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Archive for the ‘war’ Category

Of Patriots and Good Causes

I consider myself a patriot of the United States. I love my country and the remarkable things its inhabitants have accomplished. I’m also fully aware that we’ve accomplished much of the greatness we now boast about at a high cost – on the backs of others who were easily trampled by our fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and great great grandfathers who didn’t know better. Or maybe they knew better but failed to allow their consciences to slow up “progress.”

I digress.

From my early years as a child, I embraced patriotism. My hometown celebrated its bicentennial in the early ’70s and I believed the entire world’s eyes were on Spencer, Iowa as we recognized that occasion with flags and fireworks and parades featuring local veterans who had fought in all the great wars. I saluted flags until I realized that those of us who haven’t served only had to put our right hands over our heart when the Star Spangled Banner was played. I still do that, by the way – and I get a little peeved when I see some ASS listening to the anthem with his trucker hat cocked and in place. Ugh!

There are many reasons to be disenchanted with the United States today. But on Veterans Day, I hope everyone can take a minute, set aside their views on war and be thankful that through the years – since this country was founded – men and women have been willing to give their lives to ensure us of our rights.

Three hundred million of us can walk on some of the richest earth in the world thanks to the service of a relatively handful of brave – oh so brave – people.

Thank them. And take your damn hat off!

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Chris Matthews, host of CNBC’s “Hardball” program, may not be anyone’s favorite political pundit, but as a guest on “The Tonight Show,” Aug. 22, he explained in under five minutes his views on both Republican and Democrat options for president as well as what’s wrong with Bush and his love affair with the Iraq War.

C MatthewsMatthew’s picks for the Dem and Rep nominations for president are Hillary and Guiliani, respectively. He recommends people sit back, close their eyes and picture the first thing that comes to mind when you hear each candidate’s name. With Guiliani, he said people will see someone who takes charge (9/11/01 still carved into the minds’ eye).  With Clinton, he said the majority of women voters will see a female who can lead (I’m SO not convinced of this assessment of Clinton). But who votes in primaries and caucauses? Women!

As for the War in Iraq, Matthews says Bush and the current administration have “snookered” U.S. citizens from the onset. With the WMD search to today’s “surge” plans (which if it fails, Bush will only call for even more troops to be deployed to Iraq), this administration clearly has a penchant for engaging in fruitless matters.  Matthews said there’s no way to withdraw and no way to win in Iraq.

His appearance was enlightening and entertaining…as pundits go.

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Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s approval rating has skyrocketed recently. Why? In the aftermath of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis that killed 13 people, his face, name and voice have saturated the media. The Republican, now twice elected as governor, has stepped up, admitting some of his own short-sighted thinking about passing legislation that would have increased the gas tax a year ago. These funds naturally go toward funding for roads, highways and bridges – something the entire U.S. has discovered gets sorely under-funded.

But the PR machine for the Pawlenty camp has done an admirable job since the bridge fell down. The Governor has drawn favorable reviews following appearances on the national morning news programs, local radio and newspapers. And even though partisan politicking egos continue to exist in Minnesota, it’s tough to blast a governor for doing his best in bad circumstances.

Unlike the Bush situation in which the general public is not only sick and tired of hearing his excuses but have, at last, peeled back the rose-colored glasses when it comes to Iraq and our country’s foreign policy.

These serve as case studies, proving that any leader has only a short time to carry out effective leadership directives. Getting a major interestate highway bridge built in 18 months sounds accetable to the average Jane or Joe. I think we all would have been amazed if we could have liberated Iraq, established some peace initiatives and gotten the hell outta there in three years time. We may have applauded Bush for that accomplishment. But six years?

Not saying a bridge and war are good comparisons, but it does highlight the style differences between Bush and Pawlenty. On one hand, the President knows how to wear out his welcome versus the Governor who simply wants to get something done right in a timely fashion.

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In a recent informal survey conducted by Minneapolis radio station KFAN AM-1130, listeners were Jason Bourneasked to cast their vote for who they viewed as the bigger bad ass.  Jason Bourne (Matt Damon, who has starred in three Bourne movies in the past six years), or James Bond (roll them all up into one Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan and the newest Bond, Daniel Craig).  The winner hands down – 58% to 42% was the Jason Bourne character played by Matt Damon. Perhaps because The Bourne Ultimatum was just released and perhaps because Bourne doesn’t use all the gadgets that Bond relies on to get himself out of scrapes.

Another interesting fact:  Matt Damon is keeping Hollywood in business as an actor. For each $1 he earns in salary for the roles he plays, his moves earn $29 back for the studio.  So if Damon gets paid $10 million for a movie roll, the studio can expect a windfall of $290 million. Not a bad payday for either party.  The female netting the most per dollar? Jennifer Aniston.  I like Aniston, but I’d never give her “star power” when compared to the likes of Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron, to name only three.  For every $1 Aniston earns in salary, the studio nets back $17, raising another sticky wicket: There’s just no sense of equality among men and women when it comes to salaries – even in Hollywood.

300

The movie “300” came out on DVD last Friday. I managed to stop by a Blockbuster on the way home Monday evening and grab a copy that had just been returned. Can I just say, yawn. Action movies are great and the cinematography in this movie was amazing, but after the first hour they had very little left to do except kill the Spartans. There’s only so many times that a closeup of a spear running through a body with blood spurting out in every direction is remotely interesting.   I can just imagine all the computer enhancers sitting around the editing room on this film getting off on the sequences as they added blood spatter here and there trying to one-up each other with each kill of a Persian or Spartan. And, oh, by the way, if I had to listen to the lead actor in this movie shout “SPARTANS!” one more time, it really would have been the end of him on my television.  In fact, I stuck out the entire movie so I could see him get pelted with hundreds of arrows. That was worth it!

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Our current president may have an all-time low approval rating, and rest assured he won’t be serving a third term, but the Democrats own in-fighting among the top three candidates to receive the Democratic nomination bodes well for Republicans today.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards seemingly refuse to play nice as they glad hand potential voters months before primaries and caucuses begin.

After the Clinton/Obama dust up last week during the CNN/YouTube debate continues to serve as the mechanism that will likely drag these candidates into real-life fist-a-cuffs until a clear winner is announced. Ms. Clinton may have an argument when it comes to Obama’s weaknesses when it comes to national security. In her memo following the digital debate, Clinton expressed that:

Senator Obama has committed to presidential-level meetings with some of the world’s worst dictators without preconditions during his first year in office. 

She’s in this race to win it and her campaign needs every bit of help it can muster. 

Obama countered that Clinton’s view is old-guard. About his own nationaly security platform, he said:

This is exactly the kind of change and new thinking that excites voters about an Obama presidency.

Meanwhile, John Edwards is trying to remain relevant. In doing so, he’s taking the high road (nice move), but jabbing his two opponents for their own lack of immediate response to the Iraq War.  Edwards, apparently, was in favor of liberating Iraq from the start, and says today that the U.S. needs to finish what it started.

While we can’t expect the Dem front runners not to get in the occassional knife fight with each other, it would be mighty convenient if they would fight as a team against the conservatives who are trying to extend this Iraq War conflict indefinitely. If Obama, Clinton and Edwards continue punching each others’ throats for the next six months, the only clear leader in the end will be the Republican who gets that party’s nomination.

Let’s hope whoever is left standing has some fight left in him/her next summer after the conventions.

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It’s another boffo public relations gaffe straight out of the nation’s capitol…

U.S. Homeland Security Goof, Michael Chertoff, back peddaled this morning, saying the threat of terror attacks on the United States from al Qaeda has not returned to levels seen just before the September 11 attacks nearly six years ago.  A reversal of his “gut instinct” comments from Wednesday.

In toning down his comments with NBC’s Anne Curry on Thursday, he said: “We don’t have any specific information about an imminent or near-term attack on the homeland. We’re looking at the strategic picture over the next six months to a year. We’re evaluating where that is.”

After six years of this war on terror, how good should we feel as Americans to learn from Chertoff’s gut instinct that we are essentially at the same place we were at with this whole debacle on July 12, 2001?

It’s another Bush failure. Another bungled mess that includes billions spent, thousands dead, and a nation begging for answers and solutions because there is obviously no coherent plan designed to obtain clear results coming from Washington D.C. 

What happened to “root(ing) out elements that are endangering” the United States? 

What happened to dedicating our troops to an objective, accomplishing that objective and returning home?

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