January 06 2007
Saddam's Execution
President Ford
Things Worse?
The Drug Trade
Luke McConnell
Less Not More Troops
  Six Days Is Too Much
The line of mourners for the funeral of singer James Brown stretches five blocks away from the James Brown arena in Augusta, Ga., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006. Ninth street in Augusta was renamed James Brown Blvd. (AP Photo/Todd Bennett)
(AP Photo/Todd Bennett)
Jesus only got three days; and, let's face it, six days for former President Ford is a bit over the top.

In North Carolina, we follow the old adage "never speak ill of the dead." And, trust me on this, we do not.

In fact one of my favorite stories is about the preacher who is speaking at a man's funeral. In the front row are his three young sons and wife. As the minister goes on and on, suddenly, the 12 year old gets up and walks to the casket and looks in. After the service, someone asked him, "Why did you go and look in the casket?" The boy said, "I wanted to make sure that was my Dad,"(meaning, of course, that the words said about the Dad didn't match the kid's experience).


What a thought-provoking time to think about those departing the scene. Former President Ford was a good man I think. He came along at a time in history when our country needed him and he did the job. And, now, based on many revelations, we know how he thought about lots of things. We need to honor him and have. God bless his family.

James Brown, a great talent, was celebrated with much adulation, even Michael Jackson showed up at Brown's funeral extravaganza and danced. And, then there was Saddam who went to his reward amid the fanfare of a phone camera.

The question that we all think about, and nobody knows, is what happens when someone kicks off. If they have "faith", we would say that this life is not the end. Wow, this is a heavy question. Let's say there was a good ending for former President Ford and Brother Brown, even if James did have a few jailhouse visits. Saddam? I don't think so. So what? Hmmmmmmmmmm. Maybe he joins Hitler and several others who did awful things. I don't know.


During a time of national reflection, maybe it is time to reflect on our own demise. When I "hit the road," I don't want much fanfare. Keep it simple; I don't want folks to go to much trouble. I hope I've lived a good life and hope that it is not too much of an effort not to "speak ill of the dead." KT (January 04, 2007)

  Less Not More
chaplain in vietnam
Over three thousand soldiers have died in Iraq. Now the Prez is leaning toward sending more troops(possibly 20,000)? The new policy is dubbed by some as a surge and accelerate strategy.

When I hear or read comments of sending more troops to Baghdad to handle the violence, I honestly think that these people have their heads up their 4th point of contact. (Airborne talk for head up their posterior). I can hardly believe it. It is as though they have "no brains".

All of this in light of the top Army general, Peter Schoomaker, warning that his force "will break" (his words, not mine) without thousands more active duty troops and greater use of the reserves. He, at least, I think, is trying to be truthful.


Send more National Guard and Reserves? Give me a break! The military has about 520,000 National Guard and reservists. According to reports all but 90,000 of these "weekend" soldiers have been deployed at least once since Sept. 11, 2001, and current rules say they cannot be redeployed yet.

The Reserves and the Guard were set up long ago as a strategic reserve, but now we are misusing them as an integral part of the nation's deployed forces. Long ago, during relative calm, which always happens, the military was so downsized that it is closing in on an ultra crisis as the General was politely saying. But, given all of this, those in charge seem to be clueless.

It is very easy to see how some decisionmaker can sit in some oak paneled office or even the halls of Congress and hypothesize on sending more soldiers-troops that we don't have. And, without any regard to what these constant deployments are doing to morale and families of these soldiers.


Remember Westmoreland calling for more and more troops; and, if you give us more, "we'll be home by Christmas". What I'm not hearing is the military calling for more troops. Schoomaker also didn't sound that "gungho" on sending more troops to Iraq.

What the "powers that be" still don't seem to get is that we can't beat these people. It is vastly different even from Vietnam. In Vietnam, we had enough troops to eventually take ground and occupy it, if we wanted too. The North Vietnamese or the Viet Cong (insurgents) also did not stoop to killing their own people, women and children, kidnapping, etc. It simply didn't happen.

In Iraq, Shiite are killing Sunni; Sunni are killing Shiite. There is no sacredness for life. If they thought they would die and receive seventy-two virgins, some of these guys would probably blowup themselves and their mother. JD
January 4, 2007

says happy new year animated
My Wish for You in 2007

May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts.

May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills.

May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!

May your clothes smell of success like smoking tires and may happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy.

May the problems you had, forget your home address!

In simple words ...(From E-mail)

May 2007 be the best year of your life because our Lord is blessing you really big and well!!! lh

says happy new year animated
Every man should be born again on the first day of January.

Start with a fresh page.

Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past. ~Henry Ward Beecher


A newspaper vendor clutches newspapers with the news of the execution of Saddam Hussain, in Mumbai. The United States has joined its arch-foe Iran in hailing the justice of Saddam Hussein's execution, but European powers opposed the use of capital punishment even though they condemned the former dictator's crimes in Iraq.(AFP/Indranil Mukherjee)
(AFP/Indranil Mukherjee)
I doubt anyone I know feels sorry for Saddam. To say the guy was a brutal despot and dictator is almost synonymous with saying, "How about that?"

By conservative estimates, Saddam killed a million of his own people. Idi Amin(former president of Uganda-massacred thousands of countrymen) does come to mind as worse and there are others I'm sure; but, for now, let's stick with Saddam.

Saddam views himself as a martyr. What I wonder is whether he still gets his 93 virgins; he does say that he is looking forward to seeing his sons. Now, that was a close knit family-sounds almost like the Christian concept.

I must admit, however, that his hanging seems a little unseemly to me. The news portrays his execution like some great victory just like his capture. I didn't like the gloating.

When we found him in the "hole", I thought "Let's don't bring him back and give him a forum." Well, the forum never happened mainly because Iraq and American involvement went to hell in a handbasket and Saddam became OBE (overcome by events).

His death was good riddance, but perhaps unfortunate because he wasn't killed in war or by trying to escape. I must say too that Saddam being "snuffed out" in the final analysis has something to say to us. Our involvement with a country that hangs people has got to tell us something. I guess the same way oppression of women, neanderthal religious fanaticism, and violation of civil rights in the form of being killed should tell us something. Oh Well...

Bring Back Saddam

Well, that really isn't possible now, is it? Winston Churchill said "Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." I think that what he means is that democracy is still better than the rest. I do agree; but, for us, any form of government that spells order seems like a good plan now since Iraq has obviously spun out of control into some type of civil war.

I think we are surely at the point where we need to rule out an American type democracy. Duh! Since theocracy looks like the future for a big chunk of Iraq, why not accept it and figure out a way to keep the warring sides from completely annihilating each other to at least minimal killings.

Every day, Iraq looks more like Deadwood, one of my favorite all time TV shows. However, on Deadwood, they made zapping the bad guys an act of Elizabethan humor, except to the zapped. I don't mean to make light. But, after two supposedly free elections; and, I think they were, things have gotten worse. If we could find a benevolent dictator, this might make things better. But, since there are no applicants for the job, we're in a dilemma.

What About The Kissinger Approach

We don't need a fancy commission to tell us what we needed to do or how we had screwed up. The Commander in Chief ain't home anyway when it comes to the Iraq Study Group( Did they get paid by the way?).

How about following Henry Kissinger's advice to Richard Nixon? Kissinger convinced "tricky Dick" to do this about Vietnam: declare victory and get the hell out. I like it. KT (article: December 31 2006) Sadam Execution
Coffins of U.S. military personnel are prepared to be offloaded at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware in this undated photo. Organizers say some 140 demonstrations in 37 states are planned to mark the 3,000th U.S. military death in Iraq, a milestone that is likely only days away. By December 28, 2006, some 2,989 U.S. troops had died in Iraq since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. (USAF/www.thememoryhole.org/Reuters)
Friday, December 29, 2006:
Things Worse Than Ever Before?

Saturday, December 30, 2006:
The Drug Trade

Thursday: December 28, 2006:
In Memorium: Gerald R. Ford

Wednesday, December 27, 2006:
Lucas McConnell and Haditha Case

Former US President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford sit in the backseat of a car following their marriage in Grand Rapids, Michigan in October 1948. Ford, who sought to heal America after the trauma of the Watergate scandal that forced Richard Nixon from office in 1974, has died at the age of 93.(AFP/Ford Library)
Former President Gerald R. Ford died peacefully, according to his wife Betty, Tuesday evening at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 93. Ford was the 38th President (19741977) and 40th Vice President (19731974) of the United States.

In a statement, his wife Betty said ""His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."

"President Ford was one of the kindest, most sincere elected officials whom I have known and with whom I have worked," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. "Although he and I were from different political parties, we often were able to find common ground and work together for our country."

Rep. John Dingell(served with Ford in the house), D-Mich. said "Jerry was warm gentle, friendly, pleasant courteous individual. He never used bad language, he loved his family, his kids and above all else he loved Betty."

God Bless President Ford and his Family. Gerald R. Ford's life spanned nearly a century. He brought our Nation together at a most difficult time(during Watergate).

(The following he said when he became President after Nixon resigned.)

"My fellow Americans," Ford said, "our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule."

..."I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots. So I ask you to confirm me with your prayers."

A photo provided by the Gerald R. Ford Library shows Gerald Ford as a naval officer in 1945. Former President Gerald R. Ford, who declared 'Our long national nightmare is over' as he replaced Richard Nixon , died Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2006. He was 93. (AP Photo/HO/GERALD R. FORD LIBRARY)
Related Internet Articles:

Gerald R. Ford, 93, Dies; Led in Watergate's Wake(Washington Post online)

Dates in the life of Gerald Ford (Yahoo! news online)

The Life Of Gerald Ford (wikipedia.org)(December 27, 2006)

  Things Worse Than Ever Before?

Two young Iraqis walk in front of a US tank in the southeast Baghdad neighbourhood of Kamaliya. Opposition to a proposal to send additional American troops to Iraq grew stronger in the United States over the Christmas weekend as President George W. Bush pondered new ways to stabilize the country sinking deeper into sectarian strife.(AFP/Wissam Al-Okali)
(AFP/Wissam Al-Okali)
I really don't think that our world is any worse than it has been historically. I use to do a sermon on the Second Coming and use the Biblical concepts of Jesus return as the end of the world.

I believe in a theory of "end times" called the pre-millennial view of His return which basically means that the world gets so bad that there is no possibility of redemption and God ends it. Well, my belief is that we are not even close to that; there are lots and lots of good people in the world, many of them doing wonderful things.

Iraq Is Violently Partitioning Itself

Iraq is violently partitioning itself into a civil war (my thoughts but also heard a good story on NPR recently which confirmed my beliefs). Sunnis are being moved out of Shiite neighborhoods and ethnic cleansing is happening. GIs are dying.

What those of us who care, especially about Iraq, get hung up over is the "looming" effect of this disaster. Overall, I think, it contributes to a feeling of "things are bad, hopeless; the world is in a mess and on and on.

We are in a quagmire in Iraq with no real way out. The powers that be continue to be in maxed out denial, even with the midterm elections turning as they did...

Take a look at the Girlfriends Blog:Things Worse Than Ever Before JA

   The Drug Trade

Stacks of seized heroin. A steep rise in drug overdose deaths in Los Angeles is being blamed on an influx of highly potent heroin from Afghanistan.(AFP/File/Saeed Khan)
(AFP/File/Saeed Khan)
When I was in Vietnam, I took a drag or two of pot. It burned my throat and made me cough. I forgot whether or not I have to defend whether I inhaled or not.

But, if there's an American who pays any attention or watches TV or goes to the movies or inhales and doesn't think that many in our great country are involved with the "weed," they must have their Ipods maxed out.

If you watch an HBO series like The Wire, you understand the unbelievable pull drugs have on our society and how so many kids are crashing and burning.

Without exception, "my buds" think we should legalize pot; take the profit motive out and the problem will go away. We're smart people and could figure it out. I doubt we'll do it as somehow following the old paths seem to be easier and the only ones we'll do. (I will have to admit, however, that I personally have never known someone heavy into drugs that did not start with pot, even though studies say this is not the case).

However, in Afghanistan, it ain't pot, rather the makings of the "hard stuff." Based on what I read, we have the resurging problem of the country growing poppies which become heroin--90 percent of the world's heroin comes from Afghan opium. Over 400,000 acres are in cultivation and it is grown mostly by small farmers.

The U. S. official position: it has to go, plain and simple. We spend millions to get rid of the poppies just as we do in California with pot and guess what: we can't eradicate it. And, in Afghanistan, who gets hurt? The small farmer. From what I read, one promising possibility might be the legitimate production of poppies : turning the poppies into codeine and morphine and using it for medical purposes. Makes sense to me.

The problem with the drug trade in Afghanistan and government, in general, is that we don't have any innovative thinkers. We need leadership that can "think outside the box."

A good illustration of this shortcoming is an episode of HBO's, The Wire. One of the police captains decided on his own to legalize the drug trade in his precinct. (Kids were dying and shooting each other while fighting rivals for the possibility to sell drugs.) Guess what? The captain's efforts worked miraculously; but, in the process, he got vilified and was forced to retire. The policeman was punished for "thinking outside the box".

Get the picture, this happens over and over again. Government comes up with plans usually created by bureaucrats. The bureaucrats don't listen to outsiders or those with new ideas. It is business as usual. In this case, millions of dollars will be used to eradicate opium and basically hurt the small farmer eking out a living under the worst of conditions in Afghanistan. Thus, we hurt the very people we are trying to liberate and win over. KT

   Lucas McConnell And The Haditha Case

Four Marines were charged in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha(happened last year) and four Marines were charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report or properly investigate the killings last week. Captain Lucas McConnell was one of the Marines charged with dereliction of duty in the Haditha case.

Captain McConnell graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD in 1996. He was captain of his high school football team and helped the team win a championship in 1992 in Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley is dumbfounded at the charges against Luke McConnell.


Map locating the town of Haditha in Iraq. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has left Iraq after striking
Photo:/AFP AFP via Yahoo! Canada News
Dereliction of Duty. "When news of Capt. Lucas McConnell's possible involvement in war crimes in Iraq broke in the spring of 2006, people in his hometown who had watched him grow up to become a high school football star and Marine were totally incredulous."
(re: Napa stunned by charges against local officer, Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer San Francisco Chronicle )

Charged with Dereliction of Duty. What the hell is that? Lack of supervision, what? Basically, it sounds a little like the Marine mentality. I love the Marines, but they have a tendency to overreact. In Vietnam, we called it the "put your head down and charge" approach. It was a euphemism for not seeing the big picture.

Marines are like most elite units, especially the 82nd Airborne Division (that I know a lot about); Marines are into suffering- an how can we make this harder mentality. Harder often equates to tougher in their minds.

In this case, it means sacrificing probably a good officer to show that "those in command" are "the Rocky Balboa" on Marines who don't do their job.

This young captain, Luke McConnell, was not even present at the supposed crime. Based on what little I know, if he is convicted of dereliction of duty, what about all the other people above him right to the top.

The Chain of Command. The difference in the military and often the civilian world is the "chain of command." In the military, somebody is always in charge. Every soldier, down to the lowest Private has someone checking on him. And, most of the time it works. In this case, it would have been almost impossible for this young Captain to know exactly what his men were doing and in between him there were several others in the chain of command. Let's wait this out, but what it looks like to me is a "rush to judgment" decision to charge this young officer. His career is ruined. Besides, as I will continue to say, "War is no day at the beach".

We need to wake up and smell the roses here. Iraq is a sad scene, any way you cut it. We are in a confusing mess. I sit here in the comfort of my home, enjoying time with my children and grandchildren during the holidays and soldiers in Iraq are dying. Other soldiers are getting up every morning going on patrols and missions, nor even knowing who the enemy is and many are getting injured. Any moment some situation can pop up and they have to decide life or death, live or die.

And, here's something that further eludes those who have not been to war: when the right/wrong, sad, difficult decision has to be made at war, the soldier stands alone. In this case, there is no doubt the good Captain loved the Marines, devoted himself, and was Sempi Fi to the max. However, his "stuff" was in the street and he now he feels alone; and, sadly, he was and is alone.

I have little tolerance for this sort of Marine mentality. God bless this young Captain and all the soldiers fighting the battles in Iraq and often at home. Sempi Fi and Hoo-ah!!! kt

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