IT'S A STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
SILENT NIGHT, HOLY NIGHT
[TEXT FROM GOOGLE ENTRY:" THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE"]
During World War I, in the winter of 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, one of the most unusual events in all of human history took place. The Germans had been in a fierce battle with the British and French. Both sides were dug in, safe in muddy, man-made trenches six to eight feet deep that seemed to stretch forever.
All of a sudden, German troops began to put small Christmas trees, lit with candles, outside of their trenches. Then, they began to sing songs. Across the way, in the "no man's land" between them, came songs from the British and French troops. Incredibly, many of the Germans, who had worked in England before the war, were able to speak good enough English to propose a "Christmas" truce.
The British and French troops, all along the miles of trenches, accepted. In a few places, allied troops fired at the Germans as they climbed out of their trenches. But the Germans were persistent and Christmas would be celebrated even under the threat of impending death.
According to Stanley Weintraub, who wrote about this event in his book, Silent Night, "signboards arose up and down the trenches in a variety of shapes. They were usually in English, or - from the Germans - in fractured English. Rightly, the Germans assumed that the other side could not read traditional gothic lettering, and that few English understood spoken German. 'YOU NO FIGHT, WE NO FIGHT' was the most frequently employed German message. Some British units improvised 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' banners and waited for a response. More placards on both sides popped up."
A spontaneous truce resulted. Soldiers left their trenches, meeting in the middle to shake hands. The first order of business was to bury the dead who had been previously unreachable because of the conflict. Then, they exchanged gifts. Chocolate cake, cognac, postcards, newspapers, tobacco. In a few places, along the trenches, soldiers exchanged rifles for soccer balls and began to play games.
It didn't last forever. In fact, some of the generals didn't like it at all and commanded their troops to resume shooting at each other. After all, they were in a war. Soldiers eventually did resume shooting at each other. But only after, in a number of cases, a few days of wasting rounds of ammunition shooting at stars in the sky instead of soldiers in the opposing army across the field.
For a few precious moments there was peace on earth good will toward men. All because the focus was on Christmas. Happens every time. There's something about Christmas that changes people. It happened over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. It's been happening over and over again down through the years of time.
This week, Lord willing, it will happen again.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The Draft, Past and Future
Sometimes I agree, sometimes I get irritated when people say the all-volunteer force is superior to the combined RA-US United States Army. RA was the regular army and US was our designation, which we had to scream upon entering the Basic Training mess hall. The US label meant DRAFTEE.
After training, the only difference was the intense complaining we had to endure from the RA guys, because they were in for 3 or 4 years and we were in for two years.
in Vietnam, the RA guys sort of envied us, because we were all the same, except most of us could leave the Army after our one year tour and they had to go to Germany or wherever for at least another year.
Without the draft, I would not be the same person. I would not have been able to spend nearly a year near Monterey, California nor had the experience of living in a war zone in Vietnam.
I did feel cheated when I came back and the people that avoided the service had a jump start on life, maybe a couple years towards a bachelors degree or two years seniority in the union down at the auto plant, but those things even out in the course of time.
You folks know that WBushCo is not my favorite president. It's all his fault we need more troops for this 'The Surge'. We needed guys to sacrifice themselves in the jungles of Vietnam and the factories and construction companies were raided and the young men given M-16s (weapons) and sent to do their best.
In spite of my opposition to conscripted service, in spite of my opposition to WBushCo's folly in Iraq, if a military draft comes to be, a lot of young people will be afforded an opportunity they otherwise would miss, and that is seeing firsthand how really rotten this country's foreign policy in regards to unjust invasions is.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Hillary doesn't fit the "bill".
HRC is an Iraq hawk. Her view of that invasive war started by a unilateral pre:emptive strike is one of a cheerleader.
Like millions of Americans, I was shocked and awed when Osama bin Laden was given a pass to roam from cave to internet-able cave at will, as Bush for reasons now easily surmised and proven, committed American blood and dollars to an insane invasion of Iraq, dissing his daddy's program of not unleashing the Big Dog named TERROR onto the people of "The Region".
No, THIS idiot had to listen to Cheney and Kristol and Wolfowitz and Perle and all the rest of those damn Kool-Aid pushers.
Lately he seemed he was interested in "listening."
Yeah, with cotton in his ears!
HRC has yet to get with the program. If she was elected she might keep troops in Iraq her entire eight years in office!
The Iraq war is such a huge deal to me and millions of others, we cannot bring ourselves to vote for Hillary. I used to LOVE the thought of her being president, but she is one of "them" , not one of us.
Dennis Hopper once described the 1960's as being divided into two distinct groups, "us", and "them".
In this case, it's not too simple a way to describe my feelings: Hillary IS one of them. She is a hawk who sat on a bench in The Green Zone in Baghdad with Biden and McCain telling us all was well in Iraq.
She may have enough support to get elected but many of us see her for what she is, and we want nothing to do with her...and it's a damn shame, because I would love to see a sensible democrat woman in the office at 1600 Penna Avenue. Hillary doesn't fit the "bill".
Friday, December 15, 2006
Bush's Fitting Memorial
For this current president, who can barely communicate and again yesterday misspoke Iran for Iraq , having a library to commemorate his presidency is unfathomable.
Someone should commission a designer to draw up a fitting Bush monument...similar to the Wall in DC...but instead of a descent and then a climb up outta that hell, just burrow that monument straight into the ground. On the sidewalk , maybe chocolate candy vendor stands, all empty and the shelves stocked with IED explosives. Same for the flower vendor stands...have them riddled by car parts from a suicide bomber.
Have some photos of dead Iraqis and people hung from bridges, and torturing marines tormenting Iraqi prisoners, and Ms. England pointing at someone's package.
A gallery of videos should be available, one showing Nicholas Berg's head rolling...have you seen those videos? Quick work , but you can't be squeamish.
We SHOULD have a lasting monument to George W. Bush. A continually descending walk, at 45 degrees straight into the ground would be fitting.
I can't let the American people off the hook here, the ones that voted Bush back into office. This war has been a certifiable disaster since 2003, or before, even. Bush is your boy. If you finally see the light, it's your duty to scream your heads off telling how you came to see the light, and demand that we...CUT AND RUN ! ! ! !
Monday, December 11, 2006
Have you heard WBush these past few days? After his head-down muttering when seated with Lee Hamilton and James Baker, he went off like before...using those same words in the report to return right back to "stay the course", only calling it "Going forward in Iraq", about a hundred times.
Now "bloodbath" has entered the US pols' vocabulary. It'll be a "bloodbath" if the US leaves Iraq too quickly.
The "reality" is we have lost...even STAUNCH invader-supporter Tom Friedman of NYTimes has said it, on Imus last week.
It is NOT a simpleton's chant to say "Cut and Run".
It's the best option, is what it is, and I'll say it every day.
The Vietnamese straightened up their mess we left them and Iraq will, too...even though I am in the growing camp that is starting to believe there IS NO IRAQ ANYMORE...it's evolved into a killing field with so many differences amongst Shiia and Sunnis and Kurds that if it ever calms down Iran and Syria will have redefined the borders without any Western influence.
It's really time to pull the US and Halliburton out of there and start developing alternate energy sources.
It's also time to quit covering Bush's behind...he's the one responsible for the Iraq mess, and it's time to CUT AND RUN and let the pieces fall where they may and let the residue fall directly on the head of this idiot president who has ruined the outlook the world has on the US.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Founders of a Movement, Bill W and Dr. Bob
These two men in the photograph in this post are the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. The fellow on the left is Dr. Bob. The other guy, Bill Wilson, gave Dr. Bob some bottles of beer to steady his nerves before Dr. Bob performed an operation. That last beer was Dr. Bob's last drink. The date was June 10, 1935. The principles of this program have saved several million souls from lives of uncomprehensible demoralization due to the mental obsession and physical allergy to beverage alcohol. It's in the phone book if you need it, or know someone who might.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
An Unexpected, Unwelcome Snowstorm in Iowa
I have just about decided to buy a Taurus for my "dog car."
I'll never forget a trip I took in early November, 1995, from Ohio to Omaha. An old soldier acquaintance of mine invited me to a dedication of a new Vietnam Veterans memorial statue in Omaha. I coupled the trip to visit "Field of Dreams" in Iowa.
I only wore sneakers...who knew what was in store for me?...
I approached Des Moines, road clear, making excellent time. Then , way off in the distance, the sky looked weird. Here it came! As I drove westward I came closer, and then was in it...it was like someone was throwing bucketfuls of slush on my windshield, and it didn't let up at all. Within minutes I saw about fifty cars in the ditch...this was not good! The temperature kept dropping and freezing the roadway and then it turned to a fierce all-snow storm, the wet kind that builds quickly. I was going about ten mph , and barely ably to see the road and keep the car mobile. I stopped for gas and stuck my sneaker in a foot of snow. The gas station guy had already provided shelter for many who had gone off the road for the night...but I pressed on. clear across Iowa...near dawn the next day I made it to a Holiday Inn and didn't even call the guy in Omaha....I got a room and slept for six hours. I did call the man and we attended the ceremony and checked out "Old Omaha" or whatever they called their mall-like downtown. I had a heckuva huge steak and couldn't get enough hot coffee. It was early November and ten degrees and windy as a March day.
Now when I go anywhere in the winter I take GORP and a thermos of coffee and a couple drinking- water bottles with me. Maybe a jar of peanut butter and a sleeve of saltines. Just in case.
The car I was driving was my brand new 1995 Ford Taurus. While many , most, in fact, of the cars went into the ditch that day, or just gave up, that Taurus held the road...I have been praising that car for years now. Of course I traded it off many years ago but now I am thinking of just getting another Taurus....they are obsolete now, so I better act quickly.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Thank You Ed Hamilton of Hotel Chelsea Blog for this:
Happy Thanksgiving From Montana
We heard them come in late last night; several people checked into the transient room next door and all had to go to the shared bathroom in the hallway, one after another. The next morning I met the last of them as he was clearing out, a thin man in his late thirties dressed in rugged winter gear with a Afghani hat and carrying a green army duffle bag. He said he was from Montana, which (maybe) would explain the getup, and that they had driven thousands of miles in 33 hours to get to New York. “Sounds peaceful,” I said, meaning Montana, not the drive. They had one more night in New York, he said—though not, apparently, in the Chelsea—and then it was back on road, back to Montana. (Maybe they came to see the Macy’s parade.) “I know this building has lots of history,” he said. “You have no idea,” I replied and took that opportunity to hand him a blog card. “Come here,” he said, leading me back into the transient room, “I want to show you a letter I left on the desk here.”
Ever the suspicious New Yorker, I thought, Oh shit, it’s going to be one of those goddamn chain letters and now I’m going to be cursed if I don’t send it to a hundred people. Instead, he had left a pen, a stamped envelope and a notepad with a note on it that said: “Write that letter today. You know which one I’m talking about. You’ll feel better if you do.” “That’s nice,” I said, thinking, hell, nobody from New York would ever think to do that, we’re all too selfish, too caught up in our own lives. The man said he had checked into a hotel several years back and had seen a note just like this sitting on a desk, and that it had led to a bout of soul searching with the end result that he had sat down at that desk and written a long, and long-overdue letter to his father (he left the details to the imagination). Since then, he said, whenever he checks out of a hotel room he always leaves the note and the rest of the stuff.
He asked if the maid would leave the note and I said yes, though actually I wasn’t quite so sure; it was just that I didn’t want to say no, since it was such a touching gesture in such a God forsaken place as this that I didn’t want him to take it back. For the next few hours I listened for the maid and when I heard her rustling around over there I rushed over just in time to see her closing the pen up in the notepad and getting ready to take it away. She said she didn’t know what that was about, but I told her she was supposed to leave the things and I believe she did.
Oh, one more thing: I told the guy that I had just been to my cousin’s wedding in Montana this summer, though I couldn’t remember the name of her town. Now I remember. So in case your reading, guy from Montana, it’s Lewistown. (Ed Hamilton)