26. July 2004 · Comments Off on Politics and Personalities · Categories: Politics

I’m going to delay my next scheduled post, Prioritization and Focus, and instead do Politics and Personalities first, because I won’t be able to get the other done until I get this out of my head.

Part 1: Politics

To paraphrase Clausewitz: war is politics by other means. Turn that statement around and it remains true: politics is war by other means. In our country, we don’t have coups or use violence to impose our will upon the country, but we do have an elegant system that, while eliminating the need for violence, still allows us to employ the characteristics of warfare in the political arena to achieve our goals. We also have a country with a strong streak of individualism, and I think there’s a way to combine those two things to achieve meaningful change without joining a political Party and attempting to change it from within, or forming a separate Party and trying to take the two established ones head on.

A lot of people feel that they have to form their own parties in order to participate in the process and affect changes amenable to them. Why? Standing before you are two systems already organized for that purpose. They have all the tools, people, and money in place. Why re-invent the wheel and bog yourself down trying to win the game by their rules when you can simply use them to get what you want? Let them raise the money. Let them nominate the candidates. Let them spend their own time and money firing up their base. Let them do all the legwork. Let them make all the speeches they want. All you have to do is simply pick and choose who you would like to see win and who you would like to see lose based on your own priorities. We as individuals can do so much more by using their systems to our advantage than we ever could by forming our own Parties to compete with them.

Political Parties are formed so that like-minded individuals can organize and impose their will on everyone else. By coming together in such large numbers, they give the impression of strength. Interestingly, prey also exhibit this same behavior in the animal world, so forming a Party may not be the best idea. Does the cheetah become like a gazelle to seek nourishment? Do cheetahs eat grass and move stupidly from one location to the next seeking food? Do cheetahs compete with gazelles for resources? Do cheetahs form large groups for mutual defense and protection against predators? No. They are the predators. They are individuals who prey upon the gazelle for their own personal nourishment. They track and analyze their prey. Once they’re ready, they spring upon the herd and take down the young, the weak, the infirm, and the unfortunate. In the end, the gazelle give them what they want: food. You might want to become the predator if you want to accomplish your ends. Guess what? You already have the two largest herds in American politics, the Republicans and Democrats, at your disposal.

Cheetahs normally hunt alone, but other predators sometimes hunt in groups. Take wolves, for example. They hunt in packs and bring an enormous amount of force to bear upon their prey at specific weak points in the herd’s structure. We as individuals can take a cue from this behavior and modify it for our own purposes. The only problem with wolves and other social predators is that not only do they hunt in groups, they also live in groups. They concentrate their numbers, which makes them easier to eradicate by the ultimate predator: man. So, what’s an individual to do? You can’t form a political party to compete for the general public’s attention; the Big Two would merely swat you away and render you largely irrelevant. You also can’t form solid social networks to prey upon the Parties, because you’d give them a target to attack. Unlike most prey, they can and do fight back. The answer lies with the very thing you are using to read this right now: the Internet. I’m not talking about blogs or other sites that exist merely to opine, either. They serve their purpose, but they’re not the best way to do business. What I’m talking about is the Internet’s ability to link disparate people together. The Internet, after all, is the world’s best communication device.

Here’s a scenario: Imagine you have hundreds of thousands of people who don’t fit into either the Left or the Right. They don’t have that much in common with either side, so they don’t seek common cause with others in either political party. They all have their own priorities and they usually focus on so many varied things that they could never come together to form their own Party, but their numbers are so large that at least some of the time, elements within this group share the same priorities. How do these people quickly communicate and temporarily organize to achieve a common goal before dissolving and going about their separate ways?

It’s a scenario that exists right now, but unlike in times past, we have a tool that empowers this group and provides a tool for them to form alliances of convenience and allows them to bring their collective power to bear upon specific points in the system to achieve their ends, just like a wolf pack. The Internet, as well as the myriad communication networks that exist nowadays, is the perfect tool to facilitate these temporary wolf packs and affect change. The change may not be dramatic or largely noticeable at that exact moment, but the collective efforts of all these wolf packs over time would have a dramatic impact on the system itself. The reason why this set-up could work, especially for moderates and independents, lays in the political system as it exists today.

Right now, we have two Parties that represent two supposedly distinct and diametrically opposed ideologies. We call them the Left and the Right. Both of these Parties have followers who will always vote for their respective Party. Each Party has its own halo of people who aren’t strict Party members, but share enough in common with the Party’s current ideology, that they tend to vote for that Party. What’s leftover are two groups of people: Those who don’t care and don’t vote, and those who do care, but don’t fall into either specific Party’s sphere of influence. We call the latter group of people “swing-voters” or Independents. Whatever you call them, they are the king-makers, as they usually end up deciding the winner of many elections. The problem is that most of the time, Independents are not only unaware of the power they wield, they also wield it haphazardly with no organization whatsoever. Imagine if these Independents were able to use the communication networks available today to briefly organize and plan who to vote for based on a common cause, irrespective of which Party a candidate happened to belong to? After the election ended, they would disperse and form networks with different people for different purposes, which would also end after time, and so on and so on. They could have an impact on elections that would go beyond mere accident, and they would be organized enough to co-ordinate their efforts with likeminded individuals in other areas of the country. Though organized, theirs would not be a strict organization with charismatic leadership, middle managers, or foot soldiers all acting in concert to promote a candidate and further a hardened ideology. They would be individuals with their own agendas who link with each other for a time in order to bring an enormous amount of force to bear on the two parties to fulfill their goals, just like a wolf pack.

The two Parties obviously wouldn’t like these Independent Wolfpacks. Gazelles probably don’t like being hunted and eaten by predators, either, but like’s got nothing to do with it. You can’t compete with the Parties, so you might as well use them to get what you want. The greatest advantage that an Independent Wolfpack would enjoy is that the Parties couldn’t effectively fight back or nullify them. How do you fight a shadow? How do you defeat a fog? The Parties are offered neither an organized system, nor personalities to fixate upon to discredit and defeat. There’s no hierarchal structure and no charismatic leader. In the Democrats and Republicans’ case, like can only attack like. To fight the Wolfpacks, they would have to fight themselves.

What I’ve just described is guerilla warfare. It’s a tried and true method of defeating a well-armed and organized foe by using a foe’s strengths to your advantage, so that those same strengths become your enemy’s greatest weakness. It’s only been modified and applied to suit the political realm, where the Parties aren’t your enemies, just a way for you to get what you want. It’s an idea to consider.

Part II will deal with Personalities.

25. July 2004 · Comments Off on Morning in America · Categories: Politics

This post is a follow-up to my last one where I asked, “Are you safer now than you were three years ago?” If your answer to that question is “yes”, then this isn’t for you. Go…play with a stick or something. For the rest of you, I can’t gurantee anything. That last post was an off-the-cuff thing I did in about ten minutes, so I’m trying to put some thought into this one, which means that it’ll probably suck.

My Dad used to say that nothing was impossible if you put your mind to it. After thirteen years of serving in the Air Force, I know he was right. I’ve been a part of teams who’ve been given seemingly impossible goals to accomplish, only to find that those goals were not impossible at all. Sometimes, I think back on some of those tasks and ask myself, “Wow, how did we do that?” It’s no big secret when you think about it. Teamwork –real teamwork– was the most important element, but I also know that the same common traits were present in every event: Confidence, Motivation, Dedication, Optimism, Focus, and Lack of Defeatist Thinking. I know that these words sound corny and have become cliches, but when you’ve seen it in action and have been a part of it, they seem as natural as wearing an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

The reason I bring this up is because one of the reactions to my previous post disturbed me: the possibility of Social Civil War. From what I can tell, a lot of you seem to think that it’s inevitable and are resigned to it. If you truly believe that, then there’s no question that it will happen. It’s a defeatist attitude. When everyone believes that bad things are inevitable, than those things have a way of happening. They are inevitable because you have made them so. Now, most people will say, “It’s not my fault. It’s those dicks over there that are the problem!” I don’t care. There are dicks everywhere. To me, they’re just stepping stones to mission accomplishment, and they make the victory that much sweeter for having been there. You don’t say, “Well, those guys are dicks. So much for that, then.” Unless, of course, you like losing.

All of this is a prologue to main thrust of this post: My ideas for making things better. Man, that sounds rich, don’t it? Another damned blogger who has the cure for all that ails us. I’m here to tell you that I don’t have any good answers. All I have are some ideas. These ideas, however, involve hard work, motivation, dedication, confidence, optimism, focus, and a lack of defeatist thinking. If that’s not your style, then you might as well stop reading. This isn’t for you.

Since this is starting to get a little long, what I’m going to do is give you a preview of some of the posts that I’ll be working on. Each will focus on different elements in support of the main focus: What you can do to make America safer.


Are you more concerned with what Sandy Berger stuffed into his pants or do you want to win a war? Do you want to help pass a gay marriage amendment or do you want to help make positive changes to this nation’s security that go beyond street theater? Do you think debates about flag burning are more important than serious debates about the course of the war? You have to figure out what your priorities are before you can do anything else. For some of you, your concerns may involve all of those things listed above, but you can’t devote full focus to all of them. You have to prioritize them, and then ignore that which distracts you from your purpose. If your main priority is winning the war on terrorism, then just how important is Joe Wilson? Joe Wilson lied. Great. What are Congress and the President doing about the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission? How effective has the Homeland Security Administration been in fulfilling its mandate? If the GWOT is your Priority #1, then you might be better served by focusing on things other than Joe Wilson or Sandy Berger. We’re not chimpanzees, so we shouldn’t be distracted by–oooh, shiny!

Civic Involvement

This is a participatory government. Yes, that means you vote, but true civic duty extends beyond voting. It requires active and informed participation in all aspects of government, especially those that concern your focus. The means of fulfilling your civic duty are innumerable and can be tailored to your particular style and level of commitment.

Politics and Personalities

What’s more important to you: Rhetoric or results? A political Party or your nation? Posturing or deeds? Feeling good or doing good? Making America safer may mean divorcing yourself from the concepts of loyalty to both political parties and the personalities within those parties. This government has a two party system whether we like it or not. Third parties may act as spoilers, but they’ll never be more than that because they’re trying to beat two old pros at their own game. An individualist approach that deals with the situation as it is may be more effective than going along with a tribe. The only tribe that really matters is the one known as the United States of America. That being the case, you can pit the parties against each other and/or put them to use for you and the nation. They lend themselves to easy manipulation by those who place more importance on the fortunes of the nation rather than the fortunes of a Party.


Do you treat every story about terrorist intentions that comes down the pike with alarm? Do you automatically assume the worst possible scenario when a story about new Homeland Security initiatives or Justice Department actions are released? Are you given to filling in the holes with dire illusions of your own making? Do you take things as they are or do you try to read tea leaves? Do you let your perceptions impede your ability to properly discern the world around you? Seriousness is one of the most critical elements in making America safer. It involves more than a sober course of action, it also involves checking yourself against your own natural inclinations.

Confidence & Optimism

The last post will deal with these two elements, which have nothing to do with acting like a Peacock or thinking that everything’s just hunkey-dorey.

24. July 2004 · Comments Off on Changes · Categories: Site News

I’ve obviously changed the site format. The Archive and About sections aren’t complete yet, but the others are. The Archive will house links to the old MT site. The About section will eventually feature profiles of those authors who wish to participate, along with links to their own archives (Both MT and here). The Portal is where my blogroll is now entrenched. I have only one more column of links to place there and then that page will be complete. If you would like to see your site on that page, let me know and I will classify it and post it. Don’t worry if your site isn’t political! The final column of that page will be comprised of sites that have absolutely nothing to do with politcs. The News section is a page featuring all the RSS feeds I personally read on a daily basis.

If you have an RSS feed to this site, please note the address change:


All previous links to this site still work and will take you to their original pages on the Movable Type site. I haven’t deleted or moved anything from there, except the index page, which can now be found at:


I will probably get around to changing the formatting of those pages so they at least resemble what is found here. I will slowly start to close comments on older entires, though, as the comment spam is driving me nuts. Even with MT-Blacklist installed, those bastards are finding new and creative ways to irritate me.

You’ll also notice a link to Digital Warfighter up there at the top right along with an RSS feed of the five latest posts from there. I highly encourage you to visit and participate in that site, which unlike this site, is open to the general public for posting. Timmer has been doing an excellent job over there, and I plan to increase my presence as I finish dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s here.

I also have some random pictures from the photo gallery (which will soon have more pics), but the code I use doesn’t take you to the exact photo it’s displaying. I’ll fix that later when I have the time.

Sgt. Mom has her first book coming out very soon. Look for a promotion party here, along with an exclusive interview with the author herself!

23. July 2004 · Comments Off on Mourning in America · Categories: Politics

The one good thing that has come out of this week’s hysterical woman story is that it’s made me think about “single-issue voters” and the seeming paradox they represent.

The story, and the response to it from the (forgive the pun) reactionary portion of the blogodome, is telling. Most of the blog responses to the story from the conservative wing or the “single-issue voters” was one of fear. “Could this be a dry run?”, “This is why we need to profile all Arab males!”, “The security doesn’t work, it’s up to us!” were all common responses to the story, which is odd because most of them base their support of the current Administration on the very fact that it has done a lot to protect us from future terrorist attacks. If you believe that this Administration is our last, best hope for Victory, then why do you carry-on as if nothing has changed or improved in the past three years? How do you rationalize the paradox? Most of the responses to the panicked woman story were indictments against the current Administration on the very issue that they say represents their over-riding decision to support the Administration. It doesn’t add up.

If I were a challenger to any incumbent in this election, my main question would be, “Are you safer now than you were 3 years ago?” Let’s go to the handy stand-by: The WWII Analogy. Three years into our entry into WWII, the entire nation had been converted to a wartime footing, the Army had ballooned to Olympian proportions and had subsequently conquered North Africa and Italy. The liberation of France was nearly complete and most were hoping that the war would be over by Christmas. The Marines had been island-hopping in the Pacific and steadily grinding toward Honshu island. Victory in Europe was less than a year away. Victory in Japan would come a couple of months after that.

The main point is that we were winning, we knew we were winning, and we knew the end was in sight. There was no question of another Pearl Harbor happening, and the Wolfpacks in the North Atlantic had been all but eliminated. Americans were confident and secure in their power.

Three years into this current war, we’ve invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. We’ve created a new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. We created a “Transportation Security Administration”. The nation and the government, however, are still on a peacetime footing. No sacrifice has been asked of the general populace. People are apparently still scared to fly and have no faith in the security apparatus meant to protect them. A sizeable portion of the public honestly believes that we’re not at war. Three years into this thing and we’re about as screwed-up a nation as we can be. If you want someone to blame for the state of things, then each of you needs to take a long, hard look into the mirror.

Most of you conservatives say we’re at war, yet you’d hardly know it from your actions. You engage in the same stupid partisan bickering and arcane gamesmanship as in peacetime. You say this Adminstration is strong against terrorism, yet your very actions and words betray your confidence in it. You support it because it uses strong words and invaded Iraq. When you eliminate all of your paradoxes about this Administration, that’s all you have left: you support this Adminstration because it talks tough and it invaded Iraq. Are you safer now than you were 3 years ago? You wouldn’t know it by listening to you.

Most of you liberals say we’re at war, but your war is against the President. You’re more concerned about defeating Bush than you are about defeating the enemy. To you, Bush is the enemy. Just like your conservative brethren, you’re more interested in political showmanship than doing anything to seriously help win this war. You oppose the President because he uses strong words and he invaded Iraq. Unlike the conservatives, you think that the security apparatus put in place after 9-11 does it’s job too well and does it against the wrong people. Are you safer now than you were 3 years ago? Obviously not. You think we’re on the verge of the Third Reich.

Do you want to know why I’m an independent? It’s because you conservatives and liberals are a stupid and silly people. You bicker and posture as if we have all the time in the world to defeat international terrorism. You say we’re at war and things need to be done right now when it’s politically convenient for you to do so, but you carry-on as if we’re still at peace. We have Americans dying overseas while they’re obstensibly trying to protect you, but all you can do is paint them as either untouchable heroes or pathetic victims. You can’t seriously debate the course of this war because for you, this isn’t a war against international terrorism, this is a war about personalities, specifically one personality: George W. Bush. For you, this isn’t a real war with real consequences, this is just another phoney war of opinion. You aren’t conservatives and liberals, you’re Phobos and Deimos: Fear and Panic. One of you uses the fear of external threats to win elections, the other tries to frighten us with internal threats. You both serve the same Master and that is why your supposed differences are as illusory as the fears you try to frighten us with. You’re more concerned with winning the next election than you are the real war. It’s a farce. This would make for a great comedy if it wasn’t so fucking tragic.

If there’s another major terrorist attack on American soil and thousands more people die, remember who to blame on that day. The silly fools on both the left and right, after the proper period of mourning, will go back to their old props. The conservatives will blame the media and those dastardly liberals, while the liberals will blame the evil neocons and the President (if he’s still a Republican at the time). For them, and for us, the real blame will lay with that person staring back from the mirror. If we lose, it’s because we are all to blame: you, me, everyone. What did you do to prevent another attack? Who did you support in the government? Whose feet did you hold to the fire to ensure Victory? Who did you toss out of office or vote in? Why did you go about your business, thinking someone else would take care of everything? Why were you more concerned with winning an election than preventing another attack? How come you were more concerned about scoring minor political points than scoring major, meaningful victories against international terrorism? Why did you choose to become so caught-up in personalities rather than results? Why did more people have to die because you chose to continue with peacetime foolishness rather than wartime seriousness?

Am I safer now than I was 3 years ago? No. And I doubt I will be three years hence. I blame every single one of you reading this, but more importantly, I blame myself. We all share equal blame for the state of things today. September 11th was a freebie. You can reasonably say you didn’t see it coming, and those that said we were to blame for it were rightly chastised, but the next attack will be our fault. We have no excuses.

22. July 2004 · Comments Off on Slow News Week · Categories: General Nonsense

I was looking at the bank account the other day and saw that my funds were looking a little low, so I thought about kidnapping one of the Filipino baggers at the Commissary for some quick cash, but decided against it because the IRS would take me to the cleaners on that windfall. Those guys don’t play around. In fact, I got a letter from the IRS, and I can’t tell you the sense of dread I experienced as I saw the return address on the envelope. As an “aware” American, I’m mindful of the IRS’ attempts to audit people, so I was concerned when I got this letter in the mail.

I looked at my wife, and I could tell she was anxious as well, so I stepped outside to take the letter to the trash. I’d just torn open the envelope and removed its contents when I noticed a fat, shadowy figure hiding behind the recycle bin. He told me that many such letters had been mailed out, and if I told him what the letter read, he would pass it on to “the right people”. This only made me more nervous, as I don’t frequenty encounter shadowy figures on my trips to the trash can. I went back inside my house with the letter, but not the envelope. My wife became visibly upset at this. I held her hand and prayed, then read the letter. I let go of her hand and told her I had to make another trip to the trash can, which only made her more upset.

I looked for the stranger hiding behind my recycle bin, but I couldn’t find him.

“The Truth is Out There, Paul.”

I spun around to see the man from my previous encounter standing in the shadow of my laundry room’s doorway. He was smoking a cigarette. As ominous blue clouds of smoke rose in front of his partially obscured face, he asked, “Did you see the contents of that letter?”

My knees felt weak. “This is it,” I thought, “this is how I go out.” I nodded at the man.

“What did it say?”

“Oh, they said they have one of my old savings bonds and they need me to confirm my address to so they can mail it to me.”

“Good, good,” he said, taking another sinister drag from his death stick.

Then the porch light suddenly came on. I looked at the front door, then back to the laundry room door to talk to the man, but he had disappeared along with my credit card bill. I went up to my wife and told her what the IRS wanted and about the missing bill. We both relaxed and I immediately went on to the Internet to see if I could connect the dots, figure out the conspiracy, and save America from certain doom.

While I was on the Internet, I could tell that it had been a slow news week. Some woman had single-handedly brought back the stereotype of the hysterical white lady who freaks out when too many of them colored men are skulking about, and wrote her own Lifetime Movie of the Week in the process. I tried to figure out where I had seen this before, and then it hit me: Airplane! Ah yes, the blubbering woman whom everyone lines up to shake and slap. If I recall, there were two Hare Krishna on that flight along with two jive talkin’ brothers who acted funny and spoke in a language no one could understand. It’s out on DVD along with the Blazing Saddles Special Edition. It looks like a trip to Best Buy is in my future. It also looks like terrorists don’t even have to bomb planes or fly them into buildings anymore. Just buy a few value meals from MacDonald’s, purchase some group airfare tickets, make frequent trips to the bathroom, and act indifferently toward nosy women. Voila! All the terror without the violence. Terror Fever: Catch It!

Also while searching the Internet, I saw a lot about Joe Wilson. I talked to one of the guys at work about Wilson and he asked, “Who the fuck is Joe Wilson?” I said it had something to do with Valerie Plame. “Who the fuck is Valerie Plame?” Yep.

In lieu of train derailments, chemical plant explosions, or car-bombings, let’s see what else captivated America this week…Oh yeah, Sandy Berger stuffed some documents down his pants and it’s all over the blogodome. Boy you just know the Republicans are going to get Ken Starr in on this one too, and I doubt President Clinton can handle yet another scandal. The guy’s got enough on his plate as it is with Whitewater and the Lewinsky–wait a minute, it’s Two-Thousand Fucking Four! Jesus, why am I reading about people from the Clinton Adminsitration? I was about two paragraphs into one news article about Berger when I immediately started to feel the effects of Clinton Fatigue, except Clinton didn’t really figure into the story, so it was more like a contact fatigue. At any rate, this “I Love the 90’s” thing has gone too far, what with the recycling of people and events from 1995 all over the place. A lot of conservative bloggers weren’t around for the Clinton Administration, so maybe they’re making up for lost time during a slow news week. Anything for fresh content, that’s what I always say.

In other slow news, it looks like Stephen Hawking lost a bet on a theory of his about Black Holes. It turns out that information about what goes into them can be retrieved, contrary to his earlier views. That’ll make me feel better when one of those things swings by Earth and slowly destroys me for an eternity (relatively speaking). Infinite Pain in Infinite Combinations, as the Vulcans say. At least our information will be teased out by some advanced race who’ll be able to listen to the eternal death cry of an entire planet. Thanks, Dr. Hawking!

Finally, a monkey has started walking upright like a human. It begins.


22. July 2004 · Comments Off on Gladys Kravitz to the Rescue · Categories: Ain't That America?

Quotes from the most unintentionally funny article I’ve read in quite some time:

One wore a yellow T-shirt and held a McDonald’s bag.

The man with the yellow shirt and the McDonald’s bag sat across the aisle from us

The man in the yellow T-shirt got out of his seat and went to the lavatory at the front of coach — taking his full McDonald’s bag with him. When he came out of the lavatory he still had the McDonald’s bag, but it was now almost empty

After the Saga of the McDonald’s Bag, it becomes an espionage novel:

Before he could finish his statement, the flight attendant pulled him into the galley. In a quiet voice she explained that they were all concerned about what was going on. The captain was aware. The flight attendants were passing notes to each other. She said that there were people on board “higher up than you and me watching the men.”

Approximately 10 minutes later, that same flight attendant came by with the drinks cart. She leaned over and quietly told my husband there were federal air marshals sitting all around us. She asked him not to tell anyone and explained that she could be in trouble for giving out that information. She then continued serving drinks.

About 20 minutes later the same flight attendant returned. Leaning over and whispering, she asked my husband to write a description of the yellow-shirted man sitting across from us. She explained it would look too suspicious if she wrote the information. She asked my husband to slip the note to her when he was done.

Wait a minute–

The interrogators seemed especially interested in the McDonald’s bag

No one inspected the contents of the two instrument cases or the McDonald’s bag.

One thing’s for sure: It probably wasn’t carrying a McRib.

But I wonder, if 19 terrorists can learn to fly airplanes into buildings, couldn’t 14 terrorists learn to play instruments?

This one’s made the rounds at work and has become the comedy du jour of the moment. It’s been suggested that it be made into a Lifetime Movie of the Week, with a title like, “Not Without My Oboe” or “Big Mac Attack: Terror at 30,000 Feet” or “Incident at the Loo: A Woman’s Struggle” or “The Man in the Yellow T-Shirt: A Moment of Truth Story”.

21. July 2004 · Comments Off on GOP: Leave Me Be! · Categories: Politics

I’ve got 9 messages–Nine Freakin’ Messages!–on my machine from the Republican Party reminding me to vote.

I’m not a registered Republican. Why are you bothering me? So help me, if I get one more call, I will vote for the other Party out of spite. There’s a reason we have a National Do Not Call list: People don’t like getting a million phone calls from assholes they don’t know trying to sell them crap–that includes political parties.

Democrats: Don’t get any ideas, either.

20. July 2004 · Comments Off on Say it Ain’t So! · Categories: Military

Insurance scams in the military? Say it ain’t so!

Jeeze, the Times’ takes nine pages to describe something that’s about as common as the jackrabbits running around Lackland. In other news, the sky is blue, the sun is hot, and people are still having sex.

Take a look around any military base. It’s usually surrounded by a ring of establishments whose sole purpose is to separate the young and stupid servicemember from his money. In just a short walk, you can get drunk, horny, tatooed, and pawn your stereo to get more drunk, more horny, and more tattoos. Most people see those places for what they are, but the 2% that don’t hopefully learn a life lesson.

I remember when I lived in the dorms, these girls would always come buy selling magazine subscriptions. I always thought that was pretty ballsy of them, not because it was prohibited, but because they had chosen to go into the Lion’s Den wearing tight shorts and revealing shirts to sell magazines. That takes some guts.

I think they were counting on the guys being so distracted by their nubile bodies, that their senses would take leave and they’d buy a shitload of magazine subsriptions without really thinking about it. It never really worked out that way. Within a matter of seconds, there’d be a request for sexual favors in exchange for a mag subscription, and the girl would usually try to turn the conversation to something else, but the guy would ask, “How bad do you want me to buy a magazine?” The girls would usually storm off and knock on the next sucker’s door. You gotta admire the guys for doing that, though. 99 of those girls would say no. But there’s always the one who’ll say yes. It’s the triumph of hope over experience.

I’ve been in a couple of these “captive audience” sessions mentioned in the Times’ article, but I’ve never signed any forms. Usually, there’s always someone in the room who’ll always call bullshit in a lovely sing-song voice. Bull-shit! I don’t know if that’s changed or not. Maybe there’s more stupid people around these days, but in my day, we thought it was cool to totally piss-off the pitchmen by asking an ever-escalating series of annoying questions to see how flustered we could get them. The people I’ve rolled with over the years have always been able to intuitively detect a scam when they see one, and I’ve yet to be in a situation where the salesman hasn’t been called out. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. Or maybe these other people are incredibly fucking stupid. When it comes to Marines and Army guys, though, I think they’re at a disadvantage because they’re conditioned to question nothing straight out of Basic Training. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a learning experience.

19. July 2004 · Comments Off on I Kinda-Like the 90’s · Categories: Ain't That America?

I’ve been watching VH-1 this weekend, and I think I can safely say that I really don’t Love the 90’s. I like the 90’s, but not in that way. I think we should be friends, or even better, aquaintances who don’t keep in touch. In fact, there are only three good things that came out of the 90’s:

1. My wife

2. My kid

3. Living in Japan

Everything else pretty much sucked hind tit.

When I think of the 90’s, the impression that immediately comes to mind is: Bitchfest. The decade seemed like one long whine. The first few notes from Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit were the birth cry of that decade, but little did we know that the anger-infused sound of ’91 would give way to the pussies of Staind and Limp Bizkit at the end of the decade.

What made Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden cool wasn’t the piercing wails of their frontmen, but the genuine hard rock backing up those vocals, as well as their distinct sounds–there’s no way you’ll ever confuse Soundgarden with Nirvana. When you finally get to the ass-end of the decade, you have bands that all appear to be clones of each other and who whine about how little attention their parents paid to them. What makes them even more pathetic is that these were grown men (and sometimes women) who were in their mid-20’s and singing about things that only a 12 year old would care about. These bands were a joke; a marketing concoction specifically focused on the ‘tween and early teen set. How else do you explain a 27 year old man whining about his Dad? Cha-ching! Another 14 year old has his “Life is Unfair” worldview validated by another geezer who’s whining all the way to the bank.

Most of my blame for this crap rests squarely with Nirvana, though to be fair, you can hardly blame that fuck-up Cobain for the actions of those lesser lights who followed in his path. There’s a unique quality to the Nirvana-brand of bitching that sets it apart from the Latter Day Alternative Pussies. There was a gutteral anger coming from Cobain that was backed up by music that fucking rocked. Those that attempted to mimic him all came off like guys who figured that all they need for success were three chords in Drop-D tuning and some song bitching about the unfairness of it all. Nirvana was pissed. These poseurs just had their feelings hurt.

The whining, though, extended beyond music into almost all aspects of the culture. Reality Bites encapsulated the feeling of the early 90’s. My wife and I went to see this movie on our second date, but I didn’t really pay much attention to the film. I remember that it had a lot to do with the general malaise of the Gen-X crowd and how our futures were going to suck. I remember reading plenty of magazine articles about Gen-X and how ours was to be the first generation of Americans whose standard of living would be about the same or worse than that of our parents. We were to be the first generation to come of age in a country in decline. Steel mills were closing down, the Rust Belt was on the verge of mass impoverishment, American jobs were being lost to cheap labor overseas, and American companies were abandoning our country for greener pastures in foreign lands. Then the tech boom hit, and everyone quickly forgot about all that.

I moved to Japan in ’95 and lived there until ’99. From my point of view, those years were the Era of Good Feeling. The whole “Life Sucks” weight seemed to lift and it was time to party. I don’t know if things were really like that, or if that’s the way it seemed to someone watching everything from the outside, but I remember the mid to late 1990’s as being a generally good time. The vapid, poppy music made a comback and Americans seemed to be more interested in harmless and stupid things. The culture certainly seemed to reflect that and that was certainly fine by me. I would much rather deal with lightweight, poppy, and ultimately harmless fluff than the Gloomy Gus crap that defined the early 90’s.

The vanguard of this poppy, carefree America were of course the boy bands and Britney Spears. Like their Alterna-Whine colleagues, they were concoctions specifically created and marketed to ‘tween and early teen girls, but I have a startling admission to make: I kind of liked them. I don’t know why. I shouldn’t like them, and that ironic smart-ass in me recoils from the likes of the Backstreet Boys, but I grudgingly admit to singing along with Quit Playing Games With My Heart on more than one occasion. I can’t help it. The songs are catchy and they have a nice melody. Jesus, when “MmmmBop” comes on the radio, I can’t change the station. Hell, I don’t care. Like they said in The Crow, “It can’t rain all the time.” Sometimes, you gotta let go of all the heavy shit and just feel happy and carefree, if only for a little while. If not, you just become a boring and depressing person whom no one can stand to be around.

I came back to America just as the cosmic odometer hit 00, and I swear it was like I’d never left. It seemed like everyone was still moaning about something and the future was still going to suck. Of course, I got back just as the tech bubble burst, so that probably had a lot to do with it. American culture is on a cycle just like the economy. For a few years everything seems gloomy, then all of a sudden, everyone seems to be having a good time. A few years later, everything sucks again. I think I managed to leave America just as it hit the peak of the cycle and returned just as it rolled back into the valley. The only problem is that we’ve yet to climb out of that valley. The terrorist attacks certainly didn’t help in that regard, but I’m thinking that I have to leave the country again so the rest of you can get back to having a good time. I swear I’m that proverbial dude who’s absence is essential to having a good time. For example: “Dude, you missed it! Right after you left, things got crazy!” Likewise: “Dude, you should’ve been here a little while ago! It was awesome!”

Except in this case, it’s an entire country and not just a party. If I stay here for the entire decade, I don’t think we’ll be seeing “I Love the 00’s” on VH-1 in 2014.

19. July 2004 · Comments Off on House Strips Aid to Saudi · Categories: Mordor

Here’s a minor victory over the Saudis:

Lawmakers cheered as the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to strip financial assistance for Saudi Arabia from a foreign aid bill because of criticism that the country has not been sufficiently cooperative in the US war on terror.

The vote was a stinging defeat for the Bush Administration which had strongly opposed the measure saying it would ”severely undermine” counter-terrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia and US efforts for peace in the Middle East.

The House voted 217-191 to remove $25,000 in the $19.4 billion 2005 foreign aid bill earmarked for Saudi Arabia.

The funds were designated for military training but approval would have triggered millions of dollars in discounts on hardware and other military training, lawmakers said.

“I don’t want my taxpayer dollars going to the Saudis and I don’t want anyone else’s to,” said Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley.

I second Rep. Berkley’s sentiments, and go one further: The Saudis can go fuck themselves. When I vote this year, one of my major considerations will be whether I believe a candidate is the recipient of financial aid from the Saudis or appears friendly to them. As far as I’m concerned, they are the real enemy in this war and to appease them or accept money from them would be analogous to those in the 1930’s who worked for Nazi Germany’s best interests rather than our own.

The Saudi Royal Family, and their Wahhabist strain of Islam that resulted in 3,000 dead on Sept. 11th, needs to be wiped clean from the face of the Earth. This war’s not over until they’re dead.