November, 2009 browsing by month



Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Headed by President Hamid Văn Thiệu Karzai, Afghanistan is not just like Vietnam, it IS Vietnam. Here we are again backing a corrupt so-called leader after the result of a highly questionable election that we would certainly condemn if it were held anywhere else. (Nguyễn Văn Thiệu got around 94% of the vote in Vietnam in 1971).

We had the opportunity to grab Bin Laden and the key Al Qaeda people in the earliest days and lost the opportunity by a combination of indecision and the faulty belief of a few that smart-bombs, UAVs and Black Ops forces could replace regiments if not divisions in a sparsely populated, mountainous land.
Another 100,000 troops, even if they were all shooters, will not bring back the opportunity that was lost years ago.

The political leadership, past and now current, can not or will not even tell us what success would look like in Afghanistan because they want to be able to change the definition as they go.  Do you really think our fathers, uncles, grandfathers and such would have hit the beaches on Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Omaha or Utah if they had no idea of how success would be defined. That’s what we are asking our troops to do now. How can we look them in the eye and ask them to do this! Saying “Remember 9/11” is only going to last a little longer. They’re going to have to start up the draft again because we have absolutely worn out all of our active duty, reserve and National Guard troops.

This is the LBJ moment. It’s sounding now that Barry is going to push ahead so as not to look weak. Yes we have lost good people there and yes their sacrifice is very much appreciated and gratefully acknowledged by this old jarhead and countless thousands of others. At this point, the best way to show that we truly support our troops is to get them out of a situation that has no end in sight, before thousands more are maimed and killed.

Can’t we be smart and retain some of the lessons of our own history. Must we continue to follow the failed steps that Britain followed in both Afghanistan and Mesopotamia. I’m not ignoring or forgetting the history of Al Qaeda or the Taliban, but continuing to send the best of our youth and literally tons of our treasure to this place that has swallowed up armies from Alexander to the Soviets is just madness and does a great disservice to those who must fight and die so politicians can say that they did not forget 9/11.

Over 50,000 of us died for the domino theory of Communism in southeast Asia. We lost a generation, nearly ruined the Army and Marine Corps as career options for patriotic Americans and thought we had forever changed how our country’s military forces would be deployed in foreign lands. How many more Americans have to be killed, maimed and forever emotionally scarred in this exercise in futility?

Thanks for shopping at Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club – We assume you’re a thief until you prove otherwise.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I did something today that I do not often do – I bought some food at a Wal-Mart. I tried to get my Thanksgiving turkey at a locally owned grocery store, but they seem to have decided that no one needed a turkey smaller than 20 pounds. Since I was out already, and really wanted to get this bird in the fridge and thawing, I went down the road a mile to a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market to check their selection of turkeys. They actually had a much wider selection of turkeys than the local grocer, and they were lower priced for the same brand, so I got a nice 12-pounder and headed for the checkout.

As is usually the case, there were two checkouts open and long lines in each, so I headed for the self-service checkout. These are often problematic, but since I only had one item it seemed fairly foolproof. The moment I scanned the turkey’s tag, I got an automated voice telling me “approval required.” Funny, the turkey did not look like spray paint or anything else I could think of that might have some purchase limitations. Usually when I get an error on these automated checkouts, I just abandon the lane and seek another or head for the human checkout. This time, there was already an employee headed toward me and the other lines were still long so I waited. The employee looked at the screen, then carefully looked at the tag on the turkey. I asked what the problen was and mentioned that the audible message had started before I could move the turkey from the scanner to the bagging area and its validation scale.She told me that they were having problem with people stealing turkeys and switching labels.

I told her that my understanding is that the bar code on the turkey contains the weight of the bird also and was surprised that it halted the transaction without waiting to check the weight. She mumbled something and began logging in to the terminal.

Since I was only buying one item, it seems pretty clear that Wal-Mart has simply decided that all turkey purchases must be scrutinized and manually verified since everyone coming in to the store is a thief unless proven otherwise. Sam’s Club has had a “prove you didn’t steal it” check at the exit door for a long time and I have grudgingly accepted it, though I still hold up my receipt and say “see I didn’t steal anything today” when I check out.

I’m sure every retailer has problems with loss control, but only a couple seem to have resorted to just assuming that everyone in the store is there to steal until proven otherwise. This is one of the results of total focus on lowest price by the consumers to the exclusion of any other factor. If this same type of behavior were done by a retailer that was not seen as lowest possible price, they would soon have no customers to worry about.

There are limits to how much customer-hostile behavior we will tolerate. We all need to make more of an effort to let the retailers know when they are pushing that limit, and also let them know when they are doing a good job. Yes, I have communicated this experience to Wal-Mart as well, . . . for all the good it will do.