My son sent the following to me in an email to post today. I've been kind of busy battling computers (I'm winning, but just barely) so haven't really been posting at the usual insane pace. I'll let my son take over for a bit so you have something to read.
A few blurbs this week, just little things that have caught my attention:
First, thank you all so much for your words of support after my last post about the hatemongers on myspace.com. The petition that I mentioned had been going around apparently drew some attention: the group has been removed from the site. Nobody pointed it out, but it's been on my mind nonetheless that this could appear as censorship. I have very strong opinions about editing people's opinions, and though myspace is a public site that is open to everyone, my point was that it is also a place that caters to a lot of soldiers who are currently serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a group like that does not make those soldiers or their families feel welcome on the site. Again, thank you for your support and your kind words.
Second, one of my soldiers sent an essay to me in an email that I thought was very poignant. The statistics are a bit dated (it has the deaths in Iraq at about 2200, so I figure it was written early last year), but it's a very intelligently written paper about the cost of the war in Iraq and how it compares to the cost, both monetarily and in terms of casualties, to World War II. Rather than post the text, I've found a link to the site. I urge you to read it and remember what losing that war would have cost the world.
Third, upon coming back "inside the wire" (the term we use when we return to base after a mission) I was flipping through the channels on AFN and found coverage of the tornado aftermath in central Florida. AFN, the American Forces Network, borrows its programming from dozens of American channels, getting feeds from CNN, FNC, MSNBC, occasionally C-Span. This particular day the feed was from CNN's Headline News, and I cannot even describe how disgusted I was. Every fifteen minutes they were playing the 911 calls of the victims. These were screams from frightened people who probably thought they had only seconds to live, pleas to send help, laments for missing family members. To the sensationalist, opportunistic meatheads in charge at CNN, these people are VICTIMS! Their desperation is not entertainment, and a simple look at the helicopter views tells all just how serious the situation is and was. Don Henley wrote the song "Dirty Laundry" in 1982; I'd be curious to see how much more caustic that song would be now, because in the intervening twenty-five years, the media has become infinitely more shameless and less respectful of their subject matter.
Next, the Superbowl! Longtime readers will know that I am a huge football fan, and though I root for one of the lowliest underdogs in the sport (the Buffalo Bills), I'll watch almost any game that's on. This was not a banner season for the Bills, but it was an improvement and things look like they're starting to click. However, another team I've had my eye on for a few years did make it to the big dance this year, the Indianapolis Colts. I sympathized with their plight of consecutive playoff berths without championships, and I think Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to play the game. Around him is a strong supporting cast of fantastic professional players, and despite a few early missteps, the Colts soundly thumped the Chicago Bears to be crowned World Champions. Though the game slowed down dramatically in the second half as both teams dealt with the monsoon conditions in Miami, it was still the most exciting Superbowl I've seen since Superbowl XXXIV. Lots of big plays and a strong team who'd been oh so close to the big game for eight consecutive seasons coming out on top makes for great entertainment. As an added bonus, the halftime show was conservative in comparison to recent halftime shows, where it seems a constant attempt to fill up the stage with as many marginally talented artists as possible. Lewis Black has done some extremely funny comedy bits regarding this practice. Prince may not be the first musical guest you'd expect at a halftime show, but he performed an excellent medley of his own hits as well as a few other artists'.
Finally, I wanted to comment a bit on the political climate, something I've been pretty tight-lipped about. My father has politically "outed" me recently, sharing some of my likes and dislikes about some of the candidates out there. In the 2000 race, I watched my favored candidate, John McCain, beaten out by presidential royalty, and I looked at George W. Bush unkindly in his first year in office. That said, I think he did a fine job in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. In the years since, my opinion of both those men has risen and fallen like the tides. I won't get into my current opinion of the President because I think it would be in poor taste considering my situation. Soldiers are not, in most cases, politicians, and we are happy to share our views with friends and family, but a soldier's duty is not to question his president; it's to follow his orders. Regarding Senator McCain, I think of him these days as a Republican John Kerry, a man who is like a boat that sails wherever the political winds carry him. Though I applaud the fact that despite popular sentiment he continues to support the war (see Chuck Hagel), his plan for troop increases is unrealistic at best. It would be worse than the current situation in that it would virtually guarantee longer tours and would stretch the military probably beyond the breaking point. Switching gears, I like Rudy Giuliani as a candidate for president. He's a man with strong convictions and courage (anyone who goes head to head with the mafia could be said to have "brass ones") who did a lot of good for a very troubled city. Of all the candidates running from both parties, he's the one I respect most by a very big margin.
Well, that's all I've got for this edition of Foreign Correspondence. As always, feedback is welcome in the comments section.