Thursday, November 27, 2014


In August, I wrote about Ferguson. Since then, there's an indictment and predictably, things are worst, riots: talk to a white person, they see it one way. An African American, another way. Can anything be done? No, not really. We, at least, ought to do a few cosmetic things. More training for police would be a start. And, let's stop looking like an assault team. How about this? When a gun has to be used, why can't the cops shoot a person in the hand or arm or shoulder. Hopalong Cassidy could shoot the gun out of a bad guy's hand. And, shooting kids! Why is firing the weapon the first thing done? In a recent shooting, the police killed a 12 year old after 3 seconds of arriving This is training. It is time to get on top of it. And, more diversity. Watching TV and seeing all those police white faces gives cause for pause. 

The idea of talking and resolving seems as foreign as "flying to the moon", which we've done but sitting down with the races proves more difficult. However, this thought hit me. The military. What an example. The military has pretty much solved the racial issue. Eliminated race? Mostly. There may be a few pockets of institutional racism but it is vastly better than the civilian community. 
And plain and simple, a racist won't make it in the military very lomg. 

Solving the race question is mountains better in the military. And why? Simply, soldiers have a shared experience. Undeniable. They have been through the same training and get the picture. Promotions. hassles, all look alike. There are issues with the military: too small, women finding their place, other things; but race is not one of 'em. The military is as color blind as you are apt to find anywhere. And for enlisted soldiers (navy/army/marines), there's a little of us (all races) against the "man," Officers. (white, black, whatever).

How to translate this to the civilian world? Don't know how to do it. If we had some sort of mandatory community service. (Draft) for all youngsters, it would help but that is not going to happen. It wouldn't have to be the military but it could be. The military has always been a gateway for upward mobility. Minorities have done well in the military because of the color blindness. 

 Ferguson as representative of where we are in the race question, here is a chance to be creative. Will we do it. I'm not hopeful. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


Maureen Dowd had a great piece, "A Cup of GI Joe," in last Sunday's NY Times. She profiled Walter Schultz of "Starbucks" fame. I am a big SB's fan. But, let me tell you: it is one thing to support the troops, another one to be willing to serve. And, I am not sure, we can base a view of the military on Schultz's enthrallment with West Point. It sounds like they "snowed" him. 

While I applaud his enthusiasm, is he aware that each Cadet's education cost the taxpayer a million bucks.  I'm not sure we get our return back. Going to West Point may be a sacrifice but not much. The vast majority of Americans who care and not all do, need to
know that we have created an aristocratic officer corps and a common man enlisted soldier. In the draft army, we had a good cross section of officers, OCS, ROTC, and the Point. Not so much now. 

And, thanks to Ms Dowd that she singled us Nam vets out. The country messed over us and many have not forgotten it. 

And while my talks with West Point graduates, are limited, the Academy grads, great education and see you later. I have long thought the three academies could easily be combined. 

All of us vets applaud the "support the vets" however, should be much broader-doesn't address what we are seeing in the country. Ms Dowd has the right statistic; less than 1% serve or even know anybody who serves. 

What nobody seems to see is the "youth" crisis in the country. Kids need to have some idea of what it means to be an American. How about a "tour in the Marines" is a euphemism that I often use. For me, it means kids need a purpose, somewhat outside themselves. The best one to me for kids is some sort of manditory Community Service, something akin to the draft. Doesn't have to be the military but could be lots of choices. 

Do I think there is any possibility. NO. We don't have the political will. Milt Friedman and the then SecDef, Melvin Laird, sold the country a bill of goods on the draft. Although I have read lots about it, not sure what his motives were, unselfish I am sure; but, the unintended consequences is what we have now with the military and our wars. 

The lack of political will is baffling. Kids don't vote anyway and so there's not like some galvanizing wedge issue. F..king weird. What the hay! 

We have a small military, coming from an even smaller portion of our culture. Americans by in large are uninvolved, loving to say they support the troops as long as they don't have to serve themselves. At sports events, soldiers (meaning all services) are outwardly revered. Everybody loves the soldier. 

My comments are very subjective. I think the AVF (All volunteer Force) is successful in terms of numbers but based on repetitive tours, we are going to be dealing with health issues with vets (of the AVF) for years. Plain and simple. We can argue the bullshit till we are blue in the face but with social media, these soldiers of the AVF are filing claims even before they leave the battlefield and rightly so. 

So, here's the grand finality for now as my old military buddy would say, "When you are up to your arsh in alligators, it is hard to remember that your initial mission was to drain the swamp." One "alligator" among many, is the All Volunteer Force with all it takes to support them. 

Prognosticators can haul out all the statistics they want but in the final analysis, the fall out from our ill defined wars, repetitive tours and health issues of vets will be with us for the foreseeable future and there's no disputing that.