Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Missouri Minute

Michael J. Fox is not in this ad.

Alex P. Keaton is not in this ad.

If you live in Missouri, the choice between Claire McCaskill and Jim Talent seems obvious to me.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


This weekend I was briefly interviewed by a Newsweek reporter (Sarah Childress) working on a story about my Uncle Robert.

Newsweek compiled a series of his letters to show a progression of his feelings while in Iraq. The article will appear in this week's issue, but it is now available on the Newsweek website.

This is the E-mail I sent back to the first reporter (Sam Seibert) that contacted me about this story.

Thank you Sam.

I would try to describe him to you, but I don't know that I could properly do him justice.

All I can say is that he was like a comic book character. He was a real life Clark Kent. He was the ultimate Marine who they called "The Machine". He could easily throw off several attackers. However, he was also often shy, fiercely intelligent and decent. He personified the words "Honor", "Integrity" and "Kindness".

One story that Robert and I shared was this one:

In one of his E-mailed letters, he talked about his love for the Roman Army. Before going into battle the soldiers would strike their armor and yell "Integritas" (which I believe means integrity). This would suggest that their armor would protect them in battle. After hearing this story, I went out and had BDU patches made up with the word "Integritas" on them. I sent them to him in my first care package to him. He told me in a return letter that he would stitch them on his vest and/or flak Jacket. In the weeks after that, I always looked to at the pictures sent back to see if he had sewn in on his uniform. Picture after picture came in and no sign of them. I thought that perhaps the other Marines had ribbed him about them, or it was against regulations ... or perhaps he was too polite to tell me he didn't want to wear them. After a while I assumed that one of these was true.

Then I went to his funeral a few weeks ago and dozens of pictures of Robert were laid out on a table for the family to share. I looked through all of them to remind me of this amazing guy and to my surprise, something in the last one caught my eye. It was a photo that the local paper had used cropped on their cover. It was of Robert sitting reading a compass and smiling at the camera. The local paper dubbed him "The Smiling Soldier". At his side was his helmet turned upside down. When I turned the photo over I could see the patch clearly. He had sewn it on his helmet. This moment was bittersweet for me. He had indeed sewn one of the patches on his armor ... but it was his helmet which in the end did not protect him.

The last of the three "Integritas" patches I had kept here in NYC, and I brought it to Memphis and laid it on his coffin when I said goodbye. The type of integrity that Robert had could never be destroyed by a sniper's bullet or and IED. That type of integrity lives forever.

I will miss Robert more than I can properly express in words. He was the finest man I have ever known. I only wish that all these fine soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were being led by men of similar quality.

All my best to you Sam. Thank you for writing this story.


Peter Matthes

Friday, October 27, 2006

Two laughs for a buck

I want to thank my friend Greg for sending me these two tid bits.

He has a special talent for finding the funny stuff.

The first one needs no introduction:

Are you a sexy girl? This second morsel is for those of you looking for that special costume this Halloween.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stay the Course

My step dad Jack brought this clip to my attention.

This seven minute segment is a great example of how full of shit this administration is.

The only bullshit artist bigger than Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice is their mouthpiece and lap dog Tony Snow. You will see him in rare form in this Keith Olbermann clip.

Apparently we are not going to "Stay the Course" anymore.

Unfortunately, that is too little and too fucking late for my Uncle Robert.

This month alone 95 troops (Including my Uncle) have been killed in Iraq ... and for what?

Please make a point to vote on November 7th.

Friday, October 20, 2006

What's a Darfur?

If you have read my blog in the past, you will know that I often like to talk about the situation in many of the African nations. In many cases we choose to keep these difficult situations out of sight, and out of mind. Unfortunately there is a tendency in this country to pay more attention to the birth of a celebrity baby, while we turn a blind eye to the thousands of babies dying in Africa every single day.

However, there is a growing list of celebrities who have taken an active role in trying to break this pattern. One of my favorite efforts was a video for "World on Fire" made by Sarah McLachlan. It cut close to the bone for me, because it points out the enormous waste that occurs in my own chosen profession.

One of the places in Africa that I think needs our immediate attention is Uganda. I tried my best to give a short but thorough portrayal of what is going on there in my post The Night Commuters. To date, it is one of the entries on this blog that I am most proud of.

Another area that deserves your attention is Darfur. Darfur is a region in western Sudan. It is a 200,000 square mile area in the western half of Sudan. It is a flat arid land mass with some volcanic peaks in the center. This region shares a border with the Central African Republic, Chad, and Libya. (See map below)

I won’t go too in depth, but there is a massive genocide going on there right now. A group called the Janjaweed has inflicted the lion’s share of violence against their neighbors to the south. The Janjaweed are a paramilitary group made up mostly of northern cattle-herders from the Baggara tribe. It is a widely held belief that this group is supported and armed by none other than the Sudanese government.

This violence has caused many of the non-Baggara people to flee the violence. By doing this, they have had to leave behind all their possessions, and in some cases their family members. The lucky ones flee to refugee camps over the border in Chad. The unlucky ones are raped and or mutilated. Some husbands are forced to watch their wives and/or daughters raped right in front of them. Others simply starve while attempting the long trip to safety.

Unlike the Sudanese Civil War, which was fought between the Muslim north and Christian south, in Darfur most of the residents are Muslim. Some people believe that because this conflict is Muslim vs. Muslim, it draws little concern from conservatives in this country.

Currently every four seconds someone is dying in this conflict. That amounts to 10,000 people dead every single month.

Although I do not believe that America should play the role of “World Police”, I do think the UN should step in. In late August of this year, the UN passed resolution 1706. However, the Sudanese government has not supported this resolution, and has said that it would consider the UN forces in the region as foreign invaders.

In my opinion George Bush’s frequent stance on the UN has left it weak and ineffective. Without this strength, little can be done to stop this violence and save these people.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

You write the caption

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Band of Brothers

This weekend I had to say goodbye to one of my very good friends.

I will miss him very much.

In this life, he had four sisters. Now he rests with his brothers in arms.

The only comfort I am left with, is the knowledge that now he is finally at peace.

Goodbye Robert.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

At a loss for words

At 8pm EST tonight I found out that my Uncle, Captain Robert M. Secher, was killed in Iraq.

Without a doubt, he was the finest man I have ever known.

He was strong and brave, but he was also honorable, kind and decent.

I can only say that I will miss him more than I can properly express in words at this time.

I don't think I have ever been as shocked and angry as I am right now.

I really don't want to say more than this.

The more things change ... (Part II)

“We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests."

-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a speech delivered to the 77th Congress on the 6th of January, 1941

(This speech is often referred to as "The Four Freedoms")

Wasn't it nice when American Presidents had the ability to speak with confidence, clarity and intelligence?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I learned it from watching NASA

Sometimes the lowest bidder does win the prize.

Since I was accepted into the Director's Guild of America recently, this item jumped out at me when I saw it for auction. It was among a long list of items being offered by the family of the late ... and great I might add ... Marlon Brando.

Marlon Brando's Director's Guild of America Membership Card. Brando's unsigned DGA membership card for the 1972-73. Despite his proven talent in handling actors and a large production while directing One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Brando found the editing process boring and never again directed another film. The card is in Excellent with a little tanning along the right edge. From the collection of Marlon Brando.

They estimated it would go for $680.00 - $1050.00

It would seem that I was the highest bidder at $300.00


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Movie of the week

Fox News has two exclusive news stories today.

The first scoop is one where Mark Foley has mysteriously and conveniently become a Democrat.

Can anyone say Freudian slip?

The second is a new blockbuster movie that comes highly recommended by Mark Foley (R-FL).

His review: I laughed ... I cried ... I brought a six-pack with me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Try candy coating this

So far we have lost 19 soldiers in Iraq this month, and today is only the fourth day of the month.

Huh? What?

*House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post that he had learned this spring of inappropriate 'contact' between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.

*In the spring of 2006 Congressman Tom Reynolds approached Dennis Hastert, and informed him of the inappropriate contact with pages. The Speaker does not explicitly recall this conversation.

*Kirk Fordham, former senior aide to ex-Rep. Mark Foley and Rep. Tom Reynolds says that had more than one conversation prior to 2005 with senior staff at the highest levels of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene when he was informed of Mr. Foley's inappropriate behavior. Hastert's office has said that Dennis does not remember that ever happening.

*A confidential Justice Department legal memo sent to the White House in August 2002 concluded that interrogation of detainees can involve "cruel, inhuman or degrading" acts without violating U.S. and international laws prohibiting torture. Sean McCormack, press aide for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, said that Rice "does not recall seeing those memos".

*Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also said she cannot recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her of an impending al-Qaida attack in the United States, as a new book claims he did two months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

I have personally not smoked pot in several years now, but I have many friends who still do.

Every one of them has a better short and long term memory than many of the Republicans in Washington right now. I feel like we are listening to a Peter Gabriel song.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fun with Facts