Vacation, Uninterrupted

Afive week vacation. A recent survey by the travel site shows that's a lot of vacation time. The survey shows that most Americans get about 12 vacation days a year but only use 9 of those days. As for "working" vacations, technology "forces" most people to work on their vacation rendering claims of George Bush actually working during that time meaningless as a distinction.

The survey also found that Bush's vacation time is much more in line with citizens of France. The French, who we're supposed to dislike for not supporting the Administration's "Adventure in Iraq" and who, we are often told, are crushing their economy through liberal social policies (like long paid vacations), get 39 days off each year.

His staff, after the "working vacation" canard, often states that the vacations allow him get in touch with the "average American". Unfortunately, no sightings of "average Americans" at the Camp David retreat, his family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, or his 1,600-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas have been documented to back up that assertion (hired help and photo-ops excluded).

To be fair, he does occasionally leave the ranch grounds for visits with "average" neighbors while vacationing there. During this vacation he visited the Broken Spoke Ranch, owned by Stan and Kathy Hickey of Crawford. They hosted a fundraiser in his honor which, according to the Republican National Committee, raised about $2 million in political contributions. Just an average visit to an average family for an average fundraiser that raised an average amount of $2 million.

On the way to the fundraiser, Bush's motorcade left his Prairie Chapel (sounds "quaint" - just like the Geneva Convention[s]) Ranch and passed directly by Camp Casey. It's highly unlikely that the camp could, or would, raise anywhere near the $2 million raised at the Broken Spoke Ranch. Then again, raising money doesn't seem to be the purpose of the camp. Raising questions does.

One of the individuals at Camp Casey is Cindy Sheehan. She's a mom whose son- Casey, after whom the camp is named, was killed in Iraq. She's described as an activist and, according to certain Administration - backing pundits, a "crackpot" prone to making "crazy accusations" whose "behavior borders on treasonous", is part of a group that "hates this government, hates their country", and is shaming her son's "sacrifice" (AKA, death).

Generally, an expression of concern (whatever non-violent form it takes) for a child by a mother is not denigrated publicly. That's because our culture respects the bond between a mother and her children (t. v. commercials touting "instant" food and politicians mouthing "family values" tell us so) and such attacks can carry with them the risk of triggering a swift verbal or even physical response from the offspring in question. But not in this case. Since Casey is dead, he doesn't have the option of responding to those attacking his mother. That option, as well as his chance to enjoy an extended Bush/Frenchman's vacation or the truncated American version of a vacation, were taken away in Iraq.

Since the beginning of August and the vacation (14 days), 54 more Americans (3.86 per day) have joined an expanding list containing 1,853 names that served in Iraq and who have lost their opportunity for a 9, 12, 39 day or 5 week vacation. The numbers are not static. They are like sand in an hourglass. As time passes, more names will be added to the list. The 54 for August, thus far, are:

("Killed" means by IED attack, car bomb, suicide car bomb, or sniper unless otherwise designated.)

Killed- Aug. 1
Sergeant James R. Graham III
Lance Corporal Roger D. Castleberry Jr.
Sergeant David J. Coullard
Lance Corporal Daniel Nathan Deyarmin Jr.
Corporal Jeffrey A. Boskovitch
Lance Corporal Brian P. Montgomery
Sergeant Nathaniel S. Rock

Killed- Aug. 2
Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas C. Hull (unspecified cause)
Staff Sergeant James D. McNaughton

Killed- Aug. 3
Lance Corporal Adam J. Strain
Specialist Mathew V. Gibbs
Sergeant 1st Class Charles Houghton Warren
Specialist Jerry Lewis Ganey Jr.
Lance Corporal Nicholas William B. Bloem
Corporal David S. Stewart
Sergeant Bradley J. Harper
Lance Corporal Kevin G. Waruinge
Lance Corporal Grant B. Fraser
Sergeant Justin F. Hoffman
Lance Corporal Eric J. Bernholtz
Lance Corporal Aaron H. Reed
Corporal David Kenneth J. Kreuter
Lance Corporal William Brett Wightman
Lance Corporal Christopher Jenkins Dyer
Lance Corporal Michael J. Cifuentes
Lance Corporal Timothy Michael Bell Jr.
Lance Corporal Edward August Schroeder II

Killed- Aug. 4
Private 1st Class Nils George Thompson
Staff Sergeant Chad J. Simon

Killed- Aug. 5
Sergeant 1st Class Brett Eugene Walden (vehicle accident)
Gunnery Sergeant Terry W. Ball Jr.
Sergeant 1st Class Robert V. Derenda (vehicle accident)

Killed- Aug. 6
Lance Corporal Chase Johnson Cromley
Sergeant Brahim J. Jeffcoat
Specialist Kurt E. Krout

Killed- Aug. 7
Private 1st Class Seferino J. Reyna

Killed- Aug.8
Private 1st Class Hernando Rios
Specialist Anthony N. Kalladeen
Staff Sergeant Ramon E. Gonzales Cordova

Killed- Aug. 9
Staff Sergeant Ryan S. Ostrom
Sergeant Francis J. Straub Jr.
Private 1st Class Nathaniel E. "Nate" Detample
Specialist John Kulick
Specialist Gennaro Pellegrini Jr.
Specialist Miguel Carrasquillo

Killed- Aug. 10
Lance Corporal Evenor C. Herrera
Sergeant 1st Class Michael A. Benson

Killed- Aug. 12
name unreleased
name unreleased
name unreleased
name unreleased
name unreleased

Killed- Aug. 13
name unreleased

Killed- Aug. 14 (as of a.m.- U.S. time)
name unreleased

There is a certain consistency in the fact that George Bush's motorcade rushed past the tents on his way to a $2 million dollar fundraiser. During the Vietnam War (police action, etc.) tents, canopies, and whatever else they could find often sheltered American troops doing the fighting overseas. "Somehow" he managed to metaphorically rush by those tents as well. All the while "supporting" the war with false bravado, empty rhetoric, and a barely used, although in his case- aptly named, "flight" suit.

He escaped that conflict without a scratch and, apparently, no guilt in supporting something for which he wouldn't risk his most precious asset- his own life.

Only time will tell if George Bush will be as capable of continuing to rush past the current tents and avoid the newly identified enemies of "our [his] way of life"- namely, a few grieving and angry moms and their supporters.


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