Thursday, May 31, 2007

Misty Eyed and Choking Up ... I'm Outta Here

The image to the left is one I briefly used as a wallpaper some years back with my middle schoolers. My recollection is that the man was in Iraq yet I'm hardly certain. I can also not supply the appropriate attribution.

I am in no way comparing my emotions today with what this soldier was feeling when this image was captured yet today I enlisted in the United States Army. While prepared for the serious nature of what I was doing, I was surprised when I started choking up and getting a touch weepy while doing my oath. I'd been thinking of my son and ancestors often during the last two days so perhaps this was at least part of what moved me so much. I felt something very powerful in the process. I've long respected professional soldiers, knowing that exceptions do at times apply where some don't deserve to wear the uniform, so to now start building on that tradition in my own life is truly exciting. And scary, especially at the ripe old age of 41. Infantry is my MOS and I've pledged at least five years and seventeen weeks on active duty. I'll try to become an exemplary soldier.

Also, I'm stepping aside from Captain Plaid for at least the next few months. I'll perhaps be unable to post due to deployment or limitations on blogging that will I think apply. I'm not sure about the exact policies and conditions but I'd hope that if settled in I could post on matters that might not involve security issues. Leaving the blog is yet another reason to get weepy and choked up! I have so enjoyed posting as I've learned so much. I've appreciated the chance to share. Maybe I'll be back and perhaps not. In the meantime, I'll just close with the obligatory Peace ... or War!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Across the Pond for some Al Gore and ...

The Guardian serves up some Al Gore wisdom that is very solid. "A drive for global domination has put us in greater danger: Moral authority, which is our greatest source of strength, has been recklessly put at risk by this wilful president" sums up the substance of his writing.

Dead on thinking and writing, something that Gore usually delivers, and yet I still grieve for what could have been but for the mess in Florida in 2000. Al's new book, The Assault on Reason, is one I surely want to spend some time with eventually.

Also, Ian Walsh of Agonist posted at FireDogLake an essay that I highly recommend. Ian's A Mile In My Enemy’s Shoes is a tremendous examination of our flawed foreign policy that seems to fit nicely with what Al Gore wrote. More frustration follows just thinking about our world's loss by having Bu$hCo in office on 9-11 rather than a better set of folks like what Gore would have been surrounded with!

Finally, it's looking like I'll enlist for five years. Doing infantry even. Might as well be up front, even if a bit more seasoned that might be ideal, and looking at the mess with my own eyes. Learning to be a serious fighter is something that I'd welcome. A matching savings plan, GI Bill that I may be able to at least share some with Baby Plaid, bonus/incentive money, etc. applies. I am rather tired of the struggle of trying to find meaningful work. I'm hardly gung ho about much in our society/gov't these days but service under arms is I hope an honorable way to do good work for our nation. Peace ... or War!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Heck of a job Bu$hie (and Congress and ...)

Lisa Myers and Robert Windrem of NBC's Investigative Unit give us the latest reporting confirming what most of us already suspect. Their work is titled CIA warned of risks of war in the Mideast: Pre-war reports say agency predicted dangers of toppling Saddam's regime.

The "Intelligence" Committees, especially in the Senate, have some 'splaining to do and yet plenty, if not all, of those very same members remain in place. It is appropriate to ask the hard, hard questions that so far have pretty much been avoided by Bu$hCo. Congress and our media owes the American public, not to mention our military and their families, this course of action.

It does seem to this observer that George Tenet ought to give back that Medal of Freedom. He should also perhaps donate most, if not all, of the profits to organizations supporting those innocents, including Iraqis, killed and wounded. Rumsfeld and the other enablers (Tenet, Wolfowitz, Feith, etc.) that have left this failed administration are due to be essentially hounded by the press. They might not talk but I'd at least try to ask the questions if I were a reporter of any weight. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Just how ornery and crazy is this Scot?

One of my rare readers, earned from my time on the Left Coast, asked me what was going on so I'll share with others that might still drop by plus ask for your thoughts.

After recovering from the campaign I started looking for meaningful work. I started back posting and yet I've been limiting my blogging lately with the thought that I'd be unable to continue in my poverty and pursuit of the dollar.

I've previously bitched and moaned about NCLB and the burdens of the cement block classroom teacher. I love the kids and teaching/learning but so far not ready to go back to the trenches.

I've walked away from playing country lawyer, largely defending the indigent from "the man" and helping resolve which spouse gets the doublewide. I talked with one of my old Circuit Judges the other day and reflected with him on how he advised me way back in the day about how practicing in Randolph County was "drudgery". I was a good criminal defense lawyer and enjoyed the work but darned if most of those facing charges aren't poor. Fighting the many injustices in the system took a toll on this lefty. Since I went to a then non-ABA blessed law school (even a lower tier than Regent Law where Bu$hCo got so much of their "talent") I'm limited in some options as well.

Politics, especially that with a Progressive orientation, was the destination. Alternatively I'd work for a non-profit or some organization doing meaningful work. Thought about lobbying even, although I loathe how the Big Mules influence so much of politics. My work this fall seemed solid and I surely worked like two Trojans the whole time I was in California. I hoped doors would be opened. Even when I've knocked, and admittedly I'm not always as assertive on asking as I might should be, they've remained closed. And darned if the wages from the left are weak. As an aside, conservative groups seem willing to pay decent wages for even marginal talent yet the care and feeding of activists on the left is an area where I'm convinced we ought to do better.

Alternatively, I wanted to try Outside Sales and/or Training in a business setting. I could be out and about plus earn a good living that would hopefully allow me to support financially the causes I believed in. I thought my people skills and work ethic and life experiences would have me snapped up even if lacking time in the corporate world. I thought being a Road Warrior would allow me, at least on most weekends, to perhaps remain on the Ponderosa and near Baby Plaid, soon to be twelve plus standing five feet and well over a hundred pounds.

So I bet on myself yet the house is now calling the wager. I'm working on small building projects and doing periodic work to keep my bread buttered. I'm resigned to the fact I'll need to seek my fortunes away from the Tin Shop in rural East Alabama. Lord if I'm not sick of Career Builder and Monster plus the whole process of chasing meaningful or even tolerable work. Still, finding even entry level positions in the big city, such as Auburn/Lee County seems to me, is a hard row to hoe. What just living takes for a single person requires more than even a so called living wage. While I'm a tasty blend of Capitalist and Socialist the reality seems to be the economy today is working for the few. I might resist Bourgeoisie life more than I should but I do think often that the markets grind up not just the Serfs but plenty of the middle class as well. Aristotle claimed all paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind. Guess we can't all be philosophers and even so he'd perhaps have a hard time getting booked and published by the corporate media masters that control so much today.

While I've got a few things still in the pipeline, I have been talking with an Army recruiter. I took the ASVAB and made an 88, although some math I've not used since over twenty years ago took a toll. My line scores are high enough to qualify me for any MOS (job) yet still doing the physical process. For folks over 40 Uncle Sam puts you on the rack and checks you out thoroughly. Some high frequency hearing loss in my left ear that they can waive but so far things look good. Physically I'm hardly the fastest runner yet I'm country strong so figure I could handle, even if a touch more seasoned that most, the joys of boot camp. My old knees might snap and pop but think they'll still work.

I'm looking hard at Public Affairs (journalism of sorts) but would consider pretty much anything except for tanks (can't be hemmed up!) should that not work out. While I enjoy tech and the like I prefer to be out and about enough to not seek that sort of MOS. The training might be enjoyable and profitable however. I could go in as an E-4 (Specialist) and the opportunities for rapid advancement are allegedly there. There is a $6ooo bonus for my education and certain MOS selections get enlistment incentives as well.

While I'm no gun nut I have grown up with weapons and my Scottish blood would likely help me be a decent grunt. Those that read and know me surely know that Bu$hCo's invasion of Iraq has been something I've long been against. I suppose there's some irony in this loathed administration opening the door for an old dog like me. Surely once Commander Codpiece is back in Crawford things will be better and yet he and his will leave our military bent and battered, from mission to morale to mechanics to ... Being part of rebuilding after the Conservatives ruin things is what good lefty types do isn't it?

I worry some about the lowered standards, such as those that allow a graybeard like me in, would perhaps allow some rough customers in that I'd have to work with yet figure Uncle Sam would cull them soon enough. I also have concerns about the gung ho types. I'm likely a reluctant warrior yet know there's a time to kill, or at least be willing to kill. Evangelicals and conservatives will be in the military as well yet I can't imagine it being as bad as I'm used to in my locale.

I am attracted to the service component of the military. I do love our nation, even if so very flawed. I'm a citizen of the world of course yet think patriotism is usually a worthy virtue.

Hardly a simple man, the satisfaction of doing meaningful work goes a long way in making me content. My recruiter and some of the others in the office were a touch tickled when I asked about post libraries. I'd be an oddity indeed around the base.

I worry about being severely disabled more than being killed yet as a father I suppose checking out is a concern. If KIA I could provide $400,000 in insurance for the boy. Being deployed and away from Baby Plaid would be tough and yet with modern tech it might be a little better than back in the day. Given his age if I went in for only four years he'd be driving when I got out. Since his mother can be a heifer at times this option might work out just fine. I've done a good job for the most part with the boy and the foundation is there. Ideally I'd have him nearby as would be ideal yet choices were made that has not allowed this to be as I'd have wished. Some educational benefits would help him as well. There are other things to boot like decent health care and my getting at least thirty days vacation.

Not sure I'd want to do a full twenty years or even a short term. But I'm looking. Partly I started this out of frustration and yet the more I ponder the more I'm intrigued.

While I'm doing this post as partly an update with an explanation of why I'm not posting much of anything I also would appreciate feedback or other suggestions. Maybe there's some therapy as well? One additional thing that bothers me is the military seems to frown on blogging. I surely know the security concerns are legit and yet posting allows this fella a chance to process thoughts that are as meaningful as anything I've ever done. So what do y'all think? Peace ... or War!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Reagan's "Mourning in America" and today's GOP

Campaign for America's Future is a grand resource and their The Big Con effort is proving very useful as well. Their Republican Debate: Monochromatic Candidates, Stale Ideas from Robert Borosage served up a solid examination of the many, many failures of The Gipper. Their The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page says Democrats should be embarrassed... from Rick Perlstein examined how movement conservatism simply plays dirty. Karl Rove's nasty nature is hardly a surprise to anyone that has been aware of how conservatives play the game. As an aside, I was unaware of the claim that the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at "Princeton University" acted in part as yet another front for the right wing. If this allegation is true, and Robert Borosage and Max Blumenthal are viewed by me as good authority, then "bought and paid for" once again seem to be the "principles" of the right. Truly the fight doesn't seem fair to get Progressive ideas out to our society.

As I posted yesterday, and certainly have covered in plenty of other missives, as the 2008 cycle is fought, Progressives can't allow the GOP to attempt to avoid the failures of "conservatism" by claiming Bu$hCo hasn't been a true "conservative". While there's some truth to the idea that that the Bu$hies aren't legit, the goal ought to be diving into a blistering critique of the right. There's plenty of ground to be gained by killing off, or at least seriously wounding, the recent versions of "conservatism" we've had to suffer through these last three decades. That suggestion being offered, I'll admit that I can accept at least a few "conservative" ideas. The trouble is that the wing nuts and opportunists on the right, and there are plenty indeed, take a limited construct that has a place in intelligent discourse and then expand it to an exponential level of stupidity. This nation simply can't afford the last two or three decades version of "conservatism" as we move forward into the early 21st century. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

GOP Dumping Dubyah for The Gipper

Newsweek's Marcus Mabry reveals Dubyah is down to 28%. No wonder everyone of the old white guys of the GOP tried to avoid talking up Bu$hCo. Hardly would I think that a return to the Days of Reagan would be a good thing yet that appears to be all they've got. Surely this great nation has had enough of pseudo-cowboys and "conservatism". Note also that every single Democratic front runner beats the current crop of Republican candidates. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Politico's "Wuerking Drawings" Cartoon Gem

I'm no fan of The Politico yet this one is rather clever and perhaps all too true. If in fact the Bu$hCo administration and the GOP, or even those on my team, are using our military as pawns in their political game hell ought to have a special place kept extra toasty for them. It's a damn shame yet there is usually always some political posturing in warfare, as I'm reminded in reading Jeff Shaara's The Rising Tide on WWII for instance, yet I'd argue that Dubyah and the Mayberry Machiavellis have been largely about style over substance in their "support" of the military. On the fourth anniversary of "Mission Accomplished" I really appreciated Keith Olbermann interviewing Rachel Maddow under the theme of "Bogus, Bogus, Bogus." The Commander Codpiece scene has proven so symbolic of the Bu$hCo boys. Peace ... or War!

Montgomery Big Mules Once Again Prevent Reform of Alabama's Racist, Outdated, Power Concentrating ... 1901 Constitution

The above image is from 1939. The more things change the more they stay the same? The Anniston Star is a good place to begin examining how the Big Mules, ALFA being their prime example, killed this year's efforts toward our finally getting a brand new Constitution. I would take some exception toward the idea that "agriculture" is the special interest that ALFA represents. I for one think it might be more the landed gentry and Big Timber and ... than true small farming operations.

The Daily Home's editorial from today is likewise just as dead on right. Silly arguments are the only ones reform opponents have home boys! Even the most addled observer knows chunking the 1901 Constitution is critical to this state ever moving forward. Exhibit One as to our failures of "leadership" could be the Senate "leaders" acting like jackasses this term yet we can change paper even if personalities might take a little longer to replace. I think replacing the latter will be lots easier when the former is accomplished. I did appreciate the home boys brief mention of Sandra Bell, president of the Alabama Association of Judeo Christian Values. What a shill! What a shoddy web presence! This isn't even enough to look like an astroturf effort. In Montgomery on Tuesday evening I could watch WSFA. Mercy I miss having that station. This allowed me to lay eyes on Ms. Bell on the tube and once again she didn't disappoint when given an opportunity to speak toward immigration issues. Values indeed!

Truly the Star is correct that "an article by article approach" is more about having the good old boys (and gals?) on Goat Hill making sure the Big Mules are taken care of than any fear that "special interests" will dominate a Constitutional Convention. The powers that be have Goat Hill locked up and the 1901 Constitution is just what they want to have. They'll lie, cheat, and steal to keep their lock on pretty much every way things get done, or perhaps more accurately not done, in Alabama.

Before I close the post, I'll give an update on my status. Still looking about for meaningful work. Have pretty much given up on staying here in rural East Alabama so a move, probably out of Alabama and maybe even the South or perhaps even the country, is likely. Broke and burdened, I've got a few prospects left but anticipate I'll soon call it a day up here near the Tin Shop. Only thing for certain now is that posting will be sporadic and very well may soon end, at least for a good while. Looking ahead, if able, I might wind back up on the intertubes, or whatever network is about five or ten or twenty years on down the road, as I do enjoy blogging.

For now, I just close with "Peace ... or War!" I'm hardly at "peace", and truly don't know that I've hardly ever known it, especially in the last eight years. Additionally, my early years were hardly ideal with my mother's death far too early and the ways of Papa Plaid until he "mellowed" in his last years. I surely took some time to "mellow" as well. Plenty of mistakes, personally and professionally, indeed. Maybe I can find "peace" in "war", political or otherwise?