Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Well, day one was certainly swell

The blast in a market in the disputed northern city kills at least 33 people and injures 97. It comes as Iraqis mark the U.S. troop pullback, and fans doubts about future security.

By Ali Windawi and Ned Parker, AP
July 1, 2009
Reporting from Baghdad and Kirkuk, Iraq -- Only hours after Iraqi security forces paraded in the street Tuesday in celebration of taking control of their cities from U.S. troops, militants mounted their first challenge to Iraq's new era with a car bombing in Kirkuk that claimed the lives of at least 33 people and wounded 97.

The bloodshed in the northern Iraqi city that sits atop lucrative oil reserves and is the sought-after prize in an Arab-Kurdish competition for power and wealth raised doubts about whether Iraqis can fill the security vacuum after the American departure.

The parked car exploded in the late afternoon at a vegetable market in Shorja, a Kurdish section of Kirkuk, according to police and medical sources, who provided the casualty figures.

The attack came barely a week after nearly 80 people were killed in a suicide truck bombing in Taza Khurmatu, a Shiite Turkmen town just south of Kirkuk. Both blasts pointed to a deliberate effort to fan ethnic tensions in the oil-rich area that Kurds wish to claim as part of their self-governing region in northern Iraq and Arabs want tied to the central government in Baghdad.

The blast marred a day that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki had hailed as a historic victory and the first milestone on the way to the withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011. President Obama says he wants all combat troops home from Iraq by the end of August next year.

The government staged holiday military marches in various areas as its forces took over full responsibility from U.S. troops, who have been relegated mostly to bases on the periphery of cities or to rural areas, to be summoned only as needed by the Iraqi government and its military commanders. A U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, signed late last year, called for all American combat troops to be out of population centers by June 30.

"This day, which we consider a national celebration, is an achievement made by all Iraqis," Maliki told the nation in an address on state television, sitting at his desk, with a dozen Iraqi flags.

"Our incomplete sovereignty and the presence of foreign troops is the most serious legacy we have inherited [from former leader Saddam Hussein]. Those who think that Iraqis are unable to defend their country are committing a fatal mistake."

In Kirkuk, the market attack appeared to undermine such confidence. The blast gutted more than 40 stores, reducing at least a dozen to rubble.

Azad Khudur, a 33-year-old shopper, stood at the market's entrance, near a few burning cars.

"The bombing is a message to the Iraqi people that the terrorists are able to attack at any time and at any hour because of the weakness of security forces," he said.

A 78-year-old fruit seller, Kareem Ameen, crouched on the ground crying and pummeling his chest. "This is what we collected from receiving the authority from the Americans. I lost two of my sons!" he shouted. "What wrong did I do or my sons?"

Ameen said that when he heard the explosion, he came running and a friend told him not to bother looking for his children. Their bodies had been ripped apart and scattered. He raced to the morgue and found nothing.

"I came back [here] again to look for them and I couldn't find any of them," he lamented. He raised his hands toward the sky and yelled: "What wrong did we do God? Is it because we are Iraqis? . . . Tomorrow is unknown with Iraq on the brink of the [American] pullout."

That morning, Iraqi police units had marched through Kirkuk waving Iraqi flags. U.S. forces have been stationed at an air base bordering the city, while police patrol the provincial capital itself.

The province's security forces have often found themselves embroiled in Kirkuk's Arab-Kurdish controversies. The predominantly Arab 12th Iraqi Army Division replaced a Kurdish-led brigade a year ago, stirring anger in the Kurdistan region. The Arab commander of the division has said that Baghdad intends to take control of security throughout the province, including areas under the control of Kurdish peshmerga fighters sent from the north. Also drawing Baghdad's ire is the presence of thousands of Kurdish intelligence agents in the province, with their headquarters in Kirkuk.

Local officials and residents had expressed nervousness about what the U.S. troop withdrawal meant for the region and other portions of the north that both Arabs and Kurds believe are rightfully theirs. All sides worry about what may lie ahead as different groups try to control the disputed areas.

"The Kurds will try in different ways to legitimize the integration of Kirkuk into Kurdistan. This will generate violence," 34-year-old schoolteacher Tariq Hatim said before Tuesday's celebrations.

Another source of discontent is the Kurdish parliament's approval last week of a constitution that would declare areas in Kirkuk, Nineveh and Diyala provinces part of the semiautonomous Kurdish region.

U.S. diplomats and commanders have identified the territorial dispute as one of the major problems in Iraq. In an interview Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill said the embassy believed it could help promote reconciliation between Arabs and Kurds.

"I think you can look for the American Embassy to try to play a helpful role in that process, as long as we are welcome to do so, and we believe we are," Hill said.

Mindful of attacks in the last two weeks that have killed more than 200 people, the ambassador expressed his confidence in the Iraqi security forces' ability to defeat militant groups and keep the country safe. "I believe, and I think this opinion is shared by the U.S. military, that the Iraqi forces are ready," Hill said.

In other developments, the U.S. military announced the death of four soldiers in Baghdad, who officials said were killed in action Monday. Officials provided no additional information. That brings to 4,321 the number of U.S. military deaths since the war began in 2003, according to independent website icasualties.org.

If I were commissioner of MLB

1. Revenue sharing. Without an NFL type agreement between the owners, the league will be reduced to major markets only.

2. A bat and a glove. Outlaw all other equiptment. Batting gloves. Elbow protectors. Ankle guards. All the crap that batters adjust for maddeningly long periods between pitches. Play baseball. If you want alot of protection, play football.

3. No stepping out of the batters box. Little League has such a rule, and it keeps the games from being 3 hours long. When it is your turn to hit, get in the friggin' batters box and stay there. If you step out for any reason other than a wasp has flown up your nose, it is an automatic strike.

4. The ten second rule. If no runners are on base, the pitcher has ten seconds to throw the ball once the catcher has thrown it back to him. And the catcher has three seconds once he has caught the pitch or been handed a new ball by the umpire.

If the pitcher takes longer than ten seconds, it is an automatic called ball. This will also prevent the over-managing now done by managers. Let the catcher and pitcher decide what to throw.

5. The ultimate umpire. Put an umpire in the press box. Give him all the video that we see on tv at home. If there is a wrong call, he can overrule. He is the chief of the crew. His call stands. This way, no player or manager can waste time arguing. They can't reach the press box.

6. Standardize baseball. Either there is a designated hitter or there is not. I would vote for not, but the owners would have to vote. Not having a standardized rule is like an NHL team playing an NBA team.

7. Calling timeout. Create a standard for calling timeout. For the batter, fielder, runner. Without it, it is total judgement of the umpire if someone has called timeout. Like last night's Dodgers-Rockies game. The Dodgers pitcher was at bat. He clearly signalled he wanted a timeout. But because he was still in the batters box, the umpire didn't recognize it. So the Rockies pitcher threw the ball in the midst of confusion, and the pitch was called a ball. What crap.

8. Field standardization. Every other sport has a standard field. MLB has short porches, stupid little ramps in center field in Houston, nooks and crannies.
What's to prevent an owner from signing left hand power hitters and having a 200 foot right field wall? Look at the stats of the "New Yankee Stadium". And while we are at it, clarify what the hell a home run is. No more yellow lines on trash bags. Every stadium would have a friggin' fence. If it is over the fence, it is a homerun. If it's not, it's not.

9. No new baseballs. The umpires control the baseballs. If the umpire throws a ball out to the pitcher, that ball is in play. No pitcher, batter or anybody else can ask for a new one. If the umpire says it is ok, it is ok. Play ball.

10. Standardized warm-up. If a pitcher has been warming up in the bullpen for plenty of time (as observed by the chief umpire in the press box), a relief pitcher gets five pitches off the real mound. That's it. If a pitcher geta called in due to injury or some other reason and has not warmed up, he gets all the warmup he feels needed.

With these simple rules, we could see MLB games played in 2 1/2 hours.

More people would attend. Viewers woulnd't have to be frustrated by more commerical breaks while someone is spending too much time warming up.

I'm sure there are more. But it's a start.

And I would gladly do it for one tenth of what MLB is paying Bud Selig. Ole Bud is getting paid over $18 million to be a toady for the major market owners.

Not bad for a guy that never played the game. Can't figure out how to play the game. Can't figure out how to test for PEDs. Can't figure out how to get the team he owns, although it is now in his daughter's name, how to win.

Monday, June 29, 2009

You are welcome, Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqis welcomed the Tuesday deadline for American troops to leave their towns and cities with a street festival in Baghdad, though fears of renewed violence tempered celebrations of what their government called "National Sovereignty Day."

4317 U.S. military dead. Over 100 thousand wounded.

The U.K., over 100 dead.

Canada, at least 5 dead.

Other coalition forces, over 200 dead.

Have a nice party, Iraq.

You were freed from one of the most brutal dictators in history.

Our forces prevented you from being overrun by Iran. It would have been like a pile of fire ants on a dead rat.

Have a nice party, Iraq.

We will never forget what we lost there.

Maybe one day you will remember.

Where there is confusion, there is profit

I first heard that genius observation attributed to the Chairman of ATT. Way back when it was a regulated monopoly.

That line flashed thru my head as I read this unbelievable article today. Hope you are feeling good about your tax dollars.

How a Loophole Benefits GE in Bank Rescue
Industrial Giant Becomes Top Recipient in Debt-Guarantee Program

By Jeff Gerth and Brady Dennis
ProPublica and Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 29, 2009

General Electric, the world's largest industrial company, has quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the government's key rescue programs for banks.

At the same time, GE has avoided many of the restrictions facing other financial giants getting help from the government.

The company did not initially qualify for the program, under which the government sought to unfreeze credit markets by guaranteeing debt sold by banking firms. But regulators soon loosened the eligibility requirements, in part because of behind-the-scenes appeals from GE.

As a result, GE has joined major banks collectively saving billions of dollars by raising money for their operations at lower interest rates. Public records show that GE Capital, the company's massive financing arm, has issued nearly a quarter of the $340 billion in debt backed by the program, which is known as the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, or TLGP. The government's actions have been "powerful and helpful" to the company, GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt acknowledged in December.

GE's finance arm is not classified as a bank. Rather, it worked its way into the rescue program by owning two relatively small Utah banking institutions, illustrating how the loopholes in the U.S. regulatory system are manifest in the government's historic intervention in the financial crisis.

The Obama administration now wants to close such loopholes as it works to overhaul the financial system. The plan would reaffirm and strengthen the wall between banking and commerce, forcing companies like GE to essentially choose one or the other.

"We'd like to regulate companies according to what they do, rather than what they call themselves or how they charter themselves," said Andrew Williams, a Treasury spokesman.

GE's ability to live in the best of both worlds -- capitalizing on the federal safety net while avoiding more rigorous regulation -- existed well before last year's crisis, because of its unusual corporate structure.

Banking companies are regulated by the Federal Reserve and not allowed to engage in commerce, but federal law has allowed a small number of commercial companies to engage in banking under the lighter hand of the Office of Thrift Supervision. GE falls in the latter group because of its ownership of a Utah savings and loan.

Unlike other major lenders participating in the debt guarantee program, including Bank of America, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, GE has never been subject to the Fed's stress tests or its rules for limiting risk. Also unlike firms that have received bailout money in the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, GE is not subject to restrictions such as limits on executive compensation.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Must be the camouflage

Traveling today thru two busy airports.

Lots of military men and women in both places.

Most wearing their everyday work clothes. ACUs.

The pattern design is intended to help camouflage our military in a variety of conditions.

Apparently, it works in airports as well.

At almost every gate and baggage claim, there they stand. As though invisible. Unseen. Unacknowledged. Unappreciated.

These heroes are either on their way to or just coming home from some God-forsaken place and duty.

They are someone's daughter, son, mother, husband, brother, aunt. They are ordinary American citizens. They just happen to have chosen a life of service to their country.

Just look at them. That’s a start.

Then give them a handshake, a smile and say, “Thanks for your service.”

I did it so many times today. The military folks smiled and said, "No problem, sir. It's my honor, sir. Thank you, sir."

My fellow civilian travelers looked at me like I had lost my mind. You could see the shock on their faces that a stranger would walk up to these men and women, invade their personal space, and say thanks.

You have no idea what they might have sacrificed for you.

Lost friends. Lost hearing. Lost income. Lost soul.

The least we can do is let them know we see them. And better yet, appreciate them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A moment of silence

The House of Representatives observed a moment of silence Friday morning for the late pop star Michael Jackson.

The moment was led by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Reps. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) spoke about Jackson before asking members to rise for a moment of silence.

"Madam Speaker, if there is a God — and I believe there is — and that God distributes grace and mercy and talent to all his children, on Aug. 29, 1958, he touched Gary, Ind.," said Jackson.

Jackson said the singer's "heart couldn't get any bigger," adding: "I come to the floor today on behalf of a generation to thank God for living in his era."

Michael Jackson was an incredibly talented entertainer.

No doubt, he generated hope and energy amongst people across the globe. Especially, young and poor black youth in America.

The Jackson Family is an amazing story of talent overcoming obstacles from one of the toughest places in America. Gary, Indiana.

I don't protest or regret acknowledging him, whatever his personal flaws might be.

But, for our elected House of Representatives to have a moment of silence for him, here is my question.

How many moments of silence have you had for fallen military? Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, White?

How many moments of silence have you had for fallen police men and women? Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, White?

How many moments of silence have you had for fallen firefighters, men and women? Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, White?

How many moments of silence have you had for fallen Border Security personnel? Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, White?

How many monents of silence have you had for fallen CIA? Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, White?

How many moments of silence have you had for fallen FBI? Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, White?

To have our elected leaders bow their heads and acknowledge God for an entertainer, how do you rectify that with men and women who have sacrificed their lives in service to their country? Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, White.

I have traveled the world. And have been amazed to hear Michael Jackson's music in Eastern Europe, Brazil, China, the Caribbean, Mexico, and beyond.

He is to be saluted as an entertainer.

But, please, elected officials, the men and women that give their lives for our country, which means allowing folks like Michael Jackson the freedom to practice their craft, needs to be at least equally acknowleged.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You couldn't make this up, either

On January 9, I wrote about Cerberus and GMAC.

Today, news is out that GMAC, which has merged with Chrysler Financial, has told Chrysler dealers to go to hell because they don't meet the tough financial standards of GMAC (which by the way, has sucked up billions in TARP money).

Track with me here.

In 2006, GM sells GMAC to Cerberus to gin up some much needed cash for the soon to be bankrupt automaker.

Cerberus buys Chrysler in early 2007, including Chrysler Financial.

The White House forces Chrysler into bankruptcy on April 30, 2009.

This leaves creditors of Chrysler with nothing.

CBS News reported it this way:

'These creditors, by the way, represent something of a cross-section of America: the University of Kentucky, Kraft Foods' retirement fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pension funds, teachers' credit unions, and so on.

A normal bankruptcy filing would be straightforward. Senior creditors get paid 100 cents on the dollar. Everyone else gets in line.

But President Obama and his allies don't want that to happen. So they interfered on behalf of unions (the junior creditors) and publicly upbraided the senior creditors who were asserting their contractual rights and threatening to head to bankruptcy court.

Last week Mr. Obama lambasted them as "a small group of speculators" who "endanger Chrysler's future by refusing to sacrifice like everyone else."

A document that the non-TARP creditors filed with the bankruptcy judge about the proposed sale to Fiat says: "The sale is far from an arm's length transaction, but rather, is the result of a tainted sales process dominated by the United States government... It is a sale that was orchestrated entirely by the Treasury and foisted upon (Chrysler)... Well before the filing, (Chrysler) had ceased to function as an independent company and had become an instrumentality of the government."

So if you're keeping score, you have a bankrupt company depending on the government for money negotiating with some TARP-funded creditors depending on the government for money and still more creditors who may hold insurance policies with AIG, which depends on the government for money. And we're already hearing similar allegations about General Motors and political interference.

One disturbing report came from a well-respected attorney representing the dissident Chrysler creditors. Thomas Lauria, the head of White & Case's bankruptcy practice, says that he was threatened by Steven Rattner, the White House's auto task force chief. (A White House spokesman denies making any threats.)

"I represent one less investor today than I represented yesterday," Lauria said on a Detroit radio show. "One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight. That's how hard it is to stand on this side of the fence." Lauria said that his clients were willing to compromise on 50 cents on the dollar, but the government offered them only 29 cents.'

So now, Fiat has bought Chrysler the bankrupt car company. But Cerberus held onto Chrysler Financial, and merged it with GMAC.

And the men and women whose familes have spent their lives as dealers of Chrysler products are now being told tough shit by our government and GMAC.

Somewhere, Gordon Gekko is smiling. And something really stinks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Always take the waitress' s advice

Early 1980, stopped at a casual restaurant with some business associates in Atlanta after a client meeting.

We ordered our burgers, and returned to discussing the hot topic.

The Iranian Hostage Crisis.

In February of 1979, our world wide problem with radical Islam really began.

Iran had been run by a pro-Western set of "benevolent dictators" for years. A self-appointed family whose sons became "Shah", which means king.

No dummy he, he forbade Islamic traditions in Iran. Chadors were illegal. He stopped the separation of the sexes. He replaced Islamic law with Western law.

He was Saddam Hussein in better clothes. An autocrat. But one that pushed modernization and Westernization of Iran while he stuffed his pockets with Iranian oil money which he controlled. (Not too different from the Saud family, except they have cloaked themselves in Islamic tradition and bought off the Islamic clerics with their money. In addition to having a ramp built to the King's bedroom so that he can drive his Cadillac right in and hop into bed. Oh by the way, the ramp was built by the bin Laden Construction Company. Osama bin Laden's father's company.)

So, Ayatollah Khomeini, a Shia cleric self-appointed himself as the leader of an Islamic Revolution in Iran to oust the Shah and put himself in control. He worked it for years from London and France since the Shah had exiled the Ayatollah years before. In late 1978, the Shah had lost control of the country and ran away from Iran like a sissy. With his kabillions of dollars. In February 1979, the Ayatollah became the new autocrat in Iran. Non-Western, anti-modernization, fundamentalist Islamic.

In November of 1979, Iranian students stormed the American embassy and took 66 hostages. (No wonder the State Department is having a hard time recruiting folks to work in the world's largest, newest, and stupidest embassy. The one just finished in Baghdad. How would you like to be there and watch the American military withdraw and leave you there?)

ABC News began a late night news watch in November 1979 called "The Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage". When it debuted, it had huge ratings because of the newsworthiness and interest of America. After months of not much happening, the program was changed to "Nightline" and began to discuss other news topics in addition to what was happening in Iran. It took 444 days to gain the hostages release.

So, we finish our burgers and none of us has come up with a solution to this humiliating, untenable situation in Iran.

As the waitress brought our check, my boss asked her, "What do you think about the situation in Iran?"

"Nuke the raghead motherfuckers and let 'em eat sand for a thousand years."

Always, take the waitress's advice.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My new bestseller

I am about to publish a new book. It is destined for greatness.

It is titled as follows.

Cats and Dogs. The difference between men and women.

As followers of this blog, you alone will get a peak into this masterpiece.

The first chapter bascically says it all. Although, the next 42 chapters will be worth the $29.99 you will pay Amazon for your own copy.

Chapter One

You can train a dog.

Looking forward to signing a copy for you at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. The bookstore for Southern writers.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crap on my head

Is there a target on it?

No barber has ever mentioned it.

But somehow, I attract unmentionable and uncomfortable things on my head.

I moved to Dallas, Texas in 1987 to work for an advertising agency.

My primary client was in Houston.

In my first year, I made 80 roundtrip flights on Southwest Airlines. Herb Kelleher sent me a Christmas card.

Many memorable flights, including the time we were struck by lightning and a woman I worked with saw it and grabbed my hand so hard she broke my finger.

But the topper was a night flying back to Dallas with my two best friends at the agency. Two creative guys. Full of hijinks they were.

For example, in one of their offices, they had thumbtacked a Krispy Kreme doughnut to the wall. Been there for months.

An innocent intern came in and asked what the doughnut was all about.

The Bad Brothers took one quick look at each other, and then told the intern it was top secret.

They made him promise never to tell. Which of course he did, and as far as can be determined, is still keeping his promise.

They had been assigned to develop a campaign for the International Doughnut Council.

The campaign was going to revolutionize America's thoughts about the lowly doughnut.

So the three of us are traveling back to Dallas from another interminable meeting in Houston and I am across the aisle from them.

Soon into the flight, something liquid starts dripping onto my head.

I push the flight attendant button. The lovely former Miss Armadillo comes up and explains that it is just condensation from the air conditioning.

So, for the full 50 minutes or so, whatever drips on my head.

When we land, a woman behind us opens the bin and pulls out her thawing bag of shrimp bisque.

The Bad Brothers have never forgotten. Neither have I.

A few years later, in full midlife crisis, I bought a sporty convertible.

Driving down a lovely tree lined lane one evening, I was on the phone with a woman who would become my second wife. And soon, second ex-wife. (Men, if you need help in this area, just call me at 1-800-BAD-ROAD)

As I'm feeling so good about life, and in particular ME, I feel something on top of my head.

The grackles who congregate in the thousands in the Dallas trees at certain times of the year, had taken a joint enema after a bad Mexican food outing and relieved themselves.

Directly on top of my head.

So bad, I had to hang up the phone. So bad, it took several towels and an expensive detailing to handle the mess.

Nothing like grackle poop on your six speed titanimum clad transmission lever to ruin the mojo.

I think I'll get a hat.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A memorable Father's Day

Breakfast at the cafe with my daughter and two grandsons.

Home cooked dinner tonight with all the big kids.

Eight hours of US Open on tv.

How do you top that?

Well, I had a big idea.

Take Oliver, my oldest grandson, with me to visit Pete. Three generations of family.

So out we drive to Melissa.

I get Ollie out of his car seat.

He takes one look at the statue of Pete, and his eyes open wide like he's just seen Bigfoot. He screams at a pitch and decibel into my right ear that I hope stops ringing sometime this week.

"It's just Uncle Pete, bud."

As I take a step closer to the statue, Oliver grabs chest hair, my lower lip and screams louder.

He has a hold of me like a Rhesus monkey holding on to its mama.

So being a fatherly genius, it seems only obvious to me that geting Oliver even closer to Pete would calm his fears. That's when he grabbed my sunglasses and ear lobes.

"Oh, Ollie. Just reach out and touch Uncle Pete."

That's when he went he over my shoulder, put his legs around my neck and dug his fingernails into the middle of my back.

About then, I stepped in the fire ant pile.

Trying to get a 30 pound kicking, screaming, panicked 18 month old from doing a full header while hopping on one foot because the other is being attacked by a thousand devil stingers, is when I pulled something in my back.

I hobbled to the car, strapped Oliver in his car seat, and looked back at Pete.

That's when I heard his laugh.

"Ha-ha yourself, Pete. Glad Pops could bring you some entertainment."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Real friends

When you are going thru tough times, you find out who your friends are.

Had lunch today with one dear friend and dinner with another. Men.

Yes, lots of man love today.

I am the luckiest guy on earth. I have more dear friends that have shown me love and support over the past couple of years than anyone could ask for.

I can't say it any better than what's already been said.

To my friends, my buds, my soulmates, both men and women, thank you.

A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway. -- Fr. Jerome Cummings

Remember, the greatest gift is not found in a store nor under a tree, but in the hearts of true friends. -- Cindy Lew

Who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure. -- Jewish Saying

"Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you."
-- Elbert Hubbard

"Who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure."
-- Jewish saying

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. -- Aristotle

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.-- Albert Camus

"The only way to have a friend is to be one."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.-- Abraham Lincoln

Hold a true friend with both your hands. -- Nigerian Proverb

"A faithful friend is the medicine of life."
-- Apocrypha

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.-- Anonymous

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Baby Girl

One year ago, my baby girl Sadie got married to J.R. Denson.

At our house.

By me. Yes, by me.

Sarah and J.R. asked me to perform the wedding. I found out you can become a Reverend via the internet faster than you can get a new email address.

And, it is legal. And I did it. Happily. Scared. Crying. Thrilled.

Pete was here. A seat was reserved for him.

What a celebration we had.

Happy anniversary, J.R. and Sarah.

Your family and friends salute you.

You made it thru a tough first year.

If you can make it thru what we all have been thru, especially you two, the rest is easy.

More on Operation linen


Operation linen

Patrick Sowers to me
show details 7:58 PM (17 minutes ago) Reply

We raised about $1000 in cash and about $2000 in linen.

This is what Patrick Sowers, one lone soldier in a steaming Walmart parking lot was able to raise this past weekend.

Fort Hood has 15000 soldiers coming back in the next 12 months. In order to provide linens for all, Patrick will need $50k more so that these heroes have sheets, pillows, towels, toiletries.

If you can help, please contact Patrick at Operation Once in a Lifetime.

Every cent will go to provide a welcome home to those who need it most.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Soldiering on

Patrick Sowers was a soldier. And still is a soldier.

He lost two dear friends in Iraq.

He has returned to Texas, all in one piece physically, and is able to resume a normal family life and career.

But he has never forgotten his fellow soldiers.

Patrick has started a charity called Operation Once in A Lifetime. http://operationonceinalifetime.com/

He raises funds to help soldiers in need. Help with plane tickets for a family member that needs to get to a hospital. Money to pay a soldier's family electric bill. Whatever the need is, Patrick works to fill it.

This past weekend, Patrick spent two days standing outside a Walmart in Plano, Texas in the sweltering heat. He was there to raise support for a large group of soldiers soon to return to Ft. Hood.

When soldiers come back after deployment, they are assigned a bed. No linens. No pillowcase. No towels. No toiletries.

So you've risked your life, lived in a shithole, been shot at, rocketed at, IED'd at for 12 to 15 months, and your welcome home is a skinny mattress on a metal bunk.

FRGs (Family Readiness Groups) around the globe have been working on projects like this to ease the cold harshness for the returning soldier by raising funds to buy the things that will make that bunk a little more welcoming.

Patrick parked his pickup in the Walmart parking lot, had simple flyers explaining what he was doing, and just waited for the passing customers to stop and ask.

Patrick reports that many people don't believe it. They can't imagine that this is what a returning soldier comes home to.

Patrick reports that some hear the news, and just walk away.

I went to give Patrick some moral support and to donate some funds from the Unsung Hero Fund. We talked for about 30 minutes.

An older woman walked up and asked what was going on. Patrick explained.

"That just can't be", she said. "That's appalling."

She proceeded to pull out cash and put it into Patrick's large collection jar.

"Yes ma'am", Patrick responded. "It's the truth." He pointed at me and said, "Ma'am, his son was in the Army, ask him."

"Yes, sadly it it true. But the good news is we have good folks like Patrick and you willing to do something about it."

In a moment, the woman's grown daughter walked up. The older woman explained the situation, and the daughter expressed her disbelief. Then she dug for cash and stuffed more in the jar.

"Thank you", said Patrick. And the women walked to their car.

"Patrick, you are a hero", I said. "Let me know what you need. Thanks for standing out here for your fellow men and women. Love you, brother."

And I began to head for my car.

The daughter saw me and stopped me.

"What branch is your son in?"


"Did he get sent to Iraq?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Is he still there?"

"No, ma'am. He was killed in Iraq in November 2007."

She broke into tears. She leaned into her car and told her mom.

"Oh, that's just the saddest thing I've ever heard. I am so sorry. Sir, can I give you a hug. I really need to give you a hug."

"No, ma'am that's not necessary, but I appreciate your support."

"No, you don't understand. My son just joined the Air Force. I have been fooling myself that he can't get hurt. I've never met anyone that has lost a son in the military."

We hugged, and we sobbed for a while.

"Ma'am, chances are on your side that he will be alright. No one can promise, but the odds are on his side. Stay strong, you all will be fine."

"Thank you", she said. And she got in her car.

As I made my way to my car, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I prayed and hoped that he will be ok. I hoped I hadn't lied. I hoped I hadn't offered false hope.

For him, his Mom and his Grandmother, I hope he's ok.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The C Word

No country was ever significant without it.

No religion was ever significant without it.

No army was ever significant without it.

No company was ever significant without it.

No marriage was ever significant without it.


Commitment means to death. To the objective. To the greater good.

When people don't know what the concept means, they walk away at the first sign of trouble. They should be shot as traitors.

Commitment is what made America.

Commitment is what made the Ford Motor Company.

Commitment is what made Apple, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Google, the NFL.

People committed to an idea and each other that come what may, the greater good is more important than individual wants.

I fear that our society is failing because we have lost this.

Think what would have happened in the Great Depression, World War I and World War II if not for Commitment.

America would not be here. Our parents and grandparents would have thrown up their hands because, "It's just too hard."

Then where would we be?

We owe it to them and to generations to come to reinstate the idea of Commitment.

More powerful than a contract.

More powerful than Washington, D.C.

More lasting than a generation.

It is what makes families great.

It is what makes communities great.

It is what makes real friends great.

It is what separates the transient from those bonded by commitment.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Godspeed Specialist Silva and Patriot Guard Riders

This e-mail is being sent by national at the request of State leadership.

Do NOT reply to this e-mail.

Watch the mission thread below or use contacts listed in body of email with questions or comments.



Two part mission:

First part - Tuesday June 16th -
The Patriot Guard has been asked to provide a Fallen Hero escort and flag lines for Spec Eduardo Silva. The soldier died while serving at Bagram Airport, Afghanistan. The soldier will be arriving at the Salinas Municipal Airport on June 16th at 11:30 AM (1130 ).

We will stage at two locations - the first (for those coming down from the Bay area) will be at the Starbucks at the Plant Mall at Curtner and Monterey Rd in San Jose at 9:00 AM (0900 ) .


We will KSU at 9:15 AM (0915) and proceed to the second staging point (for those not coming from the San Jose area), Salinas Gas, 201 Monterey Street, Salinas, Ca.


We will KSU to the Salinas Municipal Airport, 30 Mortensen Ave, Salinas, CA at 10:30 AM (1030) and establish a Flag Line.


After the Fallen Hero is transferred to his ground transportation, we will provide a motorcycle escort to the Whitehurst Muller Funeral Home, 41 E Alisal, Salinas.


RC - Don Newton

Second Part - Thursday June 18 -

Again, 2 staging area's.

In San Jose, we will stage at Starbuck's, The Plant, at Curtner and Monterey Rds, at 6:45 AM (0645) and KSU at 7:00 AM (0700).


We will stage at the Holy Trinity Church, 803 Elm Ave, Greenfield, Ca at 9:00 AM (0900) on Thursday June 18. We will establish the Flag Line at 9:15 AM (0915). Church service will commence at 10:00 AM (1000) and last approx 1 hour. After the church service we will reestablish our flag line to transfer the soldier to his final transportation and then provide the motorcycle escort to his final resting place at the King City District Cemetery, 1010 Broadway Street, King City, Ca.


RC -

Family, Supporters, and Riders:
To be notified of any last minute changes (ie arrival times/delays), and to post any messages to the individual and their family, please go to the thread/link below and in the upper left hand corner check the box that says "Email me when someone replies to this thread". And if there are any last minute changes we will post them to this page and you will get an


PLEASE CHECK the Veteran and Family Support Events Calendar at: http://www.my.calendars.net/cencapgrevents

Doug Lyvere
SgtMaj, Marine ret
Assistant State Captain, PGR

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An incomplete reunion

My high school had a reunion this weekend. Think it would have been 37 years for me.

I wasn't able to make it.

Neither were a number of other high school buds. Especially Lowry.

Steve Lowry was one of a pack of very close friends. Baxter, Bennett, Fisher, Buchanan, Morgan, Boykin, Cook.

We were in the same classes. Played basketball together 52 weeks a year. Grew up together. Learned to drive in the same drivers ed class. Chased the same girls. Rolled each others houses every weekend. Got turned down by the same girls. So, we rolled their houses. A brotherhood.

Lowry was the smartest of the bunch. His mom was the algebra teacher, so it really wasn't fair. But he was smart at everything, including math.

He wasn't street smart like some of us. He was open and honest. In other words, he was gullible.

One of our favorite things to do was to get him going on a story. "Did you hear about the kid born without any eyelids?"

"No", Lowry would answer with a keen expression of interest.

"Yeah, they did miracle surgery. The plastic surgeon took his foreskin and fashioned eyelids for him."

"That's amazing."

"Yeah, they say the kid will be fine. Just a little cockeyed."


"NAH, Lowry". That was the refrain that became famous when anyone didn't get something on the uptake immediately. "Nah, Lowry" became part of our lexicon.

After high school, we all went to different colleges. Stayed in touch as best we could, but in the early 70's, that meant a dial up telephone. And long distance.

Steve was taking classes and working at a grocery store where he had worked for years.

One night, he got off work, went to play some hoops, went by his girlfriend's house to kiss her goodnight, and went home to his little garage apartment.

The next morning he didn't show up at work. His boss got concerned because Lowry was Mr. Dependable.

He was found in bed, half dressed. Dead at 21.

The autopsy never proved anything conclusive. No foul play. No drugs. No alcohol. No clear answer as to why Steve died.

The best theory ever offered was perhaps he had sprained an ankle playing basketball the night before and a clot had gotten loose.

We will never know.

I think about Steve all the time. He was such a solid, good friend. Somebody you could count on. Somebody that was there to do whatever needed doing.

Then, gone.

I think all of us that were close with him have been in somewhat of a state of shock since. How can Lowry be just gone? Of all people, Steve?

"Nah, Lowry, didn't get to the reunion. But it's been good to be with you this weekend. Love you man."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Missing the point

Was at dinner the other night with Hardtail.

Sitting next to us was a table of men also enjoying the wonderful flavors of Dunston's Steak House.

Heard one gentleman tell a story to the table that saddened me.

"I have been thinking about joining the prison ministry at church. I think that would be interesting. But then it occurred to me that one day these folks get out of jail. So I won't be joining the prison ministry."

Oh, sir, how you've missed the point. Paul went to prison and saved his fellow inmates and the guard. The purpose of the prison ministry is not to provide an interesting activity for you. The purpose of the prison ministry is to change people's lives so that they come to know the Lord. So that when they get out, you will not have to fear them.

Oh, sir, if you call yourself a Christian, take heed of this story about Alexander the Great.

Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military generals who ever lived, conquered almost the entire known world with his vast army. One night during a campaign, he couldn't sleep and left his tent to walk around the campgrounds.

As he was walking he came across a soldier asleep on guard duty - a serious offense. The penalty for falling asleep on guard duty was, in some cases, instant death; the commanding officer sometimes poured kerosene on the sleeping soldier and lit it.

The soldier began to wake up as Alexander the Great approached him. Recognizing who was standing in front of him, the young man feared for his life. "Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?" Alexander the Great asked the soldier.

"Yes, sir," the soldier responded in a quivering voice.

"Soldier, what's your name?" demanded Alexander the Great.

"Alexander, sir."

Alexander the Great repeated the question: "What is your name?"

"My name is Alexander, sir," the soldier repeated.

A third time and more loudly Alexander the Great asked, "What is your name?"

A third time the soldier meekly said, "My name is Alexander, sir."

Alexander the Great then looked the young soldier straight in the eye.

"Soldier," he said with intensity, "either change your name or change your conduct."

Friday, June 12, 2009

How terrorists were dealt with by FDR

Excerpts from Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage, Joseph E. Persico, 2001.

On June 19 [1942] the President received an excited call from Francis Biddle, his attorney general. Six days before, Biddle told the President, "at 1:30 A.M. an unarmed Coast Guard patrolman near Amagansett, Montauk Point, Long Island, discovered two men placing material in a hole they had dug; one of them covered the patrolman with a gun, gave him $260 and told him to keep his mouth shut. I shall, of course, keep you informed." As J. Edgar Hoover's nominal boss, Biddle later recalled the FBI chief's demeanor while describing the plan to track down the rest of the saboteurs: "His eyes were bright, his jaw set, excitement flickering around the edge of his nostrils," Biddle remembered. The question now was how much to tell the public. Hoover wanted no announcement that might alert the men still at large. The President agreed, and the press was, for the moment, frozen out of the story.

FDR's longstanding preoccupation with sabotage now seemed validated. Biddle admitted, "1 had a bad week trying to sleep as I thought of the possibilities. The saboteurs might have other caches hidden, and at any moment an explosion was possible." [Saboteur] Dasch had, in fact, revealed that, along with their transportation and industrial targets, the Pastorius mission was supposed to spread terror by placing firebombs in department stores and delayed-action explosives in hotels and in crowded railroad stations.

On June 27, ten days after the Kerling team landed in Florida, the President, then at Hyde Park, took another call from Biddie. Hoover's G-men had seven of the saboteurs in custody and were about to arrest the last one. Nearly $174,000 of their Abwehr stake had been seized. FDR responded with the habitual geniality that Biddle, a stiff Philadelphia Main Liner, envied. "Not enough, Francis," Roosevelt said. "Let's make real money out of them. Sell the rights to Barnum and Bailey for a million and a half --- the rights to take them around the country in lion cages at so much a head." Now the tale could be told, and in the ensuing publicity, Coast Guardsman Cullen became a national hero. Hoover played the capture of the ring as a case solved by the FBI, making no public mention of the fact that Dasch had turned himself in and squealed on his comrades.

Three days after all eight saboteurs were in custody, FDR sent Biddle a memo making clear his expectations. "The two Americans are guilty of treason," he told the attorney general. "I do not see how they can offer any adequate defense. . . it seems to me that the death penalty is almost obligatory." As for the six German citizens, "They were apprehended in civilian clothes. This is an absolute parallel of the Case of Major [John] Andre in the Revolution and of Nathan Hale. Both of these men were hanged." The President hammered home his point once more: "The death penalty is called for by usage and by the extreme gravity of the war aim and the very existence of our American govemment." Biddle had never quite overcome his awe in dealing with FDR. Still, the nation's chief law enforcement official was troubled, finding himself trapped between the President's questionable pressure and his own reverence for the law. The Germans had been apprehended so quickly, Biddle recognized, that "they had not committed any act of sabotage. Probably an indictment for attempted sabotage would not have been sustained in a civil court on the grounds that the preparations and landings were not close enough to the planned acts of sabotage to constitute attempt. If a man buys a pistol, intending murder, that is not an attempt at murder." In a civilian court the Germans might at best be convicted of conspiracy, which Biddle estimated would carry a maximum sentence of three years. This outcome, he knew, would never satisfy Roosevelt.

FDR essentially took charge of the case. He told Biddle that he wanted the eight agents tried, not in a civilian court, but by a military tribunal, which he himself would appoint. They had forfeited any right to a civilian trial, as Roosevelt put it, because "[t]hese men had penetrated battlelines strung on land along our two coasts and guarded on the sea by our destroyers, and were waging battle within our country." They fell under the Law of War. A military tribunal would be quick, not subject to the protracted appeals procedures of civilian courts. It would not be hog-tied by the criminal courts' exacting rules of evidence. It could impose the death sentence, not as the civil courts required, by a unanimous verdict, but by a two-thirds vote. A military tribunal offered the advantages and the assured outcome that the President wanted. A civilian court was out of the question. FDR told Biddle, "I want one thing clearly understood, Francis: I won't give them up . . . I won't hand them over to any United States Marshall armed with a writ of habeas corpus. Understand!" Averell Harriman, FDR's special envoy to Moscow, had once described Roosevelt's "Dutch jaw -- and when that Dutch jaw was set you couldn't move him." Biddle practically felt the jaw's thrust, and dutifully followed the President's instructions. Conviction should be simple, Biddle promised FDR, since "[t]he major violation of the Law of War is crossing behind the lines of a belligerent to commit hostile acts without being in uniform."

The British, early in the war, had imposed the traditional penalty on captured spies and saboteurs, execution. Seven arrested German agents were hanged with numerous others awaiting the gallows within months of the war's outbreak. Then, in 1940, a thirty-year-old Scottish major, energetic, articulate, imaginative Thomas A. "Tar" Robertson, assigned to MIS, proposed a new approach. What use to Britain were German spies moldering in anonymous graves? he asked his superiors. Instead, make an offer to them, turn or die. Thus was born the Double Cross, or XX, operation whereby most captured spies chose turning to dying. Some became double agents and sent false information back to Germany under British control. In other cases, British radiomen mastered "the fist," the distinctive sending style of these agents, and convincingly transmitted Double Cross fabrications to Germany. Double Cross was a rousing success. Only one German spy is believed to have reached Britain during the war without being caught. The alternative of turning the eight captured Germans never entered FDR's head. Their deaths were to serve notice to the Nazis of the certain fate of any other spies and saboteurs sent to America.

On July 2 the President announced that the eight accused would stand trial before a military commission composed of seven generals, and they would be charged with violating the eighty-first and eighty-second Articles of War dealing with espionage, sabotage, and conspiracy. Court-appointed lawyers for the defendants made a game effort to move the trial to a civilian court, taking the constitutional issue all the way to the Supreme Court, but the justices backed the legality of a military tribunal. Biddle himself was to prosecute, an unusual move, having a civilian serve as prosecutor in a military proceeding. But FDR was taking no chances. The Army's Judge Advocate General was rusty and had not tried a case for over twenty years. FDR wanted his own man before the bar.

On June 8 the prisoners, held in the District of Columbia jail, were shaved by prison barbers, lest they put the razor to their own wrists or throats, and hustled into two armored vans guarded by gun-toting military police. Nine Washington motorcycle patrolmen roared alongside, escorting the vans to the Department of Justice. Enterprising vendors soon were doing a thriving business selling ice cream and hot dogs to the crowds that gathered outside the department's iron gate every day to gawk at the enemy. The trial was held in Assembly Hall # 1 on the fifth floor of the Justice Department, the windows shrouded by black curtains. As the trial opened, Hoover, sitting next to Biddle, fed pages of evidence to the attorney general. During a recess, one of the defendants asked the presiding general for a cigarette. The general responded stuffily that Army regulations made no provision for such a request. A disgusted Hoover took out a pack of cigarettes and handed it to the German.

In twenty-six days it was over. All eight were sentenced to death. The generals sent their verdict to the President. Roosevelt, acting, in effect, as the court of last resort, confirmed six of the death sentences, but commuted Burger's sentence to life and Dasch's to thirty years for their willingness to betray their comrades. August 8 was set for the executions, which would take place in the electric chair on the third floor of the District of Columbia jail. Eight weeks had elapsed from the night the first saboteurs had landed on Long Island.

On execution day, FDR was at Shangri-la [now Camp David] , the presidential hideaway in western Maryland's Catoctin Mountains. The President liked to sit in the small screened porch playing solitaire or gazing by the hour out at the Catoctin Valley, lost in his private thoughts. This evening, he gathered his guests around him in the living room -- Sam Rosenman and his wife, Dorothy, Daisy Suckley, Grace Tully, poet Archibald MacLeish and his wife, Ada. The First Lady was tied up in New York. The President settled into an easy chair and seemed in unusually fine fettle. He commenced his ceremonial role, mixing the cocktails. He was conceded to make a fine martini and an old-fashioned, though lately he had become enamored of a drink made of gin and grapefruit juice, which most guests found vile. As he mixed, he swapped jests with Rosenman and MacLeish while Daisy snapped photos.

Once more Rosenman was impressed by FDR's gift for shedding the cares of office after hours, as if flipping a switch somewhere inside himself The President began reminiscing about his days in the governor's office in Albany where Rosenman had served as his legal counsel, recalling stories of appeals for clemency on the eve of executions. Sam marveled at FDR's memory, down to dates, places, offenses, and names of the condemned in a dozen New York capital cases. The President then segued into an Alexandre Dumas story about a barber who, during the 1870 siege of Paris, supplied delicious beef while thousands were starving. Gleefully, FDR related how a number of the barber's clients had turned up missing, and the "veal" was suspected of originating in the barber's chair.

What prompted FDR's black humor this evening went unspoken until Dorothy Rosenman raised the subject. The six condemned Nazi saboteurs had been electrocuted beginning at one minute past noon. By 1:04 P.M., the work was completed, an average of ten and a half minutes per man. One witness reported that they had gone to their deaths stunned, as if in a trance. Where, Mrs. Rosenman asked the President, would the bodies be buried? He had not yet decided, FDR answered. His only regret was that they had not been hanged. He then launched into a story about an elderly American woman who died while visiting Moscow and had accidentally been switched in a casket meant for a deceased Russian general who was shipped back to the States. When her family complained, the Russian government cabled back, "Suggest you close the casket and proceed with the funeral. Your grandmother was buried in the Kremlin with full military honors." The saboteurs were subsequently buried in a potter's field near Washington.

Was the evening of gallows humor Roosevelt's true mood or intended to mask the hard decisions he had had to make about six human lives? Mrs. Rosenman's firsthand account describes nothing but Roosevelt's humor and relaxed manner, but then, he was a consummate actor. In any case, the country was with him. Telegrams poured into the White House mail room. One read, "It's high time that we wake up here in this country and show the world we are not a bunch of mush hounds." It was signed, "Mother who has three loyal sons in the Army." The Victory Committee of German American Trade Unionists telegraphed the President, "We endorse the imposition of the death penalty on any saboteur or traitor. We know that no loyal German American need have the slightest fear providing he obeys the laws of the country." On Ellis Island, the execution of the six Germans was observed differently. Adolph G. Schickert and Erich Fittkau, Germans interned there, held a meeting of other internees. They announced the death of their countrymen, called for two minutes of silence, and then led the singing of the rousing Nazi anthem, the "Horst Wessel Lied."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Update on Brendan

Good evening Ms. Russell,

I've been meaning to send out an update on Brendan, but just haven't done a very good job of that lately, thank you for the nudge.

Brendan is doing very well, this past Friday night we were able to get out of the hospital for the first time. We were able to attend a local baseball game here in Washington. He was reluctant to go at first, but after being urged to go, he seemed to enjoy it. Tonight he has gone out to dinner at a local restaurant with a group of other wounded warriors (amputees), hopefully it will go well and he will not be afraid of getting out in the future.

He is working very hard every day at physical therapy. He is stretching and exercising in order to build up as much muscle as he can in his thighs, mid-section and upper body. During PT he is also learning to walk again on "shorties". Those are short legs without a knee just to get him used to his body weight in the sockets and regain his balance while standing. At occupational therapy he is learning to care for himself and learning to use the "starter" arms.

The left eye has shown some improvement and our hope is that it will continue to improve in the coming year.

We are hoping that he is discharged from the hospital this week, medically there is no reason for him to be hospitalized, we are simply waiting for housing here on post. We were told that it will be available this week. Once he is discharged his brother Michael will live with him and be his non-medical attendant and Michelle and I will return home. We will then alternate weekends to give Michael a break and speak to the therapists and doctors weekly.

Please feel free to share this email with Jim and Ed and once again, thank you very much for your prayers and support.


Alex (Brendan’s father)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The itch we can't scratch

All humans have a want, a need for one thing. And that one thing is something that humans are incapable of providing.

Unconditional love.

All of us just want one sweet taste of someone loving us unconditionally.

But the human condition is that we aren't capable. There are lots of examples that come close. But humans are imperfect.

To know God is to know love. Unconditional love. He is the only source. He shows us what it feels like. He is the role model.

If you don't know God, you haven't a clue. You have never experienced it. You can't imagine it.

For those of us who know God, I think we have missed this point in fulfilling the Great Commission. Rather than focus on the penalty of sin, we should focus on the opportunity to experience unconditional love.

We are all obsessed with finding it. We look for it in so many wrong places.

As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, "A person with an obsession has no sales resistance."

Let God fill that unmet need. He can. He will. And He is the only One who can.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The idea protector

"Big ideas are so hard to recognise, so fragile, so easy to kill. Don't forget that, all of you, who don't have them."

These are the words of Jock Elliott. Jock was David Ogilvy's right hand man, his account guy, the administrator, the Marine, the protector of ideas. Together, they built Ogilvy into one of the world's best and biggest advertising agencies.

Our world's progress has been and will be dependant on big, challenging, different ideas.

Unfortunately, in our corporate worlds and political worlds, we are risk averse. We are more moved by inertia than the desire for positive change. Too often, we have to be dragged into new ways of thinking by rebels who just won't take no for an answer.

Here are some classic examples of short-sightedness:

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
- Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

"The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty-a fad."
- President of the Michigan Savings Bank, advising Henry Ford's lawyer not
to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
- Western Union Internal Memo, 1876

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
- Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil, 1859

If you are a creator of big ideas, find yourself a Jock to protect you and your thoughts.

If you are in an organization with the opportunity to say yes (anyone can say no), remember the words of Jock. Without his protection, David Ogilvy would never have created one of the world's great companies.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The safe place

I'm 54 years old, and yet, my favorite place in the world is my parents' house. It is safe. Full of love. Memories. Unconditional love.

My Pops is 82. When I can get to Atlanta, I sleep in an old bed in the basement that has the quilts on it that I slept under when I was a kid. He gets excited when I go there. He gets to put clean sheets and towels out. And we get to go eat barbecue together and talk about old times.

Pictures of my grandparents adorn the walls. Pictures of my parents in their younger years are all over. Mom has been gone for 6 years, and nothing has changed. It is still my home. Pops has preserved it.

I realize now that a big part of my job as father and head of the household is to provide that safe place for my kids and grandkids.

An anchor. Where holidays are celebrated. Where engagement parties are held. Where weddings are held. Where you can come after your worst day and feel good, warm and cuddled.

I am blessed to have a safe place in Atlanta. I am saddened to think that one day it won't be there anymore.

But, I am blessed with the opportunity to provide that for my family in Texas.

I wish everyone had such a place.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What daddy looks like

Mr. President

President Obama, you are to be lauded for changing the course of history.

Your visit to the Middle East and your speech will force the world to think. And hopefully, to act.

You addressed all the elephants in the room that nobody else wants to talk about.

You said the war on the West declared by Islamic extremists is a religious war.

You squarely told the Muslim world that radical Islam is as much or more their issue to solve than ours.

You told the truth about the controversy of the Iraq war.

You talked about the reality of Afghanistan and the Pakistan related issues in dealing with radical Islam.

You are Presidential.

Thank you.

Let's hope your words can now turn into real action and we can all find some peace in this world.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What love looks like

Missy, who was Pete's fiancee, just completed this tribute.

In her words, "I can't paint, but I decided to make a new tribute to Pete...each line has something special on it, including all of his bars :) It might look like a fourth grader did it, but I love it, and I love you all!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mipple buster and range honey

The best thing about living in the country is you live in the country.

It has its own culture, language and common understanding amongst the locals.

Even its own media.

In the country, you may be lucky enough not to have to use one of the big power companies for electricity. You may get your power from the local electric co-op. Which we do.

The co-op is a club. All the users are members. It is non-profit.

And like most good clubs, it has a monthly magazine.

This is what makes the first of the month one of my happier days. That's when the Grayson-Collin Electric Cooperative Texas Co-Op Power arrives.

Great stories about rural life. Recipes. Funny photos.

And best of all, the want ads.

Having spent a considerable amount of my life making advertising, I am especially appreciative of the creativity and unique marketing angles used by my fellow co-op members.

Madison Avenue has a few things to learn.

Here are some examples from the just arrived June issue.

LOOKING FOR VANITY with mirror and bench
for granddaughter. Call 903-651-9669.

Used 12.4-28 4-ply tractor tire. Call (903)814-0207.

92 DODGE. 3/4 TON. Cold A/C and heat, $800.
Acct. under Larry Hutching's (brother),
Whitesboro. Call (903) 267-0469.

leads. Forney model 225 (electric 220) $135.
If no answer, please call back later. Call (972)
832-9300 or (972) 752-5675.

$100. Old six plow, Tumble Bug earth mover
and planters for old model Farmall, $75 each.
Call (903) 870-4717.

Texas Range Honey You Can Get." Call
(972) 567-2542.

If you want the 92 Dodge, better hurry. Word has it Larry Hutchings wants the thing out from under him.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Plumbing the depths of the soul

Walking my daughter to school is one of the day's highlights.

This morning I put on the official walk-your-kid-to-school uniform of a sweatshirt and a baseball cap. (Unlike 98% of the other parents on this trek, I don't have a blonde ponytail hanging out of the back of my cap and I don't wear Pearl Izumi Spandex pants.)

We got her bike out of the garage and hadn't gone 10 feet when I see a stranger crossing the street grinning at me with his hand out like he wants to shake hands. He is Hispanic and is wearing a dark work uniform.

Having been accosted in this exact spot by some non-friendly's a few months back, I recoiled a bit and got in front of my peanut.

"First?", he asked.

"Excuse me?"

"Your hat. 1st Cav?"

I had no idea which of several hats I had slapped on my head. I had on a hat I bought in Iraq with the crossed sabers of the Cavalry.

"Was that you, sir?", he asked.

"No, it was my son."

"Oh, which unit?"

"Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment."

"Fort Campbell?"

"No, he was in Vilseck, Germany."

"Oh, no way. I opened the new Rose Barracks in 1988. I was there with 1st Armored Division. That gives me chills." I could see the memories rolling over him.

"Is your son still there?"

"No, sir. Unfortunately, he was killed in Iraq 18 months ago."

His head dropped. He looked back up and looked me straight in the eyes. "I am so sorry, sir. Thank you for your son's service."

Then we shook hands.

"And thank you for yours, sir."

He turned and crossed the street with his head lowered. He had seen a ghost. He had crossed paths with another brother-in-arms. They had slept in the same barracks. Eaten at the same mess hall. Trained at Grafenwoehr.

I don't know if I will ever see him again. I hope so.

But I do know who I will call if I have need for a plumber. Peanut and I saw his truck as we made our way to school.