Friday, April 20, 2007

French Elections

I normally could care less about French politics because it generally does not matter to me what the French think but this time I have taken a keen interest in the Presidential elections becuase of the things that two main candidates are saying. These two could not be more disparate and are even farther apart in ideologue than Bush and Kerry were 2 years ago.

Nicolas Sarokzy and Segolene Royal are the main candidates. Sarkozy is a little too far to the right for my tastes and Royal is your typical European Socialist. He is a Trans -Atlantic advocate (Pro-America) and she, of course, thinks that everything wrong in the world is the fault of American foriegn policy.
Her stance did not bother me too much until I listened to their closing speeches. He was leaning more toward concilliation with the center and she stated that she was not going to listen to the USA and that France should lead Europe on a course away from America.

OK baby. You get what you want. We don't need you and we damn sure don't need any more self important, bloated ego French Presidents mucking up the works like have been in power since Georges Pompeidou. You stay away from us and we will stay away from you. No tourism from me!


For an American Blogger's perspective try French Election 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Raoul Wallenberg

How many of you know who he is/was? I admit I did not know a great deal about him but I did know that he single handedly saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews during WWII.

He was a Swedish diplomat who issued Swedish passports to anyone who could provide the flimsiest of detail that linked them to Scandanavia. The German and Hungarian authorities knew what he was doing but stayed silent as they needed Swedish iron ore and chrome. The Swedes knew what he was doing but stayed silent because they were reaping the benefits of an intelligentsia diaspora. The Russians knew about him too but they could do nothing as they were too far away; until 1945.

Raoul Wallenberg disappeared in 1945 when the Red Army took Budapest. What should have been a rescue and celebration turned into a mystery that has never really been solved. What happened to him? Was he shot? The Russians say he died of natural causes in the Lyubianka in 1947.

No matter what happened it is a travesty. It is a shame that such a good man was left behind. Such a shame that he is now almost forgotten everywhere except Israel and Hungary. I ran across the pics from a trip to Budapest in 2003. I was alone in the park and just thought and thought about what had happened in this cultured and cosmopolitan city. How short our memories are! How focused we are on the here and now! How shallow and trite we can be at times. I wonder who is a modern day Raoul Wallenberg. I'll bet that every day in Iraq there is some unsung person who risks their life for the benefit of others. Some one who does it not for any national, tribal, or religious reason. They do it because it is just "The right thing to do."

Some one still knows and cares. I found pebbles, candles and this yarmaluke. Jews will leave pebbles and stones on the graves or headstones of those they love or admire. I think I remember my good friend Maxwell telling me that it had to do with an ancient belief that you helped to keep the dead at rest because you replenished the earth.

There is a group dedicated to find those who deserve to be recognized. The Raoul Wallenberg Committee were founded not only to memorialize him, but to recognize those who are doing great things. They do this for love of man, no other reason.

Here is why I write this today. In all this mess where are the unsung heroes? I know they are there, you know they are there but you don't hear about them because if it bleeds it leads and good news is page 3 filler. Shame on the MSM for not looking for more Raoul Wallenbergs. Shame on us for almost forgetting him completely.

I wish that the MSM would turn all those powerful resources out to help us find the Raoul Wallenbergs out there. Maybe the fact that I still find him to be a pertinent, contemporary hero is my pebble to leave behind.

When the war is all said and done I will write a book. I have been thinking about this for a long time. I'm not the best writer and my personal story is not one of glory and hand to hand combat but it is a thinkers story. It will be a tedious plod through the detail and behind the scenes effort that it takes to support and wage modern war. It will also be the story of my search for Lava, Raoul Wallenberg, and the ever elusive beer.

It will also be about my long suffering family. It will be about my beautiful wife and her maddening efforts to run the family in an alien culture (Texas), my son who grows up without his daddy, my sister who quietly leads the clan, and my father who I share so much with and converse with so little. It will be a story of love.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Krazy Kuwaiti Weather

It rained for several hours last night up in the desert and these soldiers are showing just how much water collected. When you have hard pan clay loam, no drainage plan, and a deluge of biblical proportions this is what you get.

I hope they enjoyed this because at that camp there is no swimming pool and it is going to be over 100 degrees in about one month and up to 140 by July. Krazy. Krazy like the damn bad drivers here but that is another story altogether.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Sports Teams!

The Los Angeles Angels are in first place and the Anaheim Ducks are in the playoffs. The USC Trojans have several pre season #1 rankings. The stars are all aligned and the moon is in the second house. All is well in sports for me right now!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A letter to American Airlines

Been back for almost two weeks. Shake my head every morning and look around wondering if my time at home was just a dream. When you arrive at home after all the time here and all the travel it seems like you will be there for a long time. Then the days start sliding by, one...after...another.
POW! R&R is over! Time to go! Hurry up and pack! What to take, what to take? What to leave, what to leave? I rush out the door. I wait until the last minute because that way I am too busy to really stop and say goodby to anyone, that way I don't feel the emotional storm inside myself. I know I have to go but I damn sure don't want to go. I go anyway. That is a long, lonely walk down that first jetway.
Another metal, pressurized tube screaming through the sky. Tight seats; chatty, catty seat mates, and dread at having to go back. I arrive at an unfamiliar airport (JFK) and get twisted around by the confusing signs. No one knows where I am supposed to go but the Air Jamaica flight attendant I stumble across knows where. She has that light singsong accent that takes me back to that place for a few minutes.
Rush, rush, rush past unsmiling, uncaring people. Everyone else is in a hurry, why should they care about me? I don't bother telling them who I am or what I do for sympathy. I am way, way past playing that card. I find the gate, people are boarding, it looks like only 20 or so left.
Damn! Where am I going to put this roll aboard case? All the overhead will be taken up. I walk up, hand them my boarding pass and then the unsmiling, obviously tired woman tells me that there is a problem.
"Sir, it does not show you as having that assigned seat." "Lady, I picked that seat over three mionths ago, you better not have given it up and put me in the middle!"
"No sir, you are in First Class. The agent at the last airport saw your Department of Defense ID when you checked in and she contacted us saying you were going all the way to Kuwait. We upgraded you." I am shocked into saying nothing except a quickly mumbled, "Thank You."
I go into the rarified air of First Class and everyone else wonders who the big shot is that is coming so late. I sit and try not to let anyone know that I am not used to this at all. I am used to good coach seats but coach none the less because I won't spend that much money for upgrades and I save my frequent flyer miles for my family.
I sit down and the woman next to me smiles and says, "You are the soldier they told us about." I start to say, "No, I am a.... I stop and understand that this is important to her. I say, "Yes maam. I am." She has that benevolent grandmotherly look and just nods and says, "Good. I know your family needs you but so do we" I sit down and smile inside. I have to turn away so she does not see tears well up in my eyes. I let the act of not speaking be the lie instead of adding to it. Are we really soldiers too? To Haji we are so I guess that makes it a yes.
The flight attendant is really overly friendly and helpful. I guess that the lady in Austin sent a pretty powerful message along with me. It seems that every person on the flight knows me. I felt really, really good about what I am doing for the first time in a while. To know that these strangers give a damn somehow makes it worth it.
I actually really sleep well all the way to London. I look out the window and see the familiar sights of Heathrow Airport and watch as we bounce to a merger of aluminum and concrete separated by rubber and compressed air. I find myself wondering how they keep the tires from blowing up when the plane gets to Angels 35 (35,000 feet).
I clear customs and am pleasantly surprised that my bags made it. I remember that while I was in upgrade daze the lady told me that they knew I was coming late but that since they wanted to treat me special they sent a special baggage cart just to get my bags.
Who says NY is unfriendly? Who thinks no one cares about us? How do I get this message to John Murtha and Hillary Clinton? How do I say Thank You to American Airlines. I guess I do it here.
To: American Airlines
From: FTM29
RE: Your Kindness
Thank you. You made coming back to the war a little bit more tolerable by treating me special when I really needed it. I didn't know anyone looked for us or even thought we were still special. We know the war has gone on a long time. We know people are tired of hearing about it. I know your personnel did not have to do what they did but I am damn glad of it. I won't forget the kindness unless you lose my luggage!
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