Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category.

The Fat F*ck

Sorry, but that is now how I see this despicable man we call the President. As the days go on, you start to wonder why the nation does not throw him out. He stands before us and tells one lie after another, and his behavior obscene, totally unbecoming a president of this country. I have to wonder how anyone at this point thinks he has either business acumen or is a crafty politician. He is a blathering lying fool. The latest was as he stood in the White House Garden pretending he and Mitch don’t despise one another and blatantly lied about President Obama and other presidents meeting with the parents of fallen service men. It was such a blatant and distasteful lie that went beyond the bounds of the new normal of his lying. There is such a sickness here that permeates everything he does. And what he does is out of meanness, spite, and ignorance.

Look at the lies he spouts about Obamacare. He is wrecking it with no thought to what comes next for the people who will suffer. He tells the whopper that most Republicans tell us that we will have more choice and our premiums will go down and he opens the door to junk plans and cuts subsidies to policies for the really poor. Oh and look at that group in the picture with him. Pander white f*cks who have got theirs. And any reasonable analysis tells us this is all a big lie. Sure you will be fine if you are healthy. But when shit happens, and it will, you are back to the pre-Obamacare days where the number one cause of bankruptcy was health issues and medical bills.

Then there is the nonsense he spouts on the Iran nuclear deal. And what he is doing here is mixing apples and oranges. Sure Iran does bad things, but the one they are not doing is building nukes. That is what the agreement was about. And no, there are no violations and it is working. So he just walks away or is going to “negotiate a better deal”? Um, what about the other countries that actually make this thing work? What we are seeing is that the trust of the United States to keep its word is non-existent. That ought to work out well with North Korea.

Here we have a man who is shocked, shocked, shocked at Harvey Weinstein and yet he admitted to sexually assaulting women, but that was just “locker room”. Here we have a man who flaunts using his position of power to enrich himself. Here is a man who stands before the nation and tells us lies about the electrical power plants in Puerto Rico, and threatens to abandon them, our fellow Americans. And here is a man who rates everything he does by the reviews he gets. He spends days on the NFL and says nothing until pressed about the servicemen killed in Africa.

I don’t know how much more evidence you need that he is not fit to be anywhere near the oval office. He is a smug, arrogant, buffoon in the best of lights, and a mean nasty little man who is working out his feelings of inadequacy on the nation by lashing out, destroying everything in his wake in the worst of lights. The really sad thing is that many of us and press lets him off as we get used to his lies. But I find him an embarrassment to the whole notion of what it is to be an American. So let me say this loud and clear, “THAT FAT FUCK IS NOT MY PRESIDENT. I think John McCain, knowing his days are numbered probably said it best when he took on the Trump/Bannon faction of his party when he got his Liberty Award yesterday, but his aim should have been wider at the lack of spine both he and his party have shown over the years to bring us to this abomination. Let’s not forget the ignorance of Sarah Palin. So I will leave you with this, and it is truly a sad thought. I have never been so ashamed and embarrassed to be an American. That is the times we are living in.

I Said September, Could it be October?

There are two ways to remove a President, either impeach him or use the 25th Amendment to find him unsound. I actually thought he might leave on his own when he found out it was an actual day job and it is really, really hard. The impeachment thing was iffy because that would depend on Republicans thinking about the good of the country over their own party’s success, and if the years of the Obama Presidency have taught us anything, they don’t give a rip for the country. So unless Mueller delivers the goods (which he will) he might get impeached, but with this Republican Party, even that is iffy.

So that leaves the other two possibilities, either he will quit, or the Cabinet might just invoke the 25th Amendment. I thought the 25th Amendment was a reach because he put such toadies into his Cabinet. Who will forget when they went around the table to tell the President how wonderful he was. But recent reporting may indicate that these Republicans are waking up to the fact that the man is truly deranged and unstable. Who can forget or disregard Republican Senator Corker’s comments?

One might wonder why there is all this reporting citing White House sources about the “moron” comment, and so many other things that cast a bad light on just about everything going on there, and the answer is leaks. And these leaks are turning into torrents and the reason is because the people who serve there, yes, even Republicans, are concerned about the DIC’s (Dotard In Charge) erratic behavior.

Well Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair produce a piece you should read. Basically the DIC is becoming more unbalanced every day. I had actually thought that if I were a general, I would have maybe committed treason by colluding with my fellow senior officers to block a pre-emptive strike if the DIC tried to order one in a tantrum. Well, Sherman indicates they might have talked about just that. The whole scene there is chaotic with more and more attempts to control his ever increasing impulses.

For my part, the fact that people still try to normalize his behavior and do not see the psychopathy here is kind of amazing to me. We knew before the election that he was a pathological liar and a very ignorant many about the country. But the narcissism has come into full bloom and focus. Who can forget his interview the other day with Mike Huckabee, where he told reverend Mike that the people just loved him on his visit to Puerto Rico (where he was throwing them paper towels). First of all the scene was bizarre because they need a little more than paper towels and he does not seem to get that. Second, you know the “crowd” was carefully selected. And third, what President measure his success by a rabid pack of carefully selected supporters (or needs to?)? Right there was the all you need to know about his unfitness for office. Oh, and now he is threatening to cut off support to Puerto Rico.

The point here is that the man is becoming so unstable, as Bob Corker said, he might just get us in a nuclear war. It is certainly time to act. The question is, will anyone?

Dismantling America One Order at a Time

Destruction in the Vineyards to the West, which is kind of appropriate to what the Republicans are doing to the country

The Dotard in Charge (DIC) decided to allow the religious discrimination of corporations and businesses to override the individual right to have access to birth control and personal choice. All those white women who voted for Trump might want to wake up. Why do men get access to Viagra and penis pumps and women can’t have birth control? Can you say second class citizen? Welcome to the Republican Party women. Meanwhile in Scott Pruitt land (EPA) they have decided to rescind  the limits on coal plants emissions. While all this is going on, basically taking the country back to the Dark Ages, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are screaming for help. The help they need is for us to go in and rebuild the island. What a boon to the economy. Nope, we won’t do that.

In Puerto Rico, what’s the lesson?  Well climate change is bringing more and fierce storms.  You can’t just restore what you had, because it is going to blow down again.  For power, they need a decentralized system and underground distribution lines.  Decentralized would be alternate energy like solar or wind, and good storage.  But we are trying to save a coal industry that does more to cause global warming than any other commodity, not to mention the environmental damage to the ecosystem of blowing off mountain tops.  WTF!  Oh, and save jobs?  Arby’s employs more people than coal.

How can we be so stupid?  How can people be so ignorant they are still complaining about Obamacare?  Anybody really think the Republicans can replace it or fix it?  How can we screw Dreamers who will help, not hurt, our economy for more draconian immigration measures that will stifle our growth?  Bob Corker, Republican from Tennessee, finally tells the truth about the DIC and all the rest are cowering in the corner, terrified of a primary challenge.  This is the greatest nation on earth?  Oh how the Republicans have destroyed us. And make no mistake, this is all Republicans.

Then there is the long awaited tax “reform” which is a giant lie and ticking time bomb.  Only the truly ignorant think this is a good idea (or ideology blinded).  Here is from my favorite thinker from the Baseline Scenario, James Kwak:

My friend and co-founder Marcus Ryu wrote an op-ed in the Times today. Here’s how it begins:

The tax cut framework recently put forward by President Trump relies on a central claim: that reducing taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals will open the wellsprings of entrepreneurship and investment, turbocharging job growth and the American economy. Were this premise true, reasonable people might countenance giving a vast majority of benefits to the very rich, as Mr. Trump’s plan does, in exchange for greater prosperity for all. But it’s not.

Read Ryu’s op-ed.  These are guys who made millions as entrepreneurs, but they can think.  They also explain why lower taxes will not create jobs, nor incur investment because easy credit is already everywhere.  So why do we fall for this nonsense?  Well because few read this blog, think things through, read the links.  Intellectually lazy is the new exceptionalism of America.  We are exceptionally intellectually lazy. I know what I know and I don’t need no stink’in facts is our new creed.  Prime example, the DIC.

Then there was the VP (DIC Jr.) at the Ravens game who walked out when the 49ers took a knee during the national anthem claiming they are disrespecting our fighting men and women and our flag.  ARE WE THAT STUPID!  No they are not.  In fact they are showing great respect for America and its basic values by dissent, reminding us that our country is still flawed and we need to wake up.  They are the patriots, and DIC Jr. is the one disrespecting America, along with the DIC himself and the Republican Party.  Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys (America’s Team?) told his players anyone who knees will be benched.  I hope they all kneel.  I am not sure we have that kind courage anymore.  Maybe they could just all turn their backs.  He didn’t say they couldn’t do that did he?

I am not sure why I write this anymore.  As James Kwak wrote in his own blog, “I haven’t been writing about the Trump tax cut because (a) a bunch of personal reasons, (b) intellectually speaking, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, and (c) lots of other people with much bigger audiences are doing it anyway. So please read what Marcus has to say.”  I feel the same on almost most topics today.  The press has finally caught on and there are plenty of stories and op-eds about the danger we face, and yet the DIC is allowed to perform his reality TV show every day, and he is everywhere.  Let’s just hope we don’t get used to this.  It is not normal.

Who Knew?

I just got back from the North Coast so I am a little behind. First the leader of North Korea gives us dotard, which happens to be brilliant, but then the Secretary of State says what we all know, and calls him a “F*cking Idiot. Yes, those who know him best, know him well. The cabinet is afraid to resign for fear of what might happen, and there are few quality people willing to work in his administration. Of course this is a false attack from NBC, right? Of course not except for the little dotards (LDs) that still think having him as a president is a good idea.

They must think throwing paper towels to Puerto Ricans (also known as Americans) was not a “let them eat cake moment” here in the United States. Then there was him leading us in prayer in Las Vegas today, and make no mistake, distract them with Americans preying and coming together is just a smoke screen from actually doing something about guns. I can’t remember the source but someone pointed out the absolute stupidity of the Republican position on guns with a quote that went something like this, “We don’t care if Kim Jong-un gets a nuke, nukes don’t kill people, people do.”

Oh, and really you religious ones out there. Think about it. Does a magical being who knows all and takes care of your lives arm up a nut in Nevada. Don’t forget to thank him for that. At what point do you quit believing in a fairy godfather and get real about the world around us? If I believed in God, I would be running a “dump this God for a better one” campaign except that was already done when they wrote the New Testament. Oh, and lt”s not forget The Book of Mormon.

So we have a narcissistic imbecile for president, a party (Republicans) who can’t quite bring themselves to understand it is guns that are killing people*, and a large part of our population who as near as I can tell is brain dead, yet controls the Republican Party. I think that about sums it up. I think I will head back over to the North Coast where there is no cell reception.

*Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) baffled MSNBC’s Willie Geist on Wednesday when he said that the type of AR-15 rifle used by the gunman in Las Vegas Sunday night were “not dangerous.” Asked by Geist if he was “alarmed” by the fact that the shooter was in possession of at least 49 such weapons, Cole replied, “I have friends that have that many weapons,” adding, “That’s not uncommon in my part of the country.” The congressman went on to say of the semi-automatic rifles, “When they’re used appropriately, they’re not dangerous.” When Geist pointed out that “they have been dangerous for some,” Cole replied: “So are trucks driving into crowds.”

View this cheat in a browser to see this video.

I Don’t Think Puerto Rico is Hard

Yes, it is the DIC’s (Dotard in Charge) Katrina. This was not hard if you were paying attention. The place was flattened and he did nothing. I would have deployed an assessment team, declared martial law, deployed the military to set up distributions centers, temporary hospitals, portable generators, and temporary living facilities. What was the DIC doing? Tweeting about taking a knee. He is an idiot. He could not anticipate this because he has no empathy. Now they will explain how they could not of known, yada, yada, yada, when what you see is his veneer ripped off. This guy is going to deal with North Korea, Iran, or our economy? You idiots that voted for him ought to take stock. Oxymoron, idiots taking stock.

Perspective and the White Mob

I watched the 6th installment of The Vietnam War last night and it was 1968. That was a year. Martin Luther King was assassinated, along with Bobby Kennedy, race riots across the country, LBJ says he is not going to run, massive war protests, and the Tet Offensive. Makes today’s problems seem not so bad. It was the year I graduated from college and entered the pipeline for the war, although in the beginning, it just seemed like one great adventure. I too was going to save the world.

But it does provide a window into our mess today and gives it some perspective. It is amazing that we are facing North Korea and their growing nuke arsenal, an all out attack on healthcare, devastation in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean, global warming trends unaddressed, talking about withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal that is working, and we are focused on football games where men take a knee. And why are we focused on that? Tweet tweet from the Dotard in Charge (DIC).

The man is despicable. How do you describe someone who professes to lead the nation and then bemoans new rules in the NFL that tries to limit the damage to the players bodies? And make no mistake, this is a racial attack. He can’t criticize the “good people” marching with the Neo-Nazis and the Clan, but if a black man takes a knee during the national anthem quietly protesting the systemic racism in our country he is all over them?

Then of course there is the white mob who booed the players and anti-trump protesters. Reminds me of the Romans watching Christians being feed to tigers. “Shut the fuck up, salute the flag, America is great, and now destroy your bodies for my entertainment.” And the sad thing is, the players are trying to make America great again by addressing one of our deepest flaws. But we have this loyalty test to the flag at sporting events and you clearly are not a good American if you don’t appropriately genuflect. That is what is going on here. Charles Blow reminds us this morning that the national anthem was written by a racist and there is a verse to prove it which we ignore.

I guess the only thing I really have to offer to this discussion is that pledges to the flag, national anthems and the prescribed genuflecting (standing, hand over the heart from the American Flag code and fear of the Nazis), are antithetical to what freedom really means. These are false showy presentations (like the require flag pin for a politician) to make us conform instead of asking hard questions. When Collin Kaepernick took that knee, he asked a hard question and it made people uncomfortable. “Hey, get on with destroying your bodies and let me live in my ignorant bliss.” The great thing is the response not just from the NFL but many sports teams, to take that knee. We are not lemmings. That is what makes America great.

One last thought here. When Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors mentioned that he was not going to the usual White House ceremony to congratulate the champions (photo-op of the president with champions as though he is one too, and yes they all do it). This issue may have been what raised this to a new level. But standing with Trump lowers us all to his level and how can a black man who can see this man’s racism pretend to respect him or the office he stands for?

It may be hard for Americans to understand the “Not my President” movement. We have always said an election settles it and we have to get behind the legitimately elected leader. But legitimate or not, and we can argue that one, the DIC represents ideas that are antithetical to our American ideal, from racism to misogyny. He is a man who lies repeatedly and does his best to divide us, not unite us. He incites violence. I for one would not go to the White House to legitimize this behavior and I am glad the Golden State Warriors aren’t either. He truly is not my president. Oh and if you think a Democrat would have done any of the things he has done and not be impeached, you clearly do not understand how far the Republicans have fallen and how craven they have become.

 

UPDATE: NASCAR gave Trump a vote of confidence as they indicated they would not participate in the protest.  White boy sport.  I always thought the country was going to hell when NASCAR and country music became mainstream.  Oh how right I was.

Cancer Update

Well it is time for Plan C. I have very aggressive advanced stage prostate cancer (Gleason score of 9*). That means when they found it, it had metastasized and it was aggressive. Not much to do as you will most probably die of it. It is not curable yet. But it can be slowed down. You do that by getting testosterone out of you system which prostate cancer cells need to grow. So Plan A is hormone therapy.** Basically kiss your libido goodbye. But in my case, other than that, life is about the same.

That is a very good trade off. But your gonads are not the only part of your body that produces testosterone, adrenal glands do too. So when your PSA (which is a measure of an antigen that can indicate the presence of prostate cancer when it increases***) starts to rise, time for Plan B. Plan B is a mix of hormone therapy and another drug called bicalutamide, which suppresses testosterone in your adrenal glands.

Back when I started this journey, Plan C, when Plan B no longer worked, was chemo and radiation therapy on the cancer sites to try to slow it down. But that one is not terribly effective and you have to consider a trade-off analysis, quality of what life you have left versus some severe side effects. But science marches on (no thanks to Republicans). And when the other shoe dropped last month, I had a new option, a drug called Zytiga. Trials have shown that this drug is much more effective at controlling the cancer than the bicalutamide (both continue with the harmone therapy). My doctor and I had discussed these findings and had considered switching over, but he and I both agreed that as long as my cancer was under control, why change (waste an arrow in your quiver so to speak). But now is the time.

Now the downside to Zytiga is that if you price it on-line, you will find that it runs $9600/month. No, I can’t afford that. I have wonderful insurance from my government retirement and I am with Kaiser Permanente. My doctor had planned for this and there are options if your insurance won’t cover it. Mine did at a co-pay of $150/month, which I can afford. That was quite a relief for me. But what of people who do not have good insurance. The answer is Obamacare. Some of the changes they made to everyone’s health insurance was to cap out of pocket expenditures. In my case (every plan is different) it was $4000 a year. I could have done that. My point here is simple. Most people have no idea how Obamacare has helped them until they end up where I did, back against the wall and wondering how I was going to do this. Bank heists were not really practical. Oh, and Zytiga in Canada runs about $3000/month. See a problem here?

Now as far as my cancer is concerned, this is the normal progression. What you do when you have advanced staged prostate cancer (and this is true for many other cancers that have metastasized) is to fight a delaying game until something better comes along (gene therapy?). Nobody knows how long you can stave it off. It depends. For me it could be 6 months or 6 years or …? Then you go to Plan D****. Right now that Plan D is the old Plan C, chemo and radiation. But the game is to keeping hoping for something better. And Kaiser, is on top of it. When I have done laymen research, they are way ahead of me.

So it is not really a big deal. It was expected. Every month when you have your PSA checked, you are waiting for that other shoe. And so it will be in the future. Yes there are side effects,  but they are minor (well hot flashes are a bitch and women now have my absolute admiration). But generally I am symptom free and what could be better than that? Sure I get tired and weight lifting is a little tougher, but it is doable, and that could just be old age. So all in all I am very, very lucky. Each day is a gift.

But it does not stop me thinking about those that do not have my amazing gifts and want to make sure people don’t die because they can’t afford their meds. That is why if you are watching what is going on with the Republicans and repeal and replace, it should make you very, very angry. It is a good anger because my disease gives me empathy for anyone else suffering this fate. Something Republicans sorely lack. At any rate, it is a good day to be alive.  Worry not.  I will be writing these irritating blogs for years to come.  More than you wanted to know?  Me too, but at least you could have stopped reading.

*Geason score: “A system of grading prostate cancer tissue based on how it looks under a microscope. Gleason scores range from 2 to 10 and indicate how likely it is that a tumor will spread. A low Gleason score means the cancer tissue is similar to normal prostate tissue and the tumor is less likely to spread; a high Gleason score means the cancer tissue is very different from normal and the tumor is more likely to spread.” According to my doctor they measure the extent to which it is spread throughout the prostate and the aggressive characteristics of the cancer tissue identified under the microscope. The determination that it has metastisized comes from a CatScan/BoneScan.

**Hormone therapy (Androgen deprivation therapy) (Lupron for me) is basically a once every six month shot. You have your choice of once a month, every quarter, or once every six months. It is your choice, but utility is not a factor. I go to the urology clinic to get my shot and it is full of older people (I don’t consider myself an older person). It never fails that my doctor’s nurse is quite a good looking woman and when she comes to get me for my shot, I can read the thoughts on all those other older guys, “Why does he get the hottie?” Because I am going to get a shot in my butt not a tube up my …

***PSA is not a good indicator of prostate cancer but an increase can be an indicator. Mine never got out of the normal range and there were other symptoms that drove me to investigate further. Normal range for someone my age (70s) tops out at about 4.5, but some people with prostate cancer see it spike into the 100s. It was determined in my case that even small changes is probably an indicator of problems.

****Sooner or later, there will be prostate cancer cells that can produce their own testosterone (androgens) and then you are basically tits up unless they come up with something new (Androgen-independent prostate cancer).

A Ken Burns Vietnam Update

Notice the distinct shape of the nose area where the cameras are.

In the third installment, there is a description of the battle near the Viet Cong stronghold of Chu Pong Massif in the La Drang Valley.  It is the story of Lt. Col Hal Moore and the debacle at Landing Zone X-Ray, made famous in the movie, We Were Soldiers.  Just before the scene where the Napalm canister comes down on our own troops, there is an RF-4C going by at about 100′, trying to identify enemy positions with their cameras.  It just a flash, they were trucking to stay out of ground fire, but you get the idea of the job.

After the brave fight by the Americans and South Vietnamese, Burns uses journalist Neil Sheehan to bring home this thought I always thought but never said, “I saw them fight at La Drang. It always galls me when I read or hear about the WWII generation as “The Greatest Generation”. These kids were just as gallant and courageous as anybody who fought WWII.”  Amen to that and that was my experience also.  I was against the war, but I worked with amazing people who gave everything to the mission.  In many ways it is the closest you will ever be to a true brotherhood of purpose.  We did our jobs as best we could under difficult circumstances to say the least.

By the way, Neil wrote what I consider the best book on the war, “A Bright and Shinning Lie“.  It is the best book because it got you into the psychology of how the war became a never ending nightmare.  Burns has already introduced John Paul Vann, who was an officer in the field who realized the way we were fighting the war was counterproductive.  But over the many years his ego overtook the reality of the futility of the war and he became compromised to the military mission. According to The New York Times Book Review: “If there is one book that captures the Vietnam war in the sheer Homeric scale of its passion and folly, this book is it. Neil Sheehan orchestrates a great fugue evoking all the elements of the war”.

From a guy who watched every moment of it and finally was in it, this book told a story that resonated with my experience.  Oh, and yes, the tears rolled as I watched this.

Ken Burns’ Vietnam

The reason I used this picture is because strip away all the rest and this is the reality of war. The little girl was badly burned from Napalm, but did survive. The photographer, Nick Ut took it in 1972. He won a Pultitzer Prize for it in 1973 and Facebook censored it in 2016. Tell you anything?

I had a strange reaction to the first episode last night. I could not stop the tears that kept welling up in my eyes. The first episode was mostly history, flashing forward from the French colonial rule to some of the parallels of our own involvement, but there was nothing there to make one tear up. Or maybe there was. You are watching us go down the road to massive suffering, killing, and stupidity for no good reason. Well there was at the time, the belief in the domino effect, which belied our understanding of the whole region or the real war we were getting involved in. Yes, those who tell you Iraq was nothing like Vietnam, miss the point entirely. It was the same stupid rush to war without understanding the dynamics of the region and what is really going on.

But I will leave that for Ken Burns to tell. You make a major mistake if you think Vietnam is ancient history. For me and many of my contemporaries, it defined our lives in many ways most of us still have not come to grip with yet. To understand my reaction you have to understand that I grew up in a military family in the middle of the Vietnam war. It was just getting really hot when I graduated from high school in 1964, and by the time I graduated from college in 1968, we were going if we could not get some kind of deferment. That is what George Bush was doing in the National Guard as did many of my college friends who had connections.

Having grown up in the military, I was pretty much buying the whole stop communism thing when I went to college. But we entered turbulent times and everyday was in one way or another consumed with the war and protests.  And knowing you were going put a whole other dynamic on the whole nation. Try to remember that at one point we had over 530,000 troops on the ground there when I graduated from college. And the nation was being torn apart as the body bags were coming home. In that year, 1968, 16,888 kids came home in body bags. The older generation saw it as pushing back the threat of communism, a no-brainer, and the younger generation were asking serious questions about what we were really doing over there. It turns out that in hindsight it was the draft that got people engaged and did not leave the war to a professional all volunteer military that would not be raising questions and saying “Hell no, I won’t go.”

For me, it was a struggle. I am intellectually curious so I started reading to understand the war and the Vietnamese people. By this time I was a young officer in the Air Force training in RF-4Cs, reconnaissance fighters. It was becoming quite apparent to me, as Ken Burns will demonstrate, that we were in a civil war, backing brutal and corrupt leaders, and on the wrong side of right and wrong in the name of fear of communism. Remember, they were going to vote on uniting the country and the South pulled out when it was clear Ho Chi Minh would win. There was no domino theory if you understood the fierce independence and historical hatred of invaders, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, French, or us. The ARVN (Army of the Republic of (South) Vietnam) were really controlled by warlords fighting for their piece of the pie. In other words, as I am sure as Ken will show us, it was a mess.

To say I was conflicted was an understatement. I was from a military family, all supporting the war. My older brother was in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. My last two years of college had been picked up by the Air Force. My Dad was a general officer in that Air Force. And finally, I had sworn an oath to the Constitution to support and defend. Was I now going to walk away because of my political feelings? I wrestled with this one mightily and to this day I am not sure I did the right thing by honoring that oath. Those that at great personal risk to themselves did the very hard thing and either went to Canada or served jail time for refusing to serve. They were in many ways much more brave than I was. My decision was to go when called because the Constitution required it. There was nothing I knew of to make this war illegal, Congress had authorized the fighting and as a military fighting man, politics were suppose to be put aside.  At least that is how I justified it.

So after being consumed for years with the debate, watching the tragedy on both sides, struggling with my own family on my political views, when I got called, I went, After about 8 years of turbulent conflict, I went. My time was not particularly dangerous or memorable. I did my job and did not think too much about it in the sense of fear. Southeast Asia during that time was the focus of a massive military machine and you just got in the pipeline. It was an experience you can’t really convey to people who were not there. If you knew how to work the system, you could do just about anything.

But there is another side few people talk about, although this is quite familiar to our present day warriors. It is another world where the knowledge and mental attitudes you need to survive and be successful has nothing to what we used to call the real world (home). You learned about defenses, burst altitudes, SAM tactics, surviving in the jungle, how to resist torture (as part of my experience I brought a POW home after 5 years of captivity and suffered with him as he relived his experiences), how to survive in captivity, and being stoic, that steely eyed fighter guy. And when you came home you felt like an alien, except for the amount of hatred you attracted as the nation soured on the war.

You had this whole catalogue of knowledge and experience that nobody cared about or wanted to know about even in the Air Force (I went to B-52s after my tour). Not long ago I was out with some friends and I ran into a Wild Wiesel (Thud, F-105) driver who was stationed in Thailand when I was. We conversed about our experience in the war and later several people commented that we were speaking a different language. Yes we were.

So many of us just moved on. It was another life you left behind, but it was a costly other life where people suffered and died, and there was an insanity to it. Then you came home and you put it away. You started over again and you just forgot about it. Except you didn’t really. That I think is my reaction as I watched Ken Burns history. It all comes back, the bitterness, the loneliness, the fear, the doubt, the loss, the frustration, the anger, and how it forever changed the path of my life, and for many, ended theirs. And that I think brings tears. It absorbed so much of my life, and you lost and gained so much, and then it was like it did not exist.

It was just over and you will never be the same, but get over it and move on. Put it away. You arrived back in the real world and it was like that reality never existed. So many died on both sides and it was tilting at windmills. My life was totally absorbed by it, and then, it was meaningless, move on. Maybe some of it is that my days are now numbered (advanced stage prostate cancer). It would seem we put so much into it (that period of our lives) and it was such a large part of my life, and we learned nothing, and nobody really cares now.  And of course, we learned nothing.

We lost that war and we should be glad we did because it would never have been over until the Vietnamese had their country back. Don’t let anyone fool you when they talk about tactics, rules of engagement, no-fly zones. The Vietnamese were smart and they were tenacious. It was not winnable unless we wanted to kill everyone down there (my view from the air). It really was that simple.

It is their country and their future. And that is what really breaks my heart when I look upon the Wall (the Vietnam memorial). All those human beings thrown away for stupidity and hubris, and yet at the time we were all wrapped up in it. It is what made me who I am and yet looking back on it is so painful. That is the best way I can explain it. I guess the tears are just going to flow for all 10 episodes. Then I will get over it. Put it away.

Some Thoughts on Irma

Way back in 1970 as a young backseater in an RF4-C I was assigned to Kadena AFB, Okinawa. I was amazed even back then how buildings were hardened for typhoons (hurricanes in Asia). Almost everything was cinderblock walls with concrete roofs. Even exterior walkways were protected from flying debris by decorative block walls. The house I had to buy if I was going to get my family over there without a 2-year wait for on-base housing was of similar construction. Just as an aside, you could buy the house but not the land and I think it cost be about $5000 for a two-bedroom made of concrete block with a concrete roof. But you actually could hunker down there and roof or walls were not going to blow off. Just as another aside, when a typhoon did come I was never there because we evacuated the planes, but my family was safe.

Here in America most of our houses are stick houses. They are probably much more cost effective than concrete walls and roofs, but if we are seeing the new reality on our east coast, one may want to rethink that. My structural engineer mind goes into overdrive thinking what I might build if I lived down there (and could afford it). On the west coast, that might not be the best idea because so far our biggest catastrophic threat (besides fire) is earthquakes and flexible stick houses do better than rigid structures (but you can design for that, but it is not cheap).

In this brave new world created by global warming we might want to rethinking our building methods unless urban renewal by flattening is a good thing.