Category Archives: War

The Way We Were

They hadn’t told us there was no passport photographer in the embassy. We only found out that Monday afternoon, when we tried to get in line there, in order to have our small mountain of adoption paperwork finally approved so that we could bring our new adopted son home to Texas with us.

But no, now we had to search for a passport photographer. Luckily, that didn’t take long because several such photographers were parked in vans in the backstreets around the embassy building. We handed little Nick to one of them, he took three photos and handed the baby back. We waited a few minutes, then walked back to the embassy with our Polaroids.

By that time the long line had grown longer, filled with couples and the babies they were trying to adopt. Several more lined up behind us, too, however, as the clock ticked on toward 5 p.m., we were the last couple to have our papers processed. We were happy and relieved. This long adoption ordeal was coming to a close after all this time, and tomorrow we’d fly back to the United States and baby Nick would see his new home.


Or so we thought.

We were up early the next morning, packing up, double-checking our plane tickets, ready to grab a cab to the airport. Then the phone rang. My father-in-law from back in Texas. Turn on the TV, he said. And there was the plane, flying in slow motion through one of the World Trade Center towers and into the permanent memory banks of my brain.

Sept. 11, 2001, in Guatemala City. No, we soon learned, there’d be no flight. America was closed.

Also posted in Family, Kids, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be, Travel

We Don’t Need No Edumacation

How a government prioritizes spending of the tax money it collects from its citizenry says a lot about the values of the people controlling that government.

Beginning next week in Germany, for instance, all universities will be free of charge, as the last German state charging tuition abandoned those fees.

“Tuition fees are socially unjust,” Hamburg Senator Dorothee Stapelfeldt told a reporter for The Australian. “They particularly discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up studies. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

Meanwhile, here in Texas, which has seen an oil and gas boom of epic proportions of late and a corresponding state tax windfall, receiving an education at a state university costs an average of $21,978 a year – or about $88,000 per bachelor’s degree if your son or daughter can make it in four years.

That’s a handy trick for a family in Texas where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the per capita income is less than $26,000 and more than 17% of the population lives in poverty. ‘Course, Texas is in 49th place among all states in spending per secondary education student, which in itself gives you a pretty clear idea about education and comparative values and all, right pardner?

Also posted in Education, Government

Let The Good Times Roll

Come on Wall Street, don’t be slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go!
There’s plenty good money to be made,
By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade.
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong!
Country Joe & The Fish, “Vietnam Song”

Who says war, what is it good for? Not Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman or General Dynamics! When the President announces a war with all weapon systems and no boots on the ground (those 1,600 “advisers” in Iraq and Syria only wear sandals), that means good times for America’s military-industrial complex.

Huh, how ’bout this? President Obama announces a jet-and-missile slamfest against angry jihadist oil refineries, and presto! All the giant publicly traded U.S. defense contractors miraculously hit their all-time high stock prices on pretty much the same day. Yeah, you could’ve hugged tight onto your S&P 500 Index mutual fund, enjoying a return so far this year of a whopping 2.2%. Or you could have bought into the above four weapons makers and be ahead of the game by 19% so far this year.

And if raining death down upon angry enemies is good for the military-industrial complex, it’s great for members of Congress of both parties, too! Because an industry so dependant upon government contracts is a grateful industry willing to share its largess with those who authorize government spending.

Out-of-control federal budget deficits? Pentagon spending cuts? Nyah – that was yesterday’s sound byte.

Also posted in Be Afraid, Corporate, Government, Verbatim


→ “As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” – President Barak Obama, Sept. 10, 2014

→ “I say that today, we had a hearing, and there was testimony from the counterterrorism people and the Department of Homeland Security. There is Twitter traffic right now and Facebook traffic, where they are urging attacks on the United States of America. And there is a great concern that our southern border and our northern border is porous and that they will be coming across.” – Sen. John McCain, Sept. 11, 2014

→ “I actually think we’re going to end up with small American special operations forces active in this broad theater, both Iraq and Syria. I don’t think you get American maneuver units on the ground, though… I do think we get to about 5,000 by the end of the year.” – former CIA and NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden, Sept. 14, 2014

→ “We’re fighting a terrorist army, not an organization. It’s going to take an army to beat an army. And this idea we’ll never have any boots on the ground to defeat them in Syria is fantasy.” – Sen. Lindsey Graham, five minutes later, Sept. 14, 2014

→ “The reality is they’re not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the Sunni tribes acting on their own. So there will be boots on the ground, if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.” – former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, early morning, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “In the case of our contributions in Iraq right now the airmen are very much in a combat role. The folks on the ground are very much in a combat advisory role. They are not participating in direct combat. There is no intention for them to do so. I’ve mentioned, though, that if I found that circumstance evolving that I would, of course, change my recommendation.” – Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, late morning, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “We’re faced with people who are going to keep changing, keep evolving, keep learning. My guess is this will be a 50-year campaign. And as they become more horrible and the threat becomes more real, it will ramp up in intensity. It will ramp up in toughness. And ultimately, it will be a worldwide campaign because that’s where they are. You will have no choice. There are over 10,000 terrorists from over 50 countries currently in the ISIS arena, the Islamic State’s arena. That’s how big the movement is.” – former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, early afternoon, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “Our numbers have increased in Vietnam because the aggression of others has increased in Vietnam. There is not, and there will not be, a mindless escalation.” – former President Lyndon B. Johnson, Feb. 23, 1966

→ “No amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war, nor settle the grievances in the hearts of the combatants. It is my firm belief that the responsible course of action – for the United States, for Iraq, and for our troops – is to oppose this reckless escalation and to pursue a new policy… When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience, is over.” – not-yet President Barak Obama, Jan. 30, 2007

Also posted in Be Afraid, Politics, Verbatim