Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Let me preface my remarks by saying I think Rip Torn is a great actor, and he has left a lasting legacy in the movie industry. In fact, I like him so much that I will watch a bad movie just because I know he's in it. But being a great actor, even one with a distinguished career, should not be a defense in a criminal trial.
Having lived in North Texas most of my life, I'm pretty familiar with our sister state to the north -- Oklahoma. The voters there are almost as crazy as Texas voters in the incompetent boobs they elect to political office. Just look at the latest bill passed by the Oklahoma senate.
In the last couple of years, the small portable computers known as Netbooks have been the rage. Although they don't have the memory of their larger cousins, the Laptops, they are smaller, lighter and significantly cheaper. This has made them the computer of choice for those who want to take a computer with them whenever they're away from home.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Are the right-wing nutjobs like Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) actually having an effect on the 2010 census? They have been telling a lot of lies about what the census will be used for. Or are the American people just lazier and procrastinate more than people did 10 years ago?
On March 17th (St. Patrick's Day), R & B singer Erykah Badu (a Dallas native) took off all her clothes near Dealey Plaza in the West end of downtown Dallas. She did this for a video of her song "Window Seat" on her newly released album New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh.
Monday, March 29, 2010
For a while now, many on the right (and some on the left) have been predicting that the coming election in November will be a disaster for Democrats. Some have even gone so far as to predict a return to power for Republicans. They say that the energized voters on the right and dissatisfaction with Democrats will propel the Republicans to victory.
Since the health care reform laws passed, the teabagger movement has seemed to become even more violent in its rhetoric, and for some, in their actions. And instead of trying to calm this volatile situation, some Republican politicians seem bent on making it worse. It's almost as if some would like to see some violence.
It's been said that the military is always preparing for war. That is true. We prepare for combat every day. We ran 5 miles today to the rifle range and shot nearly 200 rounds a piece at targets and then ran back. However, we also pray for peace. I would love one day to be completely unnecessary. But alas, I am a realist, and I know that day will never come.
The headlines of the last week have reminded me more of glimpsing at the S2 Daily Briefing Sheets while in theater or the Al-Jazeera than the NY Times or the Washington Post. Think about that for a moment, let it sink in.
Before I get into the main premise of this article - I need to make two statements here.
First and foremost , when it comes to the back and forth of who did what to whom and why - I don't give a @!$%#. It doesn't change the action. In life we're judged by our actions, nothing more, nothing less. One of the greatest things of the military is when it comes to an enemy, the politics behind the situation - don't matter in accomplishing that mission. For the military , life is simple in that regard.
Secondly, Regardless of your political ideology, you've earned the right as US Citizens to say your piece - no matter how wrong it may be. That is your right, and I will give my life to protect it.
But this government of ours is a democracy. We vote for our representatives, and they vote in our interests. Sometimes, the votes don't go our way. That's life, better luck next time. Exhaust your legislative options, and then focus on gaining the required votes and/or seats to achieve your desired legislative vote next election time. That's the way things work.
But the SECOND you start committing acts of violence and vandalism, then you've usurped that Constitution. You in a way have assaulted it. And then you and I (I being every servicemember who has sworn to defend said Constitution) will have a MAJOR PROBLEM.
For those of you calling for a civil war, I implore you to stop and think about what you're saying. Look around your neighborhood and your city. Now imagine using that terrain to survive. Imagine dodging semi-automatic rifle fire as you scramble from cover to cover, dragging your wounded child behind you. Imagine the deafening report of a mortar as it strikes the ground a 150 feet in front of you, the overpressure enough to shatter your teeth and perforate an ear drum. Try and envision a Stryker rolling through neighbor's front lawn or a F/A-18 making lazy loops over your head in Close Air Support for the troops in the distance.
Now with that vision in mind, stop by your local Marine Corps base, being they will be the first military units you'd face in an all out 'civil war' . Look at them for a moment, examine their 'work environment' . They're running the track, they're climbing ropes, they're grappelling with each other in mock hand-to-hand combat, and shooting targets while moving in raid lines on a daily basis. Nearly everyone on that base, down to our 'secretaries' has a combat award of one type or another, they've faced some of the most stressful situations on Earth where succumbing to the stress can get you killed, and they flourished.
Now ask yourselves and be honest - when is the last time you've run anything other than late to work, climbed anything other than a flight of stairs, grappelled with anything other than a paper jam, and shot off anything other than your mouth? When's the last time you were in any situation more stressful than a traffic jam?
Now I'm not blaming you for your career choice, not in the least. I can't think of a single job that's not useful in some way or another. I just want you to simply compare and contrast your work environment with ours and ask yourselves "Who is better suited to win this battle ?" We both know the answer here, and if you doubt that answer, look at the results from Fallujah in 2004. Over 1200 of them 'lost' and we 'lost only 28. That's a 'win-ratio' of almost 60-1, and they've been fighting their whole lives.
Put this in another scenario. You and your officemates think your local pro football team sucks , so you put together your own team of the best your company has and challenge them to a game. Even if your team might be good, they're professionals. This is their job. Your job is to answer phones and type on a keyboard. In short, they've forgotten more than you will ever know about football. The result, will be a slaughter for you, and a practice for them. But at least you'll get a chance to sit at home, ice your wounds and say 'whew I never should've done that!'
Not so with combat. The results of combat are far...FAR..more permanent. There are no second chances, no time for regrets, and no do-overs. This is not Call of Duty.
Now I 'd like to disperse a myth here - many of you think that US military would not fight civilians. I can't speak for all, but in my case - the moment you declare civil war, you're no longer civilians. The moment you attack the constitution, you're now enemies of that constitution. And I swore to defend and support and if necessary give my life for that Constitution and utilize every tool, technique, and weapon at my disposal to do so. And trust me, I'm not alone.
I hope some of you heed my words and cool the rhetoric and focus on achieving your goals diplomatically instead of physically. It would never want to receive a frag order to Maryland, or North Dakota, or Texas, but it is an order I will follow no matter how much it pains me to do so.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
President Obama was elected by a significant majority of Americans who wanted to see this country change. But ever since he took office the Republicans have done their best to obstruct his efforts. He has gone out of his way to try to involve them in a bipartisan effort to compromise and reach a consensus on how what that change should be and how it should be implemented.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
For the last 18 years, the government has had a program to designate energy saving appliances and products with a star -- called the "energy star". When a consumer sees this "energy star" on a product, they can be sure that the product will conserve energy and save them money. The program was supposed to save consumers money and help the nation in energy conservation. But does it really work that way?
It's about time this happened. Even though they should have done it years ago, Hollywood finally got around to honoring Dennis Hopper with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hopper's star is located in front of the historic Egyptian Theater.
Some people still seem to think that health care reform was not needed in the United States. They think everything was fine just the way it was. Well it wasn't, and the following story illustrates that very vividly.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Since the start of the health care reform discussion last year, the Republicans have told us lie after lie. They have accused Democrats of perpetrating a huge government takeover of the health care system. The truth is that no doctor or hospital will be taken over or run out of business. What they will have is more customers with better insurance to pay for their services. And that insurance will be purchased from private insurance companies in the free market -- either directly or through health insurance exchanges.
I was trying not to comment on the ridiculous reaction of the teabaggers to the passing of the new health care laws. I thought it was just sour grapes, but I can understand that. There have been political battles that I didn't feel good about losing, and I did my share of complaining. But now certain elements in the teabagger movement (if it can be called a movement) have gone too far.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
It has long been thought that thousands of years ago, modern humans and neanderthals lived at the same time, and eventually the neanderthals (pictured) died out and left only humans. But that may be too simple an explanation. There is now some evidence that there may have been a third group of hominins (human-like) living as late as 30,000-48,000 years ago, and this previously unknown group may have had interaction with both neanderthals and modern humans.
It's official now! California state officials announced yesterday that the initiative to legalize marijuana (the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010) has the required number of verified signatures to place it on the ballot this November. The initiative needed 433,971 signatures, and that was exceeded when the verified signatures from Los Angeles county were turned in this week.
As you probably know by now, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) showed all of America his poor upbringing, lack of common decency and atrocious manners the other day. While one of his cohorts in the House of Representatives was trying to speak on the health care reform bill, it was Neugebauer (pictured) who yelled "baby killer" at him.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Health care reform is now law, and in a few more days the reconciliation bill will pass and be signed into law to make that reform even better (although not perfect). There is more to be done, but I don't want to minimize what has been accomplished. Many millions will be helped by this new law, and those who fought for it have good reason to celebrate.
Dedicated progressive and health care reform advocate Michael Moore has written an open letter to all Republicans. In it, he assures them that the new health care reform laws are not just for Democrats, but everyone -- including Republicans. I thought the letter was so good that everyone needs to read it, so I am posting a copy of it below. Read and enjoy.
If you've ever been admitted to a hospital, then you know about the glaring inadequacies of a hospital-issued gown. The flimsy gowns open in the back and the only thing to hold them together are some cloth ties (which naturally are useless since you can't reach them to tie them). If you get out of bed wearing one of them, you can bet you'll be flashing anyone in the room.