Saturday, June 11, 2005

This Calling Bell

Originally uploaded by chrisbreitenbach.
I got some good news in the mail earlier this week. Thankfully, not knowing it was Caesar who crossed the Rubicon in such a way, and with such momentous consequences, as to be analogous to George Washington’s own crossing of the Delaware, did me no harm. That I did well doesn’t guarantee university acceptance, though it does mean I’ve successfully jumped through a vital admissions hoop and managed to land upright, a biscuit artfully balanced atop my nose.

So, now there is more waiting. I know the mail arrives on most weekdays between 2:00 and 2:30 in the afternoon.

And there’s Hilton Head. In celebration of Lou Lou’s 60th birthday. Whole family under one roof, a hundred yards from the beach and just a week from today. I’m making a mini-documentary of the whole thing. (Honest! Wait to you see it. It’s gonna be good, and much, much funnier then the first one.) Which reminds me, my incredible nephew, Ethan, is taking, simply because he’s curious little kid, a super cool summer school class focused on making your own movie sets. How very cool is this? “Okay, kids, listen up please! Eyes up here. We’re going to begin today by using the props I’ve brought in to recreate as best we can the set design from the opening scene of Hannah and Her Sisters!” What child doesn’t adore that movie and Woody Allen in general? The kids are crazy about him! I’m truly surprised that there’s never been a “Little Woody” cartoon, something suitable for, say, PBS. Episodes would follow the endearingly neurotic adventures of Little Woody with plenty of opportunities for wry, existential musings about monsters in the closet, the potential consequences of committing Onan’s sin and death. Sounds like Radio Days to me, but still…

We have Wearemonster and wearehappy. And, if that wasn’t cool enough, Cathy just turned the air conditioner on.

If you’re like me and find this administration’s chronic exaggerations on how progress is coming along with the building of an autonomous Iraqi army both maddening and utterly fraudulent (let alone dangerously delusional), take a look at this bullshit repellent from yesterday’s Washington Post. The Administration line is delivered by Maj. Gen. Josehph J. Taluto who reassures us that there will be plenty of qualified Iraqi fighting men come fall- “I can tell you, making assessments, I know we’re on target.” Everything is fine, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along!” The U.S. military currently says there are over 169,000 thousand Iraqi military and police who are “trained and equipped.” But the truth, I think, is conveyed by one of the platoon sergeant’s involved in the training and who readily admits that he and his fellow soldiers “like to refer to the Iraqi army as preschoolers with guns.” Most estimate that the number of realistically “trained and equipped” Iraqi soldiers, that is, soldiers who could act autonomously of U.S. support and fulfill similar missions, is around 10,000 at most.

I’ve read dozens of articles over the months regarding this attempt by the U.S. military to train Iraqi soldiers. And in reading these pieces, it’s made stunningly clear that this undertaking, like so many of our adventures in Iraq, isn’t going well. Frustrated commanders on the ground, Iraqi leaders and anonymous insider sources all thread through these articles and offer assessments bluntly contradicting those made by the administration.

Lastly, we’re having a BBQ on Sunday. Summer has arrived. And Happy Birthday to Big Art, who will be grilling out on the deck in Bay Village tonight.

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