Tuesday, August 31, 2004

My Big Brother in Baghdad - 4

This just in from my Bro:

Mom, sorry it took a few days for me to get a reply back to you. Things are very busy here. We had another attack this evening. Guys on the other side of the fence decided to send a couple of S-5k rockets (USSR type) our way. No one was hurt.

Yesterday morning at around 1:45 am, our team responded off base to recover a vehicle. Our convoy consisted of our EOD team, the recovery team (contractors) and Army security. We went about thirty mins out to where the vehicle (semi truck) was located. It was off the main road and in bad shape. The truck was burnt up, rolled over and it looked like someone had used a cutting torch on it to steal parts off it.

Our team checked the area and truck carcass for booby-traps and IEDs. Once we gave the thumbs up, the contractors moved in with their equipment to recover the truck, now at about 2:45 am. The truck was badly damaged and the contractors were having problems getting the truck remains on to the recovery vehicle snapping at least one chain.

By 3:30 am, the bad guys zeroed in on us and started firing small arms at our position. The army had the contractors move to the other side of the convoy and we started to return fire. We had two good volleys, before a couple of Apaches helicopters moved in and the bad guys high tailed it. After the shooting ended, the decision was made to leave the vehicle where it lay and our convoy mounted up and headed back to Base. We were back on base by 4:30 am. All in all, a kind of an exciting night/morning.

Well, besides the attacks and the gun fire, things here are going great. The food is OK and I can eat as much as I want. Today we had lobster tails (I'm not kidding). Yesterday it was steak and king crab legs. Good food helps to keep the moral up. Now if they could give us a good pay raise. There are few contractors based here. They stop by our shop every few days and are making 210K - 240K a year to work here in Iraq doing some of the same work I'm doing. Go figure.

Well it is late here and it is time to hit the hay. I hope everyone is well and don't worry about me. I'm having a good time.

Stay safe and have fun

My Big Brother in Baghdad - 3

[I had to ask my brother, what he ment by "having fun" in the big kitty litter box we call Baghdad...to which he said]

Tonight, bad guys like to send rockets and mortars our way.

My Big Brother in Baghdad - 2

Glad to hear that the kids had fun at Patrick's house. I sure do miss playing with the kids. I have my laptop with me. I let it scroll through the photos like a slide show. Lots of good photos that put a smile on my face. We have three great kids.

Well it is day number three here. Last night we had an "Alarm Red," i.e., the base took some hits. Usually via rockets, projectiles or mortars. This afternoon, I went on my first UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) call. A rocket was stuck in the ground at the end of a runway. It was an Iraqi made rocket. Then while at dinner, we had another attack. Alarm Reds are a daily occurrence here and everyone here takes them in stride.

Well my dear, I hope you are able to get some rest in. I sure do miss you, the kids, our friends, the house (better than a tent) and having a bathroom within a few feet. When I get a chance, I send you a few photos of our facilities. They are lovely.

My Big Brother in Baghdad - 1

Hello everyone,

This is only my second day here in Iraq. It is hot, dusty, and the air pollution is high, but I'm having fun now that I'm here.

It took five days to get here. Two of the days were spent at Naval Station Norfolk waiting for the contracted AMC rotator. Three of the days were on Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The AMC contracted rotator dumps you on Al Udeid.

At Al Udeid, I had to wait for an aircraft heading north. I'd have to say its kind of a strange air passenger movement system at Al Udeid. Everyone is expected to work their own air travel north. Seats are first come first serve and cargo seems to be the priority.

Well, I hope everyone is doing well. I have to cut this e-mail short. There was a bang outside (somewhere) and we just went into to Alarm Red. Such is life here(so I'm told).

Bad News - My Brother is Baghdad Bound

As if there weren't enough reasons to vote against the current administration, yes, it's true. My big brother has been selected to participate in the madness in Baghdad. He did his duty for the first Pres. Bush. Got the free trip to the Big Sandbox for "Desert Storm." He spent almost a year digging the Kuwaitis out of their Iraqi infestation.

Leaving behind three wonderful boys and a wife, this time, my brother will be sweeping up the mess there. Outfitted with almost 4K $ in body armor, we hope the he doesn't serve as another GI target.

I thought it would be interesting to post some of the more salient portions of his missives from the front. To give you an idea of what is really going on there that doesn't get posted in the mainstream media - as if they ever reported something that wasn't already reported by some other mainstream media outlet (ah, but that is another rant).

Anyway, I did receive permission to post these email epistles as long as I stipulated that they were not the official view of the government, the armed services, or any other official agency sponsored by anyone. To keep him safe from harm, I am editing the postings here in forward to make sure you don't know exactly where he is. I don't want to prime him as a target for hostage taking. Suffice it to say, he is in Iraq somewhere near Baghdad.

Let's hope these postings don't continue beyond the four months he is slated to be there. I will call this series, "My Big Brother in Baghdad" and number them so you can follow along as you like.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

A solution to the Same Sex Marriage Issue

I think I have hit on a simple, grass roots solution to the controversial, gay/same sex marriage issue. In my view, marriage doesn't need protecting. In fact, my marriage is only strengthened when two people who love each other make a commitment to live together to the same degree as anyone entering a marriage(That is, enter into a committed, monogamous relationship).

All like minded individuals who believe the same thing should be out about their views by officially recognizing and validating any person's marriage regardless the sex of their chosen partners.

To that end, I openly and actively validate the marriages of all persons who have decided to get married, regardless of gender/sex/orientation. If all who believe the same do the same, and act accordingly, perhaps we may reach a critical mass and sway our government toward the legal recognition these couples deserve.

Let us agree, that, here in forward, all those wishing to officially recognize all marriages of two persons - regardless of the myriad gender and orientation combinations - should post their affirmation as a comment to this blog posting.

If you are comforatable doing so, please identify yourself in the comments. The idea is to be open and out about who we are and our beliefs to hammer home the point that more people are in favor of equal rights for all, rather than acquiesce support for institutionalized discrimination by remaining silent.

Thank you for being out about this,


P.S. You don't need to be a blogspot or blogger member to post, just hit the anonymous posting option and identify yourself in the body of the text if you feel comfortable doing so.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Wisdom from Doc Sheehan

"It is not that I finished, but that I had the courage to start" - Dr. George Sheehan

Find more at http://www.georgesheehan.com/

Springsteen finally steps into the political fray

The Boss states - "Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting."

It is best to read the whole letter to the NYTimes Editor, 5 Aug 2004 - pasted here:

A nation's artists and musicians have a particular place in its social and political life. Over the years I've tried to think long and hard about what it means to be American: about the distinctive identity and position we have in the world, and how that position is best carried. I've tried to write songs that speak to our pride and criticize our failures.

These questions are at the heart of this election: who we are, what we stand for, why we fight. Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out.

Through my work, I've always tried to ask hard questions. Why is it that the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and faith with its weakest citizens? Why do we continue to find it so difficult to see beyond the veil of race? How do we conduct ourselves during difficult times without killing the things we hold dear? Why does the fulfillment of our promise as a people always seem to be just within grasp yet forever out of reach?

I don't think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions. They understand that we need an administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America's citizens, courage and faith.

People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in different ways. I've tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November.

Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible."

It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.