Mission accomplished. More or less.

Happy Christmas, the war is over.

Thank you, George W. Bush, et al, for this suckhole of American blood and dollars. It took as long as World War II and the Civil War laid end-to-end. (Not as long as Vietnam, though!) We removed a dictator, killed tens of thousands of civilians and tried to impose Maryland’s motor-vehicle codes on Baghdad traffic jams. We made millions more for Blackwater, er, Xe, er, Academi. Sent a few more items onto the underground antiquities market. Inspired some truly awful pop music. Spread our special kind of American magic, broke a few pots, and now, we’re outta there.

God bless Pottery Barn, for giving us the central metaphor for this particular adventure.

Many great books have come out of this war, I’ll say that. Fiasco, The Good Soldiers, and the one from which I learned that wonderful detail about Maryland traffic laws, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which I highly recommend. Just the first chapter will cross your eyes and boil your blood, detailing how we went into a Muslim country on the grounds of helping them shed a dictator and establish democracy, then set up our command center with imported workers who dreamed up Barbecue Night in the mess hall. Yes, a celebration of pork in a Muslim nation. So the Americans don’t get too homesick.

I recall relocating to Ann Arbor in late summer 2003. Fort Wayne was dotted with yard signs, provided by the local GOP office, reading GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS. In A2, the signs read NO WAR. A useful reminder that I was not alone in thinking this as a bad idea from the get-go.

What are your war memories, from early-middle-late stages of it? I recall friends who stopped speaking, a few who simply grew obsessed. Alan put himself on the shit list for saying, in a story meeting, that it was dumb to pretend the war was over just because GWB had pronounced mission accomplished; we’ll be there for years, he said. Scowls from the managing editor.

I recall being hopeful this idea would work, but believing it would likely not go anywhere near as well as we were promised. When the only guy who’s actually been a wartime soldier says we shouldn’t be hasty, I’m inclined to believe that guy. Not Dick Cheney.

OK, time for some bloggage:

In keeping with our war theme, a short film that I worked on is doing a Kickstarter for festival entry expenses. There’s a 5-minute video at this link, which includes a trailer with a lot of the visual FX our very talented team created, as well as stills from the production. This was a micro-budget deal, in the very low four figures, most of which went for a two-day insurance policy so we could use SAG actors. (You might recall our lead, Scott Norman, in his gripping part as That Guy Who Got About Three Lines in a “Detroit 187” cold open.) Worth watching for the fabulous-ruins shots alone.

Perhaps security cameras will make stealth campaigns like this beside the point, but who cares, because I love them anyway: The yarn bomber of Ann Arbor.

Last week I queried my Facebook circle about what is an appropriate holiday-season tip for a newspaper carrier. I guess now I should make sure I’m dealing with the right people, eh? (I think I am. None were this tacky about sticking their hands out.)

And now Thursday awaits. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 10:05 am in Current events |

77 responses to “Mission accomplished. More or less.”

  1. Lex said on December 15, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Random thoughts: “Academi” sounds like a women’s clothing store.

    I was very, very skeptical that we would find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, particularly nukes. And yet I thought, “After the Gulf of Tonkin, surely no president would be dumb and/or evil enough to lie us into a war.” Fool me once. I will put nothing past any of them anymore, from massive nationwide wiretapping to concentration camps. I’ll still want evidence, but never again will I dismiss out of hand any allegation of government illegality. And Digby is right, kids: If you build a police state, they will use it, Republicans and Democrats alike.

    Of course, with NDAA, the illegality is now legal, unless/until someone mounts a successful court challenge. Which, as “Animal House” told us, could take years and cost millions of innocent lives.

    This has not been a good decade for the home team.

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  2. nancy said on December 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Abu Ghraib was my jaw-dropper. I remember an email from a friend at the time: “I just heard there are photos being released of a female soldier holding a naked Iraqi prisoner on a leash. I guess the war is going badly, but not as badly as it could — I don’t believe anyone has accidentally dropped a nuke out a Blackhawk door yet.”

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  3. Deborah said on December 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

    It smelled bad to me from the get go. I never believed the weapons of mass destruction hype, not for one second. I don’t really know what exactly made it seem like a lie to me, it just never felt true. My husband and I went to a protest in Chicago at the Federal Building (in the plaza where the red Calder sculpture is). There were way, way more cops than protesters and there were quite a few protesters. At one point I was staring into the eyes of one of the cops and he said, “what are you looking at lady”. For real, I started laughing.

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  4. Bitter Scribe said on December 15, 2011 at 10:31 am

    FWIW, I’ve always sent my carrier $25. It’s little enough for his getting out of bed at an ungodly hour, 365 days a year, to bring me my papers. And that scammer, who wants to cream off the benefit of someone else’s hard work, should be sentenced to community service–delivering papers for real.

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  5. Julie Robinson said on December 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

    The outrageous Mission Accomplished speech provoked a letter to the editor from me. I was (and am still) incensed by the whole fiasco, but particularly that he gave the speech from the carrier rather than the Oval office, costing several million dollars.

    We’ll be paying the costs, financial and human, for the next hundred years. Lordy that’s depressing. I need me some cuteoverload, stat.

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  6. Judybusy said on December 15, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I was livid about the war from the get-go. I didn’t believe in the WMD threat. I thought it was all about Lil Bush finishing what dad didn’t, that and oil. When I announced that at lunch at work one day, everyone disagreed, expressing concerns about security, WMD etc. Years later, one of my coworkers expressed disgust about the war, mentioning the oil impetus. I didn’t say anything, but felt slightly vindicated. I also knew Hussein couldn’t be in league with Bin Laden; he was and avid secularist and suppressed religious minorities. He had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, and it infuriated me that so many people believed he did. I also believe the estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties are grossly under-reported. Does anyone know of a reliable source for estimates?

    Julie, I am also greatly upset for the reasons you mention: we provided a nearly unlimited amount of fuel for extremists. It was the best recruiting tool Al Qaida could ever be given.

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  7. coozledad said on December 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I remember going out and protesting with millions of other people who knew that the amoral sons of bitches were scaling up for yet another power grab. Thousands of people in the streets in Raleigh barely merited a video report from our thoroughly compromised local media outlets, except to pan over to a handful of shaven headed anarchists or the tiny contingent of American Legion cocksuckers rousted out of the trailer parks to throw rocks at the hippies.
    I especially remember David Gergen giving sloppy wet head to Bush without the slightest prompting every time they stuck his apparently mashed potato-filled mouth in front of a microphone.
    The broadcast media not only failed, it was complicit, and its Quislings are still on the fucking television and radio instead of sweating and freezing the rest of their worthless lives away in a little-ease as the most rudimentary justice would demand.
    And the apologists for the whole adventure have yet to experience the slightest twinge of shame.

    Goeglin is a symptom of this cultivated amnesia. He’s found a new calling as a twisted version of Fred Rogers. He’s taking the faithful on a tour of the village of make believe, where Bush was a prayerful, forgiving overseer-easy on the whip and free with the leftovers from the bighouse table, instead of the cocaine addled sociopath who exacted Nixon’s revenge on this country.

    These people are the sole reason I would be reluctant to completely overturn capital punishment.


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  8. Dorothy said on December 15, 2011 at 10:57 am

    The Yarn Bomber/Giver story delighted me and gave me inspiration. I have crocheted items galore and will do what those clever crafters did. I gave scarves I made to my boss and two gals I work with the first year I lived here and I’ve never seen one of them use what I gave them. But one Secret Santa recipient does use hers. My sister Janet sent me a slender scarf about a month ago made from yarn I gifted to her, which was sweet, but I have 4-5 different scarves that I made that are much wider and warmer, so Jan’s scarf might make it onto a tree in downtown Mount Vernon.

    We get two newspapers daily (the little local p.o.s. is hardly worth it but now we know who gets cited for drunk driving or going through stop signs around here) and we always give a $25 Xmas gift, too. It’s well worth it – the paper gets here in all kinds of crappy weather so I’m glad they still provide the service where we live in the country.

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  9. del said on December 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I never believed any of it. Went to candlelight vigils every Sunday night in the village for Pointes for Peace for months before the war began. People drove by, neighbors, honking and yelling nasties. We were in the minority for sure; even the NYT bought in. Tom Friedman? Persona non grata to me. I saw him on Charlie Rose gesticulating wildly, repeating short phrases for dramatic effect, softly pounding the table for emphasis and looking wide-eyed at his host for validation. I know the type – salesman.

    I think the war was a sea change in the way Americans view religion. Its biggest supporters were the churchgoers. Our Catholic pastor’s anti-war sermons were met with strategic coughing by a congregant member of our greatest generation. Those sermons abruptly ended and became apolitical. In the end, the Christians supported a war with no proof that it was necessary. Religion is always absurd to outiders but the war demonstrated just how dangerous it is.

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  10. velvet goldmine said on December 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I guess I will be the one to admit that I was briefly swayed by Colin Powell’s WMD presentation. Not that I think the USA’s glass house has any particular right to throw stones on this issue, but I did buy the presentation. He’s Colin freakin’ Powell!

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  11. Dorothy said on December 15, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Has anyone heard any updates about Maggie Jochild?

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  12. Suzanne said on December 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Hussein, I believe, was a victim of his own sabre rattling. I think he badly wanted everyone to believe that he had WMDs to keep his neighbors at bay and to make himself look tough, but it backfired in a horrible way. Do I believe that the powers that be here knew all this? Yes, I think they did, but it gave them a great excuse to go in with the shock and awe as a message to other countries that we are big and tuff and are not to be played. That pretty much backfired, too, except for those who made a gazillion $$ of the whole sorry mess. The rest of us are just left with the mess…

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  13. Peter said on December 15, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Somebody scamming newspaper delivery tips? THAT’s the type of person who deserves waterboarding!

    Back in the day I delivered papers (50 Chicago Daily News, 4 Abendpost, 6 Polish Daily Zgoda). My wages were $0.75 per day and a free paper, which my Dad didn’t want because he thought Royko sucked. Oh, did I live for those holiday tips! Going door to door, dropping off the cheap calendar, flashing those puppy eyes, I would have gone down on all fours and beg for that damn quarter!

    Absolutely True Story: The highlight of my route was Ravenswood Hospital – I dropped off three papers at the main waiting room, three at the Emergency Room, then went to the Nursing School, where some students were subscribers, and I dropped off the papers at each student’s dorm room!

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  14. del said on December 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

    “I especially remember David Gergen giving sloppy wet head to Bush without the slightest prompting every time they stuck his apparently mashed potato-filled mouth in front of a microphone.”

    Cooz, that was priceless.

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  15. Bryan said on December 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

    The film looks great. Add another $25 to the Kickstarter fund.

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  16. Sue said on December 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

    My very first thought when the war idea began to glimmer was ‘Haven’t any of these people thought about the history of this region? 20 years ago or 2000, nothing’s changed.’ For awhile I didn’t think our involvement could possibly go beyond a couple of bombing raids because I just could not wrap my mind around the idea that the folks on top didn’t have at least one person in the back of the room pointing this out.
    Of course, that was in the good old days, when there was some merit in the kind of thinking that puts limits on what our leaders would not possibly go beyond. I no longer trust any of them, in either party.
    I did lose one friend on this. The only thing I can remember saying in this discussion was “He is not getting my children!”. I recall the ‘draft’ balloon was floated for about 10 seconds by some politician or other and disappeared before there was a chance for anyone to have to take a stand on it.

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  17. adrianne said on December 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

    To paraphrase a saying from the Vietnam War: “How would you feel to tell a mother that her son died for a lie?”

    The toll here in the Hudson Valley: 17 soldiers dead, leaving behind grieving spouses, children, parents, friends.

    For a lie.

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  18. Maggie Jochild said on December 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Dorothy, still here. Doing steadily better. Blood cultures are no longer growing MRSA, blood sugars down to the 240 range and still slowly dropping, constipation resolved to diarrhea (believe me, it’s a step up). Big news is that my case manager got a physiatrist to consult, a buxom bronze-haired Valkyrie who crackled power with every gesture. She stopped to fix me with her eye and say “I don’t know how you survived the last two years, but I want you to know, I can tell how hard you’ve worked and I’m very proud of you.” I am living off those words. She gave me bed exercises, declared me prime for rehabilitation, and forced PT/OT to see me. Today I sat up on the side of the bed twice (with massive assist), a point of view I’ve not had in two years. I am exhausted and awash with emotion, but the corner has at last, at last turned. I will be here at least another week, longer if my case manager can extract me the time. I have years of hard work ahead of me, and at last somebody besides me and my online community are going to help me return to the outer world.

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  19. del said on December 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying). I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions.

    Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

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  20. alex said on December 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I remember being skeptical of the war from the moment it was proposed. I remember a lot of people reacting to me with hostility for saying it was a big waste of money and lives. I remember the media serving as Dubya’s lap dog, fearful of any backlash that might occur in response to the truth. All in all, an awful decade it has been.

    Other nations want to prosecute Bush and Cheney as war criminals. I think we ought to hand them over, and then get busy exacting some justice on Wall Street.

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  21. Julie Robinson said on December 15, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Maggie, that is tremendously good news, and a testimony to the difference just one caring person can make. I nominate your Valkyrie for Person of the Week.

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  22. nancy said on December 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    When I came back from Ann Arbor, I was maybe a little angry at a couple of my colleagues for reasons that no longer matter, but one episode almost set my hair on fire: Knight-Ridder moved a very long narrative piece on the siege of Fallujah on their wire. You war-journo nerds might recall the KR team in Iraq as doing some great work, and this package pulled no punches — it was explicitly labeled for content, as the embedded reporter(s) had seen some fairly grisly scenes.

    We ran it, but not before a particular editor with rank repaired to her office and personally “handled” it, stripping out the worst parts for the benefit of our staunchly pro-war readership. We were already doing some sort of rah-rah soldiers care-package project, which I didn’t object to, but sanitizing the account of a key battle? That was a bridge too far for me.

    And the thing is, with our system at the time, she could have done a “soft” delete — excising the copy but leaving it in highlighted form, so the next editor could see where the cuts were. It’s a gesture of respect for the people further down the line, as it enables them to restore things if they have a problem with your cuts, or if you accidentally took out an antecedent, etc. But no. She took ’em all the way out. I recall tracking down an untrimmed piece in one of the other papers, just so I could read it the way the writer intended it.

    Glad that’s behind me.

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  23. Sherri said on December 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I was incredibly angry that we were going to go into another country and topple another leader we didn’t like with no plan for what we were going to do after that. Not that I had any sympathy for Saddam Hussein, but you’d think we’d learn that removing the government in power never works out that well for us. I was still angry over Afghanistan; I really thought fighting a war was a way to create more terrorists, not stop the ones who had attacked us.

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  24. Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    The war is infuriating on so many levels, but for me, it was the sheer ineptitude of our leaders that still burns in my gut. They apparently never gave a moment’s thought to what would happen AFTER they ousted Saddam. We had no plans to impose civil order, secure the huge number of ammunition dumps, protect the valuable resources (except for the Oil Ministry, of course, which was ringed by tanks and infantry), integrate the Iraqi Army into some semblance of a protective national force, etc. It was amateur night from the get-go, yet to hear Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et.al., they were dazzlingly successful in every phase.

    One of the most infuriating passages in “Imperial Life” describes a cadre of Bushies rolling into Baghdad, chosen for their loyalty to Dear Leader rather than their expertise, many of them reporting to work wearing W. election T-shirts and fucking up everything they touched. It was idiots like these who would have tried to impose the Maryland driving rules on Iraq, while working to sow the seeds of entrepreneurial capitalism, of course, to a bombed out and broken nation.

    And that aircraft carrier stunt? My father, a veteran of World War II who spent three years in Europe in the Big Red One, almost popped an artery when Little Bush popped out of that jet on the flight deck dressed in a uniform. Dad was a big fan of Ike and noted that the five-star general NEVER traded on his uniform for political gain, but a draft-dodging son of privilege who trained to fly outmoded jets in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War did.

    The only thing more maddening is listening to the rotten pricks on the right criticizing Obama for holding to the troop pullout. Did these fucking chickenhawks figure we’d be there forever?

    If we elect a Republican, folks, and do not underestimate the possibility, get ready for a nice, hot little war with Iran. Netanyahu is counting on it and given the bellicose nature of our GOP cousins, he’ll get his wish.

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  25. caliban said on December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    The first dead giveaway re the bogus nature of the invasion of Iraq was the 1998 effort by Project for the New American Century (Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rummy, Khalilzad, Podhoretz, Abrams. Bolton, Armitage, Kristol et despicable al) to talk Clinton into it in 1998. Any foreign adventure agreed to by those scoundrel pricks could not turn out well. When these bastards made a concerted transparent effort to link Saddam and Iraq to the WTC assault, the jig should have been up for anybody with a functioning brain. It was common knowledge the terriss were mostly a bunch of Saudis. It should also have disturbed any mildly informed observer that among the neocons, Muslim was a monolithic epithet. They displayed complete ignorance of the Shia/Sunni/Kurd cultural dynamics in the Frankenstein monster country of Iraq. All candy and flowers for the benevolent liberators, and the invasion would pay for itself. Incompetent idealogue assholes.

    The movie looks great. Has very much an overall feel reminiscent of Children of Men (high praise, in my estimation). Second Kickstarter project for me. But why don’t those guys hook up with PayPal?

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  26. Dexter said on December 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I had a really bad night at work the night Bush41 launched his war against Saddam Hussein. I had a panic attack at work as all sorts of bad , buried events came rushing back at me, as this was war again, and I knew it was on for real. There was a lull for a few years after the “crispy critters” incidents (US soldiers burned Saddam’s rag-tag army into a cinder pile as they marched to the edge of Saddam’s command center and then abruptly quit.)
    Enter Bush 43 and Shock and Awe. Numbers are relative, as who do you believe? —but at least 10,000 Iraqi civilians died in the Shock and Awe bombing on Baghdad. Oh yeah, a great start.
    Shorly after, that fucking little weasel Bill Maher went on his own show and said well, I had it all wrong, Bush was right, this war needs to be fought…I can’t use quotation marks but he said something like that, and I knew then he is just a piece of shit, going after laughs with no substance in his journalist content.
    As the war dragged on, we had to suffer Rummy and Cheney, George Tenet and the missing PLANE LOAD of cash on pallets, Abu Ghraib, the three or four beheading videos (Nick Berg’s beheading was an awful thing to watch, Jesus!) and the curious cases of Chalabi and Moqtada al-Sadr. Moqtada was the cleric who had control of an army of fundamentalists who could have caused total mayhem had he raised his sabre in anger against the Americans…but he never did. Slowly he disappeared from the news releases, now he is a forgotten page in American “history books”.
    Of course we aren’t done there, you know. My everlasting pet peeve is that goddam command center know as the American Embassy in Baghdad.
    In Vietnam the American embassy became property of the Provisional Revolutionary Government on April 30, 1975.

    In Baghdad, 17 THOUSAND Americans of all sorts will continue to work there…17 thousand! Nobody believes Americans will never again respond to hostilities in Iraq, that notion is bull shit. Thousands of American forces are perched around the Region ready to jump back into the fray.
    Take a look at that embassy. It’s like ten times larger than any other embassy in the world. If “we” were leaving, we should have ceased construction on that white elephant years ago. Never doubt the power of the CIA and FBI…they are strong inside those embassy walls.
    So all this “end of war” talk is just a big lie… a BIG LIE. It’s just a matter of time before some damn thing blows up over Iran and the whole Region becomes a battlefield again.
    At least the government is finally owning up to the truth: it never was totally about vanquishing Saddam, it’s all about the oil.

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  27. A.Riley said on December 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I confess I was fooled by Colin Powell as well. I mean, Colin Powell!

    And I was foolish enough to be fascinated by the embedded newspeople’s live televised dispatches from the invasion.

    And I was immature enough to let my dislike of my then-boss influence my opinion of the war. Not that I was pro-Bush, God no, but if the hypocrite who signed my paycheck was against something, then I was for it.

    I grew up. It shouldn’t have taken as long as it did.

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  28. Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    The problem remains. It is very easy for any president to send troops anywhere in the world for any reason at any time. Mark my words. . .if Romney or Gingrich eke out a win over Obama. . .we’ll be marching on Tehran sooner than later. And if we do, we will truly ignite a conflagration we cannot control.

    BTW, I’m working on a freelance project for an organization that employs predominantly blind and visually impaired people. The emphasis is not on generating profits but on creating jobs since the blind have a 70% unemployment rate. A major concern is all the recently blinded men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, where the IEDs that have not killed our soldiers have often blinded them.

    It’s another part of Bushie’s war that will resonate for decades.

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  29. moe99 said on December 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    This is what I wrote on March 17, 2003, on a group list of international members (it’s a place for Dorothy Dunnett fans to talk about politics or anything else):

    I just wanted to issue an apology to say how sorry I am for the
    military action the USA will be undertaking in 72 hours. Whether
    Saddam and Co. turn tail and run or whether they fight it out with
    massive casualties to both sides, the losers are all of us.
    International law has been disregarded by a band of renegades, some
    of whom have desired to emasculate the UN for years.

    I am saddened and angry that the voices of so many in this country
    were not listened to by our unelected president. 9/11 was a
    significant tragedy. This will only compound, not fix that mess.


    I got a lot of shit for this from the Israeli member of the group and some knee jerk conservatives, but my pov has been borne out in the subsequent 8 1/2 years.

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  30. del said on December 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Dexter and A.Riley, I extrapolate from what we do to our own people in our courts in the name of justice and I shudder to think of what happens in wartime. I knew an Army Captain from Desert Storm who was in charge of a group of tanks that first crossed the line in the sand. He didn’t quite come out and say it, exactly, but he left me with the impression that many of Saddam’s troops (who’d been coerced into service) were buried alive by giant plows on the front of our tanks.

    I found the young captain’s 12 step AA plan that had fallen out of his pocket after he visited me. Rough stuff.

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  31. Dexter said on December 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I remember the sickness in my guts as I watched that lying fuck Colin Powell use that pointer to show grainy film “evidence” of WMD being transported in trucks.
    It made it worse when we found out he knew it was a lie but he allowed himself to be persuaded to continue the charade.
    I knew it was a lie when I was watching it, just because it was so vague, and it was coming from the most-distrustful administration in US history.
    All this, and at one time Colin Powell held my deepest respect…he was a helluva leader of men in the troubled war in Vietnam.
    I heard this asshole Mark Levin say that Barack Obama is the worst president in our country’s existence. Does he think we forget so easily?
    Then this morning I heard John LeBoutillier say that “maybe it’ll be Jeb Bush…”
    Now ain’t THAT a cooling thought? Another Bush!

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  32. coozledad said on December 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Dexter: That’s just it: They never got tired of that Bush scrod under their noses.
    It’s pathetic, isn’t it? the notion that a word from Jebbie will set the thirty percenters to spooging their pants.
    But as they say, grifters gonna grift, and authoritarian ass crawlers gonna crawl some ass.

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  33. Jakash said on December 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I’m sorry to nitpick your heartfelt comment, Dexter, but Bill Maher is a stand-up comic, not a journalist. “Going after laughs” has always been the prime directive behind his shows, whatever their merits or lack thereof. That being said, I think he’s evolved toward being more and more liberal over time, based to a large extent on how pathetic the Republican agenda has become. Even though I agree with many things that he’s expressed on his show, however, I do believe that you are in good company in suggesting that he’s a piece of shit.

    Nancy, the $25 tips suggested by a couple esteemed commenters for newspaper carriers seem a tad high to me. May I inquire as to whether there was a consensus among the Facebook gang that responded to your query as to an appropriate amount?

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  34. nancy said on December 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    There wasn’t a real consensus, but the conversation stalled out after one guy, a college classmate of mine and hence my age, said he used to get $20 when he was delivering papers in the ’70s. He suggested doubling that. (There was at least one $50 tipper in the bunch, so it’s not like there were gasps at that.)

    I remind you, though, that I get three home-delivered papers. I think I’ll whack up a C-note proportionally for the NYT (seven days/week), WSJ (six days) and the DetNews (three days).

    Or I could go with the traditional gift of chocolate-covered cherries, and skip the cash entirely.

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  35. Julie Robinson said on December 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    We give $25 to our morning carrier, who has to drive to a distribution center in the pre-dawn and brings our paper to our front doorstep 365 days a year. That’s just under $.07/day.

    The afternoon guy has a little better circumstances and no Sunday paper to deliver, so he gets $20.

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  36. paddyo' said on December 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I’m with Dexter @ 26, minus the panic attack . . . and I agree with Jackash, Bill Maher’s hilarious and sometimes infuriating, but he’s no journalist.

    We had a shock-and-awe kind of blizzard and three-day St. Paddy’s snowstorm (nearly 3 feet in my yard) here in Denver the week Bush and Cheney invaded Iraq.

    My now-ex, then a reporter at The Denver Post, got out of town just before the storm hit. She was on assignment to Israel, where she would cover the inevitable shitstorm of Saddam’s notorious Scud missiles, as happened during Gulf War No. 1. (Remember NBC’s Arthur “Scud Stud” Kent?)
    Nothing happened this time, of course, just another sign of the deceit, lies, deception, etc.
    On to Syria she went, then Jordan, and finally, that Oklahoma-Land-Rush-style scene of journos busting through the abandoned border crossing and racing across the desert to Baghdad.
    It all seemed quite exciting at the time for us newspeople, of course, whether we were safe here or dodging friendly fire and roadside IEDs over there. But I cringe, head in hands, at how most of the Fourth Estate stumbled in our duty before and well into those years of senseless combat.

    Oh, and in the Blogmistress’s “et al.,” don’t forget to include Ralph Nader. Without his 2000 candidacy, we get President Gore, not Bush (or the activist intervention of the Supremes), and we don’t go to Iraq.

    BTW, Deadeye Dick’s in town tomorrow for a charity fundraiser and to hawk his book of lies; wifey Lynne will “interview” him in front of chosen/invited guests. I take small consolation in the fact that, years later, they can’t/won’t disclose where or when these kinds of things take place, or of course, allow any press coverage.

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  37. Jakash said on December 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the response, Nancy. I was delivering papers on the cusp of the 70’s and would have considered $20 a fortune, then. But I hate to turn into my grandfather, so I guess I’ll jump at the emerging consensus here of $25. The thought of a C-note gives me the vapors…

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  38. Heather said on December 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Hmm, I guess I’m being very generous by sending my Sunday-only NYT delivery guy $30.

    Do you all tip anyone else? I give my hairstylist a tip equal to two regular tips. I read somewhere that you are actually supposed to tip an amount equal to a haircut, but considering that she has gotten very expensive, and she definitely makes more money than I do, that’s not going to happen. But I’ve been seeing her for 16 years and she does a great job, so I’m not complaining.

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  39. Jolene said on December 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    The only thing more maddening is listening to the rotten pricks on the right criticizing Obama for holding to the troop pullout. Did these fucking chickenhawks figure we’d be there forever?

    John McCain has been just awful on this point. His speech on the Senate floor yesterday was dripping with contempt for the president. Just awful.

    For me, what’s been done in our name in Iraq is beyond outrage. It makes me want to curl up and hide.

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  40. Brandon said on December 15, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Googling “pork barbecue in Iraq” I found this entry from a conservative blog, in which was linked an article from Der Speigel.



    Pork is available in Baghdad once again. Not just in the Green Zone, where US diplomats can enjoy their spare ribs and Parma ham, but also across the Tigris River, in the real Baghdad, at “Al-Warda” on Karada Street. Bassim Dencha, 32, one of the few Christians remaining in Iraq and the co-owner of Baghdad’s finest supermarket, has developed a supply line from Syria. As a result, he now has frozen pork chops and bratwurst arranged in his freezers, next to boxes of frozen French fries and German Black Forest Cakes. And the customers are buying.

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  41. Jolene said on December 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Off-topic: Google is inviting people to participate in improving its maps. Worth taking a look just to see the extremely cool animation.

    Also, Dexter, Moqtada al Sadr has not disappeared. He is very much alive. He and his followers exert huge influence in the Iraqi parliament.

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  42. Dorothy said on December 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I am giving $25 to the Columbus Dispatch driver because she is the fourth one we’ve had this year. No need to tip her a lot more than that since she’s only been on our route for 3 months or so. If it was a consistent person I’d probably pay double that because we pay on line and don’t include a weekly tip. There was a time this past spring that we were getting really bad service due to a turnover in delivery personnel and I was a real pain in the ass on the phone and via email to them in Circulation. A friend of mine with the same zip code but north of town told me she was informed that they are no longer delivering to her neighborhood because they cannot get anyone to do it. If this would happen to us at least I could buy a paper M-F across the street at the bookstore. We’d be screwed on the weekends!

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  43. Mike said on December 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I remember calling Neal Boortz (Atlanta’s Rush Limbaugh wanna be) when he wondered if anybody thought the war was a mistake (I know, a waste of time). I told him it was, that we were putting troops in the wrong place, there would be no WMD, there would be no nuclear weapons, it would be a recruiting tool for al Quada, etc. Neal finally suggested it was like WWII, we had to go to North Africa and Italy first. When I pointed out that there were Germans there, he cut me off. Like I said, a waste of time.

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  44. Kath said on December 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I was a paper carrier in the 70s and I think the biggest tip I ever got at Christmas was maybe $5. Many customers gave me cards, and a couple even gave me gifts. I still have the wooden toys that one guy made for me. My older brother delivered the Minneapolis Star to a senior apartment building. The old ladies loved him, and he made more than $100 in total tips at Christmas every year.

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  45. Dorothy said on December 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Ooops – forgot to say I’m glad to hear from Maggie. Keep up the good work!

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  46. moe99 said on December 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Lawyer holiday humor:


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  47. Deborah said on December 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Heather, I’m through with my hairstylist after my last cut Saturday. I’ve been going to him for 8 years and he drives me nuts because every single time he tries to use the flat iron on my already flat hair. My husband goes to him too so it’s awkward to quit. I was all set to give him a fat tip for the holidays this last time too, but then he pulled out the flat iron and I said please no for the millionth time. He made a face and then rushed me out of the chair as fast as he could. That’s it, no more. He was expensive too, over a $100 bucks per cut. And on top of that he’s a right winger.

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  48. Sue said on December 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    About 15 years ago, back in the days when kids delivered papers instead of adults, I had an afternoon carrier who didn’t deliver my paper. No big deal, I called the paper and told them I hadn’t gotten my paper for a few days. Figured it was a glitch.
    The kid’s mother showed up on my doorstep, with her son. Her son had so delivered my paper, yes he had and she was there to tell me so. Meanwhile her son is looking at me like I’m the one who caused the situation. Finally I said to the mother: “Ok, he’s delivering my paper. I’m just not getting it.”
    I got my paper for a few more weeks, then noticed that mom was the one doing the route. Then it stopped again and I just let the damn subscription expire. Fortunately no holidays fell during this time so I didn’t have to be a big meanie and stiff him on his tip.

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  49. Judybusy said on December 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    moe, that was fun! I especially liked the extra-long disclaimer at the end.

    I tip my hairdresser 20% every time. He started out as a friend of a friend and has been doing my hair for about 3 years. I went in partly because I had a coupon for a cut/color for $55. My guy’s been giving me that price now for all this time, and my hair’s never looked better. Deborah, I wish I could refer you! FWIW, my partner also went to him for a time, but the salon set-up bugged her (it’s a small shop, so he has to answer the phone) but stopped. It was a little uncomfortable, but I sucked it up because he is so great. My honey and I almost always go out for a drink after my appointments because I look so good!

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  50. Julie Robinson said on December 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Oy veh, hairdressers. The good ones keep moving out of town, too many don’t understand curly hair, and I have paid too much for too many bad haircuts. So I bought some scissors, and give myself bad haircuts for free. How much should I tip me?

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    How do you get a tip to a motor route carrier when you pay electronically? And to be candid, I’d hate to be anywhere near the pavement at 6:25 am when he speeds by, flinging plastic sacks. I usually see him and his Riviera from the side window by the front door, me barefoot drinking coffee, he careening back and forth down the street away from our corner.

    I couldn’t even toss a box of chocolate covered cherries through his window without leading him by 20 yards and just hoping on the windage.

    Whoever said it upthread was correct — it’s far too easy for a President to deploy combat troops, regardless of party or ideology, but I can’t bring myself to vote for Paul-ite isolationism, nor do I think asking Congress to make relatively expeditious decisions is very prudent. We are still working out what it means to be an Empire, and an empire is what we are. What kind of proactive, globally responsible empire do we want to be, and how do we accomplish that? I listen to Bono talk about American leadership on AIDS in Africa, and I know we can do it, but the idea that national power projection is largely in the hands of a West Wing staff and the so-called intelligence community does not give me much confidence in sticking with the status quo.

    Ron Paul is right about one thing (if not 9-11 Truthism or the Federal Reserve): the War Powers Act is a hot mess, and we’ve been unconstitutional in our use of military force beyond our territorial borders since V-J Day, pretty much without exception. Insert standard *realpolitik* rationalization [HERE].

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  52. Little Bird said on December 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Due to the fact that I cannot find a single hairdresser who won’t break out the thinning shears, I simply have not had a haircut in almost two years. I even tried telling them before they started that I would not pay them if they subjected my wavy superfine hair to the thinning shears. And they always argued with me.

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  53. Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Jeff TMMO, you are quite right, we are an empire but Lord, we are not very good at it. I think that is a large part of Ron Paul’s appeal beyond his appalling embrace of Ayn Randian economics. More Americans than we might think are tired of us being the world’s police force.

    I sometimes find myself wishing we were Canada. . .a well-regarded democracy but one that does not feel the need to insert itself into every dust-up on the planet. . .but that will never happen so long as the military-industrial complex operates unwatched and unchecked and we have some well-entrenched and well-funded neoconservatives to pound the drums for war. Already, Five Deferments Dick Cheney and his cackling chorus of chickenhawks want military strikes against Iran after the downing of a U.S. drone. We’ll slash Social Security and Medicare, decimate social programs, cut education and research funding. . .just about anything before we’ll trim one thin dime from the Pentagon budget.

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  54. Sue said on December 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Jeff Borden, let’s not forget that there are also fairly regular attempts to slash funding for veteran services. Some are more successful than others, depending on who is paying attention.

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  55. brian stouder said on December 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Regarding presidents and war-powers, and the blissfully rigid Ron Paul-standard, just remember: y’know that line in the Marine Corps hymn that refers to “the shores of Tripoli”?

    That was an undeclared act of war (actually – forget “act” – it was a full-up war) by presidential fiat, thanks to our third president, Thomas Jefferson, and his Secretary of State (if memory serves me) and key Constitutional author James Madison.

    I am not disagreeing with the criticisms that others have (rightly) heaped onto President Bush’s warmaking; just pointing out that we (Americans) are not new to this game.

    Indeed, not for nothing, but after September 11, this country was definitely going to unleash the dogs on somebody; there was going to be a lot more blood.

    And in those days, hitting Iraq didn’t sound as insane to me, as it does now. I remembered President Clinton ramping up troop/navy presence in Kuwait and the gulf again and again, as Saddam pulled his chain and then eased off. “Settling accounts” there seemed to have at least a thin veneer of reason – to me – in those spring days of 2002.

    The problem was, the more one read, the more that veneer blew off; plus, as has been said, the whole enterprise was so screwed up at the top (“Go shopping, Americans! Oh, and here’s a tax cut while we send our troops off to war!”) that one had to be willfully and invincibly ignorant to believe that war in Iraq was serving any purpose or national interest, at all. (I liked the Woodward book “Bush at War”, and another called Assassin’s Gate, and another called The Strongest Tribe; but the net-effect was profoundly disheartening)

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  56. mark said on December 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Iraq was a preventive war, of very questionable wisdom and poorly executed. The pre-emptive war language used by the Bush Administration was inaccurate and politically expedient. A preventive war is initiated in the belief that military conflict, while not imminent, is inevitable, and that to delay would involve greater risk. The WMD issues, and assertions of 9/11 connections, were designed to create a sense of urgency that did not exist and the “inevitable conflict” forseen by some was never Iraq, but a larger radical Arab region with access to increasingly lethal technologies. We precipitously embarked upon not merely regime change, but region change.

    The military, and some political leaders, have long opposed the very concept of preventive war. Harry Truman wrote in his memoirs “There is nothing more foolish than to think that war can be stopped by war. You don’t ‘prevent’ anything but peace.” Eisenhower was equally opposed. My guess is the Obama Administration is wrestling with the same issue right now concerning Iran and some observers conclude that a “hot” covert war is already underway.

    There are many fascinating dissertations and position papers on the topic available to the public through the National Defense University at Fort McNair. And probably many others not available to the public.

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  57. MichaelG said on December 15, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    I’ve been out of town the last couple of days.

    Sorry to hear of your loss, Little Bird and Deborah. Depression is a terrible thing.

    Great stuff, Maggie. I love your attitude. Keep up the good work!

    The facts were out there back when the Iraqi war was launched. If you took the time to look it was evident that there were no nukes, no stockpiles of horrible chemicals. There was no delivery system for the nukes that didn’t exist and Iraq wasn’t involved in world terriss activities. Bad as Saddam was he was still better overall for Iraq than the hard core Islamists that are going to end up in charge and the sectarian conflicts we are going to see. Somebody please explain how the last eight years have been better for Iraq and the Iraqi people at large than the eight years that proceeded them.

    Once things started it became abundantly clear that nobody in D.C. had planned what to do after H hour and nobody had a clue as to what to do. I’ve read a number of books on the war but “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” was the true mouth opener. I knew things had been bad but my chin was on my chest as I read that one.

    I still can’t comprehend the sheer mind boggling stupidity, incompetence and venality of the whole enterprise. I am still amazed at the huge numbers of otherwise intelligent people who bought into and continue to believe in the bill of goods sold to the American people.

    Bill Maher is funny as a rubber crutch. I never could stand that guy.

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  58. David C. said on December 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I didn’t believe it for one minute, but I had to keep my mouth shut. I worked in avionics – a very wingnutty business. I now work making military trucks and the people there are way more skeptical than my former co-workers. I don’t particularly like working in defense industry, but when you are trained to build stuff in a country that only builds stuff to kill people, and you like to have a roof over your head, you do what you have to do. I guess I’m a bit of a schmuck.

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  59. Bitter Scribe said on December 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I’ve always thought that Richard Nixon made a tacit devil’s bargain with the American people when he ended the draft: You cede me the power to make wars, and I won’t force your sons to fight in them. Every president since then has renewed that bargain.

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  60. Larkspur said on December 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I remember thinking, after 9-11, that we were about to see the biggest international law enforcement action in history, that Interpol and other countries’ police forces were going to work with us to find and prosecute those responsible, that it would be huge and important.

    So then we went to war in Afghanistan, and I felt uneasy, wondering if maybe I was being naive about the whole international investigation thing. By the time we got around to Iraq, I was heartsick. I lost a couple of good friends over it. We just could not get past the implications of our disagreement.

    And yes, I was still naive enough to be stunned not only at our post-war incompetence, but also just how very lucrative it was for the contractors. We fucking lost the war on terror. We lost, and it’s going to take a long time to get back to trying to be a civilized country. We broke our armed forces over this. We shattered all the post-9-11 bonds we were seeing all over the world. Wherever the hell GWB is living these days, I would like to Occupy the crap out of it.

    Yikes. I’m stepping away from the keyboard now.

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  61. coozledad said on December 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Michael G.:You’re right. The intelligence community gave the administration the information it needed to make the correct decision, and the administration ignored their conclusions in favor of those offered by people of a similarly criminal disposition. The best intelligence is of no use to people who’ve been conned by their own con.
    You don’t have to go too far back in history to see the same scenario played out a few months prior to Barbarossa. Stalin’s spy network in Japan, headed by Richard Sorge, knew months in advance that Hitler was planning to invade the Soviet Union.
    Stalin wouldn’t hear it. He simply wouldn’t believe that Hitler was running the game he was planning to run on Hitler.

    For a few months after the invasion, Stalin rightly believed his general staff was going to kill his stupid ass, and he fled to an undisclosed location.

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  62. Jolene said on December 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Last debate before Iowabeginning now on FNC!

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  63. Deborah said on December 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Hey, where’s Rana? Haven’t heard from her in a while?

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  64. Dexter said on December 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Jolene#41: Moqtada al-Sadr , the son of the most powerful cleric in modern times, all that power never went to his head at all. My point was that he has been dropped as a topic by the msm.
    I know I never saw this story in any mainstream US media outlets, giving you that I wasn’t really looking, of course…

    He was called a “ruthless killer” in many wartime accounts, but he sounds reasonable to me.

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  65. coozledad said on December 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    The Republicans ought to consider pilfering Peter Lorre’s monologue here as a blanket defense for their recent history. Ich Kann nicht could almost be a campaign slogan:

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  66. Jolene said on December 16, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Dexter: I think he became less of a topic because more attention was focused on Maliki, but, as the Guardian suggests, he and his large following are the reasons there is no residual US force sin Iraq.

    Who knows whether that is a good thing? It’s a separate question, I think, than whether the war was a good idea (no) or whether it was effectively planned and executed (no).

    Opinion on this topic in Iraq seems to be as diverse as it is here, but the bottom line was, without prosecutorial immunity, the US would not let troops stay. Oddly enough, the Iraqis did not want to permit men with guns to operate in their country under somebody else’s rules. So surprising. I’m sure we’d be delighted w/ such an arrangement if the roles were reversed.

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  67. Rana said on December 16, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Aw, Deborah, thanks for missing me! (And thank D. for letting me know about your comment.)

    The embarrassing truth is that I find it hard to keep up with blogs that don’t have feeds. I don’t read posts through the feed reader, but it’s the main way I learn that a new one is up, and it enables me to click straight through to the post (and comments).

    And then when I get around to checking, everyone’s already deep in conversation, or there’s several posts up and I’ve missed the boat entirely, so I end up lurking.

    I keep thinking it’s a good thing since I spend so much time on the computer as it is, but I do miss y’all and wonder why I’m so lazy that an extra click is such a barrier!

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  68. nancy said on December 16, 2011 at 12:48 am

    I thought I had a feed, but I see I don’t, do I? I’ll speak to J.C. about it.

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  69. MarkH said on December 16, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Hitchens is gone. RIP.


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  70. coozledad said on December 16, 2011 at 2:23 am

    There’s no lesson in death. The only lesson is, don’t be such a loathsome fucking prick on the cusp of death.
    Bye, Hitch. Bye.

    Sorry Mark H. I don’t even now why I thought I could have scooped this one. Pure fucking hubris is what it is.

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  71. MarkH said on December 16, 2011 at 2:59 am

    You’re just up too late, like me.

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  72. ROGirl said on December 16, 2011 at 6:12 am

    Off topic, but relates to previous discussions. I hesitate to bring this up, but in my relatively new job at a call center (the only one I could get after a long period of unemployment), I recently heard several of my co-workers in a discussion near the end of a work day. I had been talking with the guy who sits next to me, he asked me if I’m getting a Hannukah bush (it’s a joke, there’s no such thing). I told him when I grew up we had a Christmas tree and a menorah. The two women sitting on the other side of us started chatting about how they don’t like Jews (I didn’t hear anything beyond that back and forth). The guy who sits next to me heard them and said in a very loud voice,” R (meaning me) is a cool Jew.” He was trying to clue the two women in to my presence, he has had Jewish friends. One of them looked up towards me and said,” Are you a Jew?” I said that I’m Jewish. All of the others in this story are African-American, and of course I’m Jewish and white. Neither of the women ever said anything to me about it, didn’t apologize. It was very unsettling for me.

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  73. alex said on December 16, 2011 at 7:40 am

    ROGirl, I’m always astounded that members of groups that have suffered from prejudice and discrimination can be so lacking in empathy for others in the same boat, but they’ll be the first to scream bloody murder and file an EEOC claim if somebody gores their ox. Blacks in general have little love for gay people either, and it’s largely because of fundamentalist religion and a culture that worships machismo and denigrates women.

    Years ago I remember having to hold my tongue when a black co-worker was being particularly offensive. One day when I pointed out an error in his work, he responded “Well that does look pretty QUEER, now that you mention it. Very QUEER.” Had I responded “Why, no, it’s really a pretty NIGGLING mistake,” he would have gone bawling to HR and had my ass fired in a New York minute.

    In another workplace I remember a fundamentalist Christian woman making disparaging comments about Judaism. When I objected, she quite nonchalantly said, in effect, that it’s our duty to try and convince them to save their souls instead of indulging them with all this multi-culti bullshit. I didn’t go complaining to HR because I figured this nutcase would shoot her mouth off in front of the wrong person one day and get shown the door and that’s exactly what transpired.

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  74. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 16, 2011 at 7:42 am

    This is long, and (full disclosure) religious in nature, but if you have the interest & patience for it, Richard gets into an application of Walter Wink on “powers & principalities” where the question of nationhood and warfare and fear of death and thereby actually creating more of it is actually pretty practically addressed. (I understand that for some, any invocation of the guy who’s not the Flying Spaghetti Monster is by definition not practical at all, but you might be surprised.)

    Again, like too many of my comments, it’s not short, but there’s not much of this essay I’d cut, so read or not as you like:


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  75. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 16, 2011 at 7:50 am

    As for “Mookie” as I heard lots of guys refer to him who had been in Iraq, the other part of his story is that when the war began, he was pretty young and very inexperienced. He’s ten years older now, and obviously sharper. I doubt anyone would talk about Mookie or Mookie’s boys now — and his decision four months ago shows just how smart he’s gotten.

    Will the Shia end up running the county next? Some would say that demographically & socially that’s long overdue, not too terribly different from South Africa not long ago. Al-Sadr’s no Mandela, but his organization is half the health care for two-thirds of the country, and most of the social safety net. Think of the Salvation Army, but one that takes the second half of their name very, very seriously. Speaking of which, that’s where I’m off to; pray that we manage, as it looks like we will, to get to the last day with two presents left over after the last Angel Tree pick-up is done! Even with a 20% increase in requests & needs.

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  76. heydave said on December 16, 2011 at 8:03 am

    It was at that time that I lost all patience in holding back and even feigning being polite to asshole warmongers. I let others at the local pub know what I thought of them and their bullshit aircraft carrier president at the time and have never looked back. If you believed we really needed that stupid “war” (how can a war be over if it’s never been declared?) then you are too stupid to fit into my life.

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  77. ROGirl said on December 16, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Alex, I figured if I had made similar comments it would have been my last day of work. You also bring up the machisimo factor. I thought about going to HR over some of the treatment I’ve received (being called sweetheart and shorty, being touched and tickled, not being listened to) and was told that it’s a cultural thing and I shouldn’t make an issue over it.

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