Sunday, September 11, 2011

Iconic Photos From The Post-9/11 Era

We can all easily & almost without hesitation come up with several examples of iconic photos from past armed conflicts that have captured the essence of the American warriors who defend our shores. From the Second World War, the pictures of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, the view of Omaha Beach through the open ramp of a landing craft on D-Day, or the shot of the sailor passionately kissing a girl in the street on VJ Day come to mind.

For the past ten full years now we have been in yet another war against those who would see the American way of life swept away. The way that I see it, there have been some more amazing & iconic photos that have been taken, but they haven't necessarily gotten the exposure they should have.

One of the first ones that got me was taken at the very beginning of ground combat in Iraq. A paratrooper from the 173d Airborne takes a knee to rest a minute, heavily laden with an enormous rucksack and an assortment of gear. He's tired, but his resolve is strong.

Also taken at the beginning of ground operations was the unforgettable shot of Army combat medic Joe Dwyer carrying an injured Iraqi boy to safety during the fighting. Years later, after fighting PTSD and substance abuse, his marriage crumbled and Doc Dwyer died at the age of 31 of an overdose at his home in North Carolina. He may have survived Iraq, but the war claimed him nonetheless.

On May 11, 2009 at Firebase Restrepo in Afghanistan, Zachary Boyd was photographed responding to an attack on the outpost. He ran to his firing position wearing his helmet, his flak vest, flip flops, and "I ♥ NY" boxer shorts. His buddy next to him is wearing sneakers. Dressed or not, our troops are ready to bring the noise.

Recently, a picture went viral of a bald eagle, symbol of our great nation, perched upon a headstone at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.

A couple days after I saw the picture of the eagle looking over our fallen warriors, another picture came about that simply astounded me. Hawkeye, a Labrador retriever that had belonged to Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, was photographed laying beside his master's coffin at his memorial service after the Navy SEAL was killed along with over 30 other warriors when their helicopter went down in Afghanistan. That's loyalty and love.

And just a couple weeks ago, while Hurricane Irene pounded the East Coast, a lone soldier standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was photographed in the rain maintaining his silent, solemn vigil over our fallen.

What Do I Know? (by Guest Blogger Paul)

My friend Paul is a 21-year old hockey player in Minnesota. I've known him since he was but a young pup freshman playing local league hockey in Goose Creek, South Carolina. If you think that the younger generation of America is hopelessly screwed up, take heart & have hope, because this guy's got his head screwed on right.


Ok, so the hamster is running upstairs again....

Minimum Wage:

Pretty pointless if you ask me. I mean I think it should exist, but people are always bitching about how it should be raised because the cost of living has gone up. The cost of living goes up when the minimum wage goes up. Inflation 101. Check this out; if you raise the minimum wage, the companies you buy from will have to increase the wage of their workers and to further negate the loss of capital and maintain a profitable status, if that. So you will now make 9 dollars an hour, and your milk that was $2.75 a gallon, is now $3.25 a gallon.. You are in the same situation as before.

This is where outsourcing plays a huge role in the US economy. It no longer becomes feasible to do business within the borders of our own country. We ship the jobs to China, India, Bangladesh, etc. Taxing the companies (whether it is small business, or big corporations) will only give them less money to pay the people they need to manufacture their goods in this country.

The auto industry is a decent example of this, although not with taxes. The unions continued to demand higher wages and the companies could not afford to do so. They are faced with 3 options. 1) Lay off people to open up captial. 2) Raise the price of the cars, which would only infuriate the population and possible lead to more union wage raise demands. 3) Outsource, cut back production, or as we've seen this past decade... bailouts.

The taxes would have the same effect on the things we need because the simple fact is there is gonna be less money available to produce the goods/pay wages. They will raise the price and we will still be shit out of luck.

Let's face it; what's better than having your money make money right? Well, if you are taxing the wealthy people in this country for being successful, why would you wanna be successful? The people with money in this country are the ones who invest in this country. They are the ones who lend to business ventures. They are the ones who employ our middle and lower class asses. But we want to punish them by taxing them more? So they can't afford to pay us? Then the entire population has no money??? What gives??

Introducing a flat tax seems to be a great idea. I know Herman Cain proposed a 9% income tax and a 9% sales tax. Completely transparent. Applies to everyone. For mathematics sake, lets just say the flat tax is 10%... If I make 100k a year, I pay 10k in taxes. If you make 25k a year, you pay 2500 in taxes. Its fair. It's simple. The rich end up paying more in the end, how everyone wants it to be anyways.

Recently I cancelled my credit card. My interest rates prior to Obama's "helping hand" and "fighting in the corner of the people" when it comes to credit cards was 11.4%... Not bad. I was 19 when I got it; I'm 21 now. I'm a young guy. I have pretty damn good credit, and I can just expect it to be around there. Now, after Obama's legislation? Interest rate was 27.3%. 100 dollars a month was barely making a dent in it because the few times I would use it per month, the 27 bucks in interest fees, 30 dollar minimum payment.. It was just terrible.

Moral of the story, we need to stop biting the hand that feeds. If we continue to outrageously push for legislation that increases the taxes on the wealthy and businesses, we will find ourselves in a vicious circle of poverty very fast. What we need to do is get rid of all the bullshit social programs and encourage ADVANCEMENT, not COMPLACENCY! Generational welfare, people living off of unemployment for months/years and not making the effort to get employed... those are the people who are draining our tax dollars. And the worst part about it is they are okay with what they are doing. It's just dead wrong.

But I'm 21 and I haven't gone to college yet. What the flying fuck do I know?

Just sayin....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Top 10 Signs You Watch Too Much "Swamp People"

I started watching Swamp People on The History Channel quite by accident.

Sure, I'd heard of the show, since if I'm home alone while Crys is working, or if she's still asleep, there's a 99% chance I am watching one of 3 channels on TV: Discovery, Military, and History. I never paid attention to the show's actual premise; instead I brushed it off as glorifying a bunch of redneck poachers indiscriminately killing gators and making moonshine to outfox the city slicker revenuers. Boy was I wrong...

I was sitting at my desk one Sunday about 3 months ago or so, probably playing Farmville, and had History Channel on as a default. Turns out they were having a mini Swamp People marathon and I started to listen in the background. Then I realized it followed various groups of legal alligator hunters during a 30-day sanctioned hunting season. I had no idea that in general these guys earn half their annual income during a 30 day span and that in order to do so they bust their humps at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for those 30 days.

By & large the folks on the show are infectiously likeable and after a couple episodes you're hooked. I watched 2 and a half episodes before Crys woke up and then ran to put it on the bedroom TV, saying "You gotta see this...".

A couple hours and we were still in bed watching.

We immediately set the DVR to record the new episodes and went hunting for the older ones in reruns. We'd record the new episodes on Thursday nights and watch them with dinner on Friday nights like a ritual. We gleefully caught the first season on another marathon day. Now we're in that sad state of limbo waiting for the next season, which is currently filming, because it's gator season again in Louisiana.

I began to question my sanity after I caught myself checking the Louisiana Department of Wildlife's website to see when gator season started.....and realizing what cast members were going to be affected by the recent torrential rains of Tropical Storm Lee, as the season in their part of the state started a few days before, whereas in other parts of the state it started a few days after Lee passed through. I fully expect the storm to play a major role in the first episode of Season 3.

That said, if you've been thinking that yourself or one of your friends is ripe for a Swamp People Intervention, here are the Top Ten Signs You Watch Too Much Swamp People:

10. You give a nickname to all of your foes in the Cajun tradition.

9. You know more than 5 recipes for alligator gar fish.

8. Instead of with "Hello" you greet people with "Kee Tah?"

7. You've asked your employer to adjust your pay so that you receive half your yearly income during the 30 days of September.

6. Your primary ringtone is Troy Landry singing The Alligator Shuffle.

5. You reward accomplishments with Zebra Cakes.

4. You randomly place French words into your daily conversations.

3. People no longer understand you without subtitles.

2. You have a bumper sticker that says "My other car is a pirogue".

1. Your answer to every conundrum is to "Choot 'em!!!"
Bonus: If you have a cast member as a tattoo, then you're so far gone that you can no longer be saved.

Saying Goodbye to 62 Truck

The other night I watched a very powerful & emotional piece of television that closed out an era. For seven seasons I watched Denis Leary's amazingly edgy show "Rescue Me" which aired on FX. It was the twisted, funny, tragic, manic tale of a firefighter with the FDNY, the legendary Tommy Gavin, and the firefighters of 62 Truck and 99 Engine.

There's no way to adequately describe the show if you haven't seen it. It was raw, gritty, shocking, funny, depressing, entertaining, and addicting. It bent the rules and broke the barriers of what you usually saw on TV. It showed the camaraderie of people in a dangerous profession, the good-natured needling of your buddies that reminded me so much of my time in the Army, the terror of being in a burning building, the toll firefighting takes on your personal life, your marriages & relationships and your very soul. It showed how the people of the FDNY struggled with the memories and after-effects of 9-11. And Tommy Gavin's family was perhaps the most frustratingly dysfunctional group of people I have ever seen.

You grew to love the characters. Occasionally you hated them. It was often the fastest 60 minutes of my week.

Leary is no stranger to firefighters. On December 3, 1999, six firefighters from Leary's hometown of Worcester were killed in the Worcester Cold Storage warehouse fire. Among the dead were Leary's cousin Jerry Lucey and his close childhood friend Tommy Spencer. In response, he founded the Leary Firefighters Foundation in 2000, and the foundation has distributed over $2.5 million to fire departments in the Worcester, Boston, and New York City areas for equipment, training materials, new vehicles, and new facilities. Leary won $125,000 for the foundation on the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. A separate fund run by Leary's foundation, the Fund for New York's Bravest, has distributed over $2 million to the families of the 343 firemen killed in the September 11 attacks in addition to providing funding for necessities such as a new mobile command center, first responder training, and a high-rise simulator for the FDNY training campus. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Leary donated over a dozen boats to the New Orleans Fire Department to aid in rescue efforts in future disasters and the foundation also rebuilt entire New Orleans firehouses.

There are hints of Leary everywhere on the show. His main character of Tommy Gavin is likely a nod to his friend Tommy Spencer, and another character, Jerry Reilly is likely a nod to his cousin Jerry Lucey. Tommy Gavin plays hockey with the FDNY team, and Leary is a huge hockey fan. In fact it is rumored that the fictitious 99 Engine is a nod to Wayne Gretzky's jersey number. Gavin was often seen wearing hockey-themed t-shirts (as well as Irish-themed tees). Former Boston Bruins player and Hockey Hall of Famer Cam Neely (now the team president) had a recurring role as a firefighter on the FDNY hockey team. The music on the show was mostly picked out by Leary's son.

The final episode was full of emotional shocks and should be nominated for an Emmy. Leary has been nominated in the past for several awards including Emmys, Golden Globes, Satellites, and Prism Awards for the show but something tells me the raw nature of the show kept him from winning, because deep down Hollywood hates people who tell the truth unless it's convenient for them and their agendas......just sayin'......

Farewell, 62 Truck. Thanks for 7 great seasons.

9-11: Ten Years Later

It's hard to believe that ten years have already passed now since our nation was changed forever....

Oddly, and bothersome to me actually, is that I really don't have anything new to add that hasn't already been said.

In 2007, I covered the aspect of "Where Were You on 9-11?". Read it here.

In 2008, I railed against the media not showing pictures of what really happened. Read it here.

In 2009, I talked about how years later, the events still affect us deep down. Read it here.

In 2010, I wanted to know where the memorial was. Read it here.

For a brief time, we actually came together as a nation. Now I think we're as divided as we've ever been since the 1860's, only it's the Left vs. the Right instead of the North vs. the South. For months after 9-11, everybody flew American flags, most notably on their cars. Now, the Left stands with uncaring bastards who won't let people fly the flag for fear it might offend someone. Tough shit; this is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and if an AMERICAN wants to fly an AMERICAN FLAG and if it offends you then either shut your pie hole or leave.

Our nation was founded by Christians with Christian values & ideals. You are free to worship any which way you want here in AMERICA but if you happen to be a Christian then you're now a second-class citizen while AMERICAN laws are being usurped by Islamic Sharia laws and the Leftist bastion of Michigan has been turned into a Caliphate. For damn near a decade a giant crater marked the site where thousands were murdered by radical Islamists, and the Left said the Right was insensitive when a mosque was slated to be built right next door to Ground Zero.

On 9-11 the people of New York were led out of the ashes by a Republican who'd cleaned up the Big Apple and they then replaced him with a filthy rich Leftist who thinks the mosque is a great idea and built himself a giant 54-story skyscraper for his business instead of a memorial to the citizens of his city who were murdered.

Our borders are porous and absorb illegals like a thirsty sponge, and the Left just sees it as a source for voters. The Dear Leader seems to have a never-ending supply of relatives living here illegally and sponging welfare. Great leadership....

Millions of AMERICANS are out of work and the Left sees it as a victory for social welfare programs while sending our jobs and money overseas.

It's terrible that it takes a tragedy to bring us together as a nation and more terrible that we just as quickly become divided again by folks who forget or scoff at what this nation is all about, how & why we were founded and by whom.