Saturday, December 16, 2006

End of year/holiday season ramble

The end of 2006 is ahead. Certainly the year has been both memorable and forgettable. Personally, the latter half of 2006 has been very good to me from a professional perspective, but the year in the political realm has been very forgettable for the upsets that seem to loom larger by the hour, yet the elections of 2006 were satisfactory. Unfortunately, the Democratic sweep was precipitated by dire, unfortunate circumstances for America and the world body politic. A generation of destructive warfare of varying degrees has been unleashed by 9/11, the Afghan War, and the ill-conceived Iraq invasion and rapidly deteriorating expectations for the occupation. What is to become of this world if some things don't start working in favor of relative peace and calm? I really don't care to ponder such disasters as seem to loom over the horizon if great leaders don't soon emerge who can lead us through these crises with satisfactory endings.

Needless to say, Boy George is NOT that leader. Dubya is so far out of his element, it actually hurts to watch the so-called "leader of the free world[what's left of it]" stumble and bumble so horribly. It's embarassing as an American to believe that my fellow countrymen elected this man twice. Fortunately, we ARE fellow countrymen who know better than to destroy our nation over political/ethnic/religious disagreements that usually get no worse than some hurt feelings or a bloody nose instead of carbombs at a shopping center, department store, or any other gathering place. I am thankful we Americans can set a high standard for political discourse within our borders (except, of course, for our violent society--most violent in the "free world") while making such poor decisions on how to conduct the "war on terror" internationally. The U.S. has more often been on the "winning" side of some of the bloodier wars of the past 100 or so years because we quickly surmised the need to fight the battles with guns AND diplomacy. The Cold War would have been a failed enterprise had the U.S. not begun the post-WW II global intervention with the Marshall Plan and MacArthur's brilliant command of the Japanese occupation that provided us a valued ally for peace and prosperity for generations. Bravo to American policy makers for reaching out to Vietnam, a possible valued ally to check China's ambitions. Vietnam couldn't possibly withstand a full-fledged invasion force with ample reserves if China were to ever feel the need to cross into Vietnam as its half-hearted invasion of 1979 merely to prove a point to the Kremlin and newly its unified ally Vietnam. Yet, Vietnam could become another friendly presence in eastern Asia for the U.S. The only downside is there's yet another Asian country with subsistence wages to undermine American manufacturing. What's going to happen when Chinese companies enriched by the efficacy of Wal Mart to bully its suppliers to manufacture in China decide to make bids for companies like, God forbid, Wal Mart itself? What happens if China pulls the plug on financing of the American debt that most certainly includes the war effort? How did we put ourselves in such a pitiful position?
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2007 must be better than 2006 or else we're in for a global catastrophe the likes of which we've never endured at any point in history, since atomic weapons that seem to be so easily acquired these days by practically any country including an impoverished militarist nation like Pakistan. It's not healthy to dwell too much on troubling political futures. The holidays and the end of the year have always been a time when I find myself remembering the past and those who have died who had a part in my life. The older one gets, the more folks to remember in that way each year. Besides, we're all born dying and nothing about that will ever change. When I was a child, my family would gather for my father's family a week or two before Christmas and my mom's family on Christmas Day. Thanksgiving Day was always my mom's family who hosted the gathering we attended. Today, I have very little to do with extended family because it's not a good idea, plus I didn't care for too many of my cousins, aunts, or uncles. It's difficult enough to deal with my own family and I rarely attend holiday gatherings because I live rather far away and I have a busy life. I live a private life and I don't care for too much intrusion from family members.
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Over the past 5 years, I've learned of the deaths of some of my closest friends from the grades. I long ago left my hometown as thousands over the past 2o+ years have fled the Arkansas Delta region. Life in the Mississippi River valley just cannot be as satisfying as living on the Ozark plateau and I plan to never return to my home county. Folks must learn to live well. Only get one chance at it. I work long hours with intense pressure at times, but I've learned to enjoy life at least in the Sisyphean sense(push rock up hill, rock rolls back down hill, Sisyphus pushes rock up hill again endlessly; yet he's still able to smile--Camus). Albert Camus posits that the fundamental question humans all must answer is whether to commit suicide. Life is worthy, in his view, of living because to believe or act otherwise would be complicit with the worst evil of humanity, death. Life is a struggle against death and essentially, we should all act in accord with a love for life affirming life, not defiling it. Death is efficient enough to do its own bidding-it doesn't need humanity contributing to death of fellow humans. These days, the so-called pro-life, pro-gun, pro-war faction has done more to defile life than affirm it in our nation and across the globe. I'm not the type of person who wants to curb gun rights any more than the next guy or who doesn't our enemies to be stopped militarily if at all possible, but trying to bring about the end of the world by preaching a political doctrine of war as some sort of religious observance is the height of insanity. Americans should know better and believe better than al-Qaeda or Taliban sympathizers or the neurotic mahdi-expecting Shiites of Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Americans are better than violent theocrats in the Islamic world. Let's keep it that way.

America's new leadership of next year or the end of Dubya's failed presidency must seek real diplomatic solutions as well as the use of force to succeed. Merely continuing a fight in Iraq without seeking opportunities to lower the desire to fight amongst the folks whom we are killing and those who are killing our people and the people of Iraq is a fool's choice. Dubya sought to improve or cement his father's stature for posterity by running for president and boy has he succeeded. HW looks a whole lot better about his decision not to push toward Baghdad in 1991, which turned out to be the wisest decision by an American president in many years. Hopefully, the sinister figure of Bush's Florida "victory" in 2000, James Baker, can take control of the Dubya White House and stir the boy dunce to pull his head out of his posterior and allow smarter people(or at least less cavalier) than Rove, Cheney, or Rumsfeld to run his White House. I really think James Baker is an easily reviled figure, but he certainly has a decent track record despite some of the dirty dealing of HW over the years and his dirty family past.
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Houston Nutt saved his job as Razorbacks head coach by riding the back of McFadden and some imaginative input by high school coaching whiz Gus Malzahn. Hopefully, Damien Williams decided to leave because he wants to explore other areas of the country and not because he didn't get the ball enough. Unfortunately, I believe it's merely the latter and that makes him a selfish kid who can't be happy for his team's success and his blocking prowess which made him rather important to our offense. Damien dropped his share of crucial passes, so it's not as if he wasn't given chances to have a bigger impact and get more throws his way. He's a 19 year-old freshman, so he's entitled his mistakes whether the mistake was decommitting to Florida and opting for Arkansas or leaving the Hogs for another team is to be determined. If he plays on another SEC team, I hope a Hog defender gives him a proper greeting several times, but I wish him no injury or ill and I hope he finds what he believes will make him happy.

Congrats Coach Nutt. You did a fine job this year. I hope an improved Mustain who has uncanny accuracy throwing the football will take the job from a woefully inadequate Casey Dick. Dick's accuracy is just a shade better than Robert Johnson and that's not good enough for consistent SEC success. McFadden is a special player and he deserves an effort from his team to earn him another chance at the Heisman next year. These Hogs are tough-minded kids and I would like to see them finally break through and win the SEC championship game next year. Mustain shouldn't get so upset about the future. He wasn't ready for a 12+ game schedule among some of the stiffest defenses in America. If Dick had not been injured in summer and fall, he would have started every game this year. Mustain has had a taste of big-time football and he'll build on that for next year. These children might be incredible physical specimens, but they're still children learning to live successfully in society, so upsets and mistakes will occur.
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1 Comments:

Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

http://www.rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the new Sec. Def.Mr. Gates, understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

7:18 PM  

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