Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Musings 51--Bart and the fuzzy worm.

Bart the dalmatian dog was lying on the cool concrete porch watching a fuzzy worm crawl around his food bowl. Bart weights about 75 pounds and the worm was about an inch and a half long. Bart could have easily squished the fuzzy little fellow, but it is not in Bart's nature to act aggressively towards lesser creatures. Instead, he just lay with his head on the floor peering at the crawling fellow.

The worm seemed to be quite happy stopping at small food stains and, apparently, getting a bit of sustenance. He'd find a greasy spot and stop for a moment and then proceed to another one. Such is the life of a worm. On the food chain, I suppose, they are near the bottom. Larger creatures with big feet, automobiles and birds are probably their biggest killers. However, Bart the dalmatian was just an onlooker on this 90 degree day. The concrete was cool. The worm wasn't eating much. The world was in harmony.

With a tweet and a flutter of wings, a young wren that was in the process of building a nest behind one of the porch shelves spied the worm. Now I don't know much about bird brains, but I do know that they understand food. I also know that this particular wren understood that the worm crawling around the dog food bowl was under the protection of a higher power.

The wren landed on a basket hanger and tweeted loudly. Bart rolled one eye upward and sniffed. Now old Bart loves chasing birds. We have several bushes in our yard that he enjoys making the birds fly when they land. He has also been known to eat one if it stumbled in flight. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. It is well known around the Greasy Ridge bird kingdom that you don't mess with old Bart unless you want to get eaten.

So the scene is set. Bart the dalmatian never moves his head. He rolls his eyes to watch the bird and then back to the worm. The bird watches the worm, but is very nervous about the dog. The worm seems oblivious to everything except the greasy spots of food left in the bowl.

Back in the old days during the cold war I'd have thought that the U. S. was Bart the dalmatian. I would have thought that all the other guys were the bird and that we protected the worm. Now days with our new policy of first strike--preemption it is called. I wonder just who is who and what is what.

This is a great country with many wonderful places and peoples. We have much bounty and are blessed. However, many of the other countries in the world do not see us a the good guys anymore. Did 9-11 change that, as Mr. President claims? Must we be the bad guys to fight the bad guys? I sincerely hope not, but time will tell.

Back to the story. The wren just didn't feel lucky enough to try for the worm, so she flew away to chase bugs elsewhere. Bart the dalmatian closed his eyes and went to sleep. The worm crawled back under the flower pot to do whatever it is that worms do. The world kept on spinning. Tomorrow would be another day, but for today the balance remained.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Musings 50--Cheney, payoffs, hope and reality.

According to fellow blogers, Blackheart Dick Cheney was admitted to the hospital with chest pains over the weekend. (See Link). I could make all kinds of tasteless remarks here, but I will refrain from doing so. Someone has to hold a higher standard.

In California, where son Mike now resides, there is an interesting investigation by a newspaper into the probable payoff of a member of the House of Representatives. (See Link). Congressman Randy Cunningham, ex-fighter pilot, swears he has done nothing wrong. Why it is just natural for a contributor to buy his house for $700,000 more than it was worth--especially when he is helping with legislation that could help said contributor. Well, you know, if it walks like a duck...

Sometimes it feels like everything is negative. But there is good news out there too. All one has to do is look to find it. The month of June is fast dwindling away, but there have been scores of June weddings with couples starting their lives together. That is a positive thing. The Shriners raised a bunch of money for their cripple children's fund. That is a good thing. The fireflies are back on Greasy Ridge. We watched them rise out of the grass last evening. I got word from Lt. Col. Pat Ward that he is still safe in Iraq. He is counting the days.

Of course, then I read the news headlines and see that Secretary Rumsfeld says that we might be in Iraq for 12 years. That's a lot of sand and, no doubt, more American Treasure will be lost.

I still wonder if Mr. President had any idea that he was beginning something that would never quite end. In my experience, narrow minded people never think of the consequences of others when they make decisions. He didn't start it, you say. Well, Afghanistan was a needed move, and I could have understood whacking Saudi Arabia--most of hijackers were from there. But, the move to Iraq is still puzzling, and never ending. History will present us with a much clearer picture of things.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Musings 49--The "last throes" of Dick Cheney

Maybe it is just people named Dick that causes me to ponder. I mean, Tricky Dick Nixon was a natural at spinning and breaking and entering. Now we have Dick Cheney. He is a real piece of work.

In an interview the other day, VP Cheney said that the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes." See Link. I am sure that he will amend this sometime later down the road, but for now his statement stands. "Last throes" means the fast approaching end. Nobody else in the Bush Administration or the Pentagon seems to agree with his assessment. But what the hell, VP Cheney still thinks there are WMD's in Iraq. He knew exactly where they were.

Would someone please tell me why VP Cheney can say anything he pleases and is never called on the carpet for it. Is it because he resembles the Darklord of the Sith? It is because he has a bad heart? How about it is because he has a black heart? Black heart....hmmm, I think I feel a nickname coming on...Blackheart...ah...Blackheart Dick, it fits.

To say that the insurgents are in their "last throes" is like throwing red meat to the lions. The last few days there have been bunches of Iraqi people and soldiers killed. How come no one is holding Blackheart Dick accountable? It kind of reflects back to the "bring'em on" quip from Mr. President. Yep, bring'em on, 1720 dead and counting with more than 12,800 wounded.

In the meantime, new information is still coming out on why we went to war in Iraq. The reporter who broke the Downing Street Memo is talking. See Link. The mainstream press is starting...grudgingly--to look into this. If these memos are true, then Mr. President should be impeached. He lied to the American people and started a war with a county that had not attacked us. My fellow republicans say that is old news, get past it and move on. I say that we wouldn't have gotten past it if Bill Clinton had done the same. I just want consistency.

So when Blackheart Dick says that the insurgency in Iraq is in its "last throes" he better be able to back it up. Thus, he should be held responsible for American lives that are lost because of his rash remarks. Please apologize, VP Cheney. A real man could do nothing less.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Musings 48--Surviving Dad's Day

Ruth and I had to work on Sunday--Father's Day. At 9:00 p.m., I said "let's take a break and drive out to my father's house and give him his father's day gift." She said, "OK," and off we went.

When we walked through the door I said, "Happy father's day," and this is where things take the nasty turn. Dad's reply to me was, "I ran over you're dog. I'm really sorry about that."

Ruth and I were kind of stunned. "Is he dead," I asked. "I didn't mean to do it. I guess he just ran in front of the car. I didn't see him."

"Jezzz," I said, "how many does that make now. Three?" Dad has a history of running over my dogs. It is never intentional, but they are dead just the same.

To be fair, what really ticked me off was the fact that this dog--puppy really--had only been with us about two weeks. However, it was long enough for me to have spent $300 for shots and worming and all that stuff one does for pets they intend to have around for many years.

The list of canines that my family members have run over is staggering. It starts years ago when I was a kid. Mother ran over my little dalmatian puppy, which was deaf, and smashed him. I cried. Dad turned my dog King loose one snowy day and he got run over by a car. Tootie Bug, my childhood dog got run over by a dumptruck. I still remember crying on the sofa. I was five at the time. Mother ran over Ruth's dog, Lady--we cried. Dad cut the legs off Mike's dalmatian puppy with the sickle bar of his tractor mower. We cried. Dad ran over Bart, our current dalmatian, and broke his back. He lived and is still alive today. He is the bionic dog. Lucky--the first Lucky--was run over by a truck that dad was in, so I guess that one might not have been his fault, but he was there. Ruth and I cried. Blue, our liver spotted dalmatian was hit by a neighbor and killed in front of Dad's house. I'm counting that one because of proximity. We cried yet again.

That's the history lesson. So it took me awhile to slip into my normal forgiving mode. But I did. I shifted into my, "I know you didn't do it on purpose mode," which set the tone for the rest of the evening. Sometimes sadness is only a right turn from happy street. On Father's Day we made the turn.

Now I love my dad and mother. However, if you are a dog and you are owned by Ruth and I, then you better run like hell when you see that big black car approaching. To quote Randy Travis, "It is just a matter of time."

Oh, yeah, by the way the pup's name was "Lucky Too." How is that for irony?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Musings 47--What does "Last" mean?

Former President Bill Clinton got in all kinds of trouble when he asked special prosecutors what the meaning of "is" is. It was unique then, but now there is one better.

Mr. President, answering questions about the Downing Street Memo, stated that the United States went to war as a "last" resort. (See story link.) Does anyone really believe this? Just what does the meaning of "last" mean? Maybe I am naive, but I really think it means that you have no alternatives. Mr. President had bunches of alternatives in Iraq. There was no urgent timetable. We already had troops on the ground in Afghanistan, and we were well on our way of wiping out the Taliban and capturing Osama at Tora Bora until Mr. President took his eye off the ball.

"Nothing could be farther from the truth," Bush said last week, responding to a question about the July 23, 2002, memo. (The Downing Street Memo.) "Both of us didn't want to use our military. Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option."

Now, let us see about that statement. The inspectors were in Iraq poking around. We had a no-fly zone over most of the country. If they shot at our planes, we bombed the hell out of their missiles. Saddam was pretty much contained. He did not like the religious zealot Osama Bin Laden. So what was the hurry?

The really bad thing about a guy that uses the phrase "last option," when it is not, is that he could really get us into trouble sometime. Why he might even get us bogged down in the occupation of a country. A guy like that might get us involved in nation building. Of course, Mr. President would never do that, you say. He was specifically against that when he ran for office. But, you say, things changed on 9-11. Yep, it did, but not to the extent that the world was turned upside down.

I just get the impression that Mr. President used his powers to throw his weight around. There is a mindset that wonders why one needs to be a super power if one never uses it's might. I think Mr. President has bought into this--at the current cost of 1706 lives and countless injured.

Has Iraq been worth it? I'll bet there are a bunch of mommies and daddies and husbands and wives who don't think much of the aftermath since the ultimate sacrifice of their loved ones.

What scares me most is someone who throws around the term "last option" when he is only trying to cover his ass. Mr. President wanted to go to war in Iraq. He felt there was unfinished business there. He used the excuse of 9-11 to do so. There were no Iraqi terrorists on those planes. It's like Oliver Hardy always said, "This is another fine mess you've gotten us into."

The weapons inspectors were doing their jobs. Mr. President told Saddam to disarm (remember everybody thought he had WMD's), but Saddam wouldn't do it. Now we know that there was nothing to disarm. Mr. President says that he got bad information from the CIA. Well, maybe he did, but I was sitting in my living room on Greasy Ridge searching the web and found several CIA and intelligence people who said otherwise. I assumed that Mr. President had information that I did not have. He did, but it was wrong or he ignored the few voices that said it was wrong.

Thus, I conclude that Mr. President cherry picked his information. That is scary. Mr. President says that he is strong-minded and determined. I think he is narrow-minded and dangerous.

"Last option"--not by a long shot!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Musings 46--The Crying President From Texas

So there he is again, Mr. President holding up his hand in a Nazi salute while playing the game of poor-little-me. (See picture.) It may have been cute before the election, but it is just plain tiresome now.

Mr. President whines because the big bad democrats are stopping his programs. They are all obstructionist. They throw roadblocks at him from every angle. Mr. President, a short Texan, still doesn't get it--his party won the election. They now control everything. Republicans control the White House, they control the House of Representatives and they control the Senate. Also, the Supreme Court is mostly a conservative court.

Thus, it seems to me, Mr. President should pretty much have it his way. When you have four aces you don't need the wild deuce. Come on, you short Texan...govern--pass some laws, write some bills, remake the world in your own image. Quite blaming the democrats, who have no agenda. You have the cards, so play them.

I think that the republicans have blamed the democrats for everything bad for so long that they have no idea how to govern. Maybe they need to be the party in the minority. For better than a half century they did that job well. If Mr. President doesn't get his Texas ass in gear then the Republican Party may well get to play that part again after the 2006 elections.

It just sounds like sour grapes to me when you have the President of the United States whining about the democrats that are holding up his wondrous programs. Again, you control it all--get on with it.

Here in the print shop we have a tradition: Whoever is the new guy gets blamed for everything. If the coffee is bitter, it is the new guy's fault. If the air conditioner is too low, it is the new guy's fault. I guess Mr. President has been using the Patriot Act to spy on us here in Huntington because he has stolen a page out of our book. Instead of the new guy, it's the damn democrats...bad crats, bad liberals, bad commies. It is a tune that we've all heard before. Get off it and get going, Mr. President.

When Bill Clinton took office. His party controlled both the house and the senate. He should have really gotten a lot done, but he didn't. Instead, the democrats shot themselves in the foot and piddled around...and around....and around.....

If I could get one wish from the politics fairy, it would be to have a divided congress after 2006. Maybe then we could get something done instead of passing the buck. Of course, Mr. President has not made a mistake since he quit drinking and got religion. Let us pray!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Musings 45--Truth stretchers and dead bodies

Well, there is a second memo proving that Mr. President decided to go to war before he leveled with the American people. A democrat would be impeached for far less...whoa, one was--remember Slick Willie.

I don't know what it is about truth stretchers like Mr. President and his Yoda Master Dick Chaney. Why can't they level with the people about what's going on in Iraq? If they'd give us timetables for accomplishing things, then we would all feel better. Mr. President is afraid of timetables. He says that we will leave Iraq as soon as possible. I'll make a prediction and say that we will not leave Iraq until Mr. President is drawing his pension, and someone else is left to clean up his mess.

As of 8 a.m. today, we now have a body count of 1,701 American soldiers killed in Iraq. I remember when I thought that when it hit 1,000 people would get riled. Now we are approaching 2,000 and no one seems to think much of it. Remember, once something is fouled up, anything you do makes it worse.

Dick Chaney is popping off about Howard Dean, who is popping off about everything. Dean is just looking for fights to get the democrat base moving. He's basically harmless. Chaney is just...well, he's Chaney. He said that as far as he knew Howard Dean never won anything. His history is as bad as his search for WMD's. Dean was elected Governor of Vermont about five times. However, facts don't get in the way of the Dark Lord of the White House.

I finally heard from Lt. Col. Pat Ward in Iraq. For some reason we had been unable to send e-mails to each other for the past month or two. I fear that the Patriot Act has been interfering with my emails. Someone has been trying to hit me with spyware at 2:45 each day. It's probably the CIA...or the FBI...or the ATF...or the DEA...or the NSA...or, most likely, the SOB's.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Musings 44--The shooters

I belong to a sportsman organization called the Northeastern Kentucky Fish & Game Association, Inc. I joined several years ago so that I would have a place to shoot my large caliber buffalo rifles.

There are several rifle and pistol ranges, archery ranges and skeet-trap ranges on the 3,000 acre private reserve. There are also hiking trails and four-wheeler trails as well as a nice clubhouse on the property. I feel honored that they allowed me to become a member.

I had known for some time that they have pistol and rifle matches every week during the summer, but I had not been too interested in participating. However, my pal Roger told me about how much fun he had shooting in one of the pistol matches. I figured I might as well give it a try.

Last Tuesday at 6 p.m. I participated in the 45-shot pistol match. It was fun, and I didn't even embarrass myself. As a matter of fact, I finished about in the middle of the pack of the twenty or so shooters who competed. I had never seen the course or shot it before Tuesday; thus, I figure that with a bit more practice, I will be able to do much better. My score was 34 hits out of 45 targets. I think the best score of the evening was 43. Roger, I think, shot a 42.

The most unique thing about the match was that everybody, except me and three other fellows, were using revolvers. Most with adjustable sights and slicked up trigger jobs. I shot a Ruger P85 in 9mm caliber. It is a good dependable weapon that holds 15 rounds if you wish to stuff it that full. It has fixed sights and the trigger has a bunch of creep in it before it decides to go bang.

The pistol match is comprised of three stages of 15 targets at various ranges. Some of the targets are knock down and some are metal hanging targets. It is easy to tell if you score a hit on the knock downs as they disappear before your eyes. The hanging targets make a distinct gong sound when hit. Distances are from about 15 feet to about 60 feet--5 to 20 yards. This is about normal gunfighting range. Some targets are small as a softball and others are as big as a human torso. It is a good mix and allows you a good mix of shooting situations.

Several people looked at my Ruger pistol with a good degree of disdain. The lack of adjustable sights seemed to be a problem for them. It wasn't for me. I knew it shot where it was pointed, and all of my misses were my fault. I have a tendency to rush some of my shots--especially if I have a pretty good string of hits going. I learned a long time ago that a pistol with fixed sights that shot dead on is far better than all the adjustable sights in the world. Adjustable sights are forever getting bumped and changed. Besides, they catch on clothing and that can be fatal in a fire fight.

I think my fellow competitors had a better feeling for my fixed sighted Ruger when the match was over. There is not much you can say when your adjustable sighted pistol gets outperformed by a set of combat sights. Of course, there are always detractors. A lady shooter said to me as she handed me a bullet, "You should shoot one of these and get rid of that toy." It was a .44 special and she shot it well. I faked awe and said, "Wow, a real .44--just like Dirty Harry." She shot a 42 so I was not too flippant with her.

Another of the shooters shot the entire match using a double-action Ruger Redhawk revolver. I was truly amazed. He shot a 40 and never so much as pulled back on the hammer. He later let me try the trigger on his piece and it was as smooth a butter. "It's all about the springs that control the trigger," he said. He beat me, so there was no argument there. Most pistols I own would have a hard time hitting the dirt in front of me with a double action pull. Well, maybe the exception would be...the Python. Hmmm, next Tuesday night I think I'll find out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Musings 43--Dad on D-Day

Last Monday it had been sixty years since my father, Dennis Murdock, had participated in the D-Day invasion. We were sitting on his porch watching the cat mess with the dog.

"Do you know where I was sixty years ago today?" asked Dad. Now I'm not one to look at a calendar, so I did not have a clue as to when the anniversary of D-Day was. So I ventured a guess, "Ah, in a C-47 flying around somewhere."

He just kind of shook his head and said, "We were preparing for the D-Day invasion." Well, it did not take long for the lights to come on in my head. Sometimes it is a distinct disadvantage not being the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Dad has remained in touch with many of his buddies from World War II. He had just gotten a letter from his best friend who lives in Texas. Apparently, his buddy had written an article about the D-Day invasion from an airman's point of view. He and Dad were radio operators in the same group of C-47's that carried the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. I had heard these stories before, but this night he was interested in talking about a fellow radioman who did not come back.

"My buddy in Texas wrote about our best friend, Bacon, who had a vision that he would not come back," Dad said. "It wasn't the first mission...it was the second. He came back from the first mission and got all his stuff in order and told us that he would not be back. You have to wonder how he knew, but he did know that he wouldn't return."

Now I have heard Dad speak of this before, and I had pretty much dismissed the idea of pre-cognation or predestination or visions of the future. In my mind, the future is evolving and we make choices that change the direction we go every day. It is not, to me, a good feeling to think that there is an appointed time for us to check out--a time that we cannot alter by actions. However, the story of Dad's buddy knowing he was about to die is sobering. It would be less so if I had not experienced other such events, which I will not go into at this time.

Dad said that when the planes returned from that mission that his buddy was dead, hit by a bullet from a German anti-aircraft gun. I guess it gives credence to the saying, "I've got a bullet with your name one it."

The Bible says, "It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment." I always thought that this meant that we all die eventually. Maybe I was wrong. To me, the verse is not so clear as it once was.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Musings 42--Thoughts on "Deep Throat"

In the 1970's the late Linda Lovelace starred in a porno movie called Deep Throat. It was the first of the really slick porn films. It kind of took adult movies to new heights--or depths depending on your point of view. However, Linda Lovelace's flick is not the most noted used of the term "Deep Throat." Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein needed a name for their anomyous source that was feeding them information on the Watergate Office Building burglary and the illegal activities of President Richard Nixon. They chose "Deep Throat" for reasons entirely known only to them. You can let your mind wonder...I know I do.

Mark Felt, sort of the number two man at the FBI, was apparently upset that he did not get the director's job. Nixon appointed L. Patrick Gray, a Nixon insider, to the post. Felt was a friend of Woodward, and thus began the relationship that brought down the President of the United States.

I have been watching the cable news channels, and I am blown away--bad pun--by the rewriting of history by the old Watergate conspirators and players. G. Gordon Liddy, Pat Buchanan, John Dean and Charles Colson have been making their rounds and saying what a nice guy Richard Nixon was. Yeah, right. The man was a crook. He oversaw the cover up of the break in and obstructed justice on more than one occasion. Plus, most of the guys now doing the fictional history are ex-con themselves. There ain't nobody guilty in prison.

I also am amazed at the number of people that say that they suspected all along that Felt was "Deep Throat." I never heard much about him when all the folks were doing their analyses of Woodward's book All the President's Men. John Dean didn't even have him on his top ten list, and he was big on lists.

I have taught journalism classes regarding this time in American history, and I had always maintained that "Deep Throat" was a composite of several different folks. I still stick by this. I think that Mark Felt was probably the main guy, but I would bet that Woodward and Bernstein fudged at bit and used other sources as well as out-right supposition. I could be wrong, but I do have a feel for the journalism of the time.

It seems that Bernstein's son let the cat out of the bag to one of his buddies in 1999, but daddy Carl just poop-pooped it down by saying it was not so on the Today show on NBC. Ah, those kids, they say the darndest things. (Thanks to Art Linkletter for that.)

I guess we should have known that "Deep Throat" was someone who was upset and had decided to get a bit of revenge. That is usually how it works. Most people do not do things because it is right. Just think, if Mark Felt had have been promoted to director of the FBI we would probably be celebrating Richard Nixon Day and the term "Watergate" would have been nothing more than the office building it is.

So Richard Nixon brought his downfall on himself by not appointing Felt as head of the FBI. How ironic is that? Remember when you were in school and the teacher asked if there was one thing you could change in your life. Well, Tricky Dick has an eternity to ponder that one because, you know, that the devil barged in with the news as soon as he found out. "Ole Scratch" never could keep a secret.

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