::keep your war on.

19 03 2008

Five years of war in Iraq.

I remember very clearly watching the start of the war on television. Seeing infra-red footage from the hotel balconies of the hundreds of journalists in Baghdad, seeing the bombs explode and hearing unconfirmed reports of civilians dieing. Excited updates from the embedded reporters, talking about leads on hard targets and troops carrying playing cards with the most-wanted memebers of the Iraqi government on their faces.

My son Liam was a week out from being born. I remember the apprehension I felt wondering how this would change his life, and the lives of so many other children born during this time. I feared the world we would give him, invading and occupying two Middle-Eastern countries at the dawn of the 21st century.

The war has been in his reality his whole life. His uncle spent a year in Iraq, served with honor and came back unsure how to cope with domestic bliss. His grandmother, a Major in the Air Force Reserves, spent 6 months in Afghanistan. She wrote out greeting cards in advance to all of her children and grandchildren, for all the birthdays and holidays, and instructed her husband on when they were to be sent. She also served with honor, and came home with inexplicable crying fits and a distance between herself and everyone around her that, nearly a year later, is wider than ever.

He takes notice of it on the news now, as well, and has questions about the war and what it means. Sometimes he reminds me of that old commericial for the Time-Life books on the Vietnam War.

“…Not a child’s question, but a question a child might ask…”

Maybe we’ll be able to order books or DVDs or some shit for them on the subject some day, paying for it all in easy monthly payments.

Speaking of paying for it all, according to NationalPriorities.org, California residents alone have spent over 66 billion dollars on the war since it started. To give an example of how the money could be otherwise spent, that could send 9,947,258 students in college to California for free. Maybe more, since one of the other costs of the war has been the tanking of the US and world economy. Then again, maybe less, because as I’m sure our fine President would point out, that kind of money poured into education would only make the US more appealing to all those illegal immigrants who sneak across the border and steal our best jobs.

Zachary, my oldest, turns 13 on Easter Sunday. He’s always been aware of the war. He has played games at school reliving the invasion and the capture of Saddam Hussein. In between making jokes about our Lord and Savior turning into a brain-eating zombie for his birthday, and jokes about bacon crucifix and scone effigy centerpieces, he has asked how old he will be when he has to go off to war. The answer is one I’m not ashamed to tell him.

If McCain is elected, he won’t turn 15 as a US resident.

It is a luxury I realize I’m very lucky to have. How many Iraqi children have died instead of turning 5? How many have experienced the terror of soldiers bursting into their homes and shoving rifles in their faces? How many have lost their brothers and fathers and uncles to shouting monsters who steal them away in the middle of the night?

So happy birthday, America. And happy birthday, Iraq.

Make a wish.



p.s. – To the five or so of you wondering where the fuck I’ve been? Got hit by a truck, laid off, into therapy, looking for a job, loving my kids, rebuilding my marriage.

It was a wee bit overwhelming, so the blog fell by the wayside.


::what kind of shit is this?

18 11 2007

“Know your drugs, know your doses.”–jeffrey goines (brad pitt) 12 Monkeys

I realize that most of you non-parental types 1) won’t give a shit about child immunizations, and\or 2) don’t see what the big deal about immunizing your children is, but this completely blew me away when I read it last night.

Immunizing your child is required to one degree or another in all states. In some states, you can opt out of immunizations for your child if you don’t ever start them, but schools tend to purposely give out misinformation about how that works, and behave very judgmentally when it comes to not immunizing your child. And in California, if you start you child off with vaccinations, you can’t ever back out of doing them–state law requires you to keep your kids going with them. This forces many kids into a lifetime of risk from immunizations, as many brand new parents haven’t yet done the research by the time their pediatrician schedules their infants for their first round of shots. And if you ask a doctor about the arguments against immunization, you’ll learn about how these are the same people who see UFOs and believe the CIA hired Fidel Castro as the second gunman on the grassy knoll.

And if you have done your homework and decide not to immunize your child, then the medical community and school districts treat you as if you’re a neglectful parent or some kind of conspiracy theory hippie nutjob, or both. They assume you want your child to get sick.

Well, a school district in Maryland has gotten around this by getting a court order for all kids in the district to be immunized, or else. Or else what? 10 days in jail for the parents who would be so bad as to not vaccinate their child. The district sent out letters to several hundred parents whose kids didn’t have up to date immunization records stating that their kids would be expelled if they didn’t get their kids up to date or prove that they were up to date by yesterday. If expelled the kids would be subject to state truancy laws, which would make the parents subject to up to 10 days in jail.

Why am I chapped about this? There are a lot of vaccines that are ineffective in the long term, and tie your child down to getting periodic boosters throughout their life, even into adulthood. Chicken pox vaccinations are a good example. If the boosters aren’t updated as they should be, an adult male vaccinated against chicken pox as a child could get it as an adult. Chicken pox as an adult can be particularly dangerous, and in men can lead to sterility. Getting chicken pox as a kid, on the other hand, protects you from ever getting it again, and your body doesn’t need a booster 10 years later.

There’s also been a trend in recent years, largely for cost savings and convenience, to combine or bond multiple vaccines into one treatment. The most well known of these is the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, bonded into one series called MMR. There’s no conclusive proof, but a lot of good research, linking the uptick in autism in the general population to some of the bonding agents used in these bonded vaccines. And while it is entirely possible that there is no link between bonded vaccines and autism, why would you take the chance? This is an issue because, thanks to the bonded vaccines, non-bonded vaccines are getting harder to come by. When Christine told our doctor that she wanted to give Liam the separate measles, mumps, and rubella shots, she was strongly discouraged, told that their network didn’t have it available, and finally told she would have to locate it on her own and that it may not be covered by insurance. She jumped through all these hoops, but I don’t know how many parents would have the option of doing that.

This really isn’t just a parental issue. This is about forced mass medication, mandated without proper research and without consideration given to alternative treatments. How many times have medical treatments been handed out like candy, only to discover some detrimental consequence years or decades later?

I feel like I should mention again how I’m not some conspiracy theory hippie nutjob. But then, the chickens and our kids’ tie-die wardrobes are all strikes against that.




::9/11 Remodeled

11 09 2007

I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to write for this September 11th for a week or so now. I’m sick to death of politics lately, though, and I really didn’t care to have an entry centered around the Surge or the Senate hearings with General Petraeus, or the latest stupid thing Dubya’s handlers are shaking their heads over.

You can’t talk about September 11th, 2001 without talking about Iraq, no matter how linked they aren’t, and I think anyone who’s read more than two entries is probably pretty clear on how I feel about George dubya.

And what if we disregard Iraq completely and force it out of the conversation like the redheaded stepchild that it is? Then we are left with talking about the new fascism: wiretaps, detainments, deportations, Gitmo, no-fly lists, and whether or not breast milk is a dangerous liquid that should be banned from flights.


So yeah, trying to think of something to say about 9/11 without talking about all that bullshit. Hadn’t really thought of anything.

I thought also about writing about how September 11th really effected me more than I thought it would in the months after that day. Like how every time I happen to look at the clock and see 9:11, I tense up and I feel a lump in my stomach. I don’t know the story behind that one.

I watched Flight 93 on cable the other night. I haven’t cried during a movie in years. Years, I tell you. And not because I try to be some tough guy jagoff who claims to not cry in movies, either. Wanna know something? I cry during TV weddings. Real weddings, too. Even if I don’t like one or more of the people doing the deed. But TV weddings get me too, every time. I don’t have to like them either.

Anyway, Flight 93. I cried, and I really, really didn’t expect to. I didn’t expect there to be such a portrayal of the fear and bravery and simple humanity of those people. I didn’t expect the terrorists to be somewhat human, and they were. To see their own fear of what they were doing was as painful as it was to see everyone else’s fear of what was being done.

I’ve rambled this far and all I’ve really said is that I can’t think of what to say and terrorism is bad.

So anyway.

I got home from work, and went out into the front yard with the two little boys to give The Missus a break for a little while, and all of a sudden Liam decided he wanted to ride his bike. We got him a bike back in March for his 4th birthday, and he’s been a little intimidated by it. He’s only ridden it 2 or 3 times. I don’t want to force the issue and make him learn to ride it. There’s no fun in that. And learning to ride your bike should be fun, so he’ll do it as his own pace.

But today he wanted to ride his bike. So we got it out and washed off the dust and cobwebs, cleaned the helmet and pumped up the tires. Off we went down the street and around the block.

He was very tentative at first, not wanting me to take my hands off the handlebars, and letting out a little whimper with each teeter onto the training wheels. I convinced him he needed to take his eyes off his feet and look where he was going shortly before we got to the corner. Which, being able to see it, he rounded like a pro.

He got a little further, sped up to the point where I let go but stuck close, and then suddenly shouted out, “Yeah for me! I’m doing it! I’m steering!”

I gave him some encouragement of some kind, and then, he said it.

What did he say, you ask?

Almost shaking on the bike with excitement and frothing at the mouth, Liam said:


And I’ll be damned if he’s wrong.

We continue loops around the block for over an hour, with him sometimes having as much as half a block lead on me on looking back.

So fuck September 11th, 2001 and all of it’s tragedy and fascism and machismo and death.

September 11, 2007 is the day my kid decided to learn how to ride his bike.


the best day ever.



::justice denied

30 12 2006

I hope the world doesn’t see the speedy execution of the criminal Saddam as some illusion of justice being served.

A criminal Saddam Hussein may have been, but he was no worse than others that the United States has fostered and continues to foster throughout the world.  No doubt the criminal George is pretty proud of himself these days.



::extraordinary rendition

19 09 2006

Mister President–

I think I need some clarity on this.

Say you’re a Canadian citizen, and you’re travelling home to Canada from a trip overseas.  Your return trip takes through JFK International, where you have to catch a connecting flight.  Say you’re getting off your plane and you’re on your way to you connection when you get arrested kidnapped in the airport. 

Let’s go on in this scenario and say that you’re held for two weeks by officials working for the United States government, and during that time you’re not allowed to call any of the following people:

  1. Your wife back home in Canada
  2. Your lawyer
  3. The Canadian embassy or any member of the Canadian government. 

Let us also remember, in this hypothetical situation, that there are treaties between the Canadian and US governments dealing with just this sort of thing, and that the treaties spell out that you should be able to, at a minimum, get in touch with 2 and 3 on the list above. You’re a good Canadian who knows a thing or two about what your government does, and you’re aware of your rights.  No one seems to care.

So let’s say you’re held in the US for two weeks, after which time the CIA decides to put you on a plane and fly you to Jordan, and then drive you to Syria, where you are turned over by the CIA to the Syrian government.  The Syrians hold you for a year, during which time you are repeatedly tortured.

When the US government is asked about you and your whereabouts, let’s say they deny ever having heard of you.  For a year or so.  Then they refuse to say where you are or what has become of you.

But let’s say the Syrians can’t get anything out of you, and they give you back to the Canadians, who spend the next two years smearing your name and calling you a terrorist. 

Then all of a sudden they realize that you’re not a terrorist, you’ve never had terrorist sympathies, and you’ve never done anything wrong.  Unless of course, being of Arab descent while travelling through US airspace is wrong.  And it very well may be. 

The Canadians issue apologies, offer you compensation for the money you’ve lost and the slander  you’ve suffered, and genuinely try to make up for their part in the horrible injustice that’s been done to you and your family.  The United States, on the other hand, summarily dismisses without comment the lawsuit you filed against them.

Bullshit, right? 

That’s just another liberal bullshit conspiracy story that never happens.  We are saving the world for democracy here, people. 

We are the guys in the white hats.

Tell that to Maher Arar.  The bullshit story above is his story, and it is true.

But hey, there’s a war on, right?  And every airport, bus stop, train station and intersection is part of the front, right? We are all players here, we are all soldiers. 

This is tragic, this is sad, this is a terrible injustice, but would which would we rather have–a few mistakes, a few people tortured when they shouldn’t be, or another 9/11?  That’s how the logic goes.  There is collateral damage in every war.

Wrong.  If this can happen to one person, if the government can blow off treaties and laws and common human decency when dealing with a Arab Canadian no one is likely to care about, it can happen to anyone.  You or me, in New York or Kansas City, citizen or no. 

Am I paranoid?  Am I a conspiracy nut?  I don’t think I am.

What’s stopping it from happening?

Who knows that it hasn’t happened already?



::so this must be how the Germans felt

18 09 2006

from, say, 1934 to 1945.  I’m sure it took a year or so for the reality to really take hold, for some of the unbelievable rumors to be confirmed. 

What the hell am I talking about?


Fear that this terrible system is going to swallow us all whole, fear that there is nothing we can do to stop it.  Fear that speaking too loudly is going to make them come for me too.  Fear that I won’t give the right answers to the right questions, and the decision will be made to use some alternative techniques.  Fear that my kids will grow up always looking over their shoulder for THEM. Fear that the boogeyman has been replaced by the terrorist.

Fear that we have been replaced for the terrorists.

Fear that any one of us could be among the 14,000.

I’m not really comparing the US Government to the Nazis, am I? 


Only crackpots do that shit.



::big speech

7 09 2006

Let me just open this up with a quote:

“…The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it — and I will not authorize it. Last year, my administration worked with Senator John McCain, and I signed into law the Detainee Treatment Act, which established the legal standard for treatment of detainees wherever they are held. I support this act. And as we implement this law, our government will continue to use every lawful method to obtain intelligence that can protect innocent people, and stop another attack like the one we experienced on September the 11th, 2001.”

George W. Bush

September 6th, 2006

And just for fun, I’d like to follow that up with an excerpt from a little something called a Presidental Signing Statement:

“The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.”

So we know for a fact what we’ve known as speculation for almost a year now: The CIA kidnaps people in our name–make that your name–they kidnap people in your name, and hold them in secret for months while using alternative sets of procedures with which to extract information out of them. 

We can’t be told what these alternative procedures are; security reasons, you see.  But the procedures we usually use don’t work, so we know what the procedures aren’t.  The alternative procedures the President referred to do not include any of the following:

  • The use of attack dogs

  • Humiliation

  • Degredation

  • Deficating on the Quran

  • Simulating rape

  • Female interrogators stripping down

  • Female interrogators pretending to wipe menstral blood on prisoners

  • Falsely telling prisoners their families have been captured and\or killed because of them

  • Forcing prisoners to remain in painful positions for hours or even days
  • Depriving prisoners of food and water
  • Forced isolation of prisoners

None of these practices were used.  We used alternativesWe did.  You and me, us and them.

But one thing you can be sure of, everyone, is that we are safer now that this type of thing is being done around the world to hundreds or thousands of people.  Or only one–does it matter?  If we throw away our priciples for one occassion, why not despense with them altogether?

Stalin had something to say about that idea, and I think it rings true here.

One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.

Joseph Stalin

But what we are after here is order.  Safety.  Control. 

Liberty breeds danger, after all.