, particularly NCOs that had seen combat. The Army was bleeding good NCOs like nobody's business. They saw the way the wind was blowing, and many didn't want to stay in. Big Army, in its infinite wisdom and under pressure to deliver in Iraq, decided that the answer was clearly a problem promotion system. The problem wasn't that there weren't enough NCOs! The problem was that good, deserving specialists were somehow languishing in obscurity! Well, you don't have to listen to me tell you that was a bad idea. You can listen to the retired CSM tell you at the link above. Or you can listen to me tell you that when you promote people who aren't ready for it, you get bad, inexperienced NCOs, who are going to lead their troops to trouble. I had to teach one of my NCOs once how to fill out a basic 4856. One of my NCOs. Not one of my specs bucking for their stripes, one of my existing NCOs. And the problem doesn't stop there-when you see some units making four-year staff-sergeants that can't find their own ass with both hands, you know that things are broken.

You know things are hurting when the Army is so desperate for new bodies to send to Iraq that new kids coming in, who haven't even made it through Basic yet, can sign up for $40,000 bonuses, while twelve-year combat veterans go begging looking for some chump change to give the next eight years of their life to the military. I'm not saying it's all about money, because it's not. But I'm saying that we're setting the wrong priorities there.

Especially when we're hurting for bodies so badly that we don't let our drill sergeants do their jobs and impart discipline to the soldiers. Got a buddy on the trail? Talk to them next time about how much they're pushed to let dirtbag would-be soldiers squeak through, because the Army can't afford to replace them. Or talk to a recruiter friend about how much they're pushed to make quota, and the consequences if they don't.
There's more at the source; including some embedded links...check it out.

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197 comments (Latest Comment: 01/30/2008 06:48:58 by livingonli)

What's the state of YOUR union?
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/29/2008 00:42:31

Sweeter words have never been spoken. "Tonight is President Bush's last State of the Union Address"

Come and join us this evening...compare and contrast the state of your union to the ‘vision’ the "President" has.

There will be drinking games, fellowship, and a shared feeling of anguish.

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229 comments (Latest Comment: 01/29/2008 06:05:31 by livingonli)

Four Freedoms Cocktail and Beer Blog
Author: Raine    Date: 01/28/2008 20:15:40

Hey everyone! This is the official F4 Cocktail blog, a clearing house for members and friends to share and retrieve some of our favourite cocktails.
We even have an official list for the perfect progressive bar, so come inside, and share yours here!

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20 comments (Latest Comment: 09/10/2012 01:54:00 by TriSec)

SOTU SnNAFU, not FUBAR - yet
Author: Raine    Date: 01/28/2008 13:28:10

Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution:
"He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

Tonite, the pResident will give his final State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of congress. Final. Can you say that with me? This is the last time George W. Bush will give a SOTU address!

Ladies and Gentlemen. The state of our union is in trouble. It pains me to say this, but after 7 years , as progressives, as liberal, as activists, and people who wanted to stop all the damage that has been done to this country, after being mocked by the right wing as loons, and extremists, it pains me to say... We were right all along. I really wanted to be wrong.
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103 comments (Latest Comment: 01/29/2008 01:50:14 by Raine)

Start Complaining
Author: velveeta jones    Date: 01/27/2008 13:29:56

"Be happy with what you’ve got”
“Not another word out of you”
" Life’s a bitch….”
“Don’t interrupt”
"Simmer down”
“Nobody asked you”,
“Stop complaining”

We started this life learning to “toe the line”, and respect our elders and our leaders.

But as adults it is now our responsibility to stand up and speak! Lately it seems we now have things that stand in the way of our ability to take actions. These things infest us and lure us into into complacency, we have Play Stations and Xbox’s and Ipods, and cell phones with camera's, and all sorts of do-hickies to occupy our time and dull our senses.

At the same time, we are told that we are important, that your opinion counts; and indeed, there are people that claim to want to know exactly what you are thinking! All the news outlets have countless analysts and pollsters who tell us who we are by race, gender, ethnicity and religion and who we are going to vote for, what car we’ll drive who we’ll sleep with, what we’ll die of, and what we wear, buy, eat, and how often will poop it all out. Politicians and corporations hire strategists who run amok gathering this information so they can tell the politician what to sell and the corporation what to say and vice versa.
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31 comments (Latest Comment: 01/28/2008 04:27:05 by livingonli)

Libertarian Saturday
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/26/2008 14:13:15

Good Morning!

Well, by now I'm sure you've all noticed the new buttons at the bottom of each and every blog (Fark, Digg, Technorati, etc.) Well, there's yet another one I've been using for a while called "del.icio.us". It's more of a bookmarking site; you can tag a page and go back to your 'own' bookmark page and pick up all this stuff at any time. (Admin's tip: it's great for blogging. If something looks interesting, I'll tag it and go back and read it later.)

But there's also a terrific RSS reader out there called "Bloglines" (sorry for the wiki link; I couldn't figure out how to log out and then get back to the generic home page.) You can pick and choose what you want to see; set it up with just headlines, summaries, or the whole shebang. That too is a terrific tool...if you see something that you like, you can just click on the "subscribe" button and it will search the entire page you're browsing for a feed...

Anyway, I was cleaning my bloglines up recently, and getting rid of a few things I never had the chance to read, despite subscribing with all the best intentions. But I did add a new one, and it's one of the better services I've ever found. Check out Rational Review sometime....you might be surprised at what you find.

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115 comments (Latest Comment: 01/27/2008 04:02:33 by livingonli)

It's all about the music
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/25/2008 19:47:50

Most of you know that I'm a trumpeter. I'm just a hack; I've been playing for about 6 years now, and at long last some of the things I've been doing are finally starting to gain some traction. Charlie Parker may have been right; he studied the chord changes to "I Got Rhythm" in all keys for a number of years. Many of his originals are based on that chord progression. There is something natural to it, while I was practicing last night, I noticed that I didn't get lost in the chart, it's very easy to follow along. Then there's the II-V motion through the A section...it's all related so multiple scales work over it for soloing.

Last year, I also quit studying and practicing my scales according to the cycle of fifths; I started moving through a modal series instead, and was surprised to learn that they flowed much easier and I picked up tunes a little quicker when I worked this way. Soloing is easier too...so there must be something to that. But then again, I started playing because of one musician, one album, one song. "Freddie Freeloader, from Miles' "Kind of Blue". I can listen to that over and over and I always hear something new...and that high Eb that Miles hits in the 6th chorus sends chills down my spine every time. KofB is one of those albums that on my mythical "5 albums you'd take to a desert island", but that's a blog for another day.

Of course, I also have family history, too. My father was on the faculty at Berklee College of Music here in Boston for 40 years...the number of people and musicians that I knew as a kid as a matter of course is astonishing....and we recently mourned the passing of Herb Pomeroy, one of the founding faculty members of Berklee and someone I have known since I was 8 years old....he played with Bird, you know. My Grandpa was a trumpeter too...(whose horn I inherited and now play...) but he goes back even further to the big band era. Gramps worked with Vaughn Monroe, The Four Lads, Hildegarde, Ella....and Satchmo himself. I have not one, but two personally autographed pictures that Gramps got the summer I was born...they're among my most prized possesions.

"Yeah, great TriSec. Why are you telling us this?" I can hear you asking...

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57 comments (Latest Comment: 01/26/2008 14:35:23 by BobR)

Make Peace, Not War
Author: BobR    Date: 01/25/2008 13:21:39

It's been said by numerous experts that the solution for peace in Iraq is a diplomatic one, not a military one. Peace cannot be created at the barrel of a gun. Considering our track record in Iraq, however, the United States cannot be the agent of diplomacy, because we are not trusted there (for that matter - we're not known for waging peace, at least not with this president). Many experts have suggested it will require the intervention of Iran and Syria to bring the Sunnis and the Shia to the table together.

It appears that half of that is happening. Apparently, Ahmadinejad May Visit Iraq:
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201 comments (Latest Comment: 01/25/2008 20:28:01 by Raine)

Step Aside Nancy
Author: Raine    Date: 01/24/2008 13:42:18

Here we go again. The House has decided to put aside contempt charges against Bolton and Miers. Why? Politico tells us:
Senior Democrats have decided that holding a controversial vote on the contempt citations, which have already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, would “step on their message” of bipartisan unity in the midst of the stimulus package talks.
[...] “Right now, we’re focused on working in a bipartisan fashion on [the] stimulus,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), indicating that the contempt vote is not expected for weeks, depending on how quickly the stimulus package moves.

Brendan Daly, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said “no decision has been made” as to when a criminal contempt vote would be held by the House.
In the midst of Bipartisan talks? WTF?
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226 comments (Latest Comment: 01/25/2008 03:59:36 by Raine)

Dr. Strangelove
Author: BobR    Date: 01/23/2008 13:35:29

Who can forget the movie "Dr. Strangelove.."? One crazy general sets the wheels in motion towards MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) with the people in power seemingly unable to cope with the diplomacy required to prevent it. Released in 1964, it brought attention to the insanity that is our nuclear weapons program.

Agreements were put in place with SALT I in 1972, and SALT II in 1979. There have been other lesser dimplomatic achievements since then, but it seemed everyone understood that to fire a single nuclear missile would result in MAD.

Apparently, that zeitgeist never reached certain military leaders in NATO. They have declared that Pre-emptive nuclear strike is a key option:
The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

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128 comments (Latest Comment: 01/24/2008 03:19:11 by Raine)

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