Monday, June 23, 2014

I'm In The Red Car

Drives me nuts!!


Obamacare

Since their profession is going in the toilet as a result of Obamacare, doctors are coming up with imaginative ways to have fun...


A Promise?

I guess this is a bonus!


How'd That Happen?

No idea...and what now?


Golf II

Full of distractions!!


Gross

Just gross...that about sums it up!


Accurate Measurements

So I guess the truck was 15 feet, 2 inches...at least.


Golf

Every game of golf produces stories.  I'm sure there's one for this...


Cool Pic


Monday, June 16, 2014

Mr Padre

Huge loss to the city, the Aztecs, and the Padres.  He was such a wonderful player, role model and man.  RIP Tony Guinn...


Thursday, June 12, 2014

IRAQ is Burning

It's impossible not to watch the unfolding story in Iraq without a measure of sadness, frustration, and outrage.  We all know the treasure and blood that the U.S. has poured into Iraq over the last few decades and for it to come to this is maddening and heartbreaking.

The terrorists have now taken some major cities in the North and are advancing on Baghdad.  And these are well organized, opportunistic, ideologically driven bad guys who want one thing...power.  I think we tend to put too much emphasis on the fact that these guys are radical Islamists.  They are that, but they are also thugs who want power.  They depend on terror and oppression, both economic and educational.  They have deep seated religious prejudices that have built up over centuries.  The Sunni/Shia hatred is real.  But so is the obsession with gaining power and shaping the world to their vision.  And that vision is squarely based in about the 7th century.  To think that we can simply turn the other cheek or conduct reasoned dialog with these guys is, in my view, naive in the extreme.



The media and the pundits are getting on the bandwagon that perhaps there is a lack of foreign policy expertise or even attention in this administration.  I've railed on this previously.  But now even those who have protected and coddled him are voicing some level of skepticism.  The disengagement, the announcement of our intentions, the rapid dearming, the apparent incompetence that has gripped our State Department...all these things and more put us in peril as we move forward as members of the world community.  To think that we are leaders is laughable.  We are not respected, we are not feared, we are not listened to, we are not reliable partners.  We have become like some inconsequential second rate country that huffs and puffs but has no stomach for leadership and no resources to prevail.  We are France!

I know there are many who believe the Iraq war was a monumental mistake but those people forget (or worse, recast) history.  The truth is we went in for what were good and solid reasons with support of a coalition and our own Congress.  The intelligence was wrong.  Simple as that.  Our military effort in the Iraq war was professionally and successfully executed.  But we lost the peace.  From the time we got to Baghdad and toppled the government, we stumbled and stumbled badly on the post-war Iraq rebuilding.  There is plenty of blame to go around for that but most of it lands squarely on Bush.  But he also deserves credit.  Credit for taking action.  Credit for staying the course.  Credit for the surge.  Credit for support to the troops.

Make no mistake, the events that are unfolding in the Middle East are a direct threat to our National Security.  How?  Let me count the ways:
  • As a culture we generally believe in progress.  Education, clean air and water, human rights, the dignity of the individual, freedom of speech and religion, etc.   These people believe in none of that.  And as they spread their hatred and terror, all those things will take a hit.  As a people, can we just accept that oppression?
  • Oil.  The old bugaboo.  Many say that now that we have discovered significant oil deposits in shale that we are no longer dependent on Middle East oil.  B.S.  We are less dependent, but still dependent to some degree.  Will it be a disaster if we can't get their oil because of the chaos in the region?  No.  But will it drive the prices sky high?  Yes.  And one of our best allies, Japan, would be mortally hurt.
  • This will spread.  Already Syria and Iraq are almost lost causes.  Our friends the Kurds and the Turks will resist.  But they'll need help and I'm not sure we'll provide it.  Jordan is at great risk. Of course this means the threat to Israel increases.  These guys and the Iranians aren't friends so expect greater tension to include outright fighting.  It could spill across the Gulf to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.  UAE and Qatar are busily arming themselves.  They aren't doing that for fun.  They want to be ready for these assholes.  And then it will spread East, South and West.  East to Europe where terrorism incidents will increase, South to Africa where we are already seeing a rise in "Islamic" terrorism, and West to places like Indonesia which is already a hotbed of Islamic terrorism.  And then onward.  So we stand and watch at our peril.  
  • Just like in Afghanistan, we wanted out and are getting out.  Let them kill themselves.  But at some point in the future the stories will emerge.  The beheadings.  The killing of little girls because they attend school.  The hanging of a young man because he has dollars in his wallet.  The execution of a young family who dares to voice hope for the future.  And we will feel compelled to "do something".   But there will be little we can do.  If we do have the gumption to do something, it will come with an enormous price in both blood and treasure.
  • The violent nature of this group who has no regard for human life and can only be successful by massive economic, educational and physical oppression, is repellent to us.  We don't have a sense of how to fight these assholes.  It's totally different to anything we've encountered.  A good example is the African girls that were kidnapped.  The best we could do is a campaign that relied on a hashtag.  Remember #BringBackOurGirls?  That really did a lot of good.  Oh yeah, we sent 10 people to help.  10 people!  Our culture is too self-obsessed, too focused on trivial things, too worried about which group is being given preferential treatment, too unwilling to do difficult things, to get engaged.  Especially under this administration.  This President likes to point out our differences.  He'd rather gain political favor with this or that group than try to pull us all together in the face of danger.  He likes to make sure we know he is working for the oppressed.  Of course, he's not really doing that...he only makes a speech about doing it.  And while he's doing that the rest of the world is descending into an ever more dangerous circumstance.  The terrorists are winning.  We better wake up.

Monday, June 2, 2014

POW

Prisoner of War is a term that sends chills running down the spine of most Americans.  No one wants to see any American held captive by the enemy.  So when we heard the news this weekend of the release of Sgt Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity, everyone was understandably elated.  After all, one of our own is coming home!  After 5 long years of being held by the Taliban in what were probably very uncomfortable surroundings he is finally coming home.  You could see the relief on the faces of his Mom and Dad.  And the story of him breaking down when he got in the helicopter is heartwarming.  Now he's being "debriefed" in Germany and I guess that in due course he'll make his way to his home in Idaho to hero status.  Of course, book deals and movie deals and invites to Oprah and Ellen are sure to follow.

But wait...there's more to the story.  It turns out that he wasn't the normal soldier.  His buddies say he had an unusual affinity for the Afghanis.  He drifted around Europe for a while where he tried to the join the French Foreign Legion before joining the Army.  He sounds like a bit of troubled soul.  I'm sure he's a nice enough guy, but we've all know people like him in any group.  A little bit quirky.  And it also turns out that he has had some very uncomplimentary things to say about the U.S.  Like he was ashamed to be an American.  That kind of stuff.  So he was a bit strange and not really in the mainstream.  But that doesn't warrant 5 years in captivity.

But wait...there's more to the story.  There is a lot of discussion on the internet regarding whether he was captured or just disappeared on a walk outside his compound.  A walk outside his compound?  In Afghanistan?  Well that's pretty interesting.  And crazy!  It turns out that he spent a lot of time sympathizing with local Afghanis and maybe went a little too far.  By some accounts he didn't want to be a soldier anymore and wanted to help the Afghanis more than he wanted to be a soldier.  There are reports that he left a note and said he was leaving.  It's clear that he took little with him other than a bottle of water.  So some big suspicions that he wasn't captured in a normal sense, but instead went AWOL and was captured.  Worst case is he went over to the side of the enemy.  Some of the guys in his old unit are saying he deserted.  They are saying he's no hero, but instead is a deserter who should be court martialed.  

But wait...there's more to the story.  It turns out President Obama traded a few prisoners at Guantanamo for him.  5 to be exact.  But these guys aren't some low level Taliban soldiers or middle level functionaries.  They were 5 of the deadliest members of the Taliban in the entire war effort.  They all held high level jobs in Taliban controlled Afganistan and this release is likely to set the war back a significant amount.  And we are just releasing them.  Well, not really releasing them.  Part of the deal is that they will go to Qatar to remain in captivity in Doha, Qatar for a year.   These 4 guys are real desperado's.  They are very bad people.  And you can bet your bippy that they'll rejoin the effort in some manner.  Of course, we're leaving with our tails between our legs in the near future so maybe we can get out before they do too much damage.

But wait...there's more to the story.  And this part shouldn't surprise anyone.  There is a political dimension.  Obama made the announcement on Sunday and he's leaving tonight (Monday) for a trip to Europe.  So the orchestration of everything, and I mean everything, to political benefit continues and is increasing.  By the time he returns much of what went on will have been reported and the details of the sale will be forgotten.  

And you know this one is coming...But wait, there's more to the story.    Congress read about the trade in the newspapers.  This is an excuse that Obama usually uses, so maybe they are trying to one up him.  They are now crying foul.  They have gone so far as to say the law was broken by not notifying Congress.  And they have a point.  Will it go anywhere?  No.  His protectors in the media won't let it.  The whole thing is over.  Period.  

So this whole thing will get reported (lightly) and it will be largely forgotten.  But one thing will linger.  We negotiated with Terrorists!  That precedent is gone.  There is no doubt about that.  Now, having Bergdahl back home will be great and, given the treatment and support, he'll likely be okay.  He'll definitely be rich as a result of book and movie deals.  But how many others are put in jeopardy by the U.S. acquiescing to these assholes.  For my money, as heartless as it sounds, we should've hung tough.    

BTW, you may have heard of the US Marine being held in a Tijuana jail after making a wrong turn and winding up at the border with weapons.  Innocent mistake.  Too bad.  He's been in jail for over two months awaiting trial.  I keep thinking we can release 5 really, really bad guys to get one troubled soldier of questionable loyalties, but we can't figure out how to get an innocent Marine out of the Tijuana jail.  That's just wrong!