Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moving...

I'm moving my thoughts to a new blog site... just wanted to let you know you can find my words at www.pamelafurr.wordpress.com. I'm still working on the look, but everything should be in place by Sunday, July 4th.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strong in the Broken Places?

Ernest Hemingway said "“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

What happens when our own actions break us? What happens when there's no one or nothing else to blame but ourselves? Can we be strong in those broken places?

I believe we can. I believe I am. Broken and strong. This is me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

White House to McChrystal: the uniform of the day is now Sackcloth and Ashes (McChrystal to the White House: Nope)

This week, the pressures on the man must have been especially intense. In addition to the task of operationally planning the Afghan War, General McChrystal has had to deal with hastily preparing for a Presidential carpet-dance of epic proportions, all under the largely unsympathetic eyeballs of the world.

Maybe it was a foregone conclusion, given the political climate of the day. Maybe whatever Gen. McChrystal said, he would have been forced to resign. In this girl’s fantasy the General walked in to the oval office, declined the proffered cup of coffee (or was it hemlock?), looked his Commander in Chief right in the eye and said, “Mr. President, I respect your office although not-so-much you. Here is my resignation.” Probably didn’t really go down that way, but I can dream.

 Gotta love the irony: while Obama was still passing out leaflets on Chicago streetcorners and sucking in the words and philosophies of Marxists like Saul Alinsky and Bill Ayers, a much better man than he was fast-roping out of helicopters and crawling through the muck of foreign lands, fighting America’s secret wars in cold and hot climes. Now this special operator – this battle hardened warfighter who had been forced daily to send people to do (and has assuredly done himself) things in the furtherance of US National Security that we, the protected, do not know about – and, lets face it, probably do not want to know about - this shadow warrior is now forced to squint against the glare of the bright lights held by an unsympathetic mainstream media.

All because he and his staff spoke (some of) their truth and shared (some of) their frustrations with Obama’s White House and the fickle non-orders of his socialistic Commander-in-Chief -- a man seven years his junior. It just adds another tasty bit of irony that it all came out in a magazine more famous for its depictions of rocker rehab issues than, say, hard-hitting analysis of the National Military Strategy of the United States. Almost like the General did it on purpose, huh?

I think he did. I think General McChrystal knew exactly what he was doing, and that he put what was right and honorable before what was self-serving. And God Bless him for that.

Think about it. This administration had done the ultimate bait-and-switch on him. Obama, throughout the entire time he was running for President, kept essentially saying, “Get the US out of Iraq , up the focus in Afghanistan – that’s where the real war is – that’s where we will find Al Qaeda.” [Which was not quite true. Afghanistan is a rats nest of Al-Qaeda, of course, but there is still plenty of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, as anyone who has ever been there would tell you – that is another blog entry though.]

But Gen. McChrystal was given his orders and this man of action therefore went to work (and with vigor) to seek out, close with and destroy the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan . Unfortunately, in order to do this important mission, it came at the expense of American and Coalition resources, and so much more importantly, American and Coalition lives.

Mamas and Daddies and brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Gone. Or Maimed. Or wounded inside from witnessing the horrors attendant to any war.

I have to think that it scarred the General’s soul every time he saw a coffin, but he knew he had no choice – and he slept (when he slept -- there is always something to do, to read, or to decide in war and that limits shut-eye time) knowing that these men and women died for an important mission; chopping those radical Islamist weeds off, right at the root.

But then Obama (and Obama’s people) tell him that they were just fooling – that the real mission is not really to destroy Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. No, the real mission is to (essentially) fight a stalemate war, a holding war, a political war. Another Vietnam.

So, okay, certainly not what the General wanted to hear, but he saluted and marched on -- it does look like he tried to follow the new orders. He and his staff created and implemented operational combat plans that flew helicopters into maelstroms and sent out convoys into IED-infested hell. And every now and then his people (to a commander, all forces under your command are your people) didn’t come back, or didn’t come back with all of their arms and legs. 

His people died, or were maimed…for what? To satisfy the political whims of an Administration that wanted to tell Katie Couric that they were doing something to keep us safe? But at the same time wanting to tell Mother Jones that they were not warmongers? And all the time Americans and our allies were (and are) dying.

I really think McChrystal had finally had enough. I think he decided that honor demanded that he do the closest thing to hari kari one can do in a PR conscious society in the service of a PR conscious Obama administration. I think that the General wanted to send a message that this particular Commander-in-Chief does not know what he's doing. I think that the General was saying that Obama (and his half-wit VP, Biden) do not deserve the respect that a warrior would normally give his Commander-in-Chief.

And he had to do it the way he did, I think. If the General had resigned before this article, there would have been speculation and such, but an Obama-loving mainstream media would have no-doubt found a way to ignore or marginalize the General's comments. Well, they sure as hell cannot now!

By doing it this way, the General has captured the attention of the entire country-- the entire world. Everyone is talking about this: the comments that were made in the Rolling Stone article; the resignation of a 4-star General with lots of Army career left; and the Obama Administration’s approach to fighting the war in Afghanistan (the heretofore all-but-forgotten war).

It looks to this girl like Gen. McChrystal sacrificed his career to send this message. And God Bless him for doing it. Now, it is up to us to listen to him.

I hope that some good can come out of the General’s sacrifice. If we are over there to fight, let’s fight to win; if we are not there to win, then bring our national treasures (our men and women) home.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Information is.... a distraction???



So...we have a sitting US President talking about and attacking the new media (cable news and the internet-related activities). Why these forms of expression, you ask? Well – let’s face it, the traditional 3-letter mainstream media networks are pretty much doing Obama’s flack work for him. There isn’t bare spot on his shiny bottom that doesn’t have lip-prints from ABC, CBS or NBC. Those folks he oh-so-carefully leaves alone. Now – in the so-called “new” media (e.g. Drudge, Fox news, blogs, etc), Obama isn’t feeling the love (by which I mean that they are treating the man fairly -- much better treatment than George W got -- which looks to Obama’s over-tender feelings like a resounding bashing, of course). Ever notice that Dems dish it out just fine, but run like little girls when it is their turn in the pit?

Is it a coincidence that our President is attacking the new media? Media that by and large doesn’t love him (well MSNBC puckers up every chance they get, but who with any sense pays attention to MSNBC)? When Pamela Furr the talk show host says that people need to think a little bit more about stepping away from technology a pace or two, it is one lone radio talk show host encouraging her audience to enjoy the moments they are in. When the Chief Executive of the most powerful nation in the world attacks news outlets and other venues that criticize him, be afraid my friends and kinfolk. Be very damn afraid. Betcha they are going to try some form of censorship before too long, but they won’t call it that, of course. In their best Orwellian voices, they will call it Freedom Editing or Fairness Doctrine or something similarly nauseating to the thinking public (for instance, all y'all reading this), but palliative to most of the masses (Reagan hated that word, "masses," because it invokes images of socialism -- well it depresses me to say that we are edging there, my friends and kinfolk, bit by bit). I am getting skeerd. And so should you be.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

TO THOSE WHO BLED & DIED, I SALUTE YOU

It was a beautiful evening last night. The temperature was a nice, chilly 60 or so degrees. The sun was spreading its muted orange fire across the horizon as it set on yet another Confederate Memorial Day... a Memorial Day that went unremarked, I think, by most Carolinians. You may have heard Bill and me as we paid our respects on THE MORNING RUSH yesterday morning -- the morning of 10 May, and brought out some good discussion about why it is NOT racist to respect and to even fly the Confederate Battle Flag -- the “Stars and Bars” – if one chooses to do so. But after our show was over at 9, I did not hear a whole lot more about this unobserved holiday throughout the day. Not in the news nor by our leaders, elected and otherwise.

Let me take that latter point first. When it comes to politicians making a fuss about the honorable Southern dead – well, you wont see too much of that these days. Because the precious jewels that are the truth of our Southern history (chief among them is that the war was mainly NOT fought about slavery and was instead fought about States rights) – these precious stones of truth with their pure and nuanced light have been slathered over and over again with the thick paint of false history. So much so that it is damn near impossible to tell where the paint ends and the jewels begin. Not too many politicians have the stomach to peel away the pigment and explain the truth to the masses. Politicians these days just aren't built like that I am sad to say (I thought about this line a bit more after I read through it -- surely some politicians must be proud of this heritage -- I have to think / hope that, anyway).

Now, as for normal folks – differentiated from the politicians, I say, tongue only partially in cheek -- I think I understand why most folks feel the way they do. I guess that many of the great great grand sons and daughters of those who fought and sometimes died for what they viewed as their country all those many years ago are probably now ashamed or (what would be worse, in my mind) indifferent of a heritage that is as honorable to this girl’s heart as that of the Revolutionary War or any other war fought by praiseworthy people who believe in the justness of their cause.

Blame poor education or the loss of an oral tradition or the terror that comes with being labeled racist or some other nasty name. Whatever the reason, nowadays a lot of folks want to let the Secessionist part of their heritage just moulder over and turn dusty, like a precious book sitting ignored and unread in the attic. And yes , that hurts my heart a bit, friends and kinfolk. A book that their parents and grandparents read with pride because it was one that THEIR grandparents wrote.

But not everybody feels this way, I am so very, very proud to tell you. Last night I had the honor to attend a hushed respectful service, held on sacred ground. Ground that was consecrated by the remains that were interred there -- which represented the lives these men led and the sacrifices they made and hardships they and their families endured, oh so long ago . Last night men and women and children all gathered together to celebrate the lives and commemorate the passing of the honored Confederate dead. No one there was a racist -- anyone who thinks such a thing is missing the point. There was no hate in this service. No one shouted nor uttered anything resembling an epithet, at least not within my hearing.  No, this was not about disrespecting anyone. It was about respecting a proud past and an honorable heritage. I am proud of the people who came to this service and I am not even a little bit ashamed of the tears I cried as I stood there among them. To all who stood there with me: Thank You, from the bottom of my heart!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Wearing the American Flag Insensitive?? WTH??

I am a down to earth daughter of the South who has been gifted with a caring heart, a mind that reacts to illogical absurdities and a mouth that is prone to running off a bit (a touch more often than the Lord would probably like sometimes) over life’s inequities.

Today ALL THREE of those body parts are engaged, friends and kinfolk, because today I just read about something it has set my grits to bubbling over! [ I apologize in advance for those who are allergic to metaphor and redundancy-- I use them both sometimes to help me make a point or two, as you will soon see.]

Recently some American high school students (out near San Francisco, I know, but that is still America doggone it) wore some T-shirts that had the American flag on them and it got them kicked out of school for their trouble. Happened on the 5th of May -- Cinco de Mayo, get it? -- a day which commemorates some MEXICAN folks whomping up on some FRENCH folks during the Battle of Puebla, in MEXICO (and hey, good on 'em I say, but when did Mexico become America). So when those American kids wore their country's flag on the 5th of May, 2010 --- did I mention that I am referring to California the US State– not Baja California, the Mexican state --- when those US High School students wore the Stars and Stripes, their US High School principal -- showing the leadership and patriotism I have come to expect from US public High School principals in the last decade or so – this paragon of bravery and virtue barred his students from wearing the stars and stripes and sent our country's flag home, along with the children who wore it.

OK, I admit it -- to me Cinco de Mayo has always been pretty much just another excuse to have a margarita. A drinking and eating establishment that I would sometimes frequent in my mis-spent youth used to put cute little Mexican flags in their tequila drinks on 5 May, about where the umbrella might go in a fancier drink. After margarita #2 or so, I might even wave the tiny little drink flag around a bit and reflect very lightly on the fact that we have a neighbor to our south that, Pancho Villa and Santa Anna not withstanding, is by-and-large full of some more or less nice folks. There, for me anyway, is where the holiday (remember, NOT AN AMERICAN HOLIDAY) pretty much began and ended. Gotta say I never really put much thought into the Battle of Puebla.

All that to say that I guess I am dismayed but not really surprised that an American educator would determine that wearing the stars and stripes is somehow offensive to the sensitivities of the Mexican kids and/or the Mexican American kids on that day, many of whom I'd bet were busily waving the MEXICAN flag all around school. A large one it is to be presumed and without the benefit it is also to be presumed (and hoped for) -- of margaritas.


Tell you what -- I'd be willing to not care if anyone of any ancestry tied to any country who wants to wear or wave the flags of that country (be it Mexico, Holland or Pago Pago, I do not care) on whatever high holy days are important to their particular country. But for goodness' sakes, please dont prevent Americans (or anyone, for that matter) from wearing the AMERICAN flag IN AMERICA on any damn day they want to!

The same AMERICAN flag (minus some stars) that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner when he saw that the British couldn't shoot it down in the War of 1812. This same flag that a lot of brave Marines and their equally brave Navy Corpsmen fought to get up Mount Surabachi on Iwo Jima in the hell that was the island hopping campaign of WWII. The same flag (and by granny I am proud to say it is the ONLY flag) sticking in the sunny soil of the Moon. Some high school principal has deemed that this US flag is inappropriate to wear on ANOTHER COUNTRY'S HOLIDAY in an AMERICAN High School. I bet other schools have the same policy. Probably a lot of them.

I don’t like where this country is going. And no American should.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I Almost Missed the Sunset

I'm borrowing the title to one of Bill Gaither's books because I think it is very appropriate for my thoughts today...


I spent the morning looking every now and then at a picture of some friends of mine on a social networking site. I am going to protect their names, but please trust me when I tell you that anyone who has lived anywhere in the free world (and are older than 30) would probably know who at least two of these people are, by voice if not by sight. But it doesn’t really matter who they are or even that a couple of them are famous singers – they could be any group of friends gathered around a piano. They are just a-singing and having what appears to be a mighty good time. Knowing them, I am sure they were -- and it made me smile. Made me wish I could have been there.

But my smile must have faded a touch when I looked into the picture a little further. You see, two of these men were holding their cell phones, looking for all the world as though they were taping the event. I guess it just seemed a little sad to me because if so, THEY WERE MISSING MUCH OF THIS WONDERFUL MOMENT THEY WERE ACTUALLY IN!!! Is it wrong of me, then, to feel a little frustration amidst my warm feelings?

And we all do this. At family reunions and weddings and birthdays (even funerals, for some folks, but that seems pretty over the top to me). In such situations, the minutes in which we are living are much too valuable, we feel, to be wasted on the 60 seconds they comprise. We want them to stretch longer and to stay crisper than the flawed replay that we know our fading memories would give them in the subsequent months and years.

So we document our moments. For absent friends or posterity or our future selves. And we do it more and more as the tools to do it become more widespread. And we accept, often without thinking about it, the bargain: that we are trading a future crisp memory for not giving 100% of ourselves to the unforgiving present.

I know this post must be giving a lot of people who know me fits of laughter -- I have been a “news girl” all my working life and have paid quite a few bills over the years by capturing important moments on film, video, audio or (when none of the above were handy) random scraps of available paper. But in those situations I was on the job, standing outside of other people’s experiences; they usually weren’t mine.

I am not trying to be a hypocrite here. I myspace, facebook, tweet and blog with the best of them. And I do enjoy the glimpses into others’ lives afforded by the new technologies.

This techno-culture need to share our significant (or even not so significant – I refer you to most twitter posts) experiences with everyone makes us live and give a little less to the actual moment, don’t you think?

And what do you think? I welcome your comments or emails…