Merry Xmas!

December 26, 2009

I’ve been a bit incommunicado (again), celebrating with the fam and beautiful weather though I did get to spend a few days with Franziska as she was on her way back from Hawaii back to Germany.  I had a great Xmas, got a new Sony laptop, some underwear, some Old Navy gift certificates and some knickknacks.

It’s been great hanging with family, eating some good food, I’ve probably already gained the weight I’d lost but I’ll just be starting again when I get back next week.  I fly on Tuesday back to Germany, I’m looking forward to being back but not the long flight, especially after the attempted terrorist attack on a Northwest flight to Detroit today.  In a way it’s “good” that  this happened on a quiet news time so that the DHS and other agencies can do the appropriate detective work before the media jumps all over this story without knowing the fact, like jackass extraordinaire Pete Hoekstra did.  I’m curious now what extra precautions there will be at the airport on Tuesday but as long as I get there safely, I don’t mind a little anal probing…no wait, I do but…

Merry Xmas!


Holland #9

December 7, 2009

I was just in Holland for the 9th time last weekend.  The flight from Basel to Amsterdam was delayed 4.5 hours and I ended up making it to Leiden at 10.30pm instead of 6pm! haha, oh well.    Met Janet and Maya at the at the station, and we soon found ourselves with some small beers in front of us.  Also, an Egyptian guy cheated us at dinner by charging airport prices for our small water bottles and then giving us the wrong amount of change.  Didn’t matter and we made it back to our nice Holiday Inn in the Business district around 2.30am and drank some more wine and laughed at bad TV until around 5am or so.

As you can imagine, we were a bit tired the next morning and made it out into the city around 11.30-12 and it was a great day to be in Holland because lots of little kids were dressed with cute little costumes and black-painted faces for Niklaas, a day more important than Xmas for them but with the same sort of feeling.  There was a great market and after a fantastic tomato soup, we walked around for hours, sometimes in rain, sometimes clouds and we did some xmas shopping, had a waffle and walked around more and more and once it was dark we started drinking those little Dutch beers again, got to hear some local people singing Xmas songs which was really cute and then met a weirdo named Ben who took us to a different bar than the one we were looking for but we some interesting people there.  Then we got some lasagna somewhere else and one of us — no name will be given — wasn’t handling her alcohol very well and we ended up getting a taxi around 11pm and going back to the room.  The other two of us had another beer in the bar, a snack and then we called it a night.

Sunday, we had time to walk in the rain, looking for a place to eat, found a small cafe and we all had pretty good food but it all looked weird! A train to the airport, waiting awhile and then flew home.

I’m super tired today, thank god I don’t have to work but I have a lot to do and I’m going to get started soon but wanted to give you a short version of the weekend.

Also, Happy Birthday to my roommate, Simone!  But she doesn’t read this blog anyway… 🙂


a facebook response to a wingnut

December 2, 2009

1)I did not know it was a Navy SEAL. However, how do we know the guy was a terrorist? Seriously? Was he convicted in a court of law? If we have eye witness accounts of him throwing a grenade or laying an IED on a truck route or something, we have evidence and we put them on trial. That’s how our system of justice works, period. I understand that our soldiers are in harm’s way and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. They have the courage to do something I don’t have the courage to do. I hope they come home safely as soon as possible.

2)That article you sent doesn’t actually prove that torture works. In fact, we know it doesn’t because people will tell you whatever you want them to say when you torture them. Sleep deprivation and waterboarding are illegal. Either we are a nation of laws or we aren’t. Using all means necessary, as you say, means we are not a nation of laws. Waterboarding has been considered torture since the Spanish Inquisition. Please understand, the United States put Japanese soldiers to death and imprisoned them for waterboarding our soldiers. Why are we allowed to do it now? I believe in the Geneva Conventions, no matter how inconvenient. It has been an international system of justice for 60 years, and for us to forego that means that we are not the country we were. I refuse to let terrorism change our nation that way. Yes, they are bastards and cocksucking pieces of shit who should put on trial when caught and executed as our system of justice allows. Torturing them allows people like Bin Laden to recruit more terrorists. And what about torturing an innocent person? What if the person who got the fat lip, I know, bad example, was really a farmer who lived near the person the SEALS were looking for. Do they have the right to beat him up to get information out of him? What does that teach them about American values?

3)With regards to our forefathers not having Boeing 747s in their lives to deal with all and all that jazz, that is what made them so genius. They made the Constitution flexible to change over time. It can be amended to deal with today’s world and it has been amended many times. We have 26 amendments now. They amended the 4th amendment to include the FISA court to listen in on phone calls. Why? Because they understood that it was important to be able to listen in on possible bad guys BUT they still need to get a warrant to do that. To get that warrant, you need probable cause. No probable cause, no warrant. Bush broke that thousands if not millions of times and there are penalties for that. 5 years for each instance.

Now you say “War on Terror” and blah blah blah but we never officially declared war on any of those nations. Only Congress can do that. Unfortunately Congress were spineless following 9/11 and let Bush do whatever he wanted, until he wanted to do immigration reform but that’s another story. And we have imprisoned people for YEARS and given them no trial. I believe it is the 6th amendment that gives EVERYONE, not just Americans, the right to a speedy trial. Holding someone in a detention cell, whether in Cuba, off the coast of South Carolina, or Romania, Lithuania or Afghanistan is illegal if they do not get due process. That has been the foundation of Western Law for almost 800 years and I don’t want to revert back to the 1200s to deal with people who live like it’s the 1200s. We capture someone. We talk to him, offer him cigarettes, hope to get information out of him but without evidence, sorry, we have to let them go after a short amount of time. That’s how our justice system works.

One big difference between us, I think, is that I this is a law enforcement matter and not a military matter. I don’t think that having 250,000 troops and just as many mercernaries (I realize they don’t all have guns but) in the Middle East is the way to improve our national security. Why not have a soldier standing at each park as security if you’re so concerned? Dude, don’t let the terrorists win. If you are afraid to take your child to the park, they win. If you think you won’t go to New York because Khalid Sheik Mohammed is going to be on trial there, the terrorists win. They want you to change your life, to step on our system of laws and be bad guys, just like they are.

4)Healthcare: I don’t go to the doctor’s in the States anymore, really, I live in Germany and have 6.5 years but spend a couple of months a year in America every single year but I have been following the health care debate closer than probably 98% of the people in the United States. I have not heard about these questions being asked but personally,I think we need to know about every single person that owns a gun. Hell, Christianists in Congress today want to get involved in who can have abortions and these are the same people who want LESS government involvement. It makes no sense. Unfortunately, the majority of democrats have negotiated the farm away with the Blue Dogs and 1-3 Republicans to get the health care bill to where it is. I’m of the opinion that wanting to help people get health care is a good thing and it’s something Jesus would have wanted probably. Jesus probably would have been a socialist, even.

5)I am for the troops but we also have laws and rules. We are not monsters, that’s what separates us from those terrorist bastards but we better make damn sure we know who is a terrorist before busting their lip or we are just monsters too. By the way, the President’s biggest job is not to secure our nation but to defend the Constitution. That’s pretty explicit.

6)Funny you bring up France. They have what is considered the best health care in the world. Anyway, the fact we can disagree so vehemently is one of the great things about America. I also think that if we could get through all the filters to the real information, you and I would agree on probably 66% of most major issues.


Afghama

December 1, 2009

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck

I’m going to be asleep tonight while the president of the United States makes what I think will be his biggest mistake to date.  He’s made quite a few mistakes probably, Geithner as Treasury Secretary, not taking a more hands-on approach to the health care debate and not repealing DADT but tonight at 8pm EST I think, Obama is going to explain to the world why sending 35,000 more American soldiers in the graveyard of empires is absolutely necessary for the national security of the United States.

What are our strategic objectives in Afghanistan?  Are we staying to help prop up both that government and Pakistan, and to keep Pakistan from freaking out about India moving into southern Afghanistan to fill our void?  Why can’t we afford health care for our citizens but we have to seek out and destroy dudes living in caves like it was the middle ages?  I thought we elected Obama to make changes.  Having a surge in Afghanistan is not the change I voted for.  Now, and this is a big, BUT, if he were accelerating withdrawing troops from Iraq and then sending them to Afghanistan for a tour for this big strategic push, “fine”.  But now we will deploying nearly all of our available soldiers to the most corrupt place on earth?

Our economy is hanging by a thread, the banksters are lighting hundred-dollar bills and reading about poor rich people having to sell one of their vacation homes, Sarah Palin’s bus tour is really an expensive plane from place to place and America’s citizens can’t get the help they need to get back on their feet and instead of healthcare, something that lets people sleep a bit easier at night knowing that they can get the care they need if they get sick, we’re going to spending that same amount of money (on the credit card or are we paying for it upfront?) on sending some soldiers to their FIFTH tour to hell.

This better be one hell of a speech and I just had the worst thought.  If I am lucky enough to live to be 80 years old, will there still be US soldiers in Afghanistan?