Thursday, December 14, 2006

Time to Draft the Dogs!

Reinstating the draft for United States citizens has proved to be a non-starter. Democrats appear to be too divided on the issue. Republicans would only support such an extreme measure if there was clear and explicit language to exempt any Republican who "had different priorities".

Americans have been slow to volunteer for the military, knowing that there is more than a remote chance that they will find their sorry selves at the business end of an IED in Iraq. President Bush would like to increase the number of troops in Iraq, but is limited in his choices due to this inconvenient lack of resources. What to do? What to do? I propose a "Draft the Dogs" campaign. I think this idea has legs (and a tail)!

It's time to beef up the Military Canine Corps. Dogs have been used since World War II for use in the military. They have served with distinction. Indeed, trained dogs are used in Iraq today. I propose extending this program by instituting the "Dogs for Defense" recruitment program. What Republican would not be thrilled to have their pet serve honorably in this great war of their making? I envision President Bush would set the tone by enlisting Barney. Think of the photo opportunities! Picture it with me...

We begin the scene with President Bush in flight suit standing next to Barney at attention in full military regalia. First Lady Laura Bush silently kisses Sgt. Barney goodbye. We watch as Laura quietly, proudly, and delicately wipes the tears from her eyes. Barney solemnly shakes G.W.'s hand before trotting up the Airforce-1 ramp and off to war in Iraq. Barney takes one last glance back towards the crowd and manages one last lone "woof", as if to say, "I will miss you, but I am off to bite them there, so you won't have to bite them here!"

After lingering a respectful amount of time on the now-departing plane which is slowly gliding down the runway, the camera pans back to President Bush who is ready to make a speech. And quite the speech it is. Heart-felt. Moving. Inspiring.

"My fellow Republicans, barely-tolerated Defeat-o-crats and all you patriotic boys and girls out there in America, you have just witnessed one of the finest sacrifices a family can make for their country during this time of war. As you all know, the world changed after 9/11. In this war on terror, no sacrifice is too great. First Lady Laura Bush and I have just sent off a member of our own family to help us fight the good fight over in Iraq. Although Barney will be missing from the family meal table, he will constantly be with us in our thoughts and prayers. We have been inspired by Barney's sense of patriotic duty to our country and his loyalty to the cause. Never once did he complain that this was an unjust war or ask why we were sending him instead of one of our beloved twins. Never once did he lift a critical eye to us over the fact he was being sent over to fight in a dangerous war with the dog armor we had rather than the dog armor Barney wished we had. Barney, cheerfully and without whining, placed his paw print on the enlistment papers that stated--albeit in fine print--the stop loss clause that states he can be retained indefinitely after his official tour of duty in Iraq is over.

"Barney will be the first dog in our Canine Corp program to participate in a second-generation press imbed program. A program we have named Dial-A-Dog. Besides the usual Canine Corp gear that Barney will be outfitted with, he will have a photo-cam attached to his collar. Americans can view 24/7 Barney's life as a proud member of the Canine Corp in the military and observe first-hand the responsibilities and rewards that go along with it. For those of you who use the internets, you can go to If you can't remember that, just do the google for "Dial A Dog" and you will be directed to the website.

"Although Laura and I fervently pray for Barney's safe return, we understand that there is some danger involved. With the photo-cam attached to his collar, any situation that may result in injury or death to Barney will be witnessed as it happens by the American people. We will all be able to experience first-hand the final most-patriotic event of Barney's life and mourn for him in real time. I like to refer to this as "reality-Reality TV. Heh.

"A second point I would like to make is.... Let me first state emphatically: Barney IS the smartest dog in America. (He'd be the smartest dog in Texas, too, if we were in Texas.) But Barney cannot do the job alone. Barney needs your help. So I am asking all of the children out there in America to think about enlisting their canine (that's 'dog' or 'puppy' for you little ones who don't know what "canine" means) into the Canine Corps. We have established a program called "Dogs For Defense" that is set up to streamline the process of getting your dog into the Canine Corp. All you children need to do is take your pet to any recruiting station in the area and they will have all the details.

Besides the pride you will feel in knowing that your pet is serving this great country of ours, this program will pay for your dog to go through obedience school free of charge. In addition, I have commanded that the two floors in each of our Veterans' hospitals be converted to veterinarian clinics. If (and I pray not), your pet gets injured in any way, your veteran pet will have the best care a veterinarian can give. I have requested Congress to divert a portion of the money spent on wasteful veterans' programs and unnecessary Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts to this worthy cause.

"As an incentive for you adults to sign up your children's pet for this program, we have established a much-needed tax rebate check-off program. If your pet is killed in the line-of-duty, you will earn an instant tax rebate of 5% on any capital gains taxes you paid over the course of the life of the animal. (Consult with your tax-care specialist for details as restrictions do apply.)

"We are also offering a not-so-low-interest loan through our faith-based private sector for those of you who would like to purchase a photo-cam for their personal pet. You can go to the Halliburton website for details on that particular program.

God bless you all and remember to keep Barney in your prayers."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Who was your favorite teacher?

I was listening to a story today about a teacher. That got me thinking. If I had to pick one favorite teacher, who would that be? And, more importantly, why? What are the characteristics of a "favorite" teacher? Is it the subject they teach? Is it the teacher's knowledge and/or love of the subject? The time in one's own life? Did that teacher motivate me to aspire to do something I never would have done otherwise? Did that teacher motivate me to be someone more than the person I thought myself to be?

As I thought about the question in my own mind, I realized I could not pick out just one teacher. I was fortunate to have had many great teachers during my school years. However, my favorite teachers always had two traits in common: They cared for their students AND they made me feel special in some way.

One memory stands out to me. I was in sixth grade and there was a not-so-popular girl being picked on by a group of students. My teacher stepped in to stop it. Later, Mr. O asked a number of girls to stay after school. Mr. O told us that the reason he was talking to us was because he felt we were students who could turn things around. He appealed to us to befriend this girl and, by that process, make it less likely that this girl would be the target of teasing and harassment. I don't remember the girl's name. I will always remember the lesson.

In high school, I signed up for Chemistry because it was something I felt I "had" to take. I was getting a very uninspiring "C" in the class. For some reason, my Chemistry teacher talked to me and told me he believed I would start getting A's on my tests before the end of the quarter. Just that small conversation motivated me to study harder. Not only did I end up with A's for the rest of the school year, but I went on to major in Chemistry and spent many years as an environmental chemist.

Of course I can't end this diary without mentioning my mother. She spent many years teaching elementary children. Her patience with students resulted in the placement of the "problem" students in her classrooms. She made sure those students got special attention so that they could go on to be successful. My mother was uncomfortable with recognition and never sought out the spotlight. Still, other teachers understood her value. She was recognized by her peers as a class act and was voted "Teacher of the Year" in our town the year she retired. It was a proud day for me.

The list goes on, but I would rather read your comments—and your stories. Who was your favorite teacher and why?