March 22nd

I'm afraid that in many ways I've found myself conflicted and distraught over this war.

George Bush, the way he stole the presidency, the dangerous people he has appointed like Ashcroft, and the erosion of the Bill of Rights he has perpetuated - this all enrages me. The judgement of history will be that he was one of our most dangerous and inept men ever to hold the office. When he allocated more money for NASA I was surprised to find one single thing in his presidency that I had to compliment. I feel that the decision to invade Iraq militarily was made months and months ago and nothing would have stopped it. The entire UN charade and all the rest of it was window dressing to try to make it more palatable on the world and domestic stage. That this is being done in my name sickens me. My father and I have exchanged notes, both saying that we love each other but really disagree with the chain of logic the other follows to either support or disagree with the war.

I have spent much of my life in uniform. I first donned the uniform of a cadet the same month I watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in January 1964 and entered active duty the first time in 1967. After active, Guard, and Reserve duty I last took off a camouflage uniform in 1989. I graduated with honors from the basic NCO academy as a buck sergeant and the advanced NCO academy as a platoon sergeant. I understand and sympathize with our men and women in uniform. I hate that they are there right now, and despise the bully who put them there, but in truth now that they're there, I'd rather be there with them, medical bag on my shoulder, keeping them alive rather than watching them die on CNN helplessly. I know that that is my sense of camaraderie with the grunt, and not any sort of agreement with their commander in chief. My entire life I've walked the mile in the mud rather than talked the mile in the parlor, and this slowing down past age 40 thing still doesn't sit comfortable.

Given all of these tumultuous emotions, I'm going to attempt to forgo any further emotion laden sturm und drang and list out resources here. First of all, I think that most self aware adults realize that skimming through CBS, CNN, ABC, UPI, and all will lead you to a very banal and ready-to-eat form of the news. Predigested pablum. Step back for a moment and notice that many of the 'new developments or 'breaking news' or 'story of the day' are the same, often phrased in many of the same terms. This is because it is all controlled and released by the same spin doctors. Example is the one day early in our excursion into Afghanistan when - prior to any admitted military involvement - the rumor of a possibility of US Special Forces troops already being there was floated. Anyone with a lick of military experience or knowledge was certain at that point that the Green Beanies had truly been there for months, but every different news source had the same rumor, in the same words, curiously enough it was exactly timed to the day when the Administration wanted that first level of involvement known. That was when I became disgusted with the spoon fed American media and I began to develop a variety of sources. I don't believe in them all, I understand that they all have their own agendas. I find that reading a diversity of opinions and events helps me to get a better overall perspective, and it forces me to think for myself. Here are some of the ones in my favorite's file for Media:
  1. The Afghan Network carries everything from the Afghan Cooking Channel to features on redevelopment projects and NGO [non-government organizations] working in Afghanistan.
  2. The Australia Broadcast Corporation is a different ABC than most Americans are used to.
  3. Reuters, of course, is internationally known and respected.
  4. Mainichi Daily News is an English language newspaper out of Japan.
  5. Alternet is a domestic effort to encourage independent journalist. It generally has a tilt more to the left than the right.
  6. Pravda, the online English language version. I include this as raw data and the entertainment level of their anti-American rhetoric and not in any way support of their stuff. Anyone deciding to deride me as subversive, communist, or any other fertilizer is cordially invited to kiss my bootay as they leave.
  7. Every current or former GI knows the Stars and Stripes. It has grown in scope and sophistication since I last got a hard copy 30 years ago in Korea, but they still consider it a mission and a challenge to publish, under military jurisdiction, a newspaper representative of the American free press. Published for the soldier, military leadership has long had a hands-off view to the journal.
  8. I think it is incredibly unfortunate and sad, what has happened between the US and Canada recently. I encourage my US readers to check in with the CBC often, to learn more about our closest neighbor.
  9. The BBC is another voice in their native language that Americans can learn from. Two nations separated by a common language.
  10. I think we have all realized recently that we need to know more about the Korean Peninsula. Here is the Chosun Ilbo, an English language news source from Korea.
  11. The Independent Media Center is another indy effort.
  12. Available in six languages, RAWA is an organization bringing literacy and the modern world to the women of Afghanistan.
  13. Janes, of course is a bible for things military [not to be confused with Janes Guide, of course, a fine source of things non-military].
  14. The Federation of American Scientists brings the scientific perspective to public policy. Their founders "were founders were members of the Manhattan Project, creators of the atom bomb and were deeply concerned about the implications of its use for the future of humankind".
I'll welcome the suggestions of my readers for possible additions to my favorite's list.

There are a couple of personal sites that I feel are worthy of attention. The first is Where is Raed ? This is an English language blog written by a young man living in Bagdad. He tells of searching for food, the bombing damages, watching for B-52s, and more of the daily life of an ordinary person, under fire. The second site, from a very different viewpoint, is L.T. Smash - Live From The Sandbox. Smash is a reserve officer called to duty in the Middle East. He posts anonymously and is appropriately vague in identifying specific locations, unit designations, and so forth for reasons of operational security. He is literate and human and has a sense of humor, describing everything from Cheese Tortellini MRE's to his wearing of olive drab on St Paddy's Day.

One last link for now is to my daily source of levity and youthful viewpoint, The Boondocks. It's sacrilegious, irreverent, and spot on much too often to be taken lightly. One highlight recently was their March 11th toon. I subscribe so that every night at midnight I get e-mailed the new day's offering. In the middle of global storm clouds such as we have, Boondocks is a delight.

Don't forget - if we stop our effort of Orgasms For Peace, if we lose our affirmation of Life Is Good, the bastards win. Just to keep it in perspective, remember the maxim - nearly a truism, in my experience - that the larger the wheels on the man's truck, the smaller his weewee must be. By the size of the jacked up 4x4 that Shrub is driving worldwide right now, his poor little dillywhacker must be microscopic.

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