Friday, May 27, 2005

Musings 41--Tarnished patriots

I was in the old print shop last Wednesday, when the phone rang and a voice asked if we made free copies for a good cause. Now when this happens, I am always skeptical, and I pull out my bologna meter to start testing the waters.

The voice on the other end of the line said that he was an air national guardsman who needed petitions to try to save the Yeager Airport Air National Guard Unit--commonly called the 130th Air Wing. I said that if he would come into the shop I would be more than happy to donate a couple of hundred copies of his petition form. See Link. I figured if he showed up, then he was legit.

Two hours later, the young man showed up. He was the typical early twenties, close cropped hair, physically fit young fellow that you see every evening on the nightly news. I began making copies of his petition form as we discussed the probable loss of his air wing unit at Yeager.

In the course of the conversation, he mentioned in passing that he had done two tours in Iraq and was scheduled to go again later this year. He noted that he really liked his national guard unit, but that he was not sure how long he would stay in due to the hardship of heading to Iraq every six months or so.

I asked him if the constant use of the reserves and guard have hurt recruitment. His answer was "most definitely." He went on to say that though he was proud to serve, he did not understand why the guard and reserves were doing more than forty percent of the fighting in Iraq. I told him that it puzzled me too, since the word reserve should mean what it says--in reserve of the regulars. The national guard, at least in my time, meant you protected the homeland and were only tossed into the fray on an emergency basis.

He told me that he had always felt that he should do his duty, but he wondered how many times he needed to keep doing it. I just shook my head. It really made me sad to see a young patriot who loved his county have pangs of doubt.

With the copies done, I signed his petition to keep the 130th at Yeager and bid him good luck. He smiled and smartly turned and walked out the door into the brisk spring wind.

I would bet a month's pay, although he did not say so, that his idea of America was slightly changed. I'd bet that he still loved his country, but it was a love that was tarnished with the realities of Iraq. I wonder how many tarnished patriots this "war on terror" will give us?

Mr. President, if your air national guard unit had been deployed to sunny Viet Nam, I don't think we would have lost 1,650 lives and 12,000 wounded in Iraq. I could be wrong--but I doubt it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Musings 40--Bad winners and sore losers

So I went to get lunch today and the radio was on. Drug abuser Rush was bloveating over how Senator George V. Voinovich, R, Ohio had sold out the republican party. He was making childish voices and basically ripping the good senator apart.

George Voinovich is my state senator. I've e-mailed him several times. He really must be reading my e-mails because he is voting just the way I want him to vote on the John Bolton to the United Nations appointment. (At least that is what I tell myself.)

Oxy-Rush has always thought it was cute to ridicule fellow republicans when they don't toe the party line. In the case of Senator Voinovich, I'd be very careful. He has a long memory, and has a tendency to get even when he feels he has been slighted. I know this first-hand, since I was a school teacher in Ohio when Voinovich was governor. The teachers of the state went against Governor Voinovich and supported other candidates that they felt were closer to their interests. Governor Voinovich took great offense, and the educators of Ohio suffered for it. He refused to let by-gones be by-gones and just blasted us at every opportunity.

I know that Oxy-Rush is probably in a haze, and he can not think too straight. However, unless Voinovich has mellowed a bunch since his governor days, he will bide his time and bite Oxy-Rush in the seat of his husky britches. I'd pay good money to see that.

Conservatives tend to be bad winners and sore losers. They kind of remind me of a firing squad standing in a circle shooting each other while blaming the guy beside them for their bad aim.

Changing the subject: Journalist Helen Thomas maybe be older than dirt, and the Bushies may have done their best to move her out of press row, but she can still ask the tough questions. See the link. She layed it on Press Secretary Scott McClellan when he said that the United States were invited into Iraq and Afganistan. Don't you just love historical fiction? I know I do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Musings 39--Dead kids, deals and the border

Last Saturday was prom night for scores of high school students in our area. This is suppose to be a happy time for kids and parents. Many schools sponsor an all-night lock-up for a senior party. This seems to be mostly a good thing as it keeps youngsters off the roads and gives them a bit of supervision. For four kids in Huntington, it was not.

At about 5 a.m., coming home from after-prom, four young people were fatally shot and killed in the driveway to one's home. Two boys and two girls. All shot dead by a person or persons unkown. Dead kids seem like such a waste.

The Huntington Police Department are doing their thing, but I have a feeling that this one will not be solved. There is indications that drugs may be involved. Maybe somebody owed somebody money, or maybe somebody just got mad over a slight. Nobody knows now...except the shooter or shooters.

Police are looking into a connection to Detroit, Michigan. It would not be the first time that thugs from the big city have come to our fair town to do harm.

It is sad to think that these four kids earlier were having the time of their lives only to lose their lives as the sun started to peak through the clouds. Life if precious. It doesn't matter if it is lost here of in Iraq. That count is now marching up toward 1,700. All young, and all gone.

On a brighter note: It seems that the democrats and republicans have cut a deal in the senate. I think that that is a good thing. The elimination of the fillibuster rule would have had dire consequences farther down the road. Bunches of diehard conservatives are squealing that Senator Frist sold them out. Don't you just love the "my way or the highway" folks?

Lastly: Mr. President needs to do something about the open borders. It does not take a brain surgeon to understand that one of these days a crazy with a big bomb is going to slip across and blow up something. Is it to much to think that the Department of Homeland Security means what the title suggests--a secure homeland.

Many critics feel that the national guard should be used to back up the border patrol. I don't subscribe to that ideology since most of our national guard and reserves are spreading democracy in Iraq. Not even superman can be in two places at once.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Musings 38--Score two for the Brits.

So you see, the first thing is this memo. A British memo released by the BBC which says that eight months before we went to war in Iraq, Mr. President was bending intelligence to fit his war scenario. Now this isn't much of a surprise to most of us, but to those that need evidence for such things it is vastly important.

None of the mainstream media have touched this. Eighty-nine members of congress took it upon themselves to ask Mr. President if it was true. He does not want to be bothered, and he has decided to ignore them. In my mind, this is the same as an admission of guilt.

Of course, it does not matter because that is hindsight. We should not dwell on the past. We should concentrate on winning the war in Iraq. All good patriots understand this. Remember, you are either with us or against us. I am starting to get a little ill--baw hack cough. It really does make ones stomach hurt.

Mr. President has done more in his five years to divide this country than any other president in my lifetime--including Richard Nixon. I told my wife the other day that I thought Mr. President was the anti-Christ. She did not laugh because she is a whole lot more republican than I am. I've got to re-read the Book of Revelation.

The second British thing is Scotsman George Galloway. He is the member of parliament that Senator Norm Coleman, R, MN, asked to appear before his committee looking into the oil for food scandal at the United Nations. Senator Coleman had made statements about Mr. Galloway's involvement in said scandal. Mr. Galloway took great offense and came to Washington set the record straight. He was sworn in by the committee and immediately went on the offensive. Basically, Mr. Galloway verbally kicked the crap out of Mr. Coleman and his committee. It was truly beautiful.

You have to admire someone who gets on an airplane and flys across the ocean to defend himself from a headline seeking senator. Senator Coleman had a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look on his face after Mr. Galloway unloaded on him. You got the impression that if Senator Coleman said much more, Mr. Galloway whould jump across the table and bang on his head. Now that would have been truly a great moment in British-American relations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Musings 37--No apology necessary!

The flap over Newsweek Magazine's reporting of the flushing of a copy of the Koran down the toilet at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba seems to be a bit overblown. Sources in Afghanistan say that there have been riots and deaths--17 last count--because of the article.

Newsweek has retracted its story due to the chilling fact that its "longtime reliable source" has backed down from what was originally told reporter Mike Isikoff and John Barry. Sitting in my print shop in Huntington, WV, I will venture a guess as to what happened. It's simple, really, Isikoff and Barry got screwed by a source that is close to the White House. Journalism 101 says that you need more than one source for stories. However, human nature tells you that if a source has been on the square with you for a longtime--maybe even years--then, you can trust that single source. This is when you are really being set up. A good set up takes a longtime and is used only once because reporters learn after they have been burned.

In Pakistan there is a guy named Iman Khan. Khan used to support Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Khan was a big crusader against corruption in Pakistan. Recently, he has become a vocal critic of the United States policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. He set upon the Newsweek article and played it for all that he could. Khan wants to run against Musharraf if Pakistan ever has another election. It did not seem to do much in Pakistan, but, in Afghanistan, he apparently struck a cord. It usually does not take much to make things boil over when people are already angry. Apparently, there is much anger in Afghanistan.

If the carrying on at Abu Greib prison did not make the Afghanistan's mad; then, it is doubtful that the actual flushing of a copy of the Koran would inflame them--unless they were looking to be inflamed. Iman Khan blew smoke into Pakistan, but the fire started in Afghanistan. A blind person could see this.

Mr. President's administration, always ready to take whacks at the press, blew more oxygen on the flames. Instead of being mum and saying nothing, Mr. President and his spinners are pointing the finger at Newsweek. Bad Newsweek...bad Newsweek!

Personally, I think that Newsweek should have said nothing. By trying to defuse the situation, Newsweek played into the hands of the administration.

All journalist remember when President Lyndon Johnson set up Ben Bradley over the J. Edgar Hoover appointment. It was used in the movie, All the Presient's Men. President Johnson told Bradley that he was replacing Hoover as head of FBI. Bradley ran the story in the Washington Post. The next day, Johnson gave Hoover a vote of confidence and said he could stay on as director. Johnson called Bradley and said, "I got you." Bradley was factually right, but the story was wrong. How many sources do you need if you're talking to the President of the United States? (I feel that the bible is correct when it speaks of two or three wittnesses.) Things have not changed -much. The backstabbing and spin continue. I wonder...whatever happened to the idea of bringing back integrity to the office of the president?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Musings 36--Friday the 13th, all day

I started out the day by breaking up a dog fight and got my leg bitten. When I got to work, the water had overflowed from my air conditioner. One of the customers called and said the they needed their job done now. I said, "What job?" Things have progressed pretty much the same for the rest of the day. At this juncture, I am just hoping to live until midnight, when all the forces will fall back into their normal plane of existence.

I wrote Senator George Voinavich, R, OH, an e-mail telling him that he was a standup guy for going against Mr. President on the John Bolton to the UN nomination. The senator was the former governor of the state of which I live. He was not, in my opinion, a very good governor. As a senator, though, he has done a pretty good job. He thinks for himself and doesn't always follow the party line. I told him that it "gave us moderate republicans hope." He probably doesn't even read his e-mails. I'd bet a $1 that some intern reads all of his emails and does a daily overview. Oh well...

Thinking about Social Security, I went back and reviewed the cart-load of stuff I downloaded on the future of social security several months ago. It hit me that the projections of Mr. President's private accounts estimated an economic growth of about 1.8 percent. It took some digging, but I have found that the last 40 years economic growth has been about 3.1 percent. I suppose that Mr. President's guys figure that with the republicans in power that the economy will eventually tank. Personally, I think that if everything goes well we should continue chugging along at about the same rate for the next 50 years. If I'm right, then the social security system will be fine without doing anything. So where is the crisis? Republicans are big capitalists, and big capitalists should be more bullish on the future economy. Of course, maybe they don't want to be bullish. Maybe they just want their capitalists buddies to manage the trillions in assets that would be private accounts.

Last note: They whacked the base a Yeager Airport and the Huntington West Virginia Reserve Center. Mr. President is giving back to WV for electing him. Was it good for you? Told ya so.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Musings 35--Good-by Air National Guard

Although they are not sure, tomorrow is the scheduled announcement day, members of West Virginia's congressional delegation are exceedingly worried that the Air National Guard unit based at Yeager Airport, Charleston, WV, is going to be closed.

Senator Robert Bryd, D, WV, said that he hopes the unit will not be on the list, but rumors leaked to the media have said that it is. If it is true, then the defense department has come up with a very unique way of saying thanks to the many men and women serving in Iraq from West Virginia. Since most of the recent polls that I check on weekly basis say that the U.S. Armed Forces love Mr. President, (to the tune of about 80%) then; it is predictable that he sticks it to them.

West Virginia has been a democrat state for way before I popped on this planet in 1948. It has just started to realize that there are republicans that can do the job too. This mostly is a good thing. It is just to bad that Mr. President seems to be the one they put their faith in. He seems to have have a knack of ripping the heart out of those who love him the most.

For example one: Mr. President's tax cuts did not help the red state folks much at all. However, the blue state rich, and there are bunches of them in the north east, made out like bandits.

For example two: Mr. President's prescription drug deal did not help the middle and low class. It helped the drug companies. They lobbied hard for the legislation. Low and middle class are discouraged to not get drugs from Canada--but they do anyway because they are cheaper.

For example three: Mr. President wanted a tighter bankruptcy bill. He got it, and now the credit card companies can hassle the dickens out of you. It is a bunch harder to file bankruptcy and the card companies can come after your assets. That is a big help for low and middle class--right?

For example four: Mr. President is making the world safe from terrorism. He is spreading democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. The middle and lower class folk make up a bulk of the enlisted military. Gas is $2.30 a gallon and lots of soldiers will not have jobs to come back to. Mr. President's jobs program is the U.S. Armed Forces.

For example five: Mr. President and social security can not be linked in the same sentence. The system needs a bit of a tweak. Mr. President wants to dismantle it. Most low and middle class Americans draw it for retirement. High brow folks do not. Maybe one should not mess with stuff that one does not understand.

So I guess it is only right that the people of West Virginia get what they paid for. They drank Mr. President's Kool Aid and voted him in during the last election. Now, he is giving them the hosing they seem to want but do not deserve. Go figure! (In the background the music is "You always hurt the one you love," the Spike Jones version.) Smirk on, Mr. President.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Musings 34--The bombing of America

I may be the only guy left in America that admits to reading Esquire magazine. I do so because I enjoy the off-beat stories that they run in the back of the mag every month. (Plus, everybody knows that my fashion sense is beyond reproach.)

In the May 2005 edition--the one with Eva Longoria on the cover, hubba hubba--Luke Dittrich has a story entitled, "A Perfectly Understandable Mistake--The true story of the albino raccoon, the pig farmer and the only Nuclear Bomb ever to be dropped on America."

Now if that title don't get you nothing will. I will give you the condensed version here, but you need to pick up the magazine to read this story. It is truly surreal.

On March 11, 1958 a nuclear bomb was dropped on Mars Bluff, South Carolina. It was an accident, but it happened just the same. Back in those days, the USA was very much into the Cold War. The air force flew mock bombing runs toward Europe all the time. While running these practice runs, they also carried real nuclear weapons--just in case WWIII broke out during the exercise.

On one such mock bomb run, Captain Bruce Kulka stood in the bomb bay of a cramped B47 strategic bomber and made the biggest mistake of his life. It was the type of mistake that leads one to eventually flee the country and settle in Thailand. Captain Kulka saw that the harness of a 7600 real nuclear bomb was messed up. He tried to straighten it out but accidentally hit the harness release lever which dropped the bomb onto the floor of the plane. Captain Kulka tried to stop the sliding bomb, but, alas, he could not. The force of the three and half ton bomb--bombs were pretty big in those days--knocked open the bomb bay doors. It was bombs away! Captain Kulka grabbed on to something solid and barely escaped taking a ride like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.

So at a little past 4:30 in the afternoon a nuclear bomb fell on Mars Bluff. Luckily, it was not in the middle of the town but in the woods behind a farmhouse.

Now nuclear bombs were not armed when we flew them around in those days. It was probably a good thing. Nuclear bombs have a thing called a core. It is a grapefruit sized device that makes it become an atom smasher. So when the bomb fell on Mars Bluff, the core was still flying around at 15,000 feet. The worst thing that could happen was that a 7,600 pound chunk of scrape iron lands on you from above. At least, South Carolina was spared the new nickname of "the glow-in-the-dark state."

However, it did explode when it hit due to the several hundred tons of explosives that are also in a nuclear warhead. It blew a crater twenty-five feet deep by seventy-five feet wide in the South Carolina soil.

L. E. Kirby, the owner of a general store in Mars Bluff, said he thought, "It sounded like one of them atomic bombs." You can not make this stuff up.

The part about the albino raccoon and the pig farmer are side stories that would probably bear further research on their own. Get is worth the price of the magazine just to read this story.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Musings 33--It could have happened!

I listened to Laura Bush do her thing at the National Press Cub Awards and couldn't help but wonder what the republicans would have said if a democrat had of said the exact same things about her husband and friends. They'd have howled and yelled bloody murder. I particularly liked her joke about Mr. President trying to milk a horse--a male horse. Great talk for religious folks, but I haven't heard a peep of outrage. Maybe they were all reviewing old tapes of Janet Jackson's superbowl wardrobe malfunction.

I had a buddy I was in the Marine Corps with, who loved to mess with people's heads. I remember once in the late-70's when we had a cook-out on the farm, and bunches of strange and unique people showed up. One fellow, a former tank commander in Viet Nam, that I had gotten to know when I did a two-year stint in ROTC at Marshall University was spinning tales about his war experiences. My Marine buddy, who had been wounded in both legs from shrapnel in South-East Asia, decided that the tank guy was full of crap and that he needed to be taken down a notch or two. Now at the time, we had about 60 head of cattle on the farm. We usually ran and old bull and a young one together on the pasture with the cows. (The philosophy was that if the old guy didn't get it done, the young guy would.)

We had this old bull that was very tame. He would allow you to catch flies off his back and basically do whatever you wanted to do to him--within the limits of smartness for a 2,000 pound pet. I lost track of my buddies at the party inquired as to where they were. My wife informed me that they were down in the barn. This piqued my interest and I ambled down there and found my Marine buddy trying to talk my tank commander buddy into getting over into the stable and milk the big cow. He had a bucket and everything. I quickly put a stop to it, because I knew that the bull was good natured but probably wouldn't appreciate someone pulling on his ding-dong. Some people can be pretty naive.

So when Laura Bush told that story, I know that it could have really happened. However, I feel that it probably didn't, because Mr. President is still alive today, and there isn't a horse following him around batting its eyelashes.

It kind of makes one ponder when you hear Tonto say, "Gitt'em up Scout."

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