I’ve been absent from posting for almost a week. That’s because my family and I took an extended Thanksgiving weekend.
I’m at Pearl Harbor for a military exercise. Rough duty, I know. When the Army usually sends you to places like Kuwait, and Fort Hood, you jump at the chance to go to Hawaii when the opportunity presents itself.
Cookie and the kids left for home today. The kids enjoyed themselves immensely. Most days involved hours at the pool and the beach. The activities in the sun exhausted them. Last night the two oldest fell asleep during dinner–and it was a relatively early dinner–6:30. However, Henry, the Ever-ready two-year-old, kept going and going until much later.
Anyway, they were great. They even travelled well on the long flights over here.
Let me tell you about a brilliant idea my wife had. The first morning we were here, she told the two oldest (they’re five and nine) that they would get ten dollars a day to spend on whatever they wanted–fifty dollars for the whole trip. We would buy their meals, but any snacks, trinkets, gifts, post cards, t-shirts, anything else, came out of their daily allowance. Anything they didn’t spend, they got to keep.
Neither of them spent even half of their allotment. And the best part was that we didn’t once hear them plead with us to buy something stupid. The funniest moment came when just after Cookie explained the rules, Connor said to his older sister. "Instead of buying post cards, Caroline, you can just take pictures with the digital camera." He’s both smart and cheap.
Caroline missed a couple days of school this week, so she has to do a report on the battle of Pearl Harbor for her class. She finished it yesterday. I’ll post it when I can finally get my email to work. She was very moved by the memorial to the USS Arizona. What was particularly touching were the names added to the wall long after December 7th 1941. They are the names of survivors of the battle who, when they died years later, asked to be buried at sea with their shipmates. Two of them were buried just this year.
This coming week is the 64th anniversary of the battle. I’ll be in the midst of the exercise, but if I can sneak away at all, I’d like to see the ceremonies. For those familiar with Pearl Harbor, I’m staying on Ford Island. The building where I’m staying was actually part of the movie Tora Tora Tora. (A great and authentic movie, by the way. Oh, and if you want to know what makes for an authentic war movie? The German or Japanese protaganists have to actually speak German or Japanese.)
Outside my building you can see the USS Missouri, which sits moored just behind and above the Arizona. It’s a fitting bookend to the older battleship. America’s involvement in the war began the day the Arizona was sunk, and it ended when the Japanese surrendered aboard the deck of the Missouri in Tokyo Harbor nearly four years later.
Tomorrow my boss will be promoted to Brigadier General. I’ve been to many such promotion ceremonies before, but this is one that I’m actually looking forward to. The ceremony will be held aboard the Missouri. That is truly a once in a lifetime experience. I hope to have pictures for you.
If you don’t hear much from me over the next few weeks, I hope you’ll understand. It’s not because I’m working on my tan. I’ll be too busy to do much of that. And there won’t be too much political blogging either, but it’s the Holiday season, so you’d probably like a break from that anyway.
So, until next time, Aloha!
Big Orange Michael won’t be happy: even Sports Illustrated is making fun of UT.
Disappointment of the Year
Tennessee: Only a few months ago, people were wondering if the Volunteers would compete for the national championship. I doubt Phillip Fulmer’s job is in jeopardy yet, but the loss to Vandy is going to shorten whatever grace period he’s got left. This leads me to our final award…
Bumper Sticker of the Year
Honk If Your Team Beat Tennessee
(ht: MS and TCC)
The Washington Times reports that
Commanders are telling Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that ground troops do not understand the generally negative press that their missions receive, despite what they consider significant achievements in rebuilding Iraq and instilling democracy.
The commanders also worry about the public’s declining support for the mission and what may be a growing movement inside the Democratic Party to advocate troop withdrawal from Iraq.
"They say morale is very high," said a senior Pentagon official of reports filed by commanders with Washington. "But they relate comments from troops asking, ‘What the heck is going on back here’ and why America isn’t seeing the progress they are making or appreciating the mission the way those on the ground there do. My take is that they are wondering if America is still behind them."
William Jones, a local soldier currently in Tikrit, corroborates the Washington Times story about coalition successes on the ground. He also gives an eye witness account of an incident that occurred during a turnover of a forward operating base to Iraquis, that he claims CNN wrongly reported. In its print version of the story, CNN’s account does match Jones’. However, I haven’t seen the aired version of the story.
Can anyone confirm that, on air, CNN reported differently?
UPDATE: Mark beat me to the punch. I logged on to add this link to a Max Boot column in the LA Times, which Mark had already identified as further corroboration for this story.
By this standard, our mission in Iraq is seven years ahead of schedule.
You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I’d rather have this kind of weather for Thanksgiving, than the weather I’m going to have.
Just as the Commercial Appeal says in an editorial today, "The Tennessee legislature’s Black Caucus would appreciate a spotlight on its positive side, and that’s only fair. The news until recently has been all bad."
It sounds like the caucus’ just completed annual retreat turned out to be a worthwhile event of participants–and for that, the Black Caucus deserves credit:
Reporters on the scene duly noted some of those efforts: 350 young people on hand and learning about their government through a slate of activities, including a mock student legislature, workshops on such topics as social services, criminal justice, health care, economic and community development and education.
Meanwhile, the AP reports that the caucus has restructured its relationship with the retreat. They are finally trying to come into compliance with the law.
That’s good. It would have been far easier just to scrap the entire retreat. I applaud the Black Caucus for taking the time to preserve this annual event.
Here’s a story about a guy who lost his wife, his daughter, his job, his house, and his dignity. He hit bottom. For eight years Sam Williams lived on Memphis’ streets, until one day he walked into the Memphis Union Mission.
"I got tired and came down to this mission," Williams said. "I learned here that God hasn’t forsaken me.
"He gave me a talent."
Mr. Williams’ talent was that he could cook. The former Air Force cook, and culinary school graduate, is now the head cook and chief of the mission’s kitchen staff.
Tomorrow he is preparing 130 turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. That takes a lot of talent, if you ask me.
No, that’s not a weather report. That’s an assessment of Tennessee’s sunshine laws.
From today’s Tennessean:
As far as Tennessee’s open-meetings law, it ranks in the bottom five among U.S. states, [Frank] Gibson [Executive Director of the Tennessee Coaltion for Open Government] said, because "they are not enforceable. Before a citizen can even get an answer as to whether a meeting is covered by the Sunshine Law … they have to go to court."
A sunshine law requires a government to make its information and procedures available to the public, thus shedding light on governmental activities.
Tennessee’s sunshine law carries little punishment, such as requiring public re-enactments of some public decisions made in secrecy, and the General Assembly is exempt from the open meetings law.
I’ve spent a grand total of five minutes watching so-called reality television shows. However, this report about the show Wife Swap caught my eye.
Even though I don’t watch the show, I understand the general premise: two couples swap for a period of time. No, it’s not that kind of swap. The intention is to put people into awkward positions: a black wife for a racist husband, a fat husband for an active wife, that sort of thing.
Apparently, the premise for this series of shows was a gay "wife" for a Baptist husband. He’s outraged (he, the Baptist husband, not he the "wife"), and is suing to the tune of ten million dollars.
I think he should get massive stupid points for being on the show in the first place. What did he expect when he volunteered for a reality version of the Jerry Springer Show? However, he might have a case against the ABC producers of the show since it looks like they are trying to pull a tobacco executive defense:
ABC is confident that RDF Media, the producer of ‘Wife Swap,’ treats participants professionally and with respect.
Respect? Yeah, right. And cigarettes aren’t addictive.
Today’s Commercial Appeal has a story on the falling local price of gas.
If you had told me two years ago that I would have exclaimed, "A dollar ninety-four!" I would have assumed that the emotion would be outrage that the cost was so high. Instead when I pulled into the South Pittsburg gas station showing "$1.93.9" on its sign yesterday evening, the emotion was elation.