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Oakland Tribune Holiday parade

December 11th, 2004

Before The Horse
Maybe I'll dodge the chest aching chest wracking coughing phase of this business. Another night last night waking up at three in the morning with the sweats; taking a bath at four and then returning to bed for a fitful sleep; up, though, after ten; breakfast down the way at the usual cafe, but not knowing, right up to the point of leaving, whether I would blow off breakfast and crash. I'm looking forward to feeling better tomorrow, which, by saying this means I'm probably jinxed, but still, I think I'm on the up.

The recent news story about the soldier stationed in Iraq who asked Rumsfeld why he and his comrades were having to scavenge at local dumps for discarded “armor” to attach to their vehicles for protection from roadside bombs got me to thinking. Rumsfeld said they were sparing no effort or expense to resolve it. That sounded right.

There were peripheral aspects of the story that got a lot of coverage - a newspaper reporter, when asked, helping the soldier to frame the question; Rumsfeld saying something reasonably weird along the lines of “you go to war with the army you've got rather than the army you'd like to have” forgetting we'd planned the damned thing years in advance - both of which however seemed peripheral. I thought, when I first heard the report: OK, even Walks on Water Rumsfeld admits to being unprepared for the war's aftermath; that we'd need armored support vehicles such as Humvees and trucks, but discovering the error, he'd been (of course) kicking ass. What was the controversy?

There have been numerous reports of lack of support vehicle armor since the beginning of the war. I assumed, as Rumsfeld said, we'd made it a high priority for over a year now to ramp up production and get every available factory cranking it out.

Then, last night, I saw an interview with the CEO of one of the three companies that evidently make this kind of armor and he said his company and the others had been doddling along at less than half capacity since the war had began and they'd received no requests from the military to increase production. What? Why wouldn't they have ramped up production well over a year ago when they learned of the problem? Half our casualties have come from roadside bombs. Even the politics of the thing (if the bodies for some reason didn't get their attention) would demand they kick in. These people get stranger than you think people can get strange and then they shift gears and get stranger yet.

What brought that on?

I don't know. I feel like shit and I find I'm writing about Donald Rumsfeld. I've put the cart before the horse.

The photograph was taken at the Oakland Tribune Holiday parade on Broadway with a Nikon D2h mounted with a 17-55mm f2.8 Nikkor lens at ISO 200.