07 October 2008


Yes, I am still alive! Two folks have gotten on the IV's case in the last 48 hours wondering if I still have a pulse. Indeed, I do!

So, this is a fine time to fire off a short missive confirming that I'm still irritated as ever and also am getting ready for tonight's Round 2 between Obama and "The Maverick."

Judging by McCain's performance two weeks ago (snarling, refusing to look at Obama, changing the subject with every question), I would not be too surprised if McCain enter's tonight's town-hall meeting and becomes visibly upset at some point. The question is, is he ticked that Obama's starting to trounce him, or is he really coming to regret his choice of campaign staff and his VP choice?

I hope to be back later this evening with some observations on both candidates during the debate...and I've added another rule to the debate drinking game: Every time McCain says he loves the vets, helps the vets, ALWAYS stands up for vets, I'm downing a beer.

Gawd knows I was positively hammered after the Sarah Palin show last week. And that was just from watching her interview with Couric.

Perhaps I will be a bit squiffed when I return, but such is par for the course when McCain takes his stand-up act on national TV again.

I'll catch ya later.

12 July 2008

On the road again

Jeez, I'm trying to figure out if I ever really left the Army. I sure move often enough to think I'm still in. More often, really.

My wife and I are headed for the political wilderness (or zoo) known as Washington, DC, over the next couple weeks. It's going to be a bit of adjustment for this small-town guy, but my wife - a big-city girl - will be in heaven as far as she's concerned.

I will too, I bet: There may be no better time to see how our nation really works, up-close, by living in perhaps the most important metro region in the world. I've got a lot on my plate for now: Moving, new job, grad school in the near future (next year) and a host of other opportunities I'll likely be knee-deep in before too long.

It should be an interesting journey, and I swear I'm going to try to keep this site alive. Yeah, I know, it's CPR-time for this thing, but I think I can keep it going.

Well, stay in touch. Maybe I'll redo the site after the dust settles and keep a running commentary on the election, the wars, the state politics and patriotism and the world in general from the IV's perspective.

Meanwhile, I comment on VetVoice fairly regularly (when I'm not loading boxes and such), so take a trip over there and see what the great minds of that organization are saying.

Until next time...

09 May 2008

Commo check

"Any station, any station, this is IrritatedVet, over..."

Ah, geez, here I am again. Trying to revive this place after, uh, a month and a half of inactivity.

Yeah, good luck with that, eh?

Not much happening here at the ol' IV, other than this recent gem of a comment (for a July, 2006 posting). Thanx Gary, it's good to know that someone out there still drinks the Kool-Aid. I lost my taste for it several years ago.

Been spending a lot of time trying to get things lined up for the future - as in grad school - and working with various groups, namely VoteVets, to effect positive policy change as regards Iraq.

And Hillary's on her last gasp - attempting to do everything possible to whine, cajole and threaten her way to the Dem nomination and destroy the party in the process. Because that is EXACTLY what would happen if the DNC hands it to her.

On Thursday night, an open letter from Clinton to Obama began making its way around the net, and it's just a hoot.

My favorite line of her (not well edited) letter:

One of the foremost principles of our party is that citizens be allowed to vote and that those votes be counted. That principle is not currently being applied to the nearly 2.5 million people who voted in primaries in Florida and Michigan.

Um, uh, let me think for a sec here. Oh, yeah, I remember. Seems that Sen. Clinton, Obama and all the rest of the hopefuls agreed with the DNC last year that those two state's Dem committees had violated the rules, therefore their respective primaries would not count. The people of Florida and Michigan should be raising hell with their state committees, that's for damn sure.

That's what was agreed to, hence the fact that Obama and the others spent little time campaigning in those states. I've corresponded with DNC chief Howard Dean about this (here's his response, for the record).

Since then, it's become apparent neither state will hold another primary. It's become an integrity issue more than anything else - Sen. Clinton has demonstrated that she has little when it comes to abiding by the previous agreement, and the DNC has every opportunity now to demonstrate that they do have the integrity to uphold the ruling and agreement.

So let's see how things go over the next week - and hopefully, by then, the DNC will be geared toward fighting John McCain, not each other.

And on the next fun-n-happy edition of "CSI: IrritatedVet," we solve more of the mysteries of my favorite Middle East tourist destination, Iraq.

24 March 2008

Dear Dr. Dean, Part II

As I promised some time back, I would post the reply from the DNC re: the Michigan and Florida issues as relates to the Obama-Clinton standoff.

And, get this: It wasn't a form letter! Holy cow!

Without further ado....

March 12, 2008
Dear (IrritatedVet),
Thank you for writing to the Democratic National Committee. I am glad to hear that you participated in the Democratic caucus in Maine.

I understand your concerns regarding the delegates from Folrida and Michigan. As of this time, both states remain in non-compliance with a 100% loss of their delegates. The results of the January primaries in either state cannot count towards the nomination because the January dates violate the DNC's rules. However, if Florida or Michigan chooses to hold new primaries or caucuses they may regain their delegates. This is a move the DNC would welcome because we know how inportant it is to the Party that these two states play a meaningful role in the nominating process. If they do not hold new primaries or caucuses then this issue will ultimately be resolved by the Convention Credentials Committee after we have a nominee.

Thank you for writing and for your brave service to our country. Please feel free to contact us again in the future.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

Well, there you have it. We know now that FLA and MI will not have a re-vote, but I'm waiting for Sen. Clinton - who went into this fully expecting that the nomination was already hers - to find another way to have those states counted. I wonder if she's gonna pull an Al Gore and go to court over this...and I think that it's pretty clear that her case would be pretty weak.

After all, she, Obama and the other candidates agreed to the FL and MI penalties in the first place.

Sorry, Hillary, the coronation is off.

15 March 2008

I'm still alive!

Whether that's a good thing or not depends on your perspective, I suppose.

But I have not abandoned this little soapbox in the vast wilderness...but have been spending a lot of time at VetVoice.com, the online blog of VoteVets.org.

For those of you who are looking for a great place to vent frustrations about the war in Iraq - and more importantly, GET INVOLVED in ending it and restoring a decent, well reasoned and beneficial set of foreign and military policies.

I had the awesome opportunity to go to DC earlier this month and meet fellow VoteVets members - about 25 of us - and spend a couple days getting familiar with VoteVets' core mission.

In short, we are a pro-military organization - with around 15,000 Iraq and Afghanistan vets (and thousands of spouses, family, supporters and everyday civilians) - that takes issue with the current administration's policies that led to a disastrous, failed war in Iraq while the real war on terror was ignored and military readiness has fallen like a stone.

While our nation pursues two separate wars, no serious effort has been made to upgrade, expand and prepare our military to fight the protracted conflicts that will undoubtedly continue over the next decade at least.

We also support and endorse veterans running for Congress and state-level office who seek a better way in terms of our nation's policies.

Unfortunately, my time is short tonight. Just wanted to drop by and shout into the ether for a few minutes and let you all know I'm alive.

And tired. Heading for sleep.

22 February 2008

Dear Dr. Dean

Well, I couldn't help it.

After thinking about the latest issues regarding Ickes' call - on behalf of Hillary Clinton - for the DNC to go back on its word and reverse last year's vote re: Florida and Michigan (a move that was subsequently agreed to by all Dem candidates), I had to write the DNC Chairman, Dr. Howard Dean and share my feelings about this matter.

I post it here for everyone's benefit, now that the DNC has received it and has had some time to digest it.

February 19, 2008
Howard Dean, M.D.
Chairman, Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Dr. Dean:

I write you to share my concerns about a crucial debate and decision that, in my estimation, will dictate the future of the Democratic Party.

I am an Iraq War veteran, a former independent voter, and a newly minted member of the Democratic Party. I changed my affiliation on Feb. 10 in order to take part in the Maine caucus, and am very glad I took the time to participate in that process.

However, my newfound excitement at being a Democrat has been tempered in recent days, stemming from what appears to be a growing call from certain DNC members to overturn last year’s decisions by majority vote to strip Florida and Michigan of their delegates over those states’ early primaries in violation of established party rules and policies.

My concern is that the party, if it were to overturn the previous decision this far into the primary/caucus process, would send a signal that it cannot abide by its own decisions; such a move will be widely interpreted by members of both major parties – and the American public in general – as a signal that the DNC can’t enforce its own policies.

The backlash of such a move, I am convinced, will be catastrophic for this party. I believe it will drive Independents away from casting a vote for the Democratic candidate, and it will further polarize the Democratic Party itself. In light of the trying times we face - and the common belief that there needs to be a leadership change in Washington - this is not the time for a major rift to be opened among Democrats.

Furthermore, the opposition will exploit such a decision for maximum effect throughout the remainder of the campaign – including pointing to such a move as evidence that the DNC cannot abide by its own decisions and policies, therefore making the Democrats incapable of holding the highest office in the land.

We have seen what the opposition can do in terms of exploiting lies about others for political gain. I shudder to think what they can do with a situation like this, should it come to pass.

Our party cannot risk losing this election, and I’m convinced that if the DNC reverses its prior decision, such a result will become much more of a likelihood.

I’m speaking neither in support of (or on behalf of) nor against either major Democratic candidate for the presidential nomination. (I’d also like to add I am not actively involved in any campaign.)

I have my own preference, but the process of choosing our delegates and our nominee – and the integrity of that process, abiding by all previous DNC decisions – is more important to me.

And integrity is so sorely needed in Washington now, more than ever!

I’d also like to make clear that in no way do I seek to disenfranchise any voters in the primary process – but the decision has very publicly been made by the DNC. I submit that the DNC must abide by that decision, enforce it and choose a presidential candidate based on the will of the voters in the rest of the nation – whomever that candidate may be.

I write to you as a voter, a new party member, and a concerned American citizen who desperately seeks an alternative to the Republican party that since 2001 has put our nation’s military, economy and very future at risk with policies based on lies.

I respectfully submit that the DNC must remain bound to the decision it made last year regarding the 2008 presidential candidate nomination process.

Very Respectfully,


If I receive a reply, I'll let you know. If it's a form letter, rest assured I will send it back and demand - on behalf of all voters - an honest, original reply.

17 February 2008

The Ickes Shuffle!

Looks like one of Sen. Clinton's guard-dogs, Harold Ickes, a former deputy Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton and a current DNC member, is having a change of heart about the DNC's move to bar Florida and Michigan's delegates.

Let me get this straight: Ickes voted as a DNC member months ago to disallow those delegates after those states' parties committed scheduling violations for their primaries. He, along with other DNC bigwigs, including Howard Dean, vowed to uphold and enforce this decision.

So far, so good! But wait, there's more!

Now that Ickes is deep into the campaign as a member of the Clinton camp - and Clinton's certainly not having the easy time she so confidently predicted many months ago - he's now calling to overturn a national-level decision that he himself played a key role in authorizing?

WHOA! Back the truck up, Chief!

Isn't that a conflict of interest? Major-leaguer, big-time?

It's like voting to make something illegal, then pushing to have that rescinded or repealed when you realize your son or friend is about to get busted under that statute.

NOTE TO DNC: Wanna lose the election AGAIN? Go back on your word on this and see what happens. And we, America, cannot afford another four years of the current administration's policies.

If the Dems allow this, it will prove that the party has no real interest in the actual process of democracy. Yup, there's the democratic process, and then there's the Democratic process.

I truly believe, to my very core, that if the DNC reverses its previous decision with regard to Florida and Michigan, it will be suicidal to the party. The Democrats have struggled for years - a decade, really - to regain the sense of party unity of pre-1994.

The party has proven on many occasions since 2001 to have a limp dick when it comes to challenging the GOP, and flip flopping on this issue is not exactly the Viagra it so sorely needs now.

If the Democrats are to be trusted with the executive office, they had better adhere to their own decision - lest they prove that - like GWB and Co. - they are not capable of following the rules.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess I am a new Democrat (as of 10 FEB 08, the day of the Maine Caucuses).

The Dems will make the decision soon as to whether they keep me or lose me. It's not about Clinton/Obama. It's about enforcing party policy. Accountability, you might say.

Yes, I voted Obama. I cannot vote for someone who voted for the Iraq War, period. No way, no how. That includes Clinton and McCain.

***On a side note, this marks the 100th posting here. Yah, whoop-tee-friggen'-doo!
Geez, I better get with the program and start cranking out more here. I've been hanging out at VoteVets way too much - which is a good thing! Go check it out!

16 February 2008

When all else fails, PUNT! (Or run away!)

Have been reading with much amusement the extent to which our GOP members of Congress have been going lately to distance themselves of the pressing matters of the day.

Take, for example, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who has over the last couple weeks seemingly become a one-track guy: Going after the NFL over the 'Spygate' issue.

OK, for you non-football types: it was found that the N.E. Patriots had used videotape to spy on opponents and divine their coaching calls during games, which is a form of cheating. Yes, the Pats were properly punished.

At any rate, this happened in September...now that the snow flies and the Super Bowl is over, Specter - an ardent Eagles fan - seems to forget that there's a war or two going on, and is fixated on trying to force the NFL to punish the Pats further.

Two questions, Sen. Specter: A) Since when does Congress regulate the NFL's rules, and B) Don't you have, uh, more pressing needs to attend to?

Same goes for this whole sham of the baseball steroids hearings. This is a matter for MLB and the courts, NOT Congress! Seriously, gang, what's more important, Clemens taking a jab in the butt so he could win one more game, or the fact that our nation is still losing blood and traesure in Iraq?

But I save the best for last...

In the truest spirit of the GOP's reputation for toughness, most of the Republican House members decamped the House chamber Thursday in search of safe haven - led by Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) - when it became apparent that the Democratic majority was going to commit the ultimate act of treason:

They held Bush administration officials in contempt for REFUSING to tell the truth.

So, knowing that the motion would pass, Boehner bravely stood up to the challenge and led his fellow yellow elephants out of the room in "protest."

Mr. Boehner, that has got to be the all-time most pusillanimous, spineless, shameful thing I've ever seen on the House floor.

He and his colleagues, as I noted at VetVoice yesterday, have given a new meaning to the old phrase, "When the going gets tough, the 'tough' get going."

In their pants, apparently. Truth hurts, doesn't it? Go change your Depends, Boehner.

Shame on them. They abandoned their posts, and no longer deserve to be called leaders. Just try that in the military and see what happens.


08 February 2008

The 'Maine' event; voting problems?

Until yesterday, I was undecided...as to whether I would take the time to participate in the Maine Dem Caucus this Sunday.

Seriously, I thought things would be pretty cut-and-dried by then, so what would be the point, other than being able to say I participated in it.

Not so fast, all! As we all know, things are clear as mud right now, and apparently Maine just became a key state for both Sens. Obama and Clinton...so much so that BOTH of them will visit our fair state this Saturday.

What I'm saying to those of you in Maine and the other 20 or so states yet to caucus/primary, your vote apparently does matter, and I urge you to participate.

Who knew that my humble little state could suddenly matter? It's nice to know that my vote may actually mean something!

(As a colleague of mine recently quipped: "I'm gonna rock out with my caucus out!!!")

Am curious as to how many readers here have had problems with primaries/caucuses (waiting in line for hours, finding out that voter rolls were inaccurate, elections officials running out of ballots, etc.)

This is an issue that were all going to need to be hyper-aware of as we go through this process - especially those of you stationed in Iraq, A-stan, etc.

I had a pissing match with my local election board in 2004 while I was in Iraq - we received absentee ballots for the municipal elections a full week AFTER the election was over.

I sent mine back with a letter urging the board to get absentees ballots out to Iraq asap for the November elections, lest those of us defending the right to vote be disenfranchised in the process. (I got mine on time and was told that my vote for Kerry WAS counted in my county's results.)

I know it happened in 2004, and I think we can make a concerted effort to try and prevent that this year. Just a heads-up.

(Cross-posted at VetVoice.com)

24 January 2008

It seems like the Democrats, as can be expected, are up in arms about El Presidente's latest attempt to present himself as having a strong bond with the so-called Iraqi government - one that will keep American troops there for as long as John McCain thinks they should be.

Among the top critics is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). She has used the past two Democratic presidential debates to blast President Bush for his effort, as she put it Monday in South Carolina, "to try to bind the United States government and his successor to his failed policy."

Her concerns have been echoed by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and other Democratic lawmakers who are focusing their fire on the administration's plans for a long-term commitment to Iraq, after gaining little traction for their efforts to force a faster withdrawal of U.S. combat troops there.

(Somewhere, in the back of my mind, a little voice tells me how easy I was told the Iraq operation was supposed to be. We were supposed to be down to 30,000 troops there by the end of 2003. The President, after all, stood in front of a banner proclaiming to the world, "Mission Accomplished!"

Another little voice reminds me that I spent most of 2004 in Iraq, as casualties mounted, the Iraqi economy declined and my nation got sucked deeper into a quagmire, and it hasn't gotten any better, surge or no surge. Thanks for the reality check, other little voice!)
So here we are in 2008, nearly five years after the Iraq War started, and the Bush administration - one which equates rational problem-solving with defeat - is doing everything it can to basically say "not OUR problem!" They are setting up the next administration - assuming it's Democratic - for failure.
...Bush and his advisers express the private conviction that any presidential successor will find it hard to disengage from Iraq, no matter what is said on the campaign trail. One senior official, not authorized to speak publicly, said Clinton or any another would-be president will eventually welcome the agreement that the Bush administration intends to negotiate with the Iraqis.
"Is the next president going to say, 'I don't want to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq'? Maybe," this official said. "But I think they are going to want to, and we will give them the proper authorities."

I'm calling bullshit on this one. What this guy is really saying is that the only administration capable of working on a deal with Iraq is the current one, and what they are doing is locking Bush's successor into an agreement that won't give him/her any wiggle room to end the war.

Besides, "al-Qaeda in Iraq?" Really? No such animal existed until 2003, and even then, it's still a stretch to assume everyone there is AQI.

So, without further ado, I challenge all of our Senators and Congresspersons - of BOTH PARTIES - to challenge the administration on this.

BushCo's gone too long unchallenged, and when they are, it seems that all too often Congress caves.

It's time for this to end.

If the Dems are so up-in-arms about this, they must carry out their Constitutionally mandated duty and force the administration to run this agreement - which sounds more like a treaty - through the Senate.

Random thought of the day: Mayday is May 1, which happens to be the anniversary of the infamous speech on the deck of the USS Lincoln.

Has anyone given any thought to rebranding Mayday as 'Mission Accomplished Yet?' day ?

Also, I saw this little gem on the MNF-I Web site:

In August, electrical production of megawatts exceeded 5,000 for 25 days – producing enough power for approximately 450,000 homes.

That's it? After nearly five years?
Mission Accomplished, my ass.

17 January 2008

A tour is still a tour...

Yeah, sure, I'll take 12 months over 15 months any day, but the fact remains that our policies in Iraq - the Mission that Has Not Yet Been Accomplished - is still requiring men and women to go over again and again.

GEN Casey tries, I think, to sound magnanimous about this, but the statement he gives the AP gives me pause:

Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the Army, said that as the number of brigades in Iraq comes down from 20 to 15 over the next several months, officials will be able to begin increasing the amount of time soldiers spend at home between tours.
But Casey cautioned that he is "not going public with that or final with that until I'm sure we're not going back'' on it.

So, if he's not going public, why in hell's he talking to AP about it?

And it seems that our intrepid reporter from AP didn't ask the pertinent questions regarding our previous commitments in Afghanistan (anyone remember that?), or the fact that President Bush seems hellbent on firing up yet another war with Iran. Let's see what that does for rotation schedules, General!

America's current rotations are barely tenable as is - I know of a Navy officer doing ground duty in Iraq because there basically wasn't an Army/USMC person to fill that billet - and now GWB is doing all he can to falsely ratchet up the stakes in the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz, as evidenced last week.

With the new, contrived threats showing up on the military's radar screen - and sooner rather than later, methinks - I'm gonna go back to a long-held position of mine and see if it passes the IV test:

(From the AP story)
Plans are to increase the number of the active-duty Army, Army Guard and Army Reserve by 74,000 overall, with the active-duty force growing by 65,000 to a total of 547,000. In October, top Army leaders said they planned to move faster to increase the size of the force - adding the full 74,000 soldiers by 2010, two years sooner than originally planned.

OK...America's fighting two wars. One's got a pretty large contingent in one nation (Iraq, about 130,000 troops, plus contractors, diplomats, engineers, etc.).

The other war, the GWOT (or the RGWOT, Real Global War On Terror, as Brandon Friedman of VoteVets accurately calls it) requires about 30,000 US troops plus attendant CIV personnel in Afghanistan, plus others (hard to tell how many thousands) deployed worldwide in fights against Abu Sayyaf and other anti-US groups.

Keep in mind the US is done with one surge in Iraq, and is trying to mount another in Afghanistan (the "oh, yeah, that war!" response).

The current state of the Army and USMC - end-strength, equipment, OPTEMPO (operational tempo) and strain on soldiers/Marines and their families is running those services into the dirt.

And the Navy and USAF, I fear, are not far behind.

All the while, our nation - involved in two separate and distinct wars - chooses to increase the Army by a paltry 74,000 Soldiers over three years? While the specter of a new war hangs over America's head?

Seriously? War with Iran will force America to institute a full-scale, no-holds-barred draft. As in all males 18 to 45. Because it won't just be Iran that America fights - it will be World War III. The implications are global.

GEN Casey, SecDef Gates and (most of all) the President are more out of touch than we really realize.

It's indicative, yet again, as to how little planning went into the Iraq War. It's coming back to bite our nation - you and me - in the butt.