Don't Trip....Don't Fall...Redux
This is pretty much what is fucking up our Mainstream Media.....every piece of information comes with a price, or a responsibility. Or a payback.
If I share something with you all that someone tells me in an honest moment in my role as....friend, tavern-keeper, or some random guy.....it is different than what that same person might have said to someone with an actual job and a business card with "journalist" somewhere in the job description. The "journalist-source" relationship is different than the "tavern keeper-journalist" relationship...and way different from the "friend-journalist" relationship.
Things were different when no one that I don't talk to every day or every week....or every month read this blog. Instant feedback, in person. Matt from Bernardus commented on my posting of Conall's Christimas Gunfire video from Prague within an hour of posting last year, while buying a sandwich at the Store. That should have been a warning.
As a working person...a person who works with his hands, and arms, legs, back and shoulders.....I don't suffer fools gladly. In my new hometown of Cachagua there is virtually no one who does not work with his or her hands, and arms, legs, back and shoulders.....and who does not either suffer fools gladly. We don't have the time. We don't have the energy. We don't have the money.
Politics is for folks with all of the above. The rest of us just want our leaders to stop fucking around and fix shit that they already fucked up.
After at least eight years (and possibly 16 or 20..... or 28 years) of corrupt, stupid and miserable fucking around at our expense......we working fucks sought instant relief from the whole Obama "Hope" and "Change" deal.
Well....it takes time to muck out a stable.....especially a 28 year stable.
And....the guy you hire to muck out that fucked up old stable may not be the same guy you want to have over for a beer.....or to marry your daughter.
Anyway.....back to "Don't Trip, Don't Fall".....
My frank assessment of our current policy towards injured and disabled vets may have actually caused problems for the one person who can actually crystallize policy to solve many of these problems.
So.....for anyone still listening, here is what I have learned in the last two weeks.....in no special order.
Three people who have briefed both George Bush and Obama on military matters have told me pretty much the same thing, paraphrased: "Bush was a dumbfuck...but he was a nice guy who actually listened to what was being said and asked good questions. There was no hope that any of his people would understand or allow policy changes. Obama and his folk are super-smart and engage you at a high level.....and don't give a shit what you say, because they have already made up their minds....and they are probably smarter than you."
Obama somehow doesn't get it that he is the Commander in Chief....and the entire military actually works for him. He seems unwilling to buck the status quo command structure on most issues. He has some really good guys at the most senior posts.....and there is an ocean of old fogey generals and colonels with nine broomsticks up their ass waiting to diffuse and defeat any real change in policy.
Don't Ask Don't Tell, for instance.
I would ask Pexster.....do fire guys give a shit about the sexual orientation of co-workers? Is carrying a 90 pound pack up a 60% grade at midnight at 98 degrees and 7 % humidity into a potential firestorm in the middle of a 100 hour week very much different from serving in Iraq?
That is not a rhetorical question....I really want to know.
Moving on......Don't Trip, Don't Fall.
I am still mad about being thrilled at being an honored guest at a Hail and Farewell where only a quarter of the company bothered to show.....because the actual war hero Farewell guy was a little bit disabled. And my anger and writing may be part of a continuing problem for my war hero friend.
I got a nice 20 minute talk this morning at Sunday Brunch at the Cachagua Store from a military guy....a new professor at the highest, highest levels of both government and the military.
It is not often at the Cachagua Store that I get to go up to a nice man eating eggs and reading a book by himself (one of life's great luxuries....eating nice food and reading quietly by yourself. I only get this with Amanda's coffee in the morning and at Garcia Tacqueria in Seaside)....
"Hey.....I heard you on NPR this week....."
My solo diner gave me a rundown of Army politics and the High Command. The Army wants "picket fences".....identical guys with identical skills that can be plugged into any situation that the heirarchy decrees. There are even six categories of skills and abilities. He couldn't remember all of them...but think height, weight, cardio, strength...whatever.
Injured vets are not very good picket fence stakes.....
I will not speak to the irony of our using picket fence stakes to represent all the 5,000 dead soldiers, sailors and marines on the beach on this past Memorial Day......
In May.....the Army in its wisdom called up a blind guy teaching at West Point, a triple amputee, and an MBA from Harvard who is fluent in Mandarin and who was already blown up in Iraq and has one eye and not great control over half his body......for duty in Iraq. They all love the Army and were willing to serve.....but felt that the generals and colonels in charge of their orders had all the information necessary to make a good call.....but were missing some crucial information.
Like being blind, and teaching at West Point....and the whole amputee thing.
Not all pickets are the same.....and the Army has not yet figured out how to deal with this.
And......The Army is no less political than the Democrats or the Republicans......media time is ruthlessly shared, parcelled and choreographed amongst the generals and colonels.
If the super-smart....injured guys....young, injured guys......young, attractive, super-smart, war hero guys get TV time everytime they turn around...
Right now, in my opinion....there is a National Security problem with our wounded vets. We have somewhere around 80,000 wounded vets still on our payroll....who are not being employed in any jobs whatsoever, beyond recovery.
They are still on the rosters of their units....and their commanders are still expected to perfom their assigned duties satisfactorily for the generals and colonels approval.....with 80% of the staff on their actual books.
And no one is doing as much as they should to get those guys back into action. In fact, the status quo is trying to dump these guys....and get them off the books.
I do a catering party....I need one worker for every ten guests.....at least. I am happier and assured of success if I have one for eight. If I go into social battle with one worker for each twelve or fifteen guests.... life really sucks, and I have no guarantees of the outcome.
Try to get paid.
And....in most circumstances no one is actually shooting at us, or trying to kill us. Well, we do work in Cachagua.....supposedly the exact duplicate of the valley of Sarajevo.
These 80,000 wounded are not fakers or shirkers. They love the Army and want to stay in their chosen profession and participate. We taxpayers have years and years of expenses training these guys.....but the colonels and generals are not amused by the problems caused by having to adapt to the diversity of work rules that results from their injuries.
The picket fence is not straight and true.
It was not always this way. If a tank guy is missing a leg.....who really cares? He is not running anywhere anytime soon .....commanding his $10 million Abrams tank.
If your Chinese interpreter with the Harvard MBA, and a West Point BA, can't finish a mile run under 7 minutes, but can still climb Mt. Whitney on his two days off.....who cares?
You are uncomfortable because he is always on point and media ready and is on TV all the time....and you are uncomfortable because you can't figure out which eye to look into when you talk to him because one of those eyes was blown out it the second battle of Fallujah.....
I am sorry. Fuck you, Colonel or General.....
Just as in the Congress and Senate our Republic is carrying dead weight of old folks who don't get it........ in the military as well...... and are just flailing around to protect the status quo as it was sixty years ago.
Sixty years ago we didn't let niggers and nips do much in the Army beyond cook and clean.
Still, when push came to shove in WWII...they did OK. Northern Italy has more insane stories of heroism that no one has ever heard....because our high command sent the niggers and nips in to do the job in situations that were not OK. Check out Miracle at St. Anna's by James McBride....or Senator Dan Inyoue's life story.
Picture the modern Army without African-Americans, Asians or Latinos.
I have this bad feeling that our own wounded vets are now the New Millenium.... niggers and nips.
At the end of my impromptu lecture from my military professor.....he assured me that the High Command understands the problem, and recognizes the best and the brightest coming up....and the value of new ideas and innovation. It just take a while for excellence to filter down from the top....or to percolate up from the bottom.
Last night at the fancy dinner party we catered, one of the guests ( a big-time car guy) left a copy of a recent issue of Autoweek. The cover story is about the new Alfa 8C....a car so beautiful, so well designed....and so expensive... it could never have come from America.
How sad is that?
I almost cried reading the article.
In Spain, Amanda and I always rent an Alfa-Romeo 146.....a four cylinder, 16 valve, five-door beauty that goes like a bat out of hell and gets 50 miles to the gallon. My bank in Spain has a program where you can buy one for 800 euros per month for two years....and own the fucking thing. This is less than $24,000, including interest costs.
GM could never compete....because they have the same colonels and generals stifling the new, weird and young....and disabled.... that our military seems to have.
GM and Chrysler are bankrupt......
God forbid our military should be.....
I hope someone in the military is paying attention. I know my military professor guy is......
I am waiting for my Commander-in-Chief to take his hands out of his pockets and assume the role.
Which country in the world has the current lead on employing disabled folks in government programs?