Saturday, July 12, 2003

I've been trying to write a post about an Army cadence for about 40 minutes, but accidents keep mappening and wiping my text, so I'll take the hint and cut straight to my point.

The U.S. Army is getting fucked over by George w. Bush.

Now, Bush's dad and Dick Cheney fucked the Army over before. I know, I was there. Multiple deployments, usually during the Winter Holidays, to real nasty places to fight wars that didn't really directly affect us (remember when we invaded a sovereign nation to arrest its president because we didn't like him?). Ronald Reagan had cut the pensions of military retirees and George sr. and Dick cut things like recreation centers (do you know what there is to do in the middle of the Mojave? Nothing), improvements to the housing of enlisted men, etc. Then, right after the first Gulf War, they cut the size of the army - mainly by changing the rules to force out soldiers before they could retire. This was mainly done by a) making it very difficult to get promotions and b) requiring those promotions before you could retire.

Then Cheney had the gall to tell the military 'help is on the way'! Ha! When Bush sr. and Cheney were in charge my raises didn't keep pace with inflation.

Now we've got the army in Iraq again. And the war was not fought as a 'flexible force', it was fought on the cheap. It costs more money to ship tanks, so ship fewer tanks seems to be the real philosophy behind the force structure. Why do you want tanks? Its harder to kill guys in tanks. If the forces in Iraq for Iraq 2: Electric Boogaloo had been a standard mix, casualties would have been lighter and the operations wouldn't have taken any longer (remember how forces had to 'maneuver into position' - that was CYA talk for 'mass enough force to fight'. Tanks would have been as fast).

Another idiot move made to save money was the whole 'shock and awe' idea. "We'll scare them into quitting!" said the 'experts'. I was an intelligence spook in a tactical spook unit for over 6 years - when I heard the 'shock and awe' concept years before GWII:EB, I laughed. A buddy of mine named Scotty said it best, "There's a name for big explosions in the air that don't damage targets, and that name is 'fireworks'." The idea that the leaders would surrender in the face of no damage was discounted by military officers from the beginning.

Until, of course, Rumsfeld and Wolf O' Wits decided it was cool. Rumsfeld, by the way, never served in the military (although he was a councilor to Nixon). Wolfowitz, another hawk, also never wore a uniform nor carried a rifle. Both are flat-out eager to send others to die, however.

These two men, with only academic knowledge of combat, predicted that grateful Iraqis would welcome us with open arms ans we strolled into a Baghdad filled with cowering leaders so overwhelmed by airbursts that they were too afraid to fight.

Ah, well. In the business world, they'd be fired. In the military world, they'd be removed from command. In Washington, they're "leaders".

So now our soldiers sit in Iraq. Suicide bombers detonate themselves in the midst of kids from Iowa. Guys from Maine and Kentucky and Arizona are shot in the head while buying a coke on a hot day. Men who married their high school sweethearts haven't seen their wives, or their children, for six, nine, sometimes twelve months. Women with young children haven't held them or kissed them for just as long. All are watching Iraqis and wondering which one is going to try to kill them.

Try to imagine that. You just fought your way into Iraq. You are far from home. And every day someone might kill you while you are eating, or sleeping, or taking a leak, or talking to your friend. Back home, when a reporter asks the president about the danger you are in, he replies 'Bring 'em on". He's 7 time zones away. No one is shooting at him. His best friend wasn't turned into a stain and a pair of dogtags by a suicide bomber yesterday. He sees his wife and his kids every day. He sleeps in a bed, and eats three hot meals, and takes a shower every day. He doesn't have to wait in line for three hours (wondering if he's going to get killed) to call his mother for 5 minutes on her birthday.

Some of these soldiers have no mission anymore - there is literally nothing for them to do except risk death. They aren't being brought home. Rumsfeld has said that the units there will stay there 'because they are experienced'. They are also tired and emotionally exhausted. They have been misled about when they are coming home so many times they don't trust their leaders anymore (of course, their leaders were lied to - excuse me, 'misled' - all the way up).

You know what I think the reason is that these soldiers aren't being rotated? It costs money to swap troops. By leaving these tired, drained soldiers in Iraq the DoD can save some cash. Of course, many of the soldiers (those that live) will change their minds and not re-enlist - the lies, fear, and separation will make sure of that. So new, inexperienced people will be needed. Good thing the economy is bad; in bad times its easier to replace troops since people gotta' eat.

Of course, there is another danger. Tired troops can make mistakes. Scared troops can make mistakes. Emotionally exhausted troops can make mistakes. As time goes on, they may start to hate the Iraqis, seeing them as both the source of their fear (death) and the reason they are far from home (the war). If we leave these same troops over there long enough in bad enough conditions with no end in sight, every day increases the chance that someone will overreact and commit an atrocity like firing on a crowd of civilians, or using a grenade to 'clear a room' full of kids. With the level of training, leadership, and just plain old quality of modern American soldiers this is very unlikely. But if it does happen, they'll be left out to dry and Runsfeld will have something grave and statesman-like to say about it.

"Help is on the way" indeed.

Friday, July 11, 2003

See, that's why I dislike personal comments of too much immediacy on a blog. A brief crisis of faith in the plan I have adopted, a bit of anxiety mixed with too little sleep and viola! A lousy post.

BTW, I'm fine and the job wasn't nearly the Big Deal I made it. I just wanted to work with some old friends I don't see nearly enough.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Man o' man. When I first conceived of Deep Thought I hoped to keep it impersonal for as long as possible. I mean, talking about yourself is neither deep nor profound unless you can illustrate the general human condition in reference to your own.

Of course, bloggers are always in it, ultimately, for themselves. As ,uch as some may rant that they are making "art" or that they are being "profound" (actually, the tendency of bloggers to take themselves far too seriously is where the name Deep Thought came from), in the end we are talking into the dark because we fear that no one wants to listen and yet hope that we are wrong....

Of course, I am dodging the issue. I started this blog for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is exorcising my own personal demons (and a big shout out to Sarah Hatter, Reverse Cowgirl, Blogdaddy, and, of course, Hjalmer).

My blog has so far covered a great many things that I really think and talk about; politics, economics, and (the big one) theology. But I have been omitting a great deal else, the fear, and the anger, and the confusion, and the joy, and love, and laughter; in other words, the human parts.

But it is harder for me to shout my emotions into the dark, because I am afraid the dark is listening. I was essentially mentally ill for a long, long time and I am afraid of what I feel to this day. It might be alien, it might be other, it might be not-me. Even knowing that the aneurysm that was short-circuiting my skull is gone, I know that my recovery is still going on. ad i fear that I might never be 'better'.

The scary part is, though - how do I tell if I'm crazy? If that gush of blood that oh-so-nearly crushed me damaged my brain permanently, how can I tell? If my emotional responses are off by 5 or 6 degrees, who can tell?

I hate this, I hate this, I hate this! Every question brings a pause as I wonder, every one of my answers is weighed and weighed again. My wife tells me that I sometimes don't answer the question that people ask me, I answer something else. I don't think so, I think that I understood it better than she did. But, what is she's right? What if the more certain I am, the more egregious the error? The Heisenberg Uncertainty Conversation.

Of course, it could be stress. A wife, four young children, no job, no home of my own, a full-time course load at college, trying to keep it together, and always wondering, wondering. Am I unemployed because the economy is bad, or because I can't get a job anymore? Or is it that people can sense the hesitancy, the not-like-me lack of confidence?

And that is the worst, isn't it? what if i am so busy wondering if I am really acting like me that I do not have time to act like me? What if i have made myself the new Sisyphus, always pushing the boulder of Self up the hill of Self-Doubt?

No time, no time. I must away and try to earn my bread.

Sweet heavens, I am wound tight. I have two tests today (one finished and one to go), but that's not it. No, I really, really want this job I applied for, and I don't think I'm going to get it. I applied Sunday night and the job posting was gone Monday afternoon. I am really qualified for the job, and I know people at the company, but I am just convinced that I won't get it. This is mainly because I have been trying to get hired into this same company for almost 4.5 years and its never worked out.

But I hope it does. Jen and I are down to about $850 and have no hope for more other than a job, and soon.

Enough about me, though.

I'll post more later, after my next test.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Well, even more evidence that Western civilization in general and American civilization in particular is corroding in an inexorable slide into collapse.

Over the Fourth of July weekend there was a "boat rage" incident on Lake Minnetonka. For those of you who don't live in the Twin Cities Metro Area, Lake Minnetonka is a rather large lake in the eastern suburbs famous (or infamous, as you prefer) for the price of the homes on its shores (some are worth tens of millions) and the hauteur of many of those who boat there. Lake Minnetonka has many coves and bays and this incident occured in one of them.

Well, this weekend a boat seems to have either bumped another boat or rocked it with 'excess wake', causing the man in the receiving boat to lose his temper. Shortly thereafter, the man in the boat that did the bumping threw the other fellow in the lake - and drove his boat (including outboard) over him. The man thrown in the water is probably dead.

I hear you now, "Probably, Deep Thought? Aren't you sure?" No, no one is sure he's dead, and that is a more terrifying story than the one about how he probably died. A much more terrifying story.

You see, within a few moment sherrif's boats with deputies arrived to clear the area and get divers in the water to search for the missing boater. Eventually there were 35 deputies in 9 boats screaming through bullhorns to clear the area so the divers could start looking. Here's the beginning of the scary part - no one moved their boat. Nobody. A man is probably dead in the water, but maybe injured and needing help, and no one moves their boat to allow the police to try to find him.

Here's the scarier part - they didn't want to move becaue they were afraid they'd lose their prime 'fireworks watching' spots in the cove. That's right, the motivating force behind all of these people ignoring the police as they perhaps left an injured man to drown (and at least left his dead body in the water) was a fear that they wouldn't have a prime view of the upcoming fireworks.

And the scary finish to this story is the added fact that the police had great difficulty in getting statements about what happened from the eyewitnesses. Now, were they afraid of the man who probably killed a fellow boater? No. Were they ashamed of their callous disregard of the welfare of another human being? No. You see, the police were taking their statments during the fireworks show and people didn't want to "ruin their fourth" by giving the police a statement about the murder they witnessed instead of watching the fireworks. Other witnesses left immediately after the fireworks show despite the pleas of police to make a statement. Despite this, enough evidence was gained that two people are in custody and the investigation continues.

Let's sum up - in Minnesota, a place that prides itself on being friendly, a man is hurled from a boat and probably killed and the many observers refuse to either make room for divers to either save the man or retrieve his body or make statements as to what they saw because they wanted a good view of the fireworks.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I bet a lot of the people there got a little misty-eyed when they heard the National Anthem on the 4th of July. I bet many more of them get teary when they saw Bruce Willis' speech in the movie Armageddon. And I bet a whole lot of 'em get upset about the Holocaust and wonder how Germans could just stand by while 12 million people were purposefully executed in gas chambers.

Newsflash! Many of those Germans didn't want to get arrested, too. And some didn't want to risk losing that really good job they finally had. Or the nice house, social connections, whatever. Essentially, they didn't want to risk losing their place for the really good show.

If you think I am being too harsh in drawing a comparison between the boaters who wouldn't move and complacent Germans under the Nazi regime, let me respond with this; The boaters are probably far worse than the majority of WWII-era average-joe Germans were. Most Germans were just careful not to connect the dots; they didn't turn and look full-on at the truth. These boaters knew the truth and turned their back on a man's life and probable death. They weighed a man's fate against a fireworks display and found compassion wanting. They compared letting another man's family know whether their husband and father were alive or dead with their own family's opportunity for a really good view of fireworks and decided in favor of the red starclusters.

One of my first posts was about the separation of compassion from the rest of our lives and how this is a sign of moral corrosion. My example then was how the Nazi high command could order the Final Solution one day and cry at the opera the next. I am afraid that this is a new example, a new indicator that many members of society are placing empathy for their fellow humans in a box that is only opened for movies and family reunions.

And in the end, what is civilization but formalized empathy for others?

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I should be sleeping. But I'm not.