Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The Old White Lady has a new kitty, go see a pic of the new member of the family, and we were talking about spaying and neutering. I realzed it's time to repost my 'responsible dog owner' rant that I wrote a couple years ago.

You know I'm a dog lover and so's the Mrs. So, naturally I got a problem with a lot of folks who own dogs. Listen to me, please.

Don't get a fucking dog for stupid reasons. No, you're not going to breed the fucking thing. Just because you see how much puppies are going for, doesn't mean it's a 'get rich quick' scheme, you stupid motherfuckers. Being a breeder is hard work and you sure as hell don't know what the fuck you're doing. It's like never having popped the hood on a car, yet you suddenly feel you're qualified to open an auto repair shop. All you're gonna do is end up with a bunch of unwanted puppies. Here, I'll do you a favor. Google 'dog breeders' and send an email to five of them asking what the business entails. Then tell me you want to be a breeder. Did you know 3 million dogs and cats are put down every year because they're not wanted? Don't add to the fucking problem, dickhead.

Next, don't get a fucking Rottweiler, Doberman, Pit Bull, etc, as a penis extension, you idiot. Just like the sports car, you're only gonna be a little wiener with a bad dog. I see too many folks like this who want the dog as a status symbol and don't want to make the commitment to training and medical care. Moron, a dog is a twelve to fifteen year commitment on your part. It's just like having a kid. But hey, people have kids for the same stupid reasons. Think long and hard about it, please. (Kid or a dog, it doesn't matter. Be sure you want to make the commitment before you jump in with both feet. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should, ass.)

Next, if you're a compulsive person, and you see a cute little dog and you gotta have one, buy jewlery instead. At least you can hock it if you need the bread at a later date. Ain't nobody gonna buy a used dog, moron.

If you do decide to get a dog, do breed research. Every breed has their own traits (I wrote about my dog's foibles here.), so you have to see what will go best with you're lifestyle. If you're laid back and not into doing much training, a dog that requires a firm hand (Dobies, Rotties) ain't for you. Think Lab or Golden. Same thing if you got rugrats running around your house. All my friends' kids know not to run through my house because my Cattle Dog will try to herd them all back into one room:

Another thing is the dog, Mrs. F's little princess. She's short, but not little, muscular and strong as hell. If you know anything about Australian Cattle Dogs, they are smart, independent, and stubborn, sorta like me. Well, thanks to their breeding, Cattle Dogs herd cattle by nipping at their ankles to get them to go where the dog wants. Well, since our little Shayna has no cattle to work, she finds herself little jobs. One is getting us to the phone when it rings. If you've ever gotten a nip in the ass from one of these dogs well . . . let's just say it leaves a mark.

My point is that the dog looks at little kids as cattle. She tries to keep them together and won't let them run around. So today, not only do I have to keep an eye on the Mrs.' breakable shit, but I have to watch her little varmint like a hawk so she doesn't nip one of the kids. Can't break the dog of that habit, it's instinct.

If your kid gets nipped in the ankle by an Australian Cattle Dog, you're gonna have a lot of crying on your hands, trust me. If you're gonna get a mutt, use this rule of thumb. A mutt will generally act like the breed it most closely resembles.

My point is that if you're gonna get a dog, do it for the right reasons. Don't have big plans until you see what kind of dog you have, it's personality and it's traits. Get a dog because you want a pet and a companion. Anything else that flows from there is gravy.

Heed my words, Lugnut.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hadji Girl

[This originally appeared as a four part piece at Alternate Brain. I combined them in one post here to make it easier to link to. - Fixer]

Hadji Girl

Seems the Marines in Iraq are making up their own songs (video). Now, I usually leave Affairs de Corps to Gord because they're his boys, but a lot of people are taking exception to the brutality inflicted in Haditha and other places in Iraq and this video will probably raise more Hell. Let me explain something, being I've been in combat with Marines. Remember this:

The Marine Corps is not a police orgainization. The Marines have one purpose, to kill the enemy by any means possible. If you expect them to be touchy-feely and 'community oriented' like your local cops, you're sadly mistaken.

Now, I'm not condoning or trying to justify anything that resembles a war crime, but I think some of us on the left have to develop stronger stomachs.


I worry about people who think like this coming back into society. That kind of thing cannot be considered gallantry on the battle field. It's ugly and dirty and ultimately is going to blow back on some of these guys. I hope the Republicans are prepared to spend as much on VA mental health as they've spent filling their right wing cronies' bank accounts because a lot of these guys are going to need help. Our troops are in danger of losing their humanity in a war being fought for bogus political reasons. Some of them are going to have a hard time living with that.


Note to Digby: War is ugly and dirty and if you want to win, you have to be prepared to kill women and children. That's just the way it is. If you don't want innocents killed, don't go to war, period. The guys on the ground don't have the luxury of debating whether the war is just or not.


It's a good deal for senior ground commanders, who get career boosts by dint of assignment to the war zone that used to be a relatively peaceful country, ruled by a dictator whose fangs had been pulled by 12 years of sanctions and UN weapons inspections. For the younger ground commanders at company level, and the EM [enlisted men], of course, it's just toughski shitski, so suck it up, troop.


While we rail against war, there is a sad fact that war (not this war), sometimes, has to be done. I don't want touchy-feely Marines. I don't want touchy-feely anybody in the combat disciplines, be they Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine. I want them to be comfortable enough with killing that they won't hesitate when the time comes. I was, once. Rightly or wrongly, and don't forget these guys hear what the government wants them to hear, the Jarheads in that meat grinder believe anybody brown over there is a potential enemy. Ask a Vietnam-era infantry troop how that goes. Ask him how you justify friend from foe when Hell is erupting all around you. I couldn't, not unless you were wearing the same uniform I was.

A few weeks back, I alluded to an op in Afghanistan many years ago where we took ground fire extracting a CIA operator from Waziristan. I lost a friend on that op and I had no qualms drawing a bead on anybody on the ground as the chopper tried to lift off. I didn't care who it was; Soviet, Afghani, goat herder, it didn't matter. Shit, thems on the ground probably thought we were Russians. All we knew was we were taking fire. The door gunners and ramp gunner opened up and all of us who could, found a spot on that damned Pave Low to fire from. There was brass flying and noise from the mini guns and rifles cracking and small arms fire puncturing the fuselage, the chopper's jets screaming to lift that heavy bitch adding to the din. It was fucking insane. I'm sure a lot of innocents died that day. Have a rifle in your hands in the same circumstances and tell me what you'd do.

If the Marines had been used properly, not interchangably with Army troops or Military Police, we would see far fewer of these horrors perpetrated upon innocent civilians. If it weren't for the Chimp's illegal war, none of the atrocities would have happened. While the Marines, if found guilty, must take responsibility for their actions, the ultimate responsibility lies at the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill.

Hadji Girl 2

Okay, so let's talk about war a little, since most Americans think it's something like a cross between Mission Impossible and a Tom Clancy novel. It's not. People talk of war in terms of 'surgical strikes' and 'special ops units', thinking a few bombs and a few commando units running around can win any conflict. From the way the Iraq War has been run, it would seem a few of the civilians (and some of the generals) in the Penatgon believe the same things. I'm not talking about the morality of war, because war is also immoral by definition.

The idea behind going to war is to pound an enemy hard enough, destroy enough of his infrastructure, and kill enough of his people to make him lose the strength and the stomach to fight. Simple.

Your enemy's government is your enemy, his people are your enemies, and his ability to resupply his troops is your enemy. [If you want some perspective on this, check out some of the Bugs Bunny cartoons made during the war years ... if you can find them - F-man] When you have to start making distinctions; 'we are not angry with the people of (pick any country), just their government', you lose your right to wage war. When you have to say, 'we don't want to destroy their (pick something), just remove their leadership', when you force the men and women you send into combat to differentiate which of the 'enemy's' people are friend or foe, you have no right being at war to begin with.

War is for the defense of the nation and nothing else. Certainly not for 'regime change' in a nation posing no threat. It is the basest form of national revenge and, by definition, should be fought without concern for anything but victory. Dresden, the firebombing and atomic bombing of Japanese cities during World War Two, that was war in all its excruciating malevolence. It was a simple decision. We were attacked, the next day we were at war.

There was no need to spin things on 8 December 1941. No need for forged documents, no need for weapons inspectors, no need for intelligence assessments; bombs fell upon the U.S. Pacific Fleet at its homeport of Pearl Harbor. That was all the evidence needed. Did you think what happened after, the years of world war, was an honorable pursuit? There was unspeakable horror, almost a generation's worth of European and Japanese men wiped out, countless innocent deaths and we reconcile that with the fact we faced an enemy we believed evil incarnate. We did whatever was required to force their capitulation.

One day, we will have to reconcile the war in Iraq. We will have to sit back and ask if all the deaths, the maimings, and the horror was worth it. I tend to believe this war will leave us with a case of national post traumatic stress syndrome. It might take years, but eventually we will come to the collective realization that we were the bad guys. I think many of us do already.

Hadji Girl 3

Since I brought up the realities of combat and the rationale for war yesterday (Hadji Girl, Hadji Girl 2), I'd like to talk this morning about what the guys and girls in the meat grinder have to deal with.

As I've let on, I've seen combat on more than a few occasions. Basically on spec ops missions where we encountered unfriendlies. Grenada was different, but it was more of a spec ops job than a war. And that's what I'm getting at. Yesterday we spoke of the inherent inhumanity of war as it related to the civilians. Today we speak of the troops.

Some smart guy said, many years ago, that war was 'long stretches of boredom interrupted by short stretches of intense terror'. Which is quite probably true. It's this difference I'd like to talk about. The difference between 'war' and an 'operation'. I was on operations. We trained up, were on station for a week or so, took care of business, were debriefed, and then returned to our base. Over, done, put it in the past and prepare for the next.

When we were done, our ladies (or guys, but don't ask, don't tell) were waiting for us. The bar was open and you were back in the bosom of 'family', so to speak. We could decompress, drink, fuck, do whatever we had to in order to forget about the nastiness we just finished dealing with. Trust me, you have to forget, or at least put it in a place where you can deal with it.

The guys in this war don't have that luxury. Not only are they going out to fight, their patrols at constant risk from IED, but they are not safe when they come in from patrols either. They are living in the war zone. A mortar or rocket can ruin their day at any time. They are always on, always up, always juiced. There is no time, no place, for them to decompress fully.

Sex is difficult and in the Mid-East, booze is close to non-existent (black market and officer's tents only ... probably). Oh what? Sex and booze? 'We don't send our troops out to fuck and get drunk', you might say. Well, let me tell ya. They're human beings too and there are only so many ways humans can deal with that kind of stress in a place where their freedom is so limited. A place where personal safety is a very tenuous thing.

In the Air Force when I was in, we had a thing called the 'Golden B-B'. I'm pretty sure it had its origins in Vietnam. It went that there was a bullet with your name on it somewhere. Until you and that bullet met up, you'd be fine, but one day that Golden B-B was gonna get ya. Well, when you live every fucking day looking, waiting, watching for that Golden B-B, you can get a little, if not a lot, crazy. Especially when you know, until you get orders home, that Golden B-B might catch up with you as you lay in your rack, or cot, or bedroll, dreaming about the hottie waiting for you when you get home.

Do that for a year at a time. Then do that year for the second or third time.

Think you'd keep your sanity?

And you wonder why I have no patience for people who talk about war like it's a big fucking game?

Hadji Girl 4

Okay, this is the last one, basically because thinking about this is keeping me up nights again. Have I mentioned there is a big price to pay for allowing yourself to get in touch with your more baser instincts? It's how I figured out I wasn't a psychopath; those guys can sleep well.

Anyway, I'm talking about leadership today. Or the lack thereof. This struck me this morning:


Russert: If your analysis is not correct, and we're not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

Cheney: Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.


And that was that. They created a culture around the need to go to war. They made their plans, fixed the intelligence, defiled a genuine relationship that took two centuries to cultivate to give them some legitimacy, and got themselves a war.

The grunts on the ground, who would ultimately do the dirty work, didn't have a say. The flag (Generals and Admirals) officers who did speak up, opposed to the folly, were cashiered or discredited. Opposition was considered traitorous. Those in command positions now are nothing more than 'yes men' for the administration.

So now we have a war run by draft dodgers and incompetents.

Under the auspices of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), we have abdicated our responsibility to treaties signed in good faith by those speaking for the people of the United States. The Geneva Conventions are not quaint or archaic, or a plot by the U.N. to tie America's hands when prosecuting the GWOT. They are in place to protect our soldiers. This is why I talk about taking the high road. The Rude Pundit says it best as only he can:

Chances are, maybe even by the time you read this, the two American soldiers, captured by the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq, will be dead, probably in some horrible way, probably with their bodies dumped like all the horribly murdered Iraqis in the blood and gore-strewn landscape that are the markers of Iraqi liberation...


What if we get pictures of the soldiers, nude, cowering, screaming in a corner, shitting themselves on the filthy floors of a makeshift cell, as their captors hold snarling dogs on leashes just out of bite range of the soldiers?

What if we learn that their captors decide that the soldiers can offer intelligence that can be of use to al-Qaeda and, in order to get that information, the captors put the nude soldiers into rooms that are heated to hellish temperatures, followed by rooms that are impossibly cold with colder water tossed onto them? What if the soldiers are made to stand for days on end? Put into stress positions that fuck up their muscles and limbs? Denied sleep? Had loud music played into their cells? Kept in isolation and fed bread and water for days, weeks on end?


And he posits:


And what about the good right-wing punditry? Would Rush Limbaugh look at the photos of the nude, cowering Americans and say it looks like fraternity hazing or some such shit? Would others dismiss it as a media fabrication? Or would they just pathetically overlook everything done in our American names to Iraqis, Afghanis, and others, calling madly for the heads of the captors, not even thinking about the irony of such a statement?


Yes, ladies and germs, what if? Can we take the high road? Of course not. Our leaders say treatment like that is permissible to achieve certain ends. Is it okay for us to do it but not al-Qaeda? We are in no position to protest the treatment of these men, whatever it might be, because we've taken a path no better than those we claim to be so different from. The abuses at Abu Ghraib might have been committed by the grunts, but they were given legitimacy by the leadership.

As I've explained in the first three parts of this little diatribe, and what it seems few people understand, is the guys doing the shooting don't make the decisions. They don't get the whole story, or anything near the truth. They're allowed to listen to Rush, but not Al Franken. They're allowed Fox 'News'. Most of the grunts in Iraq believe Saddam was in cahoots with Osama to pull off 9/11. So anybody who thinks the average soldier has any decision-making ability is fooling themselves. The grunts believe they are doing the right thing. They couldn't do their jobs if they didn't.

When we hear of abuses, crimes against civilians, and general misconduct by our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, you must remember the military is a tightly controlled organization. When those in the lower ranks act up, or act out, you can almost always trace it back to a permissiveness on the part of the command, be it the local commander, the theater commander, or the Commander in Chief himself.

When I was in, I knew how long my leash was. So did the other guys. We knew what our CO would let us get away with and we generally didn't cross the line. When we did, we paid, usually with really shitty details so we didn't forget exactly where the line was. My CO looked the other way to a lot of our hijinks but no one got hurt.

The line in the GWOT has become very wide and very gray. There is only one reason for that and it's simple. Failure of leadership. A rule of thumb to use is the wider and grayer the line, the higher up in the chain of command the failure goes. A supply sergeant running a black market operation out of Okinawa is a local command failure. Soldiers murdering innocent civilians and torturing prisoners is a failure at the top.

As I've said before, the grunts should pay for what they've done but so should the leadership. I've seen a whole buncha grunts go to jail over the past couple years, but the people who define where the line is have yet to answer for their crimes.

It is why I want more than to see Bush and his cronies out of power, I want them all in jail too.

Cross-posted at Worlds.

Summer uniform

Yes, I know it's a couple months late.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Living Democracy:Getting your toes wet

As an intro explaining what I mean by Living Democracy,here's a point or two to ponder before we begin:

1)Back in the day,when America was a mere baby of a country,Our Democracy was a much more participatory thing than it is now.It's sad really,that we have selectively remembered and mythologized our nation's history.(Good lord,down here in the South,people are still actively pissed off about the Civil War and how all that turned out.I mean serious grudges and stuff,it's transgenerational.And yes,it's scary when you encounter it.These folks have missed alot that's happened since then,and they're scared to death of it.)

But in a larger context,our early formative years were quite turbulent,and we've always had sometimes serious disagreements.There have always been groups of people agitating for something or another in America.Some of it's been stupid,some of it's been smart.Sometimes violent,Sometimes peaceful.We've even seen Good vs Evil come down the pike,several times.

In Early America,Europeans brought with them a sense of needed rules and various hierarchies to keep some semblance of order(American Indians,btw,were not at all uncivilized,they had all kinds of laws and social rules and ways of enforcing those.The difference is,they were not tied to possessions,they were tied to the land,their people were birthed from a place,the whole spiritual life of American Indian Nations is based on that).Some stuff has worked,some hasn't,but the idea of a Real Democracy means things are often untidy.We're a rowdy bunch of mongrels,always have been.

Back then,pretty much only white guys got to decide how things were run.As we've progressed,the system allowed more and more freedom of participation by more people.Ideally at least.But the system is still gamed to favor the few over the many.All along in our history there's been a fight against that,and mostly,we managed to keep things in check,before too much got out of hand.We've not always succeeded,but for the most part we've managed to pull back and check ourselves.There used to be town hall meetings and most everyone in the community showed up,those who were excluded paid attention and usually something would happen to respond accordingly if the right thing wasn't being done.People wrote pamphlets,spoke on the streets,many died trying to set things right,to make this country as fair as possible.

We're a work in progress,WE ALWAYS WILL BE.That's the point of the word"living"in Living Democracy.Think of it as a living,breathing entity.What's happened to us over the last 50 or so years has been a deadening of that way of relating to our country.We need National Civics Lessons.

The words "Citizen","civics","citizenship",and "civilization"need an overhaul in the public mindset.Participation in a Living Democracy is a powerful tool to reclaim your investment in your life,take back your power,and do something contructive to repair a nation that's really in trouble.It's the only way.And it's scary.And it's hard.Sometimes it's downright dangerous.And alot of the time it's also really rewarding and FUN.

2)Which brings me to Fear.
I'm convinced that Americans are scared shitless of each other.There are exceptions to this,but for the most part,we've been subtly and not so subtly had it beat into our collective heads that people are no damned good.Better to stay safe,keep to your comfort zone and be incredibly selective(if not down right snooty)about who you associate with and where you go.This always seems to bring with it a self fullfilling prophecy,and the world is often not kind or gentle,which re-affirms those fears.Caution is good,but isolation mixed with fear is not.If fear is contagious,I'd have to argue it's entirely possible that Courage is just as contagious,if not more so.True Courage is always on the side of doing the right thing,you can never go wrong by siding with that.Or at least not horribly wrong.

That means we have to weave webs with one another.Not just on the internets,but doing the hard work of sneakers on the sidewalks.Try as we might to invent all sorts of ways to communicate with each other,you can't replace working shoulder to shoulder with other human beings for forming bonds that matter.And really,at the end of the day,we all want pretty much the same stuff.Being able to provide for oneself and one's family,a decent education for us and our kiddos(if we have them),a safe little homestead somewhere,a way to retire without being a burden to others,you know,the stuff that gives us Dignity on a very basic level.We all gotta eat,have decent medical and preventative health care,and we especially need to feel like we matter,that our life counts for something.Doesn't matter who ya pray to,who ya vote for,or who ya love,we all want that.Sometimes it goes horribly awry,hence you see violent gangs or religious/ideological cults that do seriously damaged things,crime families,the rise of tyrants and other such nasty things.But other times humans get it right,and that's our reason for being here.

But we can't do that if we fear each other.It means taking some risks.But you don't have to dive in head first without paying attention.Get your toes wet first.Start Small if you're afraid.Keep your personal safety in mind of course,but trust yourself,and think before you act.You'll do fine.And if you fail,that's ok.There's more than plenty enough stuff to do to go around a few times.If you fail at one thing,there's at least a dozen more possibilities to try.We need it ALL.From the silliest bit of political street theater,to protests,to running for office,or forming a grassroots group,to working for ethical candidates,or a myriad of other things,we need writers and artists and professionals and amateurs and truck drivers and parents and singles and teachers and students.See,that's the beauty part of the whole thing,all of us are needed in some capacity in a Living Democracy.Alot of it's trial and error,and there will be disagreements,hurt feelings,and conflicts.That's how things get done,as long as we never forget why we're bothering in the first place.

The following essays I will be writing on this topic will look at problems that have had successful solutions with a Living Democracy approach and we'll also look at various things the political novice can do,as well as more ambitious goals.Our Country is in Crisis,and way too many people feel helpless and unconnected,despite us being all "civilized"and stuff.The only way to stop the right wing from being successful is to lessen the power of Fear.We do have the power to shut that down as we find our Courage,both together and within ourselves.