Clinton Conspiracy

I just finished reading the DOJ Inspector General report on FBI Operation CROSSFIRE HURRICANE, the investigation of an alleged conspiracy between members of the Donald Trump campaign team – George Papadopolous, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Lt. General Michael Flynn – and Russia. After reading the report, I read Papadopolous’ book of his experiences, which included twelve days in a minimum security Federal prison for “lying to the FBI,” a charge he was coerced into pleading guilty too. I was also reminded of The Intelligence Farce report put out by the outgoing Obama Intelligence Community just before Donald Trump took office as President of the United States. As I read the DOJ IG report, it became more and more obvious that the entire Russia hoax was another Clinton conspiracy,

Although Democrats claimed the report “exonerated” the FBI, IG Michael Horowitz said it didn’t. During a Senate hearing, he said the report “doesn’t vindicate anybody” when asked if the report vindicated FBI leadership as disgraced former FBI director James Comey had claimed. Democrats and the media (which are basically one and the same) seized on the statement that the IG found no testimonial or documentary evidence of political bias as dismissal of the claim. However, all that statement says is that the IG didn’t find evidence to support it, not that it didn’t occur. In fact, one FBI lawyer who was heavily involved in the FISA Court applications was found to have altered an Email that proved that Carter Page, himself a former intelligence officer, was a source for another intelligence agency. This particular attorney had sent out text messages expressing his dismay at Hillary Clinton’s loss. Peter Strozk, who initiated CROSSFIRE HURRICANE, and attorney Lisa Page, who was involved in the investigation, had exchanged text messages in which they expressed their disdain for Donald Trump and support for Hillary Clinton.

To understand the report, it is important to understand the role of a government inspector general. As the term implies, inspector generals were initially established in military organizations to ensure that regulations, policies and procedures have been followed. An office of the inspector general has been established in all Federal government departments and agencies. State and local governments also often include an inspector general. The IG does not conduct criminal investigations, but in the event criminal activity is found, it is referred to the appropriate agency for investigation and prosecution. This occurred in the case of the FBI attorney who was found to have altered a document to change its meaning. The recently released report focuses solely on CROSSFIRE HURRICANE and actions taken in conjunction with applications for FISA authorization for initial and continual surveillance of Carter Page. The IG determined that there were no less than 17 improper actions by FBI personnel in regard to the four FISA court applications. Be advised that a criminal investigation led by US attorney John Durham is underway.

CROSSFIRE HURRICANE was opened after the FBI received information from a “friendly foreign government,” in this case the Australian government, that George Papadopoulous, a young energy expert who had joined the Trump campaign as a volunteer policy advisor, had told an Australian diplomat, one Alexander Downer, that Russia had information on Hillary Clinton. Papadopolous, who met Downer at the suggestion of an Australian acquaintance, denies any recollection of any such statement. Papadopolous contradicts the media claim that the encounter was an accidental meeting at a bar and states that he had an appointment to meet Downer and that rather than being drunk, he only had one gin and tonic. He also states that Downer expressed admiration for Hillary Clinton and admonished him for his views on energy in Northern Cyprus and for Donald Trump’s criticism of British Prime Minister David Cameron. The operation was opened as a “full investigation” by Peter Strozk, who was later fired for inappropriate text messages regarding Donald Trump and his supporters to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was involved in an illicit relationship. FBI agents in Chicago went to Papadopolouos’ Chicago home. During the questioning, they asked when Papadopolous met one Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who told him that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. Relying solely on memory of an event that occurred a year before, Papadoplous said that it was before he joined the campaign. Actually, it was just after that when he met Mifsud, who later told him about the Russian claims. The FBI used the mistake as an excuse to charge the young man with “lying to the FBI,” a charge the agency will use when they have nothing else to charge a suspect with. (They also charged Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn with the same charge.)

Immediately after (or perhaps before) Strozk opened CROSSFIRE HURRICANE, a British operative named Christopher Steele presented documents he had compiled for Fusion GPS, a US firm that had been hired by the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump. Steele was a former agent for MI6, the prestigious British intelligence agency popularized in the novels written by former British naval intelligence agent Ian Fleming and the subsequent James Bond movies. Although Steele was represented by the FBI as a “senior intelligence” official, he was actually midlevel. Steele had been contracted as an FBI Confidential Human Source, a paid informant. However, he did not inform his FBI handler of his efforts on behalf of Fusion GPS and his handler was not aware of his efforts. He told the IG that had he known, he’d have told the FBI that Steele was not reliable and that, contrary to assertions made by the FBI in FISA applications, none of his information had been used in criminal investigations. Steele’s status as an FBI CHS was revoked after he was found to have provided information to the media. However, even though he was no longer considered reliable by the FBI, he continued to provide information through Bruce Ohr, a senior official with the DOJ. Ohr and Steele had known each other for several years. In fact, it was Ohr who recommended Steele as a CHS. Ohr did not reveal his actions to his superiors and would later be disciplined for his failures. Ohr did inform the FBI that Steele had developed a hatred for Trump. In fact, Steele became frustrated because the FBI didn’t seem to be acting on his information.

As it turned out, Steele’s information was found to be from sub-sources, and that the information was suspect. When interviewed by the IG, Steele’s principle sub-source claimed the report was essentially bogus. The CIA had already classified it as “internet rumor.” The source revealed that the infamous “Golden Showers” story had been concocted by people who were drinking at a bar as a joke. Yet even though the FBI discredited the dossier, FBI personnel continued to use it as justification for surveillance of Carter Page.

Carter Page is an American businessman, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and former naval intelligence officer. His business dealings with Russia led to him being monitored by US intelligence agencies. The IG report reveals that Page was a source for another intelligence agency (probably CIA), but this information was deliberately withheld from the FISA Court. Although there are claims that a FISA warrant was opened on him as far back as 2014, it is definite that a warrant was opened in October 2016, after he had left the campaign. The IG report reveals that a CHS who had some ties with the Trump campaign suggested that he be monitored. (That there were CHSs in the Trump campaign is eyebrow-raising. The IG claims that none were affiliated with CROSSFIRE HURRICANE but that doesn’t mean they weren’t feeding information to the FBI.) Page, like millions of other Americans, was opposed to the anti-Russia policies of the US government and was outspoken in his views. Papadopolus was also pro-Russia to some extent, but his main philosophy was opposition to the Erdogan government of Turkey. He believes that Erdogan is a radical Islamist who believes in the establishment of Shari Law. His main focus was on the establishment of a coalition made up of Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel to distribute energy found in Northern Cyprus rather than Turkey, which invaded the island in 1974 and continues to occupy the northern third of the island. It was apparently his position on Cyprus that provoked the ire of Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downey as he berated the young American for his and Donald Trump’s views during their brief meeting at a posh London watering hole for the elite, that and Downer’s preference for and connections to Hillary Clinton – Downer had engineered a massive Australian government contribution to the Clinton Foundation ($25 million) to allegedly combat AIDS.

While serving as an FBI CHS, Steele made several appearances in front of US media in which he advanced his “findings” about candidate Trump. His appearances were engineered by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, who was working for the Clinton campaign. His appearances were obviously intended to hurt candidate Trump, which raises a question: Christopher Steele is British and is a former member of MI6. Why doesn’t his reporting constitute “foreign influence” on a US election? The same can be said for Alexander Downer, an Australian politician/diplomat who made the (allegedly) initial report to the FBI that served as the basis for CROSSFIRE HURRICANE? The answer is obvious – both Steele and Downer are Clinton supporters and in Steele’s case for sure, were desperate to prevent the election of Donald Trump.

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Definitely a Coup

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, primarily because things have been changing so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up. However, I feel it’s time to make my feelings more widely known.

To begin with, let’s take a look at the document on which this country’s government is based – The US Constitution. Note that the Constitution establishes three separate, but equal, branches of government – Legislative, Executive and Judicial. The Constitution makes clear that the three branches are equal and that none is superior to the other two branches – period. The role of the Legislative Branch, Congress, is to legislate, the Executive is to execute, meaning to govern, and the Judicial Branch is to judge, particularly disputes between the other two branches in regard to the Constitution. The only exception is impeachment, which the Founders gave to Congress. (It is important to remember that political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution at all. There were none at the time. Political parties, which developed in the new nation, are a function of free speech.)

The effort to impeach President Donald Trump began immediately after Democrats realized that he had defeated the favored Hillary Clinton (a crook if there ever was one) and that he was going to be the new president. Black Congressman Al Green, who represents a low-income, mostly black district on the south side of Houston, began calling for impeachment almost as soon as the new president was inaugurated. The current effort, which at the time of this writing is in the “investigative stage”, is based on a “complaint” filed by a whistleblower in the “intelligence community.” The IC whistleblower act is described in this Federal publication – https://fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/R45345.pdf.

As it turns out, the particular complaint was NOT relevant to an intelligence complaint as it does not pertain specifically to intelligence or the intelligence agencies. In fact, the actual complaint is nothing but the complainer’s opinion. The whistleblower, who is believed to be a CIA analyst named Eric Ciaremalla, who worked in the Obama White House and was carried over into the Trump White House, did not have firsthand knowledge of the alleged violation, as was required by the policy that existed at the time. (The policy was changed AFTER the complaint was made.) In fact, the Acting Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Joseph McGuire, informed Congress that the complaint – which had been made public by Congressman Adam Schiff – was not covered by the Intelligence Whistleblower Act as determined by the legal departments at both his office and the DOJ. It was later learned that the whistleblower had talked to someone on Schiff’s staff, or possibly Schiff himself, even though the Act requires that a whistleblower file a complaint PRIOR to advising anyone in Congress. Schiff has since refused to name the whistleblower EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO SUCH REQUIREMENT!

Schiff’s complaint is that President Trump violated some non-existent regulation by advising Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky that he would appreciate assistance by Ukraine in investigating actions taken by former Vice President Joe Biden in the firing of a Ukraine general prosecutor who says he was in the process of investigating Biden’s son Hunter, who had been hired by Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, as a member of it’s board. The president also asked for assistance in the investigation of a company called CrowdStrike, a company started by a Russian expatriate, which determined that the Democratic National Committee’s computers were hacked by Russian intelligence. Apparently, intelligence has learned that the infected computers somehow ended up in Ukraine. There is also an investigation of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election but Mr. Trump does not refer to it in the transcript of the phone call.

Schiff, Democrats and their lackeys in the media are incensed that there would be an investigation of Biden, who was/is their frontrunner for the 2020 nomination. However, just because a person is running for office does not exempt them from official scrutiny of their past actions, which in this case Biden has proudly proclaimed. He has publically bragged of his role in the firing of Ukraine general prosecutor Viktor Shokin prior to releasing a $1 billion loan guarantee to the Ukraine government. That the Obama Administration insisted on a Quid Pro Quo in return for the loan is questionable, but that Biden may have had an ulterior motive raises it to criminal level. Incidentally, although Biden likes to paint himself as “the middleclass” candidate, he actually has a history of questionable behavior. For example, the self-proclaimed “devout Catholic” engaged in an adulterous relationship with his wife Jill. She was still married when they began their relationship. Biden’s son Hunter was rewarded with high paying jobs with various companies, apparently because of who his father is. Rudy Giuliani claims he has a safe full of files chronicling Biden’s corruption going back forty years.

That the “impeachment” is actually a coup becomes apparent when considering the relationships between the whistleblower, Schiff and some of the witnesses Schiff called to appear before his House Intelligence Committee. By the way, the role of the committee is to oversee the various intelligence agencies, not the President. First, the whistleblower contacted Schiff’s office BEFORE he filed his complaint. Then Schiff lied about it. The intelligence IG revealed that the whistleblower had a relationship with a presidential candidate, who turned out to be Biden. It turns out that Eric Ciraemalla worked for Biden when he was vice president. There also appears to be a relationship between the whistleblower and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukrainian immigrant who is a low-level analyst with the National Security Council. Instead of appearing in civilian clothes, his normal attire in the White House, he wore his dress blue uniform and was hailed as a decorated hero because he was awarded a Purple Heart. However, it turns out that his wounds came from an improvised explosive device that exploded near a truck he was riding in. The severity of his wounds is unknown, but they were evidently not severe enough to justify air evacuation from the combat zone. During questioning by a Republican Congressman, Vindman started to comment on who he talked to about the phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky but was interrupted and Schiff advised that he did not want to reveal the identify of the whistleblower – which raises a question.

There is no regulation requiring that the identity of whistleblowers not be made public, none. Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation by their employers but their identity is NOT protected. This leads me to believe that it’s not the whistleblower Schiff is trying to protect, it’s his own relationship with the man who is attempting to bring down the President of the United States. That, folks, is called a coup.



I am in the process of reading through the Mueller Report. So far, I’m a little over a quarter of the way through but I have become convinced that it truly was a witch hunt! The Office of the Special Counsel found absolutely nothing to indicate that the Trump Campaign was in touch with representatives of the Russian government. Nevertheless, they went after people ruthlessly in an attempt to come up with “something.” Yes, they were able to get convictions of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates for financial crimes but found nothing to tie them to alleged Russian “interference” in the election. For that matter, the “interference” they found seems to be based solely on the allegations made by John Brennan and James Comey in the “report” they released after the election, a report that claimed news reports on the Russian TV/Internet station RT was “interference.” They also seemed to have taken claims made by Facebook and Twitter that certain accounts belonged to Russians at face value.

There are two things that I’ve found so far in the report that really jump out – the claim by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya that the Russian government had proof that former American Bill Browder and his associate made contributions to Democrats and the Clinton Foundation and that Paul Manafort Emailed Jared Kushner three days before the election and expressed his fears that in the event Trump won, Clinton supporters would claim that Russians tampered with voting machines and changed the vote, which is exactly what happened.

More to come……………………………………………………………


Texas Deepfreeze

I first got word that we were going to get a late taste of winter around the first of the second week of February, when I saw a forecast on The Weather Channel 10-day forecast calling for below freezing temperatures and winter precipitation on the night of Valentine’s Day and the following day. Ironically, our weather had been late spring-like with temperatures approaching the eighties and I thought our winter was over. Now, North Texas had been having cold temperatures and even snow but we’re over 200 miles further south and that kind of weather rarely reaches this far. Even when we do get “cold” weather, it usually doesn’t penetrate below Houston due to the coastal influence. The thermometer might dip below freezing for a few hours around daybreak, but it warms up once the sun is out. We’re only 37 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and its waters keep temperatures warmer here and cold air coming down from the north rarely reaches us.

As the time for the expected winter weather neared, they kept changing the forecast, with forecast temperatures getting colder and colder. I have lived in the Houston area off and on since 1994, with a three-year break from 1997-2000 when I was transferred back to Kentucky and then to northwest Ohio where they have real winter. The coldest temperature I had seen was 17 degrees. There was one ice storm in the winter of 1996-97 but the ice stayed in the trees and off the ground where I lived near Galveston Bay. We had snow, on Christmas Eve actually in 2004, and a few times since, usually about once a winter. Contrary to popular belief, Texas does have winter weather, including snow and ice, every year; just not so much where we live in Southeast Texas. Most Americans fail to understand that Texas is a really big state – it’s almost 900 miles from Orange on the Louisiana border to El Paso and over 700 miles from Brownsville to Amarillo – and another 84 miles to the Oklahoma line. Texarkana is closer to Chicago than to El Paso. In fact, much of the Texas Panhandle is further north than Oklahoma City. There are parts of Texas that see blizzards nearly every year. They get bitter cold weather up there, and snow and ice. I remember once going to Dalhart, a Panhandle town near the Oklahoma border, when it was ten degrees. It’s common to see a 50-degree temperature difference between Amarillo and Houston.

As the time drew nearer, maps started appearing that showed a U-shaped cold front dipping down over the very middle of the country with the eastern and western edges right along the Texas state lines and extending into the Gulf of Mexico. Inside that U was going to be some of the coldest weather seen in parts of Texas in decades. They weren’t calling it a polar vortex at the time; that came later. Instead of halting in North Texas as it usually does, the cold weather was going to encompass the entire state while bringing with it ice and/or snow. Now, Texas and the lower South is unique compared to the rest of the country because of the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the moisture that produces precipitation over the eastern half of the United States comes out of the Gulf. Usually the temperature of that air from Houston south is well above freezing at ground level with colder temperatures further north, with the temperature decreasing with altitude. The normal temperature lapse rate is 2 degrees Celsius per thousand feet. The extremely cold temperatures were expected to be at the surface with warmer air above that – cold air slides under warm air when a front comes in – with the altitude and corresponding thickness of the warm air determining whether the ground would get rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow. Actually, it had been cold in North Texas with snow and ice for several days, but our daytime temperatures were some ten to twenty degrees warmer. While Dallas was in the low thirties with snow, we were in the forties.  

I had already wrapped my exterior pipes a few years ago when we had another cold snap and didn’t feel I needed to wrap them again, but just in case I ordered some new wrapping and tape. I also found some socks or bags that are designed to go over a faucet and ordered them from Amazon. They arrived on Sunday, before it started turning cold. The wrapping and tape had arrived the previous day. The cold air was in Texas and there was freezing rain, sleet and snow coming down with it. It was expected to reach us sometime after dark. I put the bags over the faucets, put some plants inside and settled down to wait.

I was expecting that we would probably lose power, particularly if we had an ice storm. I was happy when the rain we started getting around nightfall turned to sleet rather than freezing rain. Sleet doesn’t ice up power lines and trees and cause power loss. Our heat is gas, but the blowers are electric, so we were going to lose heat if we lost electrical power. However, we have a wood-burning fireplace with a gas starter in which I’d installed gas logs less than a year after we bought the house. If we lost electrical power and the furnaces, we’d have a source of heat.

When I went to bed Sunday evening, it was snowing, with some sleet mixed in. The temperature had dropped into the twenties and the snow was small flakes, but it was snow. They’d lowered the expected amount from 5-8 inches to 1-3 inches then to less than an inch. I awoke before daybreak needing to go to the bathroom. I looked out the bathroom window with a flashlight; it was snowing and the ground was white. I got back in bed but turned on the TV to check the radar. It showed that the snow was moving east of us, although some extended to the west almost to San Antonio. I switched to Weather Nation and we were watching it when the power went off. I was expecting there to possibly be rolling blackouts – we had them once before when Texas was gripped by cold weather. Power would be off for about an hour. I stayed in bed for a few minutes then decided to go downstairs and light the fireplace while my wife stayed in bed. It was still dark, but I could see it was still snowing. It was starting to get light and I could see birds flying back and forth from the feeders in the windows in the den. The ground was covered with snow. Our outside thermometer was showing it was in the low twenties.

I kept hoping the power would come back on, but it didn’t. I tried calling CenterPoint Energy, the company that owns and maintains the power lines in our area, but they weren’t answering their phones and their website was down. Texas gets it’s electrical power at a ratio of about 23% from wind turbine-powered generators, 40% from gas-powered power plants and the rest from solar, coal and nuclear sources. Texas only has two nuclear power plants, and they supply less than 8% of the state’s power.[1] As it turned out, most of the wind turbines stopped turning as they iced up in the freezing rain. Most of Texas’ wind turbines – and we have the majority of ALL wind turbines in the US – are located on the high plains from the Abilene area westward. There are two fields in South Texas, and they continued operating, until the cold reached them, and they iced up. The solar generators were useless – it had been cloudy across Texas for several days and the batteries were depleted. To make matters worse, the solar panels were soon covered by snow and ice. Only the gas, coal and nuclear plants were still producing power. The heavy load started causing generators to trip offline. Then, to compound matters, problems developed in some of the natural gas lines. Methane gas does not freeze at any temperatures ever found on this earth, but the lines sometimes have some water mixed in while the pumps that move the gas along are susceptible to extreme cold – and are powered by electricity in many instances. The cold was much more severe than usually seen in much of Texas and the pumping stations lacked the winterization found in more northern climes. To save the power grid from complete failure, ERCOT, the company that operates the Texas power grid, instructed the companies that operate the lines to reduce power consumption. They began cutting power.

The power cuts were selective, with residential areas the most affected. Power was left on to grids that had various “emergency functions” such as hospitals, fire stations, police stations and water plants in them while neighboring grids went dark. Our neighborhood was dark but the neighborhood on the other side of the street that runs about 300 yards from our house still had power. (That neighborhood also had power after Hurricane Ike while we were without power for a week!) It started getting light outside and the snow stopped by daylight. The sun started peeking through the clouds. We have four dogs and two of them were downstairs with me. The other two stay in crates in our bedroom at night. We don’t let two out together because they’ve had fights in the past and we don’t want to risk more vet bills. I put out pads for them to go to the bathroom in the house but after the sun came out, we let them go outside. I had put the insert in the doggy storm door, and they went through it and I closed it right behind them, so we didn’t allow much cold to come in. This was their first experience in ice and snow, and they didn’t know what to make of it. Fortunately, they did their business quickly and came back into the house.

We have a gas stove, and my wife was able to heat water for instant coffee and oatmeal and do other cooking. Our gas oven has an electronic starter with a valve that opens when power is applied so we couldn’t use it, but we could cook and heat water on top of the stove. We also had hot water thanks to the gas hot water heater, but it was getting too cold to shower. We put two dog crates in the den close to the fire and we bundled up and spent the day close to it. It stayed fairly comfortable in the den all day. We’d run the water every hour or so to keep the pipes from freezing, although the temperature in the house was well above freezing and I imagine it was in the attic as well. We have blown insulation in the attic and the pipes are in it. We spent the day looking at our cell phones – we have a power bank my wife ordered in anticipation of a hurricane once and it supplied plenty of power – and reading. There was a lot of chatter in our neighborhood Facebook group that my wife belongs to (I dumped Facebook and Twitter weeks ago.) Overall, we were fairly comfortable except I couldn’t kick back in my recliner. I finally brought an Ottoman down from upstairs to put in front of it.

The power didn’t come on and we had a dark night, except for the light from the fireplace. I looked into it and thought how that was all my parents and grandparents had, not to mention their parents before them. They dealt with weather in West Tennessee as cold or colder than we were having. They didn’t get electricity until the early 1940s. I grew up in a house heated primarily by coal and wood stoves. We wrapped up and covered the dogs with blankets and tried to sleep in the den. It got cold, but not terribly so. I kept watch on the thermometer and the lowest it got was 43 degrees although it was down to 12 outside. That was about ten feet from the fireplace but the temperature in the kitchen was only a couple of degrees colder. My face got cold, so I covered my head with the blanket I had over me. The power didn’t come back on the next day, but the house warmed up some due to the sunlight. It got up to over 50 degrees in the den. It was in the upper thirties upstairs. We had our water pipes trickling and they never did freeze although our neighbors reported that their water froze up and some had busted pipes.

I’m a little confused about this but I think my wife decided to take a drive that afternoon (Tuesday.) The outside temperature was right at or slightly above freezing and the snow was melting. The street was clear. There was power along the highway and she intended to bring back some food, but every place had lines a mile long, so she came back empty-handed. I was a little miffed that she left the house, but she was bored and frustrated, and it gave her an opportunity to fully charge her phone. We were expecting another cold, dark night so I made preparations to put my wife closer to the fire than she’d been the night before. I’d also remembered a fleece sleeping bag in the closet and put my legs in it. We were just settling in at about 1030 when we heard a beep from upstairs. I think it came from the alarm. I asked, “what was that” and she said, “the power is on!” It was. Both furnaces came on and we turned on the TV. I kept watch on the upstairs temperature and when it reached 60, my wife went upstairs and took two of the dogs. I followed her with the other two after she put them in their crates.

I was expecting the power to go off during the night and resolved that if it did, we’d stay in bed until morning. It didn’t. We took showers the next morning, did a load of dishes, and made coffee. The power stayed on until precisely 1 PM when it went off again. We were back to camping out but at least we had a warm house. It had been below freezing the night before but not in the teens. There was a solid block of ice on our patio from where snow had melted on Monday and run down onto the patio then froze that night. We decided to take the things out of our freezer and put them in coolers on our deck. I also suggested putting the things in the refrigerator outside. I was carrying a gallon and a half of milk, some half and half and some orange juice outside (we had cleared the ice off of the patio) when the gallon of milk slipped out of my arms and burst open. My wife was not happy. Finally, at about 7:30 PM, the power came back on and it’s been on ever since. Things are generally back to normal. In fact, the temperatures are back up into the upper seventies.

There were people who died indirectly due to the cold, but the deaths were needless. One Ethiopian family died because the wife went into the garage and started up her car to charge her cell phone and left the door closed. The door to the house was open and it filled with carbon monoxide. Another family died because they somehow caught their house on fire. One gentleman with COPD died in his truck when he is believed to have gone out looking for a bottle of oxygen because his oxygen generator wasn’t working. The saddest death is that of an 11-year old boy from Honduras who died in an unheated mobile home, but it appears he wasn’t given enough clothes and blankets. None of his other family members perished.

There has been a lot of finger pointing and green energy enthusiasts have been overlooking the fact that most, if not all, of the wind turbines in the state iced up and quit working. Articles claim that wind turbines in colder climes are heated (maybe – and who’s to say those in Texas aren’t) without acknowledging that Texas had an ICE STORM with freezing rain, against which no anti-icing/de-icing equipment in the world is effective. I flew airplanes for over forty years and our instructions from the manufacturers and the FAA was that in conditions other than light icing, to get out of it ASAP. The White House seized on a statement from ERCOT that the power outages were due to the failure of some of the natural gas plants – without acknowledging that with “renewable energy” there is nothing to fall back on.

       There has been a lot of talk about people “suffering” due to the power outages, but in our case at least, it was a matter of inconvenience, not suffering. Yes, some people had water pipes burst but I suspect they failed to run them at intervals to keep the water flowing through them. Two of my neighbors had pipes burst but it was because outside faucets froze causing the water in the line to back up and burst the pipe. One was over the garage and the other was in a closet on an outside wall. I have no doubt that the faucet covers I found on Amazon saved the day for us. None of the three outside faucets we have froze. One of my regrets is that we ran out of birdseed for our birds and squirrels. I had ordered some from Amazon, but the shipment was delayed by the weather and we weren’t able to get to the store – and they were probably out. We had a lot of Cardinals in our yard, but I’ve only seen one since our birdseed finally came. I assume they went somewhere looking for food. I hope they come back. On the other hand, we’ve got plenty of finches.  

[1] A recent report published in USA Today attributes 51% to natural gas, 24.8% to wind, 13.4% to coal, 4.9% to nuclear, 3.8% to solar and 1.9% to hydro bio-mass fired units.

Nope, Not 1620

This week the United States is celebrating Thanksgiving, a Federal holiday established by law in 1942. School children all over the nation have pageants commemorating “The First Thanksgiving,” the celebratory feast held sometime in 1621 by survivors of the passengers of the ship Mayflower, who set sail from Plymouth, England bound for northern Virginia but got off course and ended up in Cape Cod Bay. Rather than continuing their journey to the land where they had a charter to establish a colony, they decided to go ashore and establish a bootleg colony on land on which they had no authority to settle. The implication is that those settlers, called “pilgrims” after a reference in a book by William Bradford, one of the passengers who was elected governor of the colony, are the original Americans. In fact, they are not.

The people we now know as “Pilgrims” set sale from Plymouth on September 16, 1620. They were not expecting to be the first settlers in the new lands recently claimed by the English crown. In fact, they knew they weren’t. The aspiring colonists obtained a charter from the London Company, also referred to as the Virginia Company, to settle in a region north of Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the Hudson River. They knew there was a colony at Jamestown on the James River but while they intended to establish relations with it, they didn’t want to be too close due to differing religious views. The church at Jamestown was Anglican while the new colonists were Separatists whose beliefs were heavily Calvinist. Although they are often referred to as Puritans, they actually were not although they shared some beliefs and would eventually be overshadowed by them in Massachusetts. While Puritans, who were part of the Anglican Church, wanted to “purify” it of Catholic dogma, Separatists wanted no part in the church. Persecuted by Anglicans, many Separatists – including the group that sailed on the Mayflower – left England for more tolerant Holland where they settled in Leiden. Contrary to popular belief, the “Pilgrims” did not come to America seeking religious freedom – they already had it. They wanted to get off by themselves and promote their own culture. They were free of the Anglican Church and had complete religious freedom. However, the Englishmen were concerned that their children would become Dutch and forsake their English heritage. The Dutch offered them the opportunity to settle in the land the Netherlands claimed in America, but an agent convinced them that England was going to take over those lands. (Eventually, England did but not before the Dutch established New Amsterdam.)

 Separatist representatives went back to England to obtain a charter for a colony in Virginia, which included all land south from the Hudson. They obtained financial backing from a group of merchants called the Merchants Adventurers who held a charter dating back for several hundred years and contracted for two ships, Mayflower and Speedwell. The company had previously financed the Jamestown Colony. When the two ships initially set sell, Speedwell developed leaks and they had to turn back. Finally, Mayflower set sail by herself and reached the shores of North America after a month-long voyage. Of 101 passengers, 37 were Separatists from the Leiden church. However, the ship was blown off course and the would-be colonists found themselves well north of their intended destination. Their charter was for land awarded to the Virginia Company, but they were in the Plymouth Company region. Yet, instead of sailing south around Cape Cod then along Long Island to their actual destination, allegedly due to fear of rocky shoals, they decided to settle where they were, but in a more suitable location. They finally settled on Plymouth, a small bay named by Captain John Smith, a Jamestown settler who had previously explored the New England coast. However, they remained on the ship for several weeks while sending out exploration parties by boat. They found that the Patuxet who had populated the area were no longer there – they had all died of some kind of illness. They decided to establish their settlement at the site of a deserted Patuxet village. Sometime in December, they decided to go ashore. (No, they did step down on Plymouth Rock. That’s a myth that originated almost a century and a half after the Mayflower’s passengers went ashore.)

It was winter and the new colonists had a difficult time with half of them dying before spring due to an illness that broke out on the ship. People died at the rate of two or three a day. One young woman, the wife of William Bradford, either fell or jumped off the ship into the icy water and perished. Some believed it was suicide. They were aided by friendly Indians, particularly Squanto, a Patuxet who had been taken prisoner by English explorers and sold into slavery in Spain, but had managed to make his way to England where he learned to speak English. He returned to New England with an English expedition. He joined the new arrivals in mid-March and remained with them until his death. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to fish for eels and plant crops using shad and other fish for fertilizer. There was plenty of rain and the crops flourished. The grateful Englishmen put on a feast and invited some 90 Indians to attend. The Indians WERE NOT initially part of the celebration, but were attracted by the sound of gunfire as some of the Pilgrims hunted waterfowl and turkeys and were asked to stay. Just when the feast was held is uncertain, other than it was sometime in 1621. It most likely was not in November. Yes, they had turkey, as accounts of the event state.

The Pilgrim’s thanksgiving feast was NOT the first thanksgiving feast in what is now the United States. The first documented thanksgiving feast was held in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas in 1541 when Coronado’s conquistadores feasted with local Indian tribes. Nor was it the first thanksgiving for Englishmen in the New World. Several days of thanksgiving and feasts were proclaimed by the settlers at Jamestown, with the first documented in 1610, a decade before the Pilgrims set sail. Just why so much credit is given to the Pilgrims can be attributed to three things: First, before they disembarked from the Mayflower, the Separatists drew up a compact among themselves that came to be known as the Mayflower Compact. This document is hailed by those who make the claim that America was established as a Christian nation. Second, Harvard University was established at Boston by the Puritans in 1636 and it has exerted the dominant influence on the recording of American history. Third, when Abraham Lincoln declared a day of thanksgiving in 1863, Virginia, where the American story really began, was no longer in the Union and New England politicians were dominating the politics of Lincoln’s Republican Party. Another factor in the connection of the Pilgrims to Thanksgiving is that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who established Thanksgiving as a government mandated holiday, was a direct descendant of one of the passengers who arrived at the new Plymouth Colony a year after the Pilgrims.

The Mayflower Compact is hailed by many as the foundation for the United States. In reality, it is not. The document is basically a church covenant as was common among Separatist churches and of Congregationalist and Baptist churches today, but it was a covenant among the Mayflower passengers that they would work together and set up their own government. The Separatists on the ship drew up the document after they realized they were outside of Virginia and the non-Separatists were arguing that the terms of their charter no longer applied. Although the original document was lost, it is claimed that 41 of the some 100 passengers signed, including two indentured servants. Most were Separatists. Miles Standish wasn’t a church member, but he had been hired by them as their military advisor. The lack of a charter for the region where they settled meant that The Plymouth Colony lacked legitimacy. It managed to survive on its own until 1691 primarily because the distances involved prevented eviction. Although the colony was “democratic,” democracy only applied to those who adhered to the Separatists’ religious beliefs. Those who came into the colony and advocated for anything else – such as Roger Williams – were banished. Not everyone was happy at Plymouth. About a quarter of the settlers left the colony, some for other parts of New England, some for Virginia and some to return to England. The Pilgrims were described as fanatics who tolerated no dissent.

Three years after the Mayflower landed and it’s passengers established Plymouth, the Plymouth settlers began getting company. Some from Plymouth had set up a fishing camp on Cape Ann, which lay less than fifty miles to the northeast. The fishermen stayed in the camp of friendly Indians, sleeping in their wigwams. Not all of the Plymouth Colony settlers were Separatists and those that weren’t chafed under the strict religious atmosphere in the colony. Some left and began living permanently at the Cape Ann camp. In 1623 the Dorchester Company, which associated with the Plymouth Company, established a small settlement on the cape but two years later the backers withdrew their support. Although the settlement was abandoned, some of the settlers remained and established the town of Salem.

In 1628 things changed in Massachusetts when the Council for New England, an English joint stock company, issued a land grant for settlement in New England. The company appealed to King Charles for a royal charter and it was granted on March 4. Probably unknown to Charles, the company had close ties to Puritan leaders in England and was essentially a vehicle for Puritans to migrate to the New World. Over a ten-year period starting in 1630, some 20,000 Puritans crossed the Atlantic to settle in the vicinity of Massachusetts Bay. Only Puritans had the right to vote in the new colony. It wasn’t until 1691 when King William III issued a new charter combining all of the Massachusetts Bay colonies – including Plymouth – that non-Puritans received the right to vote.  

On December 20, 1606, fourteen years before the Separatists left Plymouth and 22 years before the Puritans began migrating to New England, three ships set sail from Blackwall in London for the New World. The three ships carried 105 men and boys whose charter from the London Company, the same company that would charter the Separatists a decade and a half later, was to establish an English colony in Virginia. After a four-month journey with stops in Spain, the Canary Islands and Puerto Rico, the three ships arrived at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay in late April 1607. The company was traveling under sealed orders with instructions not to open them until their arrival. King James I had appointed eight men to serve as the governing council of the new colony. When the orders were opened, the senior officer on the three ships, Christopher Newport, was shocked to see that Captain John Smith was named as one of the members of the new governing council. Newport had arrested Smith for mutiny and planned to execute him upon arrival. The orders directed the party to seek an inland site for their settlement, so they chose a peninsula in a river a few miles upstream from the mouth of the bay because they believed it would be easier to defend.

The settlers soon faced numerous problems. Their first task was to build a fort and many of the group were upper class and had no experience with manual labor, which they considered to be beneath their stature. Captain Smith put out an edict that “those who won’t work, won’t eat” and the aristocrats went to work. The peninsula turned out to be swampy and the men were plagued by mosquitos and other insects. Malaria was found on the peninsula; at least 135 settlers would die of the mosquito-borne disease. They quickly killed off most of the deer and other game on the peninsula and there was no land suitable for cultivation. The river water was brackish and thus not fit to drink. Although the peninsula was uninhabited, the Indians on the mainland were not friendly. The first attack came only two weeks after the landings. However, the settlers soon developed a relationship with Powhatan thanks to Captain John Smith, who was captured in the winter of 1607, and traded with the Indians for food. Although Puritan historians have tried to debunk his story, Smith reported that he was saved by Pocahontas, Powhatan’s daughter.

Seventy additional colonists arrived on January 2, 1608 and seventy more arrived on October 1. The supply ships also brought in provisions, although the first batch was inadequate for the settlement’s needs. Two female passengers were in the October group, a married woman and her fourteen year-old maid. It would be fourteen years before single women arrived in the colony. By the winter of 1609, some 500 settlers had arrived at Jamestown, nearly all men. A drought struck the region and affected their limited crops as well as those of the Indians with whom they traded for food. The captain of a ship that went up Chesapeake Bay to buy corn abandoned the starving settlers and took his ship and cargo to England. The problem was even more complicated when the third supply convoy ran into a hurricane and the new flagship of the supply fleet, Sea Venture, was beached at Bermuda with the bulk of the supplies. Additional colonists were aboard the seven ships that arrived at Jamestown but most of the supplies were at Bermuda. Although the Sea Venture crew and passengers were able to salvage the lumber from the wrecked ship and build two smaller ships, most of the supplies were lost. When the two ships reached Jamestown, they discovered that most of the settlers had died of starvation and disease or were dying. There are reports that the starving people resorted to cannibalism.

The distraught survivors abandoned hope of maintaining the settlement and boarded the two ships to return to England. They were ten miles downriver almost to the bay when they encountered three ships that had just arrived from England with the newly appointed governor, Thomas West, Baron Del La War, aboard. Lord Delaware forced the 90 men and women to turn around and return to Jamestown where they were joined by newly arrived colonists, including a doctor. The three ships carried food and other supplies. One of those who returned to Jamestown was John Rolfe, whose wife and child were lost on the Sea Venture. Rolfe carried seeds for a new strain of tobacco he had somehow obtained from Trinidad. The native tobacco turned out to be bitter and Rolfe hoped the new strain would be adaptable to the Virginia climate. He also had a background in business and was formulating plans to market it. The new arrivals brought the population up to some 375 people. Most of the original settlers had died of disease, starvation or Indian attack. Relations between the European settlers – some were Dutch and other nationalities – and the Powhatan were strained. Three wars were fought between them from 1610 to 1646 when a peace treaty was signed and the Powhatan accepted a status as tributaries to the King of England.

In spite of the problems, the settlement grew. John Rolfe’s new tobacco proved suitable for Virginia and it gained wide acceptance in England. He made a fortune off of it. Other settlers began growing the plant. Laborers were brought in as indentured servants, usually very young men and boys who accepted an indenture to pay their passage from England to the New World. They were promised land of their own upon completion of their indenture. New settlements were established. Representational government was established in July 1619 after the Virginia Company instructed Governor George Yeardley to set up a general assembly. The Virginia General Assembly continues in existence to this day, and is the oldest continuous lawmaking body in the world. The governor and his council were appointed by the Virginia Company, but under the new policy an elected “House of Burgesses” was established. The House of Burgesses consisted of two “burgesses” chosen by election from every town, hundred and plantation. Decisions were made by vote and the governor only had one vote in case of a tie. Virginia’s General Assembly saw the birth of elected government in what is now America, not the Plymouth Colony government, which was still two years in the future.

1619 saw the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia. They were not, however, the first Africans in what is now the United States. African slaves were introduced to Florida by Spanish settlers at St. Augustine soon after it was established in 1565. The Africans who got off a Dutch-flagged ship at Point Comfort in August 1619 were Angolans who were aboard a Portuguese slave ship on its way to Vera Cruz, Mexico when it was stopped by White Lion, an English privateer working for the Dutch. Although most of the slaves were carried on to Mexico, some twenty-odd people were taken as prizes by the privateer. The captain then sailed out of the Gulf of Mexico and through the Florida Straits, then up the coast to Virginia where he traded the captured Angolans for provisions, of which the ship was in dire need. Now, in spite of rhetoric put forth by “black historians,” the Africans were NOT “sold as slaves.” They were accepted as indentures, with a specified period of indenture. The colony already included large numbers of indentures, mostly boys and young men. Most, if not all, of the Africans who survived the Powhatan attacks in 1622 were freed at the end of their indenture and became landowners. Some even owned their own indentures, including whites. Incidentally, some of the Plymouth Colony Pilgrims owned African slaves. As for indentures, the Mayflower passengers included a large number, some of whom were young children. One indentured child was only four years old.

In 1621 the Virginia Company arranged for 57 young women to make the journey to Jamestown, where the population had risen to about 1,200 settlers, mostly men. The company paid for their passage and provided clothing and other necessities. A man who married one of the women would reimburse the company for her passage. Some of the women were widows and some were traveling with members of their family. Some were still children; one girl was only eleven. Few of the women became part of homes. Some women returned to England, some died or were killed and some were taken captive. The Powhatan rose up against the colonists the following year and killed some 347 people, including women and children. Nineteen women (some say twenty) were taken captive and remained in Powhatan hands until they were ransomed or died. The attacks were on towns and plantations outside of Jamestown, which was spared destruction because a young Indian boy who had converted to Christianity learned of the planned attack and informed the colonist with whom he lived. Another large-scale attack occurred 22 years later in 1644 and 400-500 colonists died, but by that time the population had grown to about 8,000 and the losses, though terrible, were not as damaging as they had been in 1622. The resulting war was a disaster for the Powhatan as they were completely vanquished, and their chief was executed.

 The defeated tribes agreed to a treaty that established boundaries between the tribal lands and the settlements. The English were granted free access to the Virginia Tidewater region while reservations were set aside for the Pamunkey and Mattaponi, two tribes that were part of the Powhatan confederation. The treaty ended most conflict between Europeans and Indians in Virginia, paving the way for the arrival of more and more settlers to the Tidewater. While there had been a few families among previous settlers, the cessation of Indian hostilities allowed more to come to the colony. Virginia farms became profitable with the introduction of John Rolfe’s tobacco. Cotton was another cash crop although it didn’t become truly profitable until the introduction of the cotton gin more than a century later. Timber was another export and was also in demand for the construction of homes, barns and other buildings. As the colony grew in size, families began moving westward in Virginia and southward into Carolina. Untold millions of Americans are descendants of families that settled in Virginia.

Recently, a biracial journalist/historian named Nikole Hannah-Jones stirred up a major controversy when she served as editor for a series of articles in the New York Times she labeled “The 1619 Project.” Hannah-Jones grew up in Iowa as the child of a black father and white mother. She was awarded a degree in history and “African-American Studies,” a bogus field that came about in the 1960s – there is no market for such a degree except for African-American Studies teachers in high schools and colleges and universities. The main precept of the “study” is that America’s founding was the arrival of the White Lion at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619 with it’s cargo of captured Portuguese slaves. The study claims that everything from that point forward was to establish and preserve the “institution” of slavery. Now, while it is true that the first Africans in an English colony were aboard that ship, it is incorrect to refer to them as “slaves” because even though they were on their way to Mexico to be sold as slaves, their status in Virginia was as indentures, the same as the hundreds of white indentures who were given passage to Virginia to serve as laborers. It is a fact that those who survived their indenture were freed and in some cases became farmers. Some even owned indentures themselves. In fact, the first slave in Virginia was owned by an Angolan immigrant who had been an indenture. Slavery wasn’t established in Virginia as an institution until fifty years later in 1670. All thirteen of the original colonies allowed slavery, including Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims and Puritans rationalized that it wasn’t prohibited by Biblical edict.

In opposition to the 1619 Project, some who claim to be scholars organized the 1620 Project on the basis that it is the Mayflower Compact on which America was founded. Sadly, the members of the project have gone way out on a very high limb with a saw by making such a claim. The actual document is long lost to antiquity and the compact as known was produced after the fact. The document was, as the name implies, a compact between some forty of the 100 passengers on the ship that when they set foot on land, they’d agree to work together as a group and would establish their own constitutions and laws as needed. The Pilgrims are represented as sailing for America in order to “worship as they please” but in reality they already had the freedom to worship as they pleased in Holland, where they had fled from the town of Scrooby in England. They decided to go to America, not for religious freedom, but because they wanted to establish their own culture! Most were farmers but when they settled in the Dutch town of Leids, they were forced to work in factories. If they had wanted to be free to worship as they pleased, they could have stayed in Holland. Furthermore, there was nothing “free” about Plymouth Colony. The colony might have been governed by the terms of the Mayflower Compact, but the “governors” were the Pilgrim leaders. Those who did not adhere to their doctrine were NOT free to worship as they pleased; in fact, they were forced to attend the Pilgrim services. Dissent was no more tolerated at Plymouth than it was back in England where the Anglican Church was the state church. The Pilgrims and their Puritan brothers who came to Massachusetts a few years later were self-righteous tyrants. Even some of their own number back in England believed they had become fanatics who drove more than a quarter of their number away. Their fanaticism was revealed when they went hunting for witches, not only in the town of Salem but throughout New England. The Plymouth colony never was successful economically and many of the settlers left and either returned to England or took their chances elsewhere.

As for the Mayflower Compact being the foundation of America, the Jamestown Colony had instituted elected government two years before the Pilgrims reached New England. Furthermore, that government has continued although the appointed higher house was replaced by elected officials after the Virginia Constitution was ratified in 1776. Although the governor and his council were appointed by the London Company (also called the Virginia Company), the members of the lower house were elected by the population. The Anglican Church played no role in the government, unlike Plymouth where government was by the religious leaders, who were quick to persecute anyone who didn’t agree with their edicts. Subscribers to other faiths were prohibited in the colony, particularly Quakers. Religious freedom? There was no such thing in Plymouth Colony – or in Massachusetts Bay Colony either.

Although Virginia was officially Anglican, members of other faiths came to the colony, particularly Presbyterians, who followed the precepts of the Church of Scotland. Presbyterians flourished when thousands of Scots-Irish were brought in to settle the frontier areas and serve as a buffer between the settled regions in the Tidewater and the Indian tribes to the west. A trickle of Baptists also came in, most likely mostly as indentured servants. Some indentured servants and tradesmen were German Lutherans. In 1688, the British Parliament passed the Act of Toleration, which allowed freedom of worship for groups that did not practice transubstantiation, the belief that the wine and bread used in the sacraments literally become the blood and body of Jesus Christ. The act was applied to the colonies as well as Britain, resulting in a loosening of the Puritan grip on New England. However, even though they weren’t affiliated with the Anglican Church, settlers of other faiths were taxed to support the established, or state, church. The Anglicans were finally disenfranchised in 1786 when Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom was enacted as state law. Massachusetts, on the other hand, continued to support Congregationalists – the successors of the Puritans – until 1834.

No, 1620 and the Mayflower Compact was not the “founding of America.” If anything, the creation of the Virginia General Assembly was the first representative government in the New World. Granted, the Plymouth Colony wasn’t governed by the monarchy, but only because the colony had no charter and no communication with the royal court. In reality, the United States of America was founded with the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  

A Lesson in Civics

A Brief Lesson in Civics

When the Founders adopted the Constitution of the new United States in 1787, they were accepting the set of laws on which the new country would be established. The new constitution was then ratified by the thirteen states, although not without opposition which led to the adoption of the first ten amendments, each of which established specific rights for citizens of the new country. The unamended constitution spelled out the laws under which the new government would operate, with Article I applying to Congress, Article II to the Executive Branch and Article III to the Supreme Court and lower courts that might be established by Congress.

Article II, Section 1 establishes how the chief executive, termed the President, and his assistant, the Vice-President, SHALL be elected: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

There is nothing nebulous in the article – it is very specific that the president and vice-president are to be elected by “electors” chosen in whatever manner the individual legislatures might determine. The Twelfth Amendment provides additional guidance.

Now, by no stretch of the imagination does the Constitution provide for a national election. While elections of electors are all held on the same day in November, they are state elections, not national. Prior to the 1820s, most state legislatures chose electors. Since 1836, most state legislatures have allowed voters to chose electors with South Carolina being the last to abandon the policy after the 1860 election. The original intent of the Founders was that states would chose electors then the electors would vote their own conscience without regard to politics. However, political parties quickly developed, in part because of opposition to the Constitution itself when anti-Federalists such as Virginian Patrick Henry voiced their opposition while Federalists pressed for it. Although it’s unclear just when it started, political parties began putting forth candidates with the intent of choosing electors who would support their candidate.

Nevertheless, regardless of whose name is on the ballot, voters are actually choosing a slate of electors when we go to vote on election day. Technically, those electors are still free to vote their conscience, but political parties have exerted their influence to mandate that electors support their party. Since the 1930s, the Electoral College has met on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year, election day is December 14. The president and vice-president are NOT elected until the Electoral College meets – and may not be even then if no candidate receives 270 votes.

The media refers to Joe Biden as “president-elect Biden” but in reality, he has not been elected. Whether he will be is still in question due to legal challenges in certain states where the Trump campaign claims to have evidence of fraud in certain precincts in urban areas known for corruption and criminal activities, specifically, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta. It is possible that the vote in those states may not be certified by the state legislatures, which would throw the election into the House of Representatives for the president and the Senate for the vice-president. Now, since Democrats control Congress, one might think that Biden’s election would be automatic, but it doesn’t work that way. Per the Twelfth Amendment, each state only has one vote and at the present time, more states are represented by Republicans than by Democrats at a ratio of 26 Republican and 24 Democrat. In the event Biden does not have the 270 electoral votes needed, it is very possible that Donald Trump may be reelected.   

Personally, I feel that it would be much better for the nation if presidential elections were NOT based on political party slates. Political parties are responsible for the problems we have in this country. The COVID-19 issue is a classic example. Democrats saw it as an issue for their candidate to use against Donald Trump. If voters were actually voting for electors, people of character who could be depended on to vote for the best candidate as the Founders intended, we’d be much better off. Electors should be chosen the same way Congressional representatives are supposed to be, based on how they would represent the people who send them to office, not their political party. Political parties are divisive. The nation would be much better off without them.

Does a Bear Shit in the Woods?

Does a cat have an ass? Does a bear shit in the woods? (Sometimes expressed as “Does a big dog shit in the woods?) Is the pope Catholic? These are all expressions people use as a means of claiming that something is true. Never were these expressions more appropriate than in the current claim that Democrats stole the US Presidential election. Democrats have been stealing elections, or attempting to, since the party was founded by Tennessee land shark and general crook Andrew Jackson in 1828. Do Democrats commit voter and electoral fraud? You’re damn right they do! I had it happen to me.

In 1982 I accepted a job as a corporate pilot with Ashland Oil, now Ashland, Inc., in Russell, Kentucky. My wife and I rented a home west of Russell just outside of Greenup, Kentucky. Some of the other pilots warned me that Democrats controlled the county, and the courthouse was “full of crooks.” Later that year, we took the kids to the Greenup County Fair. The local Greenup County GOP had a booth in one of the exhibition barns and we decided to register to vote since we identified as Republican. My wife and I both filled out the forms and turned them over to one of the representatives. It was election year but was not a presidential election. I don’t recall if we voted or not. By the time the next presidential election rolled around, we had bought a home in the Argillite Community a few miles south of Greenup. Our children attended the Greenup Elementary School, and my wife was a volunteer there. I had become a prolific writer of letters to the editor several years before and I wrote a number of letters to the Ashland Independent and most, if not all, were published. Some were in support of President Ronald Reagan, who was running for reelection against former Vice President Walter Mondale.

My wife and I went in to vote on the morning of election day. Our voting place was at the Argillite School. To my shocked surprise, when it came our turn to vote, the election official couldn’t find my name on the voter roll! My wife’s name was there, however. I told the clerk that my wife and I had registered at the same time at the county GOP booth at the county fair two years before. The clerk said there was nothing they could do, that I should go to the courthouse and talk to the county elections clerk. I jumped in my truck and drove to Greenup to the courthouse. I found the elections office and went in. The clerk, a Democrat – they were all Democrats, and they were all smiling – said my name was not on the roll. I told him I had registered along with my wife at the GOP booth at the fair two years before and her name was on the roll. He smirked and said they probably “lost” it. He said they could register me right then and there, but I couldn’t vote until the next election. While we were talking, I knew exactly what had happened – those assholes had removed my name as retaliation for my letters to the editor!!! (Things have changed in Greenup County since then – the county just voted for Donald Trump by a large margin!)

What happened to me is a classic example of Democratic Party politics. The Democratic Party originated in my native state of Tennessee among followers of Andrew Jackson. Jackson is a popular historical figure today but when he was living, he had a reputation as a crook. David Crockett, the famous frontier politician, detested Jackson and wrote in his memoir that he would never wear a collar that said he was Andrew Jackson’s dog. Jackson opponents organized the Whig party, whose main platform was opposition to Jackson. Although Jackson claimed to be “for the common man,” he really cared for himself. He and his cohort, John Christmas McLemore (who is my distant relative) grabbed as much land as they could for themselves. He rose to fame by managing to get himself elected as major general in command of Tennessee militia then commanded New Orleans where his troops, many of whom were frontier sharpshooters, defeated a British force before they could reach and capture the city.

Democratic politics was characterized by campaign events with barbecue and free-flowing whiskey. Some even resorted to outright vote-buying, a practice that continued well into the 1950s if not later. Vote-buying is not political contributions – it’s outright buying of votes by paying poor voters a few dollars or a pint of whiskey for their vote. Political bosses told people in their particular district who to vote for and sent their lackeys out to pick up people and bring them to the polls where they voted for whoever the lackey dictated – in return for a pint of whisky or a dollar. If a voter was illiterate, a lackey marked their ballot – in the manner that the district boss dictated. In some cases, ballot boxes were thrown into rivers and creeks so no one could challenge the number of votes precinct captains claimed.   

One of the best known political bosses was Memphian E.H. “Boss” Crump, who controlled Tennessee politics and influenced national politics for much of the first part of the Twentieth Century. Crump’s machine paid the poll taxes for poor voters then told them who to vote for. Crump formed an alliance with wealthy black undertaker N.J. Ford who sewed up the black vote for Crump’s candidates. Crump and Ford financed barbecue and watermelon shindigs then transported blacks with counterfeit voter registrations around the city to vote multiple times. Ford’s descendants formed a political dynasty that’s still in existence. Although Crump was only elected to office in his own name a few times, he controlled politicians, some of whom were well-known, all over Tennessee and exerted influence all the way up to the Roosevelt White House. Crump’s boss in the district where I grew up was John McNail, a scion of a wealthy plantation family. The McNails owned a large farm that had been passed down from their ancestors and was farmed by the descendants of the slaves who had once worked the farm. Although his brother – my great-uncle by marriage – was a banker, John never seemed to do anything himself, but he controlled the local politics by buying votes, usually with a pint of whiskey.

That the recent election was stolen by Democrats is obvious. For one thing, Democrats and their modern lackeys, the mainstream media, had practically announced that they were going to do it. Democratic politicians took it upon themselves to defy state law. For instance, the Texas statutes are clear that absentee ballots that aren’t returned by mail may only be deposited in a single ballot collection box in each county, and then only on election day after presenting valid identification. Yet the county court clerk for Harris County, which includes Houston, took it upon himself, first to mail out ballots to everyone who was eligible to vote absentee even though they hadn’t requested one, then attempted to set up multiple collection boxes in violation of state law. The clerk is a Democratic party activist who was seeking to manufacture as many votes as possible in order to flip Texas for Joe Biden. His actions became moot when Texas went for Donald Trump and other Republicans by large margins. He may have saved one Congressional seat but that was all.

Joe Biden’s “win” came about because of four cities, all with histories of criminal activity and corruption:  Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta. All four cities have large areas that are nearly 100% black, and it is from those areas that Biden’s votes allegedly came. In each of those states, Trump’s significant lead suddenly vanished when thousands of votes were suddenly dumped for Biden, with no votes for Trump. Each of those cities prevented Republican poll watchers from observing the vote count and in some instances counting continued after the precincts announced that the count was done for the day and GOP poll watchers went home. There are indications of involvement by organized crime, which is not surprising in these cities. There are allegations that a well-known Philadelphia mobster produced 300,000 fake ballots then delivered them to certain residences where workers were paid $1,000 an hour to mark them for Biden. The mob boss has allegedly promised to confess his actions in return for a pardon from President Trump before he leaves office. We’ll see.

One of the anomalies is that thousands of ballots were only marked for Biden with no down-ballot votes cast at all. This is very strange and is an indication that the ballots were faked. Another anomaly, or an oddity at least, is that a composite of some nineteen bellwether counties all went for Donald Trump by large margins. This is very odd since these counties all have established histories of voting for the winner of presidential elections, in some cases going back to the 1800s.

There are allegations that vote counting machines were rigged so that Trump votes went to Biden. Although the equipment manufacturer claims their machines weren’t rigged, denial is the name of the game in politics and government Tomfoolery. Former CIA operative and NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelation of illegally obtained personal information of American citizens illustrates that computer programmers can write programs to do damn near ANYTHING pertaining to information, and that includes changing votes in vote-counting machines. Several observers reported that computers they observed had icons that indicated they were hooked up to the Internet when they weren’t supposed to be.  

At this point, the election is still up in the air in spite of various media entities pronouncing Biden as the winner. Now, if there is an element in bed with Democrats, it’s the media. The mainstream media has been after Trump ever since he declared himself to be a candidate. The media promoted the Russia collusion bullshit story then refused to report the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop and the implications that his father, soon to be the possible president-elect, engaged in nefarious doings with Ukraine. The information on the laptop was not exactly a revelation, but it confirmed information already uncovered by journalist John Solomon and attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is the object of media scorn. Now, my faith in the American media is lacking, and has been for decades. I first realized members of the media were making up stories for their editors way back in 1966 when I was flying night observation/flare missions over North Vietnam and Laos. Our job was to find targets for fighters. Once we found something, there were rigorous procedures that had to be followed prior to attacking the targets, including contacting the local village chief for targets in Laos. We didn’t do it ourselves, but our pilots passed the information to airborne controllers in an airplane orbiting high above us and they contacted the embassy and they did the checking. We were often frustrated as the truck convoys managed to get into safe zones before permission was granted to attack them. Yet journalists were sending stories to the New York Times, in particular, claiming that US airmen were “bombing indiscriminately.” Since then, I’ve been involved in several news stories and have given interviews to reporters, but the finished products were far from the real story.

 I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next few weeks. I do know that as of right now, there is no president-elect and won’t be until the Electoral College meets on December 14. Barring court intervention, doddering Joe Biden will be declared the winner of the election. If that happens, in the minds of millions of Americans, he’s going to be an illegitimate president. Did Democrats steal the election? Does a cat have an ass? Does a bear shit in the woods? Is the pope Catholic?

Racial Injustice?

The Myth of Racial Injustice

Two events occurred over 1,000 miles apart on May 25, Memorial Day, that attracted national attention because someone filmed them then posted them on social media. The first occurred in New York City in the morning when Amy Cooper, a young Canadian woman living in the city, took her dog for an outing in the city’s Central Park. After having been cooped up in her apartment for several weeks, she wanted to let her dog out for a run. However, the dog parks were closed so she decided to let the dog run free in a wooded area called The Ramble (erroneously referred to as “The Bramble” in news reports.) While the Cocker Spaniel was enjoying being off leash, she was accosted by a black man named Christian Cooper who admonished her that park rules called for dogs to be leashed. She replied that she wanted to let the dog have some exercise and the dog parks were closed. The man scolded her – without authority – and said that she could take the dog to another park, but it was some distance away and she responded that it was too dangerous. The man then commented that “I’m going to do something, but you won’t like it,” which is a threat if there ever was one. He pulled a bag of treats out of his pocket and began trying to catch the dog. At this point she advised Cooper that she was going to call the police. He told her to go ahead and began recording her on his cell phone. He recorded her during the call, in which she said she was being threatened by “an African American” man and she believed he intended to do harm to her and her dog. She leashed the dog and while it was on a short leash moved toward her assailant. Apparently, Christian Cooper left before the police arrived. Just what was said between Ms. Cooper and the police is unknown, other than that they reported that there had been a disagreement between the two individuals. That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t.   

Mr. Cooper took it upon himself to embarrass the woman. He sent the recording to others, including his sister, who posted it on Facebook. The recording went viral, and Ms. Cooper was identified by her dogwalker, of all people. She was slammed on Twitter and Facebook and reported for alleged “animal cruelty.” Thanks to Christian Cooper, her life was ruined. The dog rescue group from whom she had adopted her dog two years before confiscated it and she was fired by her employer, Franklin Templeton, because of her “racism.” (The dog has since been returned.) She began receiving death threats and her name was drug through the mud, both in social media and the commercial media. She was accused of threatening Christian Cooper when the reverse was true. Mr. Cooper claimed she was trying to have the cops kill him. Such crap!

The other incident occurred later that day a thousand miles away in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The teenage clerk at a grocery store named Cup Foods called police, in accordance with store policy, and reported that a customer had paid for a purchase with a counterfeit $20.00 bill. The bill was obviously counterfeit – the ink was still wet! Furthermore, the person who passed the bill was in a vehicle near the store. Two officers responded and found the vehicle with three persons inside, all black. After first removing the passengers and sitting them on the sidewalk, they attempted to get the driver out of the vehicle, but he resisted. When they attempted to cuff him, he fought but was finally subdued at gun point and cuffed, then pulled from the vehicle. He was taken to the sidewalk and put with his companions. Meanwhile, the officers called dispatch. A few minutes later another cruiser arrived and the two officers went to the assistance of their fellow officers. The arresting officer took the man, whose name was George Floyd, across the street to his vehicle. The suspect refused to get inside. He claimed he was claustrophobic and said he couldn’t breathe. (Bear in mind that he had just been removed from an SUV!) He stiffened and fell to the ground. They got him up and he fell down again. He repeatedly fell down and kept repeating that he could not breathe. They managed to get him in the vehicle, but some kind of struggle ensued, and they pulled him out. It took three officers to restrain the 6’6” 224 lb. man. One officer pressed down on his back and another held his legs. A third pressed his knee on Long’s neck, a controversial but authorized procedure used to restrain unruly suspects. Floyd continued to proclaim that he couldn’t breathe and at one point called out the word “Mama.” His mother had been dead for two years. He was restrained for over eight minutes until an ambulance arrived and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.

A bystander, a 17-year old girl, recorded footage of Floyd on the ground with the officer’s knee on his neck. Another video shows him struggling with the police and falling to the ground. The girl posted the video on her Facebook page and commented “they murdered that man!” As with the footage of the Central Park confrontation, her video went viral. The Minneapolis mayor saw the footage and proclaimed, without evidence, that if Floyd had been white, the incident would not have occurred. (Actually, there have been several such incidents when white men died while restrained.) He ordered the district attorney to arrest the officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for murder. The order was carried out – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6933248-27-CR-20-12646-Complaint.html#document/p1.

As a result of the video, activists began protesting Floyd’s death, claiming that it was due to “systemic racism” in America. Media reports proclaimed Floyd to be a saint. Reports of who he was quoted people who had known him in high school – thirty years ago. There was only passing mention of his having served time in a Texas prison for armed robbery and home invasion.  There was no mention of anything in his adult life prior to his move to Minneapolis sometime after he was released from prison. He moved to the Minnesota city at the urging of a friend and worked as a bouncer at a night club that caters to blacks and Latinos. He took a course to get a commercial driver’s license but dropped out before taking the test for the license. As it turns out, he had a history of violence himself. He seems to have been in and out of jail for a number of reasons, some involving violent crime. He led a group of thugs in an invasion of a home in Houston and pistol-whipped a woman then shoved a gun into her stomach, demanding money and drugs. He was arrested and the woman identified him, leading to his imprisonment. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8366533/George-Floyd-moved-Minneapolis-start-new-life-released-prison-Texas.html A video surfaced of him urging young blacks to stop the gun violence. (A pornographic video emerged with a character calling himself “Big Floyd” and stating that he is from Houston, Texas. The actor appears to be George Floyd.)

Although the assumption is that he died due to the pressure of the officer’s knee on his neck, the official autopsy told a different story. https://www.hennepin.us/-/media/hennepinus/residents/public-safety/documents/Autopsy_2020-3700_Floyd.pdf. The county medical examiner determined that he died of a heart attack due to a combination of existing medical conditions, stress and possible intoxicants. He was found to have amphetamines and fentanyl in his system as well as morphine. However, in the medical examiner’s preliminary report, the cause of death was shown as homicide. Floyd’s family hired black activist Benjamin Crump – who previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown – to represent them. Crump brought in hired-gun pathologists Dr. Michael Bayden, who claimed Jefferey Epstein was strangled, and Dr. Allecia Wilson, a black pathologist from Michigan, who predictably determined that Floyd died of asphyxiation. (Baden is always referred to as the “former New York City medical examiner” but he only held that post for a year FORTY YEARS ago and was fired by then-Mayor Ed Koch after numerous complaints about his work.) In spite of the autopsy report, black activists, the media, celebrities and politicians continue to refer to Floyd’s death as “murder” even though there have been no convictions. The rhetoric prompted protests and riots in cities all over America as people call for “justice” for George Floyd even though the officer who had his knee on his neck has been charged with murder and arrested and the other three charged with accessory to murder. Protestors seem to be attempting to influence the prosecution, something they have attempted in other officer-involved deaths and other incidents when blacks were killed or wounded by whites. Protestors, activists, the media and politicians claim there is “systemic racism in America.” In fact, there is no such thing and their beliefs are the results of a half century or more of lies.

I grew up in the rural South, and while West Tennessee is not the Deep South, we had plenty of black people, or colored people as they were usually called, around. Most of the blacks in the community where my parents grew up and where we lived for the first five years of my life were descendants of local slaves who had been set free eighty years before I was born. Nearly all that I knew worked for the McNail family, who owned a large farm. Many of them lived in the old McNail plantation house, or they did until it suffered major damage from a tornado in the early fifties.

There were three categories of people in the region where I grew up – those who owned their own land, those who didn’t and merchants. Those who didn’t own land either rented or sharecropped. Sharecroppers and tenant farmers weren’t exactly the same – sharecroppers lived on land and worked it for a share of the crops while tenant farmers paid rent to the landowners. In rural areas, merchants usually ran small country stores. The more successful merchants usually lived in the towns around the region and operated a variety of stores that sold various things, from groceries to farm implements. Some people lived in the country but had non-farm jobs in town. Some owned property and some rented. World War II brought in a large Army ammunition plant that provided employment for many who otherwise would have been out of work. If a family owned land, they had the means of supporting themselves. They were able to grow their own food in a garden, raise livestock and grow crops that they sold for income. Without land, a family was dependent on landowners who let them live on their land as either sharecroppers or tenants. In most cases, sharecroppers and tenants were able to grow gardens and keep livestock. Unless the head of a family earned money in some kind of job, families were dependent on land for their sustenance.

It is commonly believed that sharecroppers were black. While some were, many were not. In fact, I only remember one black sharecropper around where I grew up at all. Other blacks I knew worked as farm hands for various farmers. So did a lot of landless whites. Most lived hand-to-mouth. Many, whites and blacks, left the South and went North or West where there was more industrialization. Black literature often refers to “The Great Migration” and implies that it was exclusively blacks who fled the South “because of lynchings.” In fact, for every black who left the South, there were at least three and possibly four whites. After the Civil War, the South was a largely impoverished area and unless a family owned land or could sharecrop, there was little employment. This was also true of young professionals who completed their education at a Southern university but were forced to move out of the South to be successful.

There was little crime or violence where I grew up. In fact, people didn’t even lock their doors! The only murder had occurred several years before I was born and involved colored people. A black man named Peg Robinson murdered somebody. He was finally captured by law enforcement in the bell tower of a black church. An old black man named Thorney testified against Peg, who went to prison for life. Thorney’s life was threatened, and he always carried a pistol in his back pocket. (I was alone with Thorney one time and had an opportunity to ask him about Peg but was too shy to bring it up.) Sadly, like the rest of America, the region changed after I left home and the drug culture spread, leading to an increase in crime.

There were no racial problems around our region when I was growing up. The only evidence of segregation was that white children went to one school while black children went to another. As for “white” and “colored” drinking fountains and restrooms, if there were any, they were in the towns. At the local country stores, any “drinking fountain” was a hydrant and “restrooms” were outhouses. There may have been separate areas in local restaurants, but my family never ate in restaurants. Any “prepared” food we bought was barbecue which we bought either by the pound or a shoulder and ate at home. About once a year, we’d go to Memphis to visit the zoo at Overton Park and have a picnic. There were probably segregated facilities in the park and zoo, but I honestly don’t recall. While there were only a handful of black families where I lived, once we passed Jackson and entered the Hatchie River bottomland, we were in an area with large numbers of blacks. Like the colored people I knew, they were descendants of slaves who had lived on the cotton plantations that had been established in the rich bottomland.

When I was thirteen years old, my family took a trip to Leesville, Louisiana. My uncle was in the Army at nearby Fort Polk. After we left Memphis and went south into Mississippi on US 61, we entered an entirely different world than the one I was use too. The land was flat and black, just like it was in the Hatchie Bottoms northeast of Memphis. The difference was the row after row of small shotgun houses along the road, with dozens of black children and teenagers sitting on the porches and hanging around in the yards. It was springtime and there were no crops in the ground yet so they had nothing to do. The houses were no different than the ones I had seen in Tennessee – my family had lived in one when I was little – but there so many of them. It was like that all the way to Greenville, where we crossed the Mississippi into Louisiana and it continued all through that state to Monroe and on to the south. Whether the black families were sharecroppers or worked for the owners of the land, none of whom were in sight since they lived in either large plantation houses off of the main roads or, more likely, in the small towns, was unclear. I was an avid reader and read the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which came to our house by mail every day except Sunday, when it was delivered by someone who had the paper route. I had read about the “welfare mothers” in Mississippi who received Federal funds from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. A condition was that there could be no man around. It was believed that women were having children in order to get more money. There is one thing for sure, there were a lot of kids in those families! And there were Cadillacs parked at many of the houses.

I was ten years old when Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama. I don’t remember hearing much about it at the time, although the name of Martin Luther King began popping up. When I was in high school, college students in Tennessee began having “sit-ins” in an attempt to integrate the lunch counters at certain stores in Nashville and other cities. Students at Lane College, a black school in Jackson, decided to hold their own sit-ins in stores there in the city and to protest against segregated seating on city buses. I don’t remember anything about it. I now know that there were several sit-in attempts in Jackson, until the stores shut down the lunch counters and turned them into sales counters. The bus boycott never got off the ground. As soon as the city got wind of the plan, they removed the “whites only” placards from the bus seats.

There was another racial problem that I do remember, although my recollection is different than that later reported in the Jackson Sun, the regional newspaper. Problems arose in Haywood County, in particular, when landowners told the sharecroppers who had been cropping their land they were no longer needed. Farming had become mechanized and the mechanical cotton picker eliminated the need for large families to pick the white bolls in the fall. Mechanized farming only required a handful of workers in comparison to the large numbers who had been needed to hoe cotton in the late spring and pick it in the fall. Tents were erected in fields outside of Brownsville for the displaced sharecroppers. I remember passing through Brownsville with my dad on the way to visit my cousin in the hospital in Covington and seeing the Tent City. Articles written years later for the Jackson Sun claim that the tent cities came about as a result of politics rather than economics. They claim that black families were kicked off the land they had been living on because they had registered to vote. While it is entirely possible that landowners had been letting black families live on their land after they were no longer needed and became upset when they registered to vote and told them to move, that claim does not fit my recollection. The article dealt mostly with events in Fayette County, the county south of Haywood, which had been the site of several contraband camps during the Civil War, of which many of the former slaves had remained nearby. Eventually the tent cities disappeared as the residents began moving to Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit.

Although I had some contact with adult blacks while growing up, I had only limited contact with those my own age. It was not by design but was due to distance. There were no black families living close to us. Occasionally, a black family would pick cotton for us in the fall. I remember one black boy my age who picked with us with whom I discovered I had much in common – we both liked airplanes – but I only remember being around him a time or two. As a rule, Daddy avoided hiring blacks to pick cotton because they had a tendency to stuff their cotton sacks with unopen cotton bolls, dirt clods, rocks or whatever else they could find to increase the weight. This decreased the value of the cotton at the gin and was potentially dangerous – rocks could cause sparks and set fires. There were times when whole cotton stalks came out of sacks when they were being emptied. He preferred to use local school kids who went around picking cotton to make money for school clothes. There was one time – probably after I left home – when Mother allowed a group of blacks from a nearby town who stopped by while Daddy was gone wanting to pick, and they were so profane that she was embarrassed to have them in the field with her daughters. Apparently, they were quite fond of the word for which “mother” is half.

I graduated from high school in 1963 and almost immediately joined the Air Force. The induction center was in Memphis. New recruits were subjected to thorough physicals and a battery of intelligence and aptitude tests before we were sworn in. The induction center served both the Air Force and the Army and tested recruits and inductees from West Tennessee, North Mississippi and eastern Arkansas. There was a large group of blacks present. One of the soldiers operating the facility told the group of us from the Air Force that they were mostly from Mississippi, and that nearly all of them were substandard and would be sent home. All draftees and recruits were required to achieve a minimum score on the Armed Forces Qualification Tests and very few of the young blacks were able to attain it. Many were illiterate and most were barely literate. Some had medical issues such as syphilis and parasites. When I saw them, I thought of the young blacks we had seen around the sharecropper shacks on our trip to visit my aunt and uncle.

When we got to Lackland Air Force Base and were assigned to flights, there were a number of black recruits in our flight. For some reason, our training instructors, commonly called TIs, chose a black recruit from Connecticut to be barracks chief. Some of the guys said they chose him to make a point with the white recruits. It seems to me he had had some ROTC training. As it turned out, everyone got along okay. However, the Southern black guys were a lot easier to get along with than those from places like Detroit, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Northern blacks seemed to have chips on their shoulders. After basic, I went to Amarillo, Texas for training as a jet aircraft mechanic. Jet mechanics was a popular field and several from my class asked for and got it. There were several colored guys in the school, although there weren’t any in my particular class. One of our instructors was a young black airman first class, which in those days was the grade just below staff sergeant. He was likeable and knowledgeable. From Amarillo, I went to Pope AFB, NC adjacent to the massive Fort Bragg. I didn’t have a car so I spent my off-duty time at the service club, a USO facility where we could drink coffee, eat doughnuts, watch TV, play cards, chess and other games or check out an instrument from the music room. A lot of black guys hung out there and I got along with them okay. After I’d been there a few months, I was fortunate to be selected to cross-train into the aircraft loadmaster field, which allowed me to go on flying status and aircrew duty. Fifteen of those of us who had arrived at Pope at the same time were selected. At least two were black.

This was the sixties and there were racial problems all over the country, and the military was not exempt. There were riots on a few bases and even ships at sea. However, I noticed that the guys I worked with tended to stay away from the troublemakers, who were mostly from the less-technical fields. I was involved in two racial incidents during my 12 years in the military, neither of which was known by other than a few people. The first one occurred while I was at Pope. I was riding in my friend Tom’s car with two of our friends and a new guy who had just reported to the base in back. I had been assigned as the new guy’s sponsor and it was my responsibility to help him get acclimated to the base. We had just left the squadron for the barracks and I was telling him about the base. I mentioned that there wasn’t a squadron of female airmen, or WAFs, but that there was one married enlisted WAF, a heavyset colored girl who worked in the dispensary. Jodie, who was from Indiana, blurted out, “Yeah, she’s a typical (N-word).” Mac, a colored guy from Georgia, was sitting next to him. He went ballistic. When we got to the barracks, he rushed to tell “the boys,” the other colored guys in the squadron, what Jodie had said. Now, this was 1965. That evening, there was a conflab on the landing at the end of the barracks. There was Jodie, me, Tom, Mac and several of the older colored guys in the squadron. The one who did the talking was a lanky North Carolinian named Ferguson. As the conflab went on, I got the impression he and the other colored guys thought it was funny. They all liked Jodie, perhaps more than they did Mac. I don’t think Mac was happy that they didn’t beat Jodie up. I considered Mac a friend then and still do. We would be stationed together again several years later and fly together. We never talked about the incident.

The second incident was more serious and could have been a real problem with major consequences, including injury and possible loss of life. I had gone overseas then came back to a new assignment at Robins AFB at Warner Robins, Georgia. Right outside the main gate of the base was Front Street, with a half dozen or so bars, beer joints actually, that were whites only. Actually, I don’t think blacks cared since they tended to want to socialize together but the fact that they were unwelcome at the Front Street bars was an affront. A day or so after Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis, I was at the squadron for commander’s call. Afterwards, my friend Gene Beck and I met at Cruickshank’s, the first bar outside the main gate and the unofficial squadron hangout. It was late afternoon when we went there, and we were both in uniform. Gene was a senior master sergeant and I was a recently promoted staff sergeant. There was racial unrest all over the country and even rioting in some cities, Detroit, Newark, NJ and Washington, DC in particular. Somehow, word had got out that young blacks on the base had decided to “integrate Front Street.” I don’t know how we knew, but their plan was to send a guy into each bar by himself and if he was thrown out, they’d rush in as a group and tear the place up. Cruickshank had a shotgun behind the bar and was threatening to use it if blacks came in. Gene, a big guy from South Carolina, said “Let me handle it.”

Soon after dark, a group of people came through the main gate and headed for Front Street. The bar was nearest the gate and was the first on their agenda. Sure enough, the door opened and a black airman came in. He was wearing the same tan uniform as Gene and I. He was a three-striper, a sergeant, one rank below me. Robins is a big base and we didn’t recognize him. We invited him to sit down at the bar and Gene and I got on either side of him. Gene bought him a beer. We – Gene did the talking – talked about King and how his death was such a tragedy. The black kid drank his beer and left – and the mob went back across the street and back onto the base. We had actually averted a race riot! The next day, I went to Fort Bragg and picked up a load of 82nd Airborne troops and their vehicles and took them to Andrews AFB, DC for riot duty.

I tell you all of that to tell you all of this. Starting in the 1960s, black activists and white academics have lied to America and to blacks in particular. After the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congress passed the Higher Education Act of 1965, which established a Federal student loan program, making it possible for millions of Americans to finance a college education. The act was a gigantic windfall for American colleges and universities and also for trade schools. Combined with the Vietnam Era GI Bill, which provided educational assistance to veterans, schools reaped a cash bonanza. In order to attract students, schools began offering new courses of studies; studies that were basically worthless but appealed to many – African history, African studies, women’s studies and studies aimed at attracting adherents of the Chicano movement, a movement among Mexicans who believe that the center of the Aztec nation was in what is now the American Southwest. Much of what was taught in these new courses was myth or exaggeration, if not pure fiction. African studies students were led to believe that some of the greatest inventions of all time were actually created by blacks, often slaves, such as the invention of the cotton gin. Another myth was that the steam engine was invented by a black (actually, a black inventor came up with some components later used on steam engines, but he did not invent the engines themselves.)

The accomplishments of blacks – and women – were exaggerated. Two examples are the exploits of the colored aviation units of World War II, the now-famed Tuskegee Airmen, and the female pilots commonly known as the WASP. Formed prior to the American entry into World War II, the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron had a mediocre record in the Mediterranean Theater. At one point, the Army Air Forces considered disbanding the unit, but the decision was delayed. Meanwhile, three other squadrons had been activated and integrated into the 332nd Fighter Group – www.sammcgowan.com/332nd.html. The group performed adequately but not spectacularly in combat. However, a book came out in the mid-1960s that elevated the young Negro airmen to supermen status, claiming that they were “some of the best” pilots in the Army Air Forces. In reality, their commanders rated them as the least effective group in the theater. The Air Force allowed the myth to exist as a morale-booster for young black airmen. Not to be outdone, feminist authors began touting the role of women in World War II, including the civilian pilots of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Service and the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs. www.sammcgowan.com/wasps.html. The accomplishments of both organizations have been greatly exaggerated, but what the hell, the exaggeration served a purpose!

(Immediately after the war, the Army did a study of its all-black units. The study determined that blacks performed better when they worked alongside white soldiers and airmen. The officers recommended that the all-black units be done away with and the black soldiers and airmen be integrated into other units. However, the Army didn’t immediately accept the recommendation. As it turned out, the Air Force was first to integrate. Segregation in the Air Force ended soon after the former Army Air Corps was replaced by the Air Force, a new military service, in 1947.)

The civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s gave rise to the “activist,” a person who in many respects is like a prostitute in that they have no visible means of support, yet somehow manage to achieve power and, in many cases, wealth. Activists survive by advocating some kind of wrong that must be corrected. So called “racism” is one of their hobby horses. The term, racism, came into use in the 1930s when applied to Germany’s new racial policies, which were directed at various groups, nearly all white, that Adolph Hitler’s new “master race” considered inferior. In the true sense of the word, racism is a philosophy or belief based solely on race, meaning that those who ride the race hobby horse are racists themselves. The modern definition is a corruption of the true meaning of the word but, that’s what journalists and academics do. They invent new meanings to create confusion. A veritable army of black activists came out of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Most of them claimed some kind of religious credentials; they were ministers of black churches. Initially, black activists pushed for social equality for blacks. Their actions stood in stark contrast to the philosophies of Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute, who advocated that the children of freed slaves should integrate themselves into society through education. Black activism follows the teachings of Washington’s adversary, W.E.B. Dubois, who preached equality through political action, i.e. legislation. Unlike Washington, who was born into slavery in Virginia, Dubois came from free blacks in Massachusetts and never knew slavery. He wasn’t born until 1868, three years after slavery ended.

The most prominent black activist in relation to the claim of systemic racism is pseudo-preacher Al Sharpton, who started out as a Pentecostal preacher while still a boy in New York City. Sharpton got on the racism bandwagon when he advocated that the reason Bernard Goetz, known as “the subway shooter,” shot four young black men when they tried to mug him was because he was a racial bigot. In reality, Goetz had been mugged and beaten previously and determined that it wasn’t going to happen again. He began carrying a gun even though it was illegal in New York. One day, four black men began harassing Goetz. Believing they were going to assault him, he pulled out the pistol and shot all four of them. After the shooting, he fled on foot and probably would have never been caught had he not turned himself in. He was acquitted of all charges except illegal possession of a firearm, for which he served eight months. Sharpton organized protests and managed to force a Federal investigation, which determined that Goetz was defending himself and race was not a factor. Undeterred, Sharpton has continued to protest and brand various violent encounters between blacks and whites as racially motivated. In one instance, Sharpton claimed a young black teenager had been raped and mutilated by white cops, but the incident turned out to be fake. Nevertheless, Sharpton has continued to insert himself into various incidents, with the most recent being the death of George Floyd. In fact, Sharpton preached Floyd’s funeral at a church barely ten miles from me. Sharpton has played a large role in convincing the nation that Floyd’s unfortunate death was due to an act of racism – even though one of the officers who was involved is himself African-American.

Why did Sharpton preach George Floyd’s funeral? He never knew the man and most likely never knew any of his family, although one of George’s brothers lives in New York. The brother may have called him, but it was most likely Benjamin Crump, the black attorney who has become the go-to lawyer for families of blacks who are perceived victims of “racism.” Like Sharpton, Crump is an activist who has made a name for himself as a racist (someone who focuses on race.) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2020/06/03/ben-crump-civil-rights-lawyer-also-man-beside-mourners/5274494002/ Crump makes his money by suing and collecting his third of the payments made by municipalities or, in the case of Trayvon Martin, homeowners’ associations. By inserting themselves in the George Floyd case, Crump and Sharpton changed the narrative of what is most likely a case of a suspect with severe medical problems expiring while he was being restrained to an incident motivated by race. There are several videos of the arrest, including one that shows Floyd plainly struggling with the officers while they were trying to get him into the cruiser. It was only after something occurred inside the cruiser that he was restrained. By the way, while there has been much talk of “choke holds,” Officer Derek Chauvin was not using a “choke hold” on Floyd. A choke hold is when someone holds another from the back with an arm around their neck. Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Thanks to Sharpton and other activists, millions of Americans are convinced that there is racial injustice in America even though blacks have become the most pampered race to ever exist. Yes, millions of blacks live in poverty, but most receive some kind of public assistance. Thanks to affirmative action, they have priority in hiring and are protected from firing for lack of performance. Still, crime is rampant in black communities with young black males being responsible for some 50% of the violent crime in the country. In most cases, the victims of black crime are other blacks. While black activists rant about the deaths of black men at the hands of cops, blacks are killing other blacks at high rates, with over 2,000 blacks shot each year and nearly 500 murders in Chicago alone. Overall upwards of 7,000 blacks are killed by other blacks each year. Yet Black Lives Matter advocates blame police for killing a handful of “unarmed” black men each year.   

No, the problem in America is not racial injustice, the problem is an extremely violent race whose members prey on each other. Yes, change is needed in America, but that needed change is for Americans to wake up and see where the real problem lies.

Dieter and Me

Today is Memorial Day so I thought I’d write a war-related missive, an account of my personal connection to one of the most remarkable stories of the Vietnam War. It’s the story of how the crew I was with were personally involved in the rescue of naval aviator LtJG. Dieter Dengler from the Laotian jungle. The irony is that we didn’t even know it.


I have put up a more detailed account of my experiences and the C-130 flare mission, so I’ll be brief here. In the spring of 1966, I was one of four loadmasters assigned to a crew commanded by Captain Robert Bartunek that went to Ubon, Thailand for several months of duty flying forward air controller/flare missions over North Vietnam and Laos. The crewmembers, all from the 35th Troop Carrier Squadron at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, were copilot Steve Taylor, navigator Dick Herman, engineers SSgt Walt “Cecil” Hebdon, loadmasters Airmen First Class Sam McCracken, Willy Donovan, Mike Cavanaugh and me. I was also an airman first class. Hebdon was replaced at the midpoint of our tour by SSgt Rambin; I think his name was Bill. I was assigned as the crew loadmaster and the other three were “kickers” but since we were all fully qualified loadmasters, I rotated the loadmaster duties and we all took turns in the four positions necessary to dispense flares. At the time, the “kicker” title was appropriate because one of us sat on the cargo door and held the flares in place with our feet. We literally kicked them out of the bin on the signal from the pilot. Later on, the flare bins were modified with levers and the kicker position was eliminated but that was after my time. Every other night we’d take off from our temporary duty base at Ubon, Thailand and fly across the Mekong River into Laos and either operate there or go on into North Vietnam. We’d be on station either until we ran out of fuel or flares, spending our time looking for lights and other signs of targets on the ground then, once we had approval from higher authority, drop flares for fighters and fighter/bombers to attack. Our missions were one of four that operated each night, two over Laos and two over North Vietnam.

Our crew went to Ubon in May 1966 and we were there until mid-July. Two events occurred toward the end of our tour. The first I don’t remember that well, the second I do. We were operating over Laos near the Mu Gia Pass when the pilots noticed a fire suddenly break out on the ground. It appeared to be a signal fire. Two nights later, we were operating in the same sector when the pilots, who kept watch on the ground – one flew while the other scrutinized the terrain below us – noticed a series of fires breaking out in an abandoned village below us. We carried a set of high-powered binoculars and the pilot saw a figure running between the structures sitting them on fire. I did not see any of this but heard the conversation on the intercom. We were aware that there were ground teams operating on the ground in Laos but the airborne command and control C-130 advised that there were no teams operating in that vicinity. I don’t recall attending the debriefing but Bartunek made an intelligence report of the incident. A few days later, our crew went back to our home base at Naha and returned to conventional airlift missions. The incident with the fires was forgotten, as far as I was concerned at least. I have since learned that Bartunek was called in for a classified meeting with intelligence a few weeks later.

In the 1990s I got on the Internet, or on America Online. As I became more familiar with the Internet, I started setting up web sites. One of my sites was devoted to the C-130 flare mission. It was essentially the same site as the one linked at the beginning of this article. I began receiving Emails from other veterans of the flare mission. One came from Bob Bartunek. After we reestablished contact, Bob asked me in an Email “did you know we found Dieter Dengler”? I didn’t. I was aware that Dieter Dengler was a US Navy pilot who escaped from a POW camp in Laos but that was about it. I had seen his book in the Ashland, Kentucky library but had declined to read it because I had confused him with another Navy pilot who had collaborated with his captors. We were told about him when I attended the Air Force Survival School in early 1969 prior to departing for a second overseas tour. Bob informed me that he had come in contact with Dieter through their membership in the A-1 Skyraider Association. Bob had returned to Southeast Asia in a later tour as an A-1 pilot. Dieter was an A-1 pilot when he was shot down over Laos.

I don’t know the details of their initial conversation, but I do know that Dieter held strong animosity toward the C-130 crew that had dropped flares over him. He believed the crew had ignored his signals. In reality, Bob had reported the sighting to intelligence but no rescue effort was initiated because no survivors were believed to be in the area. They compared notes and determined that our crew was the one that had dropped flares over him and Bob explained that his signals had not been ignored. In fact, Bob was called to intelligence at Naha after Dieter’s rescue after Air Force intelligence realized they had dropped the ball. My initial contact with Bob was sometime in 1999-2000. I was never in contact with Dieter myself. Bob and Dieter Emailed back and forth and talked on the phone. Sadly, Dieter took his own life in early 2001. He had developed ALS, Lou Gherig’s Disease, and decided to end his life rather than allowing the disease to kill him.

In 2007, German documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog’s feature movie about Dieter Dengler, Rescue Dawn, was released. Herzog knew Dengler well and had previously produced a documentary about his fellow German called “Little Dieter Needs to Fly.” Dieter’s book about his experiences was published in 1979. The family of Eugene Debruin, one of Dengler’s fellow prisoners, was unhappy about the way their relative was depicted in the film and they and their supporters stirred up considerable controversy. However, the depiction is in keeping with Dengler’s narrative in the documentary and in the book, in which he referred to Debruin as “a kook”. After I saw the controversy on the Internet, I decided to purchase a copy of Dieter’s book, Escape from Laos, and read it for myself. It was while reading the book that I realized my personal connection to Dengler.

Dieter Dengler grew up in Germany during and after World War II. His father was drafted into the German army in 1939 and never returned home. He was killed on the Eastern Front in 1943-44. At age 14, young Dieter was apprenticed to a blacksmith (actually a machinist) to learn a trade. During the war, he had become interested in aviation when he saw an American fighter swoop low over his Black Forest village. (The town was – needlessly – attacked by Allied aircraft even though there was nothing of military importance there.) He wanted to fly and after learning that there was a shortage of airline pilots in the United States, he determined to go there. He managed to scrounge enough money for passage by selling scrap metal. After a week on the streets in Manhattan, he found an Air Force recruiter and enlisted. He spent four years in the Air Force working initially in a motor pool then as a gunsmith with the Air Force marksmanship team. He applied for aviation cadets and passed the tests but in order to be a pilot, he needed a college degree. After his discharge, he went to the San Francisco area where he and his brother worked in a bakery while he attended college. Although the Air Force was requiring a four-year degree for pilots, the Navy was accepting men into its aviation cadet program with two years.

After winning his wings and a commission as an ensign, Dengler went to attack pilot training then was assigned to the USS Ranger. The carrier deployed to the South China Sea in December 1965 and took up station at DIXIE STATION, the position from which carriers assigned to missions in South Vietnam operated. He flew several missions against targets in South Vietnam. In late January, Ranger moved north to YANKEE STATION to begin air operations against North Vietnam and Laos. On February 1, 1966, while on his first mission from YANKEE STATION, Dengler was shot down over Laos.

After initially evading capture, Dengler was captured by Pathet Lao, the Laotian counterparts to the Viet Cong. Because he was captured by the Laotians, Dengler was imprisoned by them in a camp in Laos rather than being sent to North Vietnam as men captured by North Vietnamese troops were. He was placed in a small camp in the jungle where he found two other Americans and four Asians, three Thais and a Chinese. One of the Americans was US Air Force Lieutenant Duane Martin, a helicopter pilot who had been shot down on September 20, 1965 while on a rescue mission in North Vietnam but had strayed into Laos where he was captured by Pathet Lao. The other prisoners were civilians, employees of Air America, the clandestine airline owned and operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. The Chinese was a radio operator but the other American, Debruin, and the three Thais were “kickers” whose job was to physically throw out cargo from a transport. They were part of the crew of an Air America C-46 (or C-47) that was shot down while on a mission over Laos in September 1963.

During his “SERE” (survival) training, Dengler had escaped from the mock POW camp twice and was in the process of escaping a third time when the course ended. He was determined to escape from the Laotian camp. He and his fellow prisoners saw C-130 (and possibly C-123) flareships fly over their camp on a nightly basis. On June 29, 1966, after overhearing the guards talking about killing them, Dengler, Martin and the other prisoners freed themselves from their shackles and worked their way out of the hut in which they were imprisoned and seized the guards’ weapons. Dengler, who was an expert marksman, killed at least three of them. After killing the guards and fleeing the camp, the group split up with Dengler and Martin staying together.

Although it was the rainy season and rain hampered their plans, one night Dengler and Martin managed to build a signal fire and signaled to a C-130 flareship that was operating overhead (us). We dropped a string of flares and the men’s hearts were lightened as they realized their fire had been spotted. Elated, they went to sleep, expecting rescue helicopters to appear at first light. No helicopters came. As the day wore on, Martin, in particular, became demoralized. He said he was going to a nearby village in search of food. Reluctantly, Dengler went with him. As they approached the village, they encountered a small boy, who rushed into the village. A machete-wielding villager ran toward them. They knelt down in supplication, but the villager swung at Martin and cut off his head. Dengler jumped up and took off running. While escaping the irate villagers, he had a vision of his father pointing him toward the correct trail to take to get away. He and Martin had been taking shelter in an abandoned village they had discovered. Dengler made his way back to it and considered the situation. He was demoralized at the lack of rescue and grief-stricken over Martin’s gruesome death. He was angry at us because he didn’t think we had reported his and Martin’s fire. He decided that he was going to send a signal that night that would be impossible to miss – he was going to burn the village down.

Later that night, we appeared over the cluster of structures where Dengler was hiding. As planned, he started setting the huts on fire. Bartunek saw him. I remember him commenting “Hey, there’s somebody down there running around setting those buildings on fire!” I had forgotten about it until Bob reminded me in his Email. We kept watch on the fires for awhile and it seems to me Bartunek ran a flight of fighters in on it but I’m not sure. Herzog shows helicopters attacking the village after Dengler set his fires. (Herzog shot the film in Thailand and only had access to a few helicopters and Cessna Skymaster light planes.) Even more demoralized, Dengler fell asleep.

He was awakened early the next morning by a thunderstorm. It was before daylight but lightning flashes illuminated the countryside. In the light of a flash, he spotted the parachute from one of the flares we’d dropped hanging over a bush. This is where his story became personal for me. He made his way to the bush in the succession of flashes and pulled the parachute away from the branches. As he touched the rain-soaked material, a feeling came over him. The material was from his adopted homeland, it had been touched by Americans and touching it gave him a feeling of hope. He clutched the wet parachute to him while tears streaked his face. Once again, he had hope.

Rescue did not come the next day. Bartunek reported the odd occurrence to the intelligence officer but God only knows what happened to the report. All that is certain is that no search effort was launched. He wandered around for several days, possibly as much as two weeks. He was standing in a riverbed when he heard the approach of a reciprocating airplane. He knew the sound – it was a Skyraider, the same type he had been flying. The pilot was a lieutenant colonel named Deatrick, who had recently arrived in South Vietnam to take command of an air commando squadron. Dieter pulled the parachute out of the makeshift rucksack he was carrying and began waving it wildly. Deatrick caught a glimpse of white and realized a man was waving something white at him. He contacted the rescue command HC-130 and advised them of the spotting but was told to ignore it, that there were no survivors in the area. Deatrick pulled rank and the rescue controller relented and dispatched a rescue helicopter to the site. The reluctant crew pulled him but were wary, suspecting he might be a communist even after Dengler gave them his name, rank and serial number and the special code word all aircrew had put on their personnel identifier card. Dengler’s code was RESCUE DAWN. They had reached Da Nang by the time he was positively identified.

I was not aware of it, but after Dengler was rescued, Bartunek was called to intelligence for interrogation regarding our crew’s sightings of him. We had already turned to Naha by the time Dieter was pulled out of the riverbed. Although we weren’t crewed together, I flew with him a few times and saw him around the squadron. In fact, we left Okinawa for the States at the end of our tour on the same airplane. At no time did he ever mention the intelligence interrogation or that the fires we had seen were Dieters. No doubt, the briefing was classified and even though I held a Top Secret clearance, I had no need to know. It wasn’t until we reestablished contact that he told me what had happened. Sadly, Bob passed away several years ago due to lung cancer.

House (Lack of) Intelligence Committee


With plenty of time on my hands during the bogus shutdown for the greatly hyped Cornavirus 19, like every other American, I have plenty of time on my hands and not a lot to occupy that time. Consequently, I found myself perusing the recently declassified and released transcriptions of interviews by the House Intelligence Committee regarding the now-discredited claim of collusion between the campaign of President Donald Trump and the much hated (by some) government of the Russian Federation. Originally established in 1975, the initial role of the House Select Committee on Intelligence was to investigate illegal activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency. Called the Pike Committee after Chairman Otis Pike of New York, the committee’s report was kept secret by Congress and has never been publically released.[1] The committee was permanently established in 1977 and the word “Permanent” was added to the title. Its role was to provide Congressional oversight of the various intelligence agencies, specifically the CIA, FBI and NSA. It is NOT to conduct criminal investigations or even intelligence investigations, roles that are reserved for the Executive Branch through the Department of Justice and the various intelligence agencies. Yet that is exactly what the Democrats on the committee attempted to do as evidenced by the recently released transcripts of the interviews of numerous non-intelligence individuals who appeared before the committee in 2017 and 2018. It is undoubtedly due to the revelations in those transcripts that current committee chairman Adam Schiff refused to make the transcripts public after he took over the role, even though the committee had voted to make them public.[2]

I haven’t read all of the transcripts and probably won’t read them all because, frankly, many of them are flat-out boring. This is particularly true of members of the White House staff who had been directed not to answer questions related to the transition or their service in the White House. The only questions they were authorized to answer were those pertaining to the campaign, which is what the “Russia investigation” was supposed to be about. Certain committee members, particularly Schiff and his fellow Californian, Eric Sawell, had their own agenda. Their goal was to uncover ANYTHING, just ANYTHING, that might incriminate Donald Trump and/or members of his family in some way. Their questioning was more appropriate to FBI investigations. They weren’t interested in the FBI and other intelligence agencies conduct; they were only interested in uncovering some kind of dirt on Donald Trump. It sometimes appeared that certain Republic representatives, specifically Congressmen James Conaway of Texas and Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, had the same agenda. Apparently, they were suspicious of Mr. Trump. This was particularly true in the interrogation of Carter Page, a former US Navy intelligence officer with a doctorate in foreign affairs who spent several years in Russia – and WHO WORKED FOR THE CIA, a fact FBI lawyers concealed, and which is not addressed during his interview.

Just how the House and Senate intelligence committees got involved in the Russia investigation is unclear, but it was apparently due to the report put out by the “Intelligence Community” alleging that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election. https://tennesseeflyboy.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/the-russian-intelligence-farce/  The “Intelligence Community” released their report in January 2017, a few days before newly elected President Donald Trump was to be inaugurated and the House and Senate intelligence committees held public hearings shortly after the inauguration.[3]

I was dismayed by the treatment of Carter Page, who was revealed by the DOJ IG Report to have been subjected to surveillance on the basis of improper actions by FBI agents and officials. Page, who was never indicted, and George Papadopoulos, a young scholar and energy and foreign policy expert, as is Page, literally had their lives ruined by the FBI, in Page’s case through illegal leaks made to Washington Post reporter David Ignatius, and in Papadopoulos’ case by unwarranted aggressive FBI techniques designed to force him to confess to a spurious charge of lying to the FBI (the same tactic recently revealed to have been used against former Director of Defense Intelligence and veteran US Army intelligence officer Lt. General Mike Flynn.) Papadopoulos did not appear before the committee but I have read his book (see the above link) – he was coerced into pleading guilty to lying to the FBI because he had told agents in his initial interview that his contact with a controversial Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud was prior to his joining the Trump campaign as a foreign policy advisor when it was actually right after. Knowing there was no evidence that the young Chicagoan had conspired with Russians, the FBI charged him with the catch-all charge of Lying to the FBI because he was confused about the date of the contact. Page was eager to testify because he had been mistreated by the FBI but all the committee was interested in was getting him to confess to improper dealings with the Russians during a couple of trips he had made to Moscow to give speeches at Russian universities. Conaway and Gowdy gave their time to the Democrats to interrogate and made no effort to listen to Page’s complaints. Their conduct is despicable, and Congressman Matt Gaetz was right to criticize Gowdy for his lack of aggression.

One of the most ridiculous interviews was that of Evelyn Farkas, a former House and White House staffer who went on MSNBC and made claims about how “we” had information that Donald Trump had conspired with “the Russians.” Now, Farkas is the daughter of Hungarian immigrants who fled Hungary in the 1950s and has exhibited strong anti-Russian bias. It turns out that Farkas did not know a damn thing. She was blowing smoke and knew she was blowing smoke, but she more or less stated that the Obama Administration had information about Trump’s improper dealings with Russia when, in fact, she had left government in 2015, before Donald Trump became a candidate. She admitted under questioning that she knew nothing.

In many instances, whole blocks of testimony were marked off in red, apparently because they were embarrassing to Schiff. This was particularly true of testimony given by Obama officials, including lawyer Sally Yates, who was temporary attorney general until she was fired for failing to support Donald Trump’s executive order regarding immigration and visas to residents of certain Muslim nations, an order that was found to be lawful by the Supreme Court. Blocks of other officials’ testimony was marked out. Still, there was enough information revealed that it is more than obvious that none of the intelligence agencies had evidence of “Russian collusion” in spite of Adam Schiff’s claims that he had evidence that there was.

Schiff comes across as someone who is obsessed with the belief that Donald Trump is guilty of SOMETHING, just ANYTHING. This was obvious during the impeachment fiasco and the transcripts of the interviews confirm his obsession. Schiff has an association with Bill and Hillary Clinton going back to his 2000 campaign for the House in which he defeated Republican James Rogan, who had been one of the lead prosecutors in the Clinton impeachment trial. In retaliation, Clinton cronies poured money into Schiff’s campaign, making the race the most costly in history to that time. Schiff’s questioning had nothing whatsoever to do with the Russian collusion claim and the various intelligence agencies conduct, but was aimed at trying to get the various witnesses to give some kind of tidbit to prove his theories of Trump criminal activity. When the FBI agent to whom British retired intelligence officer Christopher Steele reported testified, Schiff’s questions pertained to an FBI investigation of Russian gamblers who lived in Trump Towers. Even though the agent testified that there was no evidence connecting any of the Trump family to the two Russians, Schiff persisted in questioning about the investigation, which had no relevance to the Steele dossier that was the reason the agent had been compelled to testify.

The funniest interviews were those of Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Steve Bannon. Schiff has since claimed, without evidence, that Prince lied because he did not give him what he wanted. As for Bannon, he refused to answer any question that did not pertain to the campaign, on instruction from White House lawyers because information about the transition and the Trump Administration are privileged and fall under executive privilege. Members of the committee, including Gowdy and other Republicans, threatened to charge Bannon with contempt of Congress but no such charges were ever made. Hope Hicks and other White House staff members also refused to answer questions not pertaining to the campaign.

All in all, the hearings were a circus. Nothing of substance is revealed in any of the interviews other than that no one had any evidence of conspiracy, collusion, or any other kind of conversation between the Trump campaign and the Russian Federation. WHAT A FARCE!  

[1] A draft of the report was leaked by someone on the committee or staff and parts have been published by leftwing newspapers.

[2] Some leftwing web sites claim it was the White House that prevented their release but this is untrue, as evidenced by the content, which is embarrassing to Schiff and other Democrats on the committee.

[3] While the CIA and FBI claimed high confidence in the belief that Russia had interfered in the election, the NSA, the organization that actually monitors communications, was less confident.

Corona Bologna

Here I sit. It’s day something or other of the Corona Derangement Syndrome Democratic Party shutdown of the formerly free nation called the United States of America. I’ve not ventured away from my home since March 18 when I had an appointment at my local VA clinic. In fact, I had two appointments that week, one at the Houston VA Hospital and the other at the clinic the next day. They weren’t appointments I made because I am sick, but rather were appointments related to my diabetes that had been previously scheduled to monitor my condition. (I’m doing very well, thank you.) A few days later the Democrats who run Houston announced stay-at-home orders and the immigrant judge – he’s Indian – who runs my county followed suit. Since that time I’ve been spending most of my time in my Lazy Boy either working on a novel, checking out certain web sites for information on the virus or watching meaningless streaming movies and series on our widescreen TV. My wife has been busying herself upstairs making masks to send to friends. By the way, I did not see very many people at all wearing masks at my appointments, including the young resident neurologist I saw at the main hospital or the nurse practitioner I saw at the clinic the following day. They were screening everyone, by taking temperatures and asking questions. The clinic required patients to fill out a questionnaire while the hospital only asked questions. Since that time I have been at home while my wife has been making runs to the grocery store every few days.

With so much idle time, I’ve been following the reports on the virus daily. When I say “reports,” I mean the official reports put out by state agencies and the Center for Disease Control, not the media. At first, I checked three university web sites – Johns Hopkins, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington – until I realized they are getting their information largely from the media rather than the official sources that actually keep records, specifically the CDC. At first I followed the World Health Organization, but I came to realize that their numbers are behind actual reports and may be biased toward certain countries, specifically China. I compared the data shown on the various university sites with the information reported by certain individual state health departments and discovered that the universities, particularly Johns Hopkins, were reporting cases far in excess of the actual numbers recorded by the states. I have since learned that their models use information from the media and often count the same case multiple times. So, I quit using them and confined my interest to mostly official sources.

At first, my wife and I watched the daily Coronavirus Task Force press briefings. At the time, Sling was carrying Fox News, the only network that was carrying the briefings in their entirety. Then Sling dropped Fox and there were no other outlets carrying the entire briefing. Now, the first time I saw Dr.  Anthony Fauci, I told my wife that I don’t trust him. He was making some kind of pronouncement that the United States would have millions of cases and as many as a million deaths. He reminded me of Dr. Neal Frank, the former head of the National Hurricane Center, who spread panic in the Houston area when Hurricane Rita was coming in as a CAT 5 by talking about all the damage CAT 5 winds could do to houses some 50 miles inland without pointing out that such winds NEVER occur that far inland. A chart on the site for the organization he founded showed how winds decrease by 50 knots IMMEDIATELY upon reaching shore and continue to decrease as the storm center moves further inland. (Panic spread through Houston and people got on the roads who should have stayed home. The end result was more deaths from heat stroke than from the storm itself.) Then when word got out that the CDC was directing medical personnel to count every death of a person who showed evidence of having the virus as being caused by the virus, Fauci brushed it off, claiming that there are always conspiracists who see conspiracy in everything. Actually, the CDC DOES instruct medical personnel to count deaths of anyone who might have the virus as caused by it, even if the actual cause of death was heart attack or some other disease such as cancer or severe diabetes. Hospitals are paid additional funds for every patient admitted with COVID-19, $13,000 and $39,000 if they are put on a ventilator. Incidentally, the United States and the UK are the only countries counting “deaths in the wider community” as caused by the virus.

As it turns out, Fauci is a bureaucrat, as is Deborah Birx, his female sidekick. Fauci went into the Public Health Service in the 1960s as a means of dodging the military draft and avoiding military service in Vietnam. At the time, doctors were required to serve in the military. The Public Health Service provided another option. Fauci chose that avenue and eventually found a home with the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which he has headed since 1984. In short, Fauci is a bureaucrat, and an old one at that. At almost eighty years old, Fauci is an old man – he’s five years older than me and I’m an old man. He should have retired at least a decade ago. Granted, he has valuable experience from working with various epidemics but he’s also at an age where people start having memory and other mental issues. Birx is Fauci’s protégé. Although an Army officer, she was detailed to the National Institutes of Health and was under his supervision. She went back to the Army at Walter Reed Hospital where she directed the Army’s HIV program. Even though she was still in the Army, she went to work for the CDC in 2008. She retired from the Army as a full colonel but remained with the CDC in their HIV program (and became a double-dipper, drawing a government salary while also drawing retirement pay.) Barack Obama nominated her to be Ambassador at Large and US Global AIDS coordinator (which gives a hint of her political leanings.) Fauci and Birx are being hailed as “experts” on COVID-19, but in reality, they’re not. Fauci has experience with other infectious diseases, including HIV, but the virus is new and no one is really an expert. Birx’s expertise is with HIV (AIDS), which is spread by physical contact, specifically anal intercourse and the use of dirty needles by drug addicts. It originated in Africa where it was transmitted into the human population from monkeys, then was spread primarily by homosexuals. I remember an article in People magazine about a Canadian flight attendant (male) who caught the disease in Africa then spread it through more than a thousand homosexual encounters. Birx was appointed to the Coronavirus Task Force, a special organization set up in the State Department in late January. It was initially headed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alax Asar. Fuci was also appointed to the task force, along with a number of others from the White House cabinet and staff, including the head of the CDC. The task force doesn’t seem to have done much until Vice President Mike Pence was appointed to head it. Birx was added the same day. Her role is response coordinator.

There is considerable controversy over the origin of the virus. Chinese state doctors claim it started in a fish market in Wuhan, and that it came from Horseshoe bats and jumped from them to Civets, a catlike creature found in Asia, then to humans, although how it was supposed to have spread is unclear. Some Chinese are known to eat both bats and Civets. However, earlier in the year an article appeared in a Chinese journal reporting that the disease actually originated in a lab in Wuhan, and that it jumped from there. One report is that a young female intern contracted the virus then gave it to her boyfriend. US intelligence agencies have found evidence that the virus came from a lab “by accident.” However, a former high-ranking US Army officer/biochemist who was involved in germ warfare experiments believes it could very well have originated at the US Army biological warfare lab at Ft. Detrick, Maryland and was then spread to China deliberately by US Army personnel who competed in the 2019 Military World Games, which were held in Wuhan this past October.  (This is not beyond the realm of possibility – the games were held at the end of October and the virus first appeared in Wuhan in November.) Although I’ve not seen anything about it myself, the Chinese are alleged to have claimed that the virus could not be spread by human to human contact initially. Incidentally, a number of American institutions and universities were involved with that lab, including Fauci’s organization, which contributed several million (taxpayer) dollars to the lab.

Although the term “coronavirus” has become practically universal to describe the virus, it is actually a misnomer because there are numerous coronaviruses, so termed because of the crown-like protrusions found on the cells. Coronaviruses are believed to date back into early human history although they weren’t discovered until 1960. Actually, the common cold is now believed to be caused by a coronavirus. In fact, the symptoms for COVID-19 are basically the same as a cold. Researchers claim the virus is so mild in most people they don’t even know they have it. The media focuses on the severe cases, particularly those that cause death. As of right now, the official count (not the ones shown in the media) is 1.19 million cases and 70,802 deaths in the United States. That works out to a death rate of just under 6%. However, some 8,000 Americans die EVERY DAY, which means there have been some 450,000 deaths in the US in the past two months. Only about 15% of reported deaths in the past two months are due to the virus, and that may be a misnomer due to the way deaths are counted. As case counts began rising, primarily due to the infestation in New York City, the Centers for Disease control sent out instructions for doctors and coroners to fill out death certificates. They were instructed to attribute ALL deaths where COVID-19 was suspected to the virus, regardless of the actual cause of death. Now, the vast majority of deaths are among people 65 years old and older, many of whom were suffering from some kind of illness – cancer, heart problems, diabetes in particular, as well as severe morbid obesity. Those problems all can lead to other problems. For example, a person with cancer dies often of pneumonia or organ failure due to the cancer reaching the brain. Instead of attributing those deaths to the particular illness, those deaths are being attributed to COVID-19 EVEN THOUGH THE VIRUS WAS NOT THE CAUSE OF DEATH!!! The alleged “first death” in the United States has been attributed to an infection in a woman’s heart that caused a valve to fail. The infection is believed to have been caused by the virus. As it so happens, my 29-year old nephew was deathly ill this past summer due to infection – doctors call it “vegetation” – in a heart valve. (He recovered.) Maybe the woman’s infection was caused by the virus, but then again, maybe not. I have seen reports of a case where a man who died of a drug overdose was reported as a COVID-19 death because he had tested positive for the virus.

I am not being impacted financially by the virus because my income comes from retirement and disability payments. But there are millions of Americans who are, and they are the people who can least afford the loss of a paycheck. I live in a county just outside of Houston – we’re within the Houston metro area. As of right now, we have 1,332 reported cases (meaning they tested positive on a test) and there have been 32 deaths. The population of the county is some 800,000 (probably closer to 900,000 now.) Less than TWO HUNDREDTHS of the population have been diagnosed with the illness! And only .00375% of the population have died! The numbers are even lower for Houston/Harris county although there are more cases and more deaths. And the country was shut down for this!!! The media keeps talking about working from home, which they can do, but how about the cooks, waiters and waitresses, sales clerks, laborers, factory workers, etc. and etc. who are no longer drawing a paycheck? They have no money to buy food, to pay rent, for medical care or what have you. In short, it’s a DAMN TRAVESTY! The blame for this can be laid at Fauci’s feet – he’s the one who insisted on “social distancing” and shelter in place.

Then there is the media piling on Donald Trump. A week or so ago, the head of the science and technology department at the Department of Homeland Security gave a briefing on the findings of tests that showed that temperature, humidity and sunlight kill the virus. (These tests proved findings made previously.) They also showed the effect of bleach and Isopropyl alcohol on the virus – they destroy it. These were important revelations, but the media focused on a couple of offhand comments, questions actually, that Trump made at the conclusion of the briefing. One pertained to the possibility of directing UV light into the lungs and the other to the injection of bleach or other disinfectants into the bloodstream to treat the virus. Now, it so happens that a publically-held company had just announced that they were working with Cedars of Sinai hospital in Los Angeles to develop a means of directing UV light to the lungs. Then, You Tube pulled the company’s video (apparently because it confirmed what President Trump had said.) The president implied in his comment that there is ongoing research on the possibility of injecting compounds to kill the virus. There was all kind of hue and cry about how anyone could inject poisons into a person. Apparently, those who were spouting off don’t know what chemo or many vaccines are. The fact is that poisonous substances are used to treat diseases and parasites in humans as well as animals. Earlier this year, we had to have one of our dogs treated for heartworms. The treatment? How about three injections of CYANIDE! The media – and Speaker of the House Pelosi – claimed that Trump had suggested INGESTING disinfectants. The issue was amplified when the makers of Lysol put out a disclaimer advising people not to ingest their products. That, folks, is FAKE NEWS! Before that, there was the media controversy over the use of the Chloroquine derivative Hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with the virus and perhaps prevent it. Now. Chloroquine is not a new drug. It actually dates back to the 1930s when it was developed as an alternative to Atabrine, the common malaria preventive. I took both of them when I served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War with no ill effects. To hear the media tell it, the drug is dangerous and should not be used when it is actually a common drug used for numerous things, including treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. The media went wild when President Trump advocated it’s use to treat COVID-19 patients (and some medical personnel spoke out against the method while others praised it.)[1]  Granted, the president’s briefings were often tedious and boring. I got so damn tired of hearing the word “respirator”! As it turns out, the use of respirators on COVID-19 patients is practically an act of futility. Most patients who are placed on ventilators – which are actually life support machines – are already too far gone for the ventilator to do much good. I have seen articles stating that nine out of ten patients on ventilators die.

Soon after I started paying attention to the data, I noticed something. The areas where the most cases were being recorded were in the same general climate. They were nearly all north of the 30th Parallel and south of the 50th Parallel. Northern Italy, where the virus first went wild, is at 45N. New York City, the one area of the world with the most cases and a large chunk of the more than 75,000 deaths recorded in the United States is at 41N. In fact, roughly half of the deaths in the United States are in the area in and around New York City and those that aren’t are mostly between 40N and 45N. Wuhan, China where the virus allegedly began, is at 31N – and much of China as well as India and Southeast Asia is south of 30N. Lower parallel numbers mean closer to the equator, which means warmer temperatures and warmer temperatures kills the virus and reduce spread. That’s why China has less than 90,000 cases and less than 5,000 deaths while the United States has over a million cases and over 75,000 deaths, most of which are well north of 30N. It’s why Vietnam has only 271 confirmed cases and 0 deaths and Thailand has 2,988 cases and 54 deaths while Cambodia has 122 cases and 0 deaths and Laos has 19 cases and 0 deaths. In the United States, some 50,000 of the 71,000 deaths have occurred in eight states generally along the 40N parallel. Much of California is along this line – San Francisco is at 38N. Almost 800,000 of the some 1.2 million reported cases in the US are also in those eight states. Those numbers should tell us something. The state with the highest number of deaths outside of those eight states is Louisiana, which had a high number of cases and deaths soon after the Mardi Gras celebration, but which has since settled into a much lower rate of increase.

The media is hailing New York Governor Mario Cuomo as a hero because of his “handling of the crisis” but the facts are that New York alone has more cases than ANY country and almost as many deaths! How is that “handling the crisis?” If you look at a map of the cases in the United States, you’ll see a massive blob centered on New York City with smaller pinpoints elsewhere in the country with circles around large population centers like Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas (metro area) and Houston. More than half of all cases are in and around New York City along with most of the deaths, yet Cuomo is supposed to be some kind of hero?!! The man mishandled everything, along with his fellow Democrat, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio. Granted, New York City has a unique situation in that JFK Airport is one of the major aerial ports for international travel. The area also has a large population of immigrants from around the world, including large numbers of Chinese, many of whom returned to China for the annual Chinese New Year Celebration then came back to the United States. Although the first reported case of the virus was a Jewish health worker who had been to Italy, the virus quickly spread among the Chinese population in Queens, which is perhaps the hardest hit area in the United States. The city itself is an incubator for communicable disease. People live in multistory buildings, the brownstones so often shown in movies, and use community elevators and stairways, places where germs and viruses are prevalent. Cuomo did literally NOTHING to prevent the spread of the disease until the WHO came out with the social distancing recommendation. He complained when neighboring states became alarmed about infected New Yorkers fleeing into their states and spreading the disease when he should have restricted travel within the infected area and, particularly, out of the city. He is on television every day and spends most of his time whining about Federal aid. He was the one who kept whining about the lack of ventilators, a lack that never materialized. Those who praise Cuomo are misguided.

Then there are the mayors and county judges, many of whom are Democrats. Back in late February, Mayor Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, and his stooge, Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo, put out an order shutting down the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which had already started. There were already thirteen reported cases of the virus in the Houston area, eight in Fort Bend County and five in Houston. They were all passengers on a Nile River cruise somehow connected to Rice University that turned out to be a source of infection. Turner and Hidalgo, who is a Colombian immigrant by the way, decided to shut down the show and ordered the participants and vendors to disperse. Theirs were the first such actions in the nation. Soon professional sports organizations were canceling games and others were taking drastic actions. Turner and Hidalgo claimed they were taking the action they did because a case had emerged in Montgomery County, the county just north of Harris, and the patient had no history of international travel or KNOWN contact with anyone who had. The patient had visited the livestock show and rodeo barbecue cookoff a few days before. Since that time, Hidalgo, in particular, has taken one drastic action after another, including putting out an order requiring that anyone who ventures out of their home must wear a face mask.

Now, the issue of masks has been confusing. Thanks to the media, people have the idea that wearing a mask will protect them. Actually, it won’t. Medical professionals know, or should, that the reason for masks and medical gowns in operating rooms is TO PROTECT THE PATIENT! They are to protect against particles dropping into open wounds and/or mouths and causing infection. The CDC’s recommendation for wearing cloth masks is that they might possibly prevent the spread of the molecules that cause the virus by people who have it and don’t know it, which raises another question. Just what is the basis for the claim that perhaps millions of people have or have had the virus and not known it? Diseases are diagnosed based on symptoms and tests. If a person hasn’t seen a doctor, there’s no way to know if they might have had a disease. As for tests, only a small fraction of the American public will EVER be tested for COVID-19 barring the establishment of totalitarian government. Masks DO NOT prevent the spread of viruses, by the way. The molecules that cause COVID-19 are 1/1000ths the width of a human hair. Get that? A thousand of the molecules can sit next to each other across the top of a single hair. There is no cloth (or paper) known to man that can prevent those molecules from penetrating it in the event of a sneeze or even a cough or speech. Any substance capable of preventing penetration by COVID-19 molecules would also prevent breathing. Making masks – as my wife does – may be good therapy but the masks are not going to protect those who wear them from the virus and it’s doubtful they’ll protect others.

Ever since word of the Chinese virus reached the United States, the media and politicians have been hyping it. “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” was the cry. Politicians, including in the White House, were predicting millions of deaths. In reality, the proportion of deaths to the population is small, only .338 per 1,000 population. All deaths per 1,000 in the US average 8.8. Reported COVID-19 deaths are therefore only a tiny fraction of the number of deaths from all causes, and this doesn’t take into consideration that many, perhaps most, of the deaths attributed to the virus were actually due to other causes. Yet even though the number of deaths attributed to the virus is tiny in relation to all deaths that can be expected in the United States, the media acts like every death is a new story, and that it means the virus is somehow “winning,” although how an inanimate molecule can win anything is beyond me. The fact is that COVID-19 is merely another respiratory system disease, a virus, that is mild in most people but can be severe and even deadly in some instances. It is NOT another Yellow Fever or Cholera or even SARS, which killed almost 10% of those affected. By comparison, COVID-19 has only killed some 6.8% of those affected worldwide. Some 5.92% of those reported with the virus in the US have died. (The actual death rate is unknown because only certain categories of people have been diagnosed or tested in large numbers.)

Most Americans get their information from the media, which claims to be the great purveyors of truth. Members of the media like to proclaim that they are the main subjects of the First Amendment to the Constitution which actually addressed the rights of the individual. In reality, where the term “the press” is used in the First Amendment, it refers to the printing press, not to newspapers per se. The First Amendment guarantees free speech, or at least it’s suppose too. Speech is actually an expression of thought, as is the written word. “The press” is a means of distributing the written word whether in a pamphlet, a book, a letter or a sign on a post or wall. The media is actually commercialization of the press. The main goal of the media is to make money, lots of it. They make money both by subscriptions and sales and through advertising revenue. The media also is a means of spreading propaganda. The first newspapers were actually pamphlets and were political. Various political organizations throughout history have had their own pamphleteers. Some passed as newspapers. The broadcast media followed suit. Today what we get from newspapers as well as radio and television – and the internet – is propaganda with a particular political agenda. Since November 8, 2016, that agenda has been to get Donald Trump out of office. The New York Times has gone so far as to state that their goal is to spread adverse information about Trump. CNN has also been open about their intent to embarrass the president at every turn. Consequently, print and broadcast commercial media has been hyping the COVID-19 pandemic with the intention of somehow attributing it to Trump. Never mind that it is Andrew Cuomo and Bill De Blasio who allowed things to get out of hand in New York, where all of the broadcast stations and the New York Times are based. They are out of touch with the rest of the nation, and function under the belief that everything that applies to New York City, specifically Manhattan, applies to the rest of the nation as well. They can’t seem to grasp that COVID-19 is only prevalent in New York, specially in New York City and Northern New Jersey. The rest of the country has cases concentrated here and there. Their stories are written for a New York audience. Each day they talk about how the virus is increasing in other states, particularly in rural areas, somehow implying that such increases – which are actually the result of increased testing – somehow take the pressure off of them. They push social distancing and wearing of masks on the entire country without recognizing that it’s not needed in much of the country.

Speaking of “social distancing,” there’s no concrete proof that it’s had any effect on the spread of the virus. When it was first implemented, there were very few cases in the Houston area where I live. Now there are some 10,000, give or take a few. (Fortunately, the number of deaths is very low, about 3%.) Social distancing was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11 and the media and politicians immediately embraced it. At the time, there had been nine cases reported in the county where I live, eight of them passengers on the Nile cruise that was responsible for the first thirteen cases in the Houston area as well in certain other states. By March 19, the numbers had risen to 24, then it dropped to 19 before rising to 24 again. By March 29, the day before the county began testing, there were 119 cases (testing had begun in adjacent Harris County a week or so before, and residents of other counties were allowed to test.) Since that time, the number of reported cases has continued to climb until there are 1332 reported cases in the county, with 204 in my zip code – Harris County has over 7,000 reported cases although only some 4,000 are reported as active (Fort Bend County doesn’t show active cases.) Obviously, social distancing and shelter-in-place have had only limited effect, if any, on the spread of the disease. Proponents of the measures would say that there would have been more without it but that is merely speculation. No one knows or can know. As many know, the country of Sweden has not implemented social distancing and shelter in place and their rate of cases per million population is no greater than in countries that have, and much lower than many, including the United States.

   While the media has been most prolific in throwing out bullshit, Donald Trump has done more than his share as well. He kept claiming that if he hadn’t taken drastic action, “millions” of Americans would die. He said repeatedly that he had been advised to “do nothing” but he’d taken drastic action instead and saved countless lives. (My personal opinion is that doing no more than restricting travel into the United States was the best course of action.) He based that claim on what he had been told by Fauci and Birx, who got their information from modeling that was based on faulty information. Bear in mind that models are only as accurate as the numbers fed into them. If one number is off, the entire model is off. He also kept claiming the virus is the worst since 1918. It’s not – the Asian Flu epidemic in 1957-58 affected millions worldwide and killed at least a million people and possibly as many as four million. An estimated 70,000-100,000 died in the United States. I got so tired of hearing it that I Emailed the White House and told them to tell him it was not true and to shut up about it. I didn’t hear him mention it again after that. Dr. Tony Fauci has also made some outlandish proclamations.

This mess has taught me one thing. I am a fundamentalist Christian and I believe the prophesy made by the Apostle John while he was in exile on the Isle of Patmos. John prophesied, based on the vision he saw, that a man would arise who would dominate the world then be revealed as the antichrist, and that he’d be assisted by “the false prophet,” the leader of a false church sitting on seven hills, which obviously refers to Rome since the only other city on seven hills is Lynchburg, Virginia and Jerry Falwell has been dead for several years. I wondered what kind of event would cause the people of the world to become subservient to such a ruler. Now I know.

[1] The inanity of it all became apparent after a Michigan legislator, a black female Democrat, went public with her account of how the drug had helped her. She had been taking the drug for arthritis and when she heard President Trump advocate it’s use on TV, she told her doctor she’d like to try it. It worked and she recovered within a short period of time. After she met with the president, her local Democratic party took steps to throw her out of the party.

Guinea Pigs


In September 1970, I became part of an Air Force program that, while not experimental, can be described as an operational test program. For the first time in history, the Air Force decided to test a new weapons system in operational use rather than putting it through extensive testing prior to determining the final configuration for delivery to operational squadrons. The new weapons system was the Lockheed C-5A transport, a gigantic airplane that was the result of the CX-X transport program initiated in the early 1960s by the administration of President Lyndon Johnson. Discussions had begun under the administration of his predecessor, President John F. Kennedy, at the urging of retired Air Force General William H. Tunner, who commanded the Military Air Transport Service at the time of his retirement. Tunner, who never flew a combat mission, retired because President Dwight Eisenhower refused to fund his pet project, a four-engine jet transport. Tunner became a Kennedy advisor during his campaign and one of the first things the new president did was sign an executive order directing the Air Force to invest in the project, which became the C-141. The C-141 was the first of Tunner’s pet ideas. The second was a large transport capable of carrying the largest vehicles in the US Army inventory. Tunner had an ally in South Carolina Congressman L Mendel Rivers, the head of the House Armed Services Committee, whose Congressional district included Charleston. His predecessor was Georgia Congressman Carl Vinson, also a Tunner ally, whose district included Marietta, Georgia where the Lockheed factory is located.

I was stationed at Robins AFB, Georgia, about 100 miles south of Marietta, as a C-141 loadmaster when the C-5 first flew. Although I don’t recall seeing the gigantic airplane while I was at Robins, it sometimes made appearances there. I knew a woman who lived in Marietta and who talked about seeing the huge airplane fly over. The MAC Flyer, Military Airlift Command’s newspaper, carried frequent articles about the new airplane. I knew that the first squadron would be at Charleston, which was natural since it was Congressman Rivers’ home town and he had a reputation for acquiring as much military equipment and personnel for the area as he possibly could. My interest, however, was passing and in September 1968 my life changed when I was notified that I had been ordered back to Southeast Asia, to a C-130 squadron at Clark Air Base, Philippines. I had only been back in the States for a year after 18 months at Naha AB, Okinawa on C-130s. I arrived at Clark in February 1969. It is no exaggeration to say that my new unit was overjoyed to see me. The replacements they were getting were coming out of MAC and had no C-130 experience or from TAC C-130 squadrons. I had almost three years of C-130 experience, much of it in Southeast Asia. I was upgraded to instructor soon after my arrival and a year later was selected to become a standardizations/evaluations evaluator.

Since I only had a few months to go when I went to Stan/Eval, I was asked to put in for an extension of my tour for another year. When I came back from my first tour at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam as an evaluator, my stateside assignment was in my vertical file, and it was to Charleston, which had been my first choice on the “dream sheet” I had filled out when I processed in at Clark. I could only hope that I’d be assigned there at the end of my extended tour. However, the wing was notified by assignments at Pacific Air Force headquarters that my request for extension had been denied because I had been past the six-month deadline for extension requests when I submitted it. The chief of Stan/Eval said they should be able to get a waiver, but I decided to just go ahead and accept the assignment. The war had changed after the Cambodia Incursion a few weeks before and flying in Vietnam was no longer as exciting as it had been – it had become routine.

I still had almost three months to go on my tour and my reporting date to Charleston was in early September. I decided that since I had orders to Charleston, I might as well volunteer for C-5s.  I met the requirements, which was to be at least an E-5 with 1,000 hours on C-141s or some other large aircraft (C-130 time didn’t count.) Volunteering consisted of writing a letter to the chief of each program at MAC headquarters, which for loadmasters was Chief Master Sergeant Sam Hanna. I sat down at the table in my trailer and wrote Hanna a letter in which I said I was a loadmaster with an assignment to Charleston and that I had been on C-141s at Robins previously, and that I wanted to volunteer for the C-5 program. A few weeks later I talked to my parents and learned that a letter had come there for me from Chief Master Sergeant Bill Ramsey, the chief loadmaster in the 3rd Military Airlift Squadron, advising that I had been accepted in the C-5 program and welcoming me to the squadron.[1] (As it turned out, I most likely would have gone to the 3rd anyway because they weren’t getting the volunteers needed to man the loadmaster section.)

At the time of my letter to Hanna, the first C-5 had yet to be delivered to Charleston. It was delivered a few weeks later in front of a crowd of dignitaries and the delivery was announced in Air Force Times and Stars and Stripes. The landing had been more than spectacular because one of the main gear wheels came loose and followed the huge airplane down the runway. By coincidence, I was at Cam Ranh when the first C-5 mission came in. I was in my second week of my tour and was giving check rides. I had given a check ride in the morning and was in the barracks on Herky Hill when the big airplane came over. I jumped on the shuttle bus down to C-130 Ops and walked across the ramp to where the airplane had been positioned at the air transportable loading dock that had been erected in anticipation of the airplane’s arrival. The airplane was knelt, and the visor was open. I walked up to the front ramp and spoke to two of the loadmasters. I told them who I was and that I had orders to the squadron. As it turned out, one of the loadmasters was Bob Blum, who worked in scheduling and was one of the first people I would see when I walked in the squadron a couple of months later. One of the others, whose first name was Nathan, would be my instructor on my first C-5 mission in that very same airplane.

I did not stick around since the crew was busy. I don’t recall exactly what I did but most likely went back to Herky Hill. I do remember watching the airplane take off several hours later, but it took off to the south, in the opposite direction from Herky Hill. There have been a lot of lies spread by non-C-5 people that the airplane was stuck in the kneeling position and remained on the ground at Cam Ranh for several days, but it is just that, a lie. A lot of lies have been spread about the C-5A, including some in the media. I know FOR A FACT that the airplane was on the ground for about four hours, the scheduled ground time. For one thing, I saw it take off. For another, crewmembers on that first flight that I am in contact with say the mission was uneventful. I do not recall ever hearing of a C-5 being stuck on the ground in Vietnam.

The first C-5 mission to Vietnam was in mid-July 1970. I left Clark a few weeks later and reported to the 3rd in early September. As I said, one of the first people I saw was Bob Blum, who was one of the schedulers. Bill Ramsey was also in the section. I knew him. A couple of years previously, he had flown with my crew in my place after I was injured in a loading accident at Cam Ranh. (I was trying to line up a pallet and was caught between it and the side of the airplane.) I went to the flight surgeon at Kadena and was temporarily grounded but was cleared to fly as an additional crew member. Ramsey was a flight examiner at Dover where our parent wing was located and the airlift command post (ACP) put him on the crew in my place. I went to the flight surgeon at Elmendorf when I got there and was cleared to resume flying duties and he caught the next plane bound for Dover. In all three of my previous assignments, I had been encouraged to finish processing as quickly as possible and had been sent out on a trip within a week. This was not to be the case with the 3rd; I was advised that I would be attending C-5A FTD before I did any flying and it was going to be several weeks before a new FTD class would be starting. I also learned that I was only one of a handful of single men in the squadron and that I wouldn’t be able to draw a quarters allowance. Furthermore, there was no NCO barracks. The 3rd had given up its rooms in the barracks (all of the non-flying enlisted personnel were WAFs) and I would have to live in a 41st MAS room. I was given a set of manuals – MAC Manual 55-1, the Dash One flight manual and Dash Nine loading manual – and a stack of revisions and supplements three feet high – literally!   

My new roommate – Chris Gray – was out on a trip so I had the room to myself for a few days. After I finished in-processing, which took about a day, I had nothing to do but post the damned revisions and supplements in an attempt at getting the manuals up to date. The task was made more difficult by the constant flow of new revisions that showed up in my file at the squadron, or on the desk in the loadmaster section with my name on it. I’d get up, go to chow, post revisions, go to chow again and check my mail, post more revisions until I got tired of it then either take a drive or go to the NCO club, where I usually ended up anyway. It didn’t matter the time of day, I’d find a bunch of guys in there wearing wings on their 1505s. Some were engineers but most were loadmasters, like me. All were recent Southeast Asia returnees. I knew a few of them from previous assignments. They were mostly in the C-141 squadrons although a few were in the 3rd. The number of 3rd people would quickly grow.

Finally, I started FTD. There were morning and afternoon classes. I was in the morning class, which started at 0600 and finished at noon. There were about twenty in each class. Most were recent overseas returnees like me. I don’t recall that anyone had volunteered for C-5s other than me. We were mostly E-5s and E-6s. There might have been one master sergeant. At the time, C-5 loadmasters had to be E-5s and above and hold a seven-level AFSC. We’d finish class and adjourn to the club. There were days when some of us never left until time to go to class the next morning. I knew many of them from C-130s, although many had been to Southeast Asia for a tour in C-123s while I went back to C-130s. We’d finish class and adjourn to the club. There were days when some of us never left until time to go to class the next morning. Except for me, the C-123 people were the clubbers. They got use to hanging out at the club at Phan Rang and couldn’t get it out of their system. After they got to Charleston and had little to do, they’d get bored at home and head for the base, and end up in the club. MAC clubs were twenty-four hours in order to accommodate aircrews who came in at all hours of the day. The cocktail lounge where we hung out would close but the casual lounge, formerly the stag bar, stayed open all night. It’s a wonder some of us learned anything, but we did. There were a few, like Jay Barry and Ted Miller, who had been at Phan Rang but had come back to Charleston after previous assignments there and had young, hot wives who kept them at home. I didn’t have a wife of any kind and the club was the only place where I could spend time socializing and drinking and not be too concerned about a DUI.

The C-5A was a complicated airplane, far more so than anything any of us had ever been exposed to, including those who had been on C-124s or C-133s. The airplane was designed to be knelt to truck-bed height to facilitate loading and if the crew wasn’t at the airplane, kneeling was the loadmasters’ responsibility. The airplane also had a forward visor as well as the conventional cargo door at the rear; both were complicated because of the way they were designed. Both door systems included pressure doors that either floated above the open ramp when it was in the level position of became part of it when the cargo was rolling stock that had to be loaded from the ground. Pallets were loaded from K-loaders or the loading dock, if there was one available. Loadmasters had to know how to operate the airplane’s two auxiliary power units, particularly the fire extinguishers, which were required for kneeling and door operations. Operating of the kneeling system and the visor and rear cargo doors required APU power for electrics, hydraulics and the pneumatics that powered the kneeling motors whenever the engines weren’t running. Three loadmasters were required to operate the systems whenever the rest of the crew wasn’t present and there wasn’t a maintenance man to keep watch on the APUs when they were running. Either a loadmaster or scanner had to be outside to monitor the opening of doors and the raising of the visor.

The visor and cargo doors were hydraulically operated and activated by electronic switches that controlled hydraulic valves. They could be opened in either of two modes, a level mode to mate with a dock or a K-loader used in the 463L cargo handling system or the vehicle loading position, with the ramp extension, which was also a pressure door, extended to ground level. In the event the electric switch failed, the doors could be opened by pressing on buttons on the hydraulic valves. It was actually fairly easy but loadmasters and engineers were required to follow a supplement to the flight manual which had to be physically present and open (at least theoretically.) The airplane could be knelt either level, in the forward kneel or aft kneel positions. The level mode was most commonly used. The forward and aft modes were only needed when loading vehicles with clearance so low the angle needed to be lessened to allow them to cross over the break between the ramp and the cargo compartment floor.

We also spent several classes planning loads and filling out practice Form Fs, the airplane weight and balance clearance form that was required for all military flights. The Form F was only complicated because we had to make computations for as many as 36 pallets of cargo. For reasons I never have understood, MAC required that Form Fs be filled out using mathematical computations rather than a load adjuster as we used on C-130s in other commands. Civilian aircrews also used load adjusters. Someone had the erroneous idea that math was more accurate than a load adjuster. In reality, load adjusters were just as accurate, as most pilots were well aware. The C-5A was also equipped with an automatic weight and balance computer. We had them on C-130s, and they were highly accurate, but the sensors had to be calibrated and maintenance didn’t want to take the time to keep them working. Resistance to new ideas was common in the military, particularly among loadmasters, many of whom weren’t the brightest bulbs in the box anyway. The weight and balance computers were actually electronic scales that measured the weight on each of the landing gear and computed the gross weight and center of gravity with the push of a button. MAC, however, had no intention of using them. MAC insisted that loadmasters compute the gross weight and center of gravity mathematically. This was in the days before the advent of the simple handheld calculators that would soon become so common.  Computations had to be computed with pencils.

The C-5 was equipped with a system of rollers and rails that were practically identical to those found on C-141s except there were double rows and the locks were on the inside rails instead of the outside rails and were individually locked. On C-130s and C-141s the locks were on the left-hand rails. The inside rails and rollers were flipped over and became part of the cargo compartment floor when rolling stock was carried. There were problems with the rails and rollers, as we would discover when we started flying. Lockheed had taken steps to save weight and the rails had been constructed from material that turned out to be brittle and unable to absorb the energy produced by pallets that might strike them during loading. The rollers were practically worthless. The bearings would become compressed and would barely roll. Lockheed developed rollers with Teflon-impregnated bearings that would roll, but until the original rollers were replaced, loading individual pallets was a chore. The airplane was equipped with winches installed in compartments on either ramp. They were operated using push buttons on specially designed interphone junction boxes that loadmasters and engineer/scanners wore around our necks. Each airplane was equipped with snatch blocks – pulleys with hooks to attach them to tiedown devices on the floor – to redirect and/or increase the strength of the winch cables.

Right after I finished FTD, I went out on my first trip. Jay Barry and I were students. We went out with the Lead the Force crew, the same crew I had met at Cam Ranh and in the same airplane, 212, the first airplane delivered to the squadron. One of the engineers was Jon Sanders, a former C-130 flight engineer who had managed to avoid overseas service by first volunteering for C-141s then for C-5s because C-5 crewmembers were on a three-year freeze. Jon’s freeze was cancelled a year or so later due to the assignment disparity for C-130 engineers, who were spending not much more than a year in the States before going back to Southeast Asia, and he was reassigned to the C-130 wing in Taiwan. Jon died over An Loc in April 1972. Our trip was to Cam Ranh by way of Dover, Delaware to pick up our load; Elmendorf, Alaska for fuel; Yokota, Japan for crew rest then on to Cam Ranh to deliver the load, with a return to Charleston by way of Kadena, Okinawa and Elmendorf. Dover was the East Coast shipping point for air freight bound for Southeast Asia.

We used the loading dock at Dover to load our cargo, which consisted of a full load of palletized cargo. We probably carried 35 pallets and left one space on the ramp open for a baggage pallet, if we had passengers. I don’t recall for sure. The load had been positioned on the dock and the pallets had been connected together with straps, which were actually pieces of the same material used for 5,000-pound tiedown straps with hooks on each end. The pilots pulled up to the dock and knelt the airplane. We opened the doors then hooked our winch to a harness on the first pallet on the right hand side and winched the train into the airplane and secured the pallets with the locks on the inside rails. I don’t recall who did the winching, but it was probably either Jay or me since we were students and were on the mission to satisfy the requirements of the lesson plans. After the first train was aboard and secured, we brought in the other train. I do not recall any issues with the loading. While the loadmasters loaded the airplane, the engineers refueled.

MAC had decreed that C-5 crews would be augmented, meaning a third pilot and second navigator had to be on board. The rationale was that C-5 crews would have a 24-hour crew day. There were no stage crews as there were with C-141s. The crew would stay with the airplane all the way to the destination and the return to Charleston. The loadmaster crew wasn’t augmented per se, but MAC had decided that five were necessary in order to carry passengers. If passengers were carried, troop compartment loadmasters had to remain awake and were allowed crew rest while the rest of the loadmaster crew was expected to sleep infight if necessary. MAC manual 55-1 dictated flight operations and it specified that loadmasters were not required to have full crew rest as other crewmembers were. The only stipulation was a certain amount of uninterrupted sleep in a 24-hour period, which could be inflight.

The C-5 featured what is perhaps the most comfortable crew facilities of any airplane ever built. The crew compartment included the cockpit with two bunk rooms with three bunks each behind it on the right side and a relief crew compartment with six airline type seats, four of which were on either side of a table and a lavatory and galley behind it. The galley had an oven and coffee maker, but since MAC crewmembers would usually forego flight lunches and order “snack packs” – which didn’t count against per diem – the oven was rarely used. Behind the galley was an area designated as a courier compartment with several airline seats, but it was actually used as seating for additional crewmembers. The airplane was incredibly quiet. Crewmembers in the relief crew compartment could communicate in normal tones. There was a large area containing environmental and other equipment behind the courier compartment and the troop compartment was behind it. The troop compartment was not accessible from the front. A retractable ladder went up from the cargo compartment to it. A similar ladder provided access to the crew compartment. Emergency egress from both compartments was by slides, but the crew compartment and cockpit were equipped with egress reels, which were coiled steel bands inside handles that the crewmember was supposed to use to go out the cockpit windows and overhead escape hatches. The possible use of one was a scary prospect. Allegedly, when a combat controller went down on a reel on a test airplane at Edwards, the reel failed, and he broke both legs. The troop compartment had two lavatories, two galleys and airline-type seats for passengers.[2] They weren’t the same seats found in the crew compartment but were of lessor quality and comfort, but they were better than the nylon sling seats found on C-130s and C-141s. There was a seat for two loadmasters at the head of the entrance ladder. It faced forward while the passenger seats faced aft. There were ovens and coffee makers on the galleys and the troop compartment loadmasters acted as flight attendants.[3]

We were only on the ground at Elmendorf for about an hour, just long enough to refuel. The passengers were deplaned and taken into the terminal, then brought back out for the departure. Maintenance personnel from the MAC support unit conducted a through-flight inspection, meaning they opened the bottom of the cowling and checked the oil levels. We opened the rear doors to allow air freight to remove the baggage pallet and take it in to switch out baggage. We continued on to Yokota and went into crew rest then continued on to Cam Ranh the next day. MAC restricted C-5s to daylight operations at Cam Ranh due to the threat. We were scheduled for four hours on the ground, which was the normal time for offloading and reloading at non-crew rest stops. We pulled up to the dock, the pilots knelt the airplane and we hooked to the dock winch. I don’t recall if the straps had been left on at Dover – which would have been logical – or if they were removed and new ones had to be attached. I don’t recall if we had issues on that particular trip or not, but we sometimes had minor problems when the loadmaster operating the winch allowed slack in the cable and some of the pallets overran the ones in front of them. It wasn’t actually that big of a problem since all we had to do was pull them apart with the winch, but it was irritating, and brittle rails were sometimes damaged. Many loadmasters didn’t like using the docks because there was some preparation involved. I wasn’t one of them. I used the docks for both loading and offloading at Dover, Cam Ranh and Charleston and had no real problems. (I think there was one at Rhine Main but don’t recall for certain.) Our trip went off without a hitch – until we got to Kadena.

I was supposed to be in the troop compartment out of Kadena, so I went in with the rest of the crew and one of the other loadmasters for crew rest.  I don’t remember if it was while they were kneeling the airplane or bringing it back up, but the kneeling system malfunctioned when the airplane was partially knelt. Maintenance discovered that a part had failed and ordered a new one. The airplane was listed as NORS-G for parts, meaning it was “not repairable this station due to parts.” This was only some six months after this particular airplane, the first to be delivered, arrived at Charleston and there was no supply of parts at other bases. In fact, many parts had to come from the Lockheed factory in Marietta, Georgia. We were stuck at Kadena, which is not the worst place to be. We were there about a week waiting for parts, then it took maintenance a day or so to install the part and get the airplane off its knees. The other loadmasters loaded the airplane and we departed for Elmendorf.

As I recall, we took off from Elmendorf bound for Charleston twice, then had to dump fuel and go back in. I don’t remember why we went back the first time. It may have had something to do with the Inertial Navigation Systems (which we didn’t really need since we would be over land and had two navigators on board.) Whatever it was, we went to the barracks and spent a couple of days on the ground. When we departed for Charleston the second time, the cowling came off of number two engine and flew up and over the front of the wing, taking out the leading edge slat in the process. Evidently, the maintenance men who checked the oil failed to properly secure the cowling.  Once again, we dumped fuel and went back to land then to the barracks. Lockheed was going to have to send up a crew to inspect the damage before they might determine how long it would be before the airplane was flyable again. The crew was going to have to stay with the airplane. I was expecting to spend a month or more at Elmendorf but then a message came in from the squadron. Jay Barry and I were to catch the next C-141 that came through and come on home so we could go out on a check ride to complete our qualification.[4] A C-141 was going to be departing soon and we were to get to the flight line. To my dismay, the loadmaster was my barracks roommate, Chris Gray! Chris and the other young loadmasters in the barracks had been giving me grief about how the C-5s were always breaking. I had been defending the airplane, now Chris was bringing me home! The squadron sent me out a few days later on a trip to Rhine Main with a flight examiner. He signed me off on the way to Germany and I came back to Charleston as a qualified C-5 loadmaster.

Now that I was qualified, the squadron had no reason to send me back out. Trips were being utilized for training new loadmasters and I no longer needed training. Consequently, for the first time in my flying career, I found myself spending weeks at a time at my home base, which was okay with me. The problem was that I was spending too much time in the club, which was usually filled with 3rd loadmasters and engineers with time on our hands. About that time I met a nineteen-year old WAF and started hanging out with her. I had also come to the realization that I was on the way to becoming a drunk if not an alcoholic if I didn’t find something to occupy my time. I had obtained my private pilot’s license before I went to Clark. I had my full GI Bill benefits and decided to use them to get my commercial pilot’s license. Although I continued to patronize the club, I was no longer a fixture. I flew trips but had several weeks in between.

Several things occurred in my life soon after I checked out in the C-5A. For one thing, I moved off base to an apartment just outside the main gate. My roommate was a loadmaster in one of the C-141 squadrons. His former roommate, a first-term loadmaster, decided he couldn’t afford to pay rent and moved back into the barracks. I was promoted to E-6, technical sergeant, in the first promotion cycle in which I became eligible. Shortly afterwards, the squadron sent me to the Joint Task Force along with another loadmaster to help them out. The JTF had been set up at Charleston but included pilots, navigators, flight engineers and loadmasters from Travis and Dover as well. When the JTF completed its duties, they would be going back to their home bases to assume leadership positions in new C-5 squadrons. The other loadmaster and my duties were to help out the JTF loadmasters with paperwork. They were the people who got the operational reports and used them to develop procedures and write the numerous revisions and supplements to the Dash One and Dash Nine. One of the reasons the squadron picked me was because they somehow found out I can type. I took typing in high school. How they found out, I don’t know. The JTF had a WAF clerk assigned but she was overwhelmed.[5]  They gave me a desk next to hers and I spent my time doing paperwork. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but it kept me busy.

To say that the airplane had problems would be an understatement, but in some respects they were no worse than any other airplane, including Boeing’s new 747 which had been developed originally for the same contract. It seemed like the airplanes were broke all the time because parts had to come from the States whenever they were needed. Another problem was that maintenance was new to the airplane, which had far more complex systems than the C-141s they were use too. It took them much longer to diagnose a problem and even longer to make the repairs, and usually had to wait for days for the necessary parts. Some problems were due to the airplane still being in the development phase and some systems and configurations were not finalized. We loadmasters had problems with the inefficient rollers, but those problems went away when they were replaced with new rollers with Teflon-impregnated bearings. With the original rollers, it took a whole crew of men to move one pallet. With the new rollers, a single person could move a 10,000-pound pallet with one finger. The kneeling system caused the most headaches. The pneumatic motors had to stay in synch with each other or the system would lock up and maintenance would have to get it back in synch, which could take several hours. If parts were required, it took several days. There were a lot of discussions about why Lockheed didn’t use hydraulic motors instead, which they eventually did. Once the pneumatic system was replaced with hydraulics, kneeling problems went away. I personally don’t recall being involved in any kneeling incidents other than the one at Kadena but there were instances when airplanes were grounded awaiting parts as we had been.

The C-5A wasn’t just a big airplane, it was revolutionary. Lockheed had incorporated technology into the airplane that had just come into existence. The avionics were top-of-the-line at the time. There were a lot of new systems on the airplane, including the MADAR maintenance analysis system. MADAR was a function at the flight engineer’s panel that gave him an instant analysis of every system on the airplane. If a system had a malfunction, MADAR gave the engineer the part number for any part that wasn’t working properly and even where a replacement part was located (which was usually either at Charleston or at the factory.) Since we were operationally testing the airplane, MAC wanted all systems to be working whenever the airplane was dispatched. Since there were often problems with various systems, we often found ourselves sitting on the ground somewhere waiting for maintenance to fix a broken system. Sometimes the problem was found before the crew was alerted but they were often discovered by the crew after everyone was at the airplane, in which case we usually sat in the relief crew compartment waiting to either takeoff or for our crew day to run out and be sent back to quarters. It was stressful, so much so that I took up smoking. (I eventually quit.)

When MAC set forth its requirements for the airplane, it wanted a large airplane with some tactical capabilities. No doubt the requirement was due in large part to an Air Force policy of not paying to develop any airplane that wasn’t tactical. One requirement was that the C-5A would be able to land on unimproved runways, i.e. dirt. The C-141 had failed off runway testing because it kept blowing tires, so Lockheed decided to disperse the weight on the C-5 landing gear by developing bogies of multiple wheels and tires. As far as I know, MAC never got to the point of off-pavement testing. The airplane also included aerial refueling capability and crews at the MAC school at Altus AFB, Oklahoma checked out. However, the project ended when a problem developed in the refueling line. Airdrop was a major tactical mission and MAC intended to drop troops and cargo from the huge airplane. An airplane and crew spent time at Pope AFB, North Carolina testing drop methods. The head of the loadmaster part of the project was Jim Sims, who I had first met in 1965 when I was involved in the movement of Australian troops in Vietnam and he was there to oversee the operation. A few years later, Jim would launch a missile from a C-5. The C-5A airdrop system didn’t use the integral rollers and rails as the C-141 did but used a special rail system that was installed along the cargo compartment centerline. They dropped cargo and troops. I recall there being a problem with parachutes striking the aft pressure door when they were dropped through the open ramp.

There is a common misconception that the C-5 and its predecessor, the C-141, were developed due to the Vietnam War. Actually, the two airplanes were developed as a result of a theory advanced by General William H. Tunner that troops could be brought home from Europe to reduce the cost of maintaining them and airlifted back in the event of an attack from East Germany. The two airplanes were to be troop carriers, not cargo carriers. One of our roles in the 3rd was to develop loading procedures for Army equipment, particularly armored equipment and helicopters. In the spring of 1971 I was on a crew sent to Gray Army Air Field at Fort Hood, Texas to allow personnel from the armored units based there to practice loading their equipment onto a C-5A and then offloading it. We flew over on Sunday afternoon and were there until Saturday. The loadmaster crew was split into shifts to allow the loading to continue throughout the day. We knelt the airplane when we got there and left it “on its knees” until it was time to depart. Similar operations were conducted at other Army posts to allow personnel to practice loading their equipment. Helicopters were a major cargo. The Army had hundreds of CH-47 helicopters in Vietnam and the South Vietnamese had their own. Prior to the introduction of the C-5, CH-47s were transported to and from the overhaul facility at Harrisburg, PA for major overhaul either aboard C-133s, in which case they had to be dismantled and only one could be carried, or by surface transportation. It took literally months to move the helicopters back and forth. We could carry three CH-47s and Marine CH-46s. In fact, we could carry three or more of most helicopters. We would pickup a load of three helicopters at the old Olmstead Air Force Base, which had closed in the mid-60s, and take them to Cam Ranh where we would offload them and pick up three more for the return trip to Olmstead. We could make the trip in less than a week, assuming the airplane didn’t break.

After I finished my stint with the JTF, the squadron gave me a job, an additional duty. The squadron had a ton of them but mine was unique. The 3rd loadmaster section was made up of two groups of men, the recent overseas returnees like me, most of whom had a ton of medals from combat flying, and an older higher-ranking group of men, most of whom had not been overseas. Many of them were master sergeants. The Air Force had come out with a new “weighted” promotion system called WAPS for short that took a number of things into consideration, including decorations. NCOs were also rated for their performance. The goal of nearly everyone in the squadron was to make as much rank as they could so they could retire with a larger pension. Master sergeants are normally in supervisory positions, meaning they supervise lower-ranking personnel. However, in the loadmaster section, there were only two supervisory positions, the NCOIC and assistant NCOIC. Someone came up with the bright idea of dividing loadmasters into groups and putting a master sergeant over each group. The sole purpose of the “reorganization,” which really wasn’t a reorganization but the creation of positions, was to give the master sergeants someone to supervise so their supervisor, the NCOIC and assistant, could write something on their performance reports about how good a supervisor they were.[6] Actually, they weren’t supervising the men under them; they did not fly trips together and except for those of us who had additional duties, there were no duties at the squadron except duty NCO at night and on weekends. All these guys had to do was show up for flights. However, they needed to look good in hopes of being promoted to senior master sergeant so they were assigned a group of men they were supposed to be supervising and would write their performance reports, or APRs.

Problems developed when it turned out that few of these guys could write. They lacked mastery of the English language and the performance reports they wrote up were being rejected. In order to make the reports readable, the squadron came up with the office of “APR monitor” and put me in charge. My buddies Jay Barry and Ted Miller, who were staff sergeants while I was a tech, were put in with me. Technically, I was the NCOIC, but we worked together. Instead of turning the APRs into the orderly room for the WAFs to type up, they turned them into us. Our job was to go over the reports and correct errors, to generally put them in readable form before they went to the orderly room to be typed although we usually typed them ourselves. We also had the additional duty of awards and decorations for the loadmaster section. That involved going to the Form 5 section and counting up the number of “combat support” missions a man had flown and putting those who were eligible in for an Air Medal or cluster. Regulations called for 35 combat support missions, which meant a trip in and out of South Vietnam or an overflight on the way to Thailand (where we didn’t go but where the men had flown on C-141s). At the rate of one trip a month in country, it took three years for a man to earn an Air Medal. Now, the combat veterans had tons of them; I had eleven or twelve plus a Distinguished Flying Cross, which put me well over the maximum 25 points allowed for WAPs. Then came the Air Force Commendation Medal, which is somewhat of a joke. The AFCM is usually awarded to an airman upon completion of an assignment, when they are written up for all of the things they had done. What do you say about a master sergeant who’s only accomplishments were showing up for a flight? That’s where I learned creative writing![7]

    At some point we learned of a REAL problem with the C-5. My recollection is that 212’s wings were x-rayed and found to have minute cracks. It was the LTF airplane and had been subjected to the most extreme conditions MAC could come up with in operational testing. Some “historians” claim restrictions were placed on the airplane because of stress testing of the wings on an airplane at the factory. Regardless, Lockheed and the Air Force realized that the C-5 wings were not going to be capable of their planned lifetime. Consequently, weight restrictions were put on all C-5s, meaning payloads were drastically reduced, all the way from some 200,000 pounds down to 100,000, which is only 30,000 pounds more than a C-141 payload. There were even rumors that the entire program might be cancelled. There were qualifications, however. The restrictions were for routine channel traffic missions. We could carry the maximum allowable payloads on some missions. We were departing on missions with the cargo compartment only half full. Furthermore, the aerial delivery program was canceled. There may have also been restrictions placed on kneeling on airplanes with the pneumatic system because I remember loading the airplanes using K-loaders with the airplane in the un-knelt position.[8] At some point, MAC discontinued use of the loading docks.

In my estimation, the reason MAC did away with the loading docks was that the older loadmasters didn’t like them. People by nature are resistant to change and the docks were foreign to their experience as C-141 pallet pushers. Granted, the pallet trains would sometimes jam up, particularly during offloading if the loadmaster with the winch controls allowed slack in the line, but it was a good system. Air freight may not have liked it, but I don’t know what their attitude was. I do know that it took them much longer to load the airplane as they had to go back and forth to fetch pallets. I actually departed Charleston with half a load on a Cam Ranh trip one time because air freight was unable to finish loading before our takeoff time. I was the primary loadmaster and in charge of the loading. The aircraft commander was a newly promoted light colonel who was in the JTF. He was anxious to make the airplane look good and couldn’t seem to grasp that the delay would be on airfreight instead of the airplane or crew. I protested to high heaven, but he was insistent that the rest of the load be bumped. I berated him several times during the trip. It’s a wonder he didn’t write me up for insubordination. It was one of the stupidest things I ever saw a pilot do. We flew a fuel-gulping C-5A from Charleston, South Carolina to Cam Ranh, Vietnam with half of the load we were supposed to take! I wrote a scathing trip report, but I doubt that it went anywhere, probably into File 13.

When I got to Charleston and for some time after, the 3rd was the only squadron in the Air Force operating the C-5A. MAC planned to have four squadrons, two on the East Coast and two on the West Coast at Travis AFB, California. The other East Coast squadron was at Dover, Delaware where the 9th MAS was scheduled to equip with C-5s. After the 3rd received about half of our complement of airplanes, one of the squadrons at Travis received it’s first C-5. Chief Master Sergeant Walter Scott, who had been the senior loadmaster in the JTF, left Charleston and went to Travis to supervise the transition of West Coast loadmasters into the Galaxy, or Fat Albert, as we called the airplane.[9] As the Travis wing received more airplanes, it assumed responsibility for missions to the Pacific although we continued flying to Cam Ranh, then later to Saigon, well into 1973 and even after the United States had withdrawn all combat forces from the war-torn country. The United States had begun withdrawing from Vietnam in 1969 right after President Richard Nixon took office and the withdrawal had continued until by the spring of 1972 most US ground and air forces had been withdrawn. Except for the helicopter swaps, there was less need for airlift into the country from the United States. We assumed more and more missions to Europe and, eventually, Central Asia and the Middle East. Initially, our sole European destination was Rhine Main at Frankfort, Germany. MAC soon shifted C-5 operations to Ramstein. As we got more airplanes, missions were added to Mildenhall, England and Torrejon, the airbase outside of Madrid, Spain. We also picked up a mission for the Navy from Norfolk, Virginia to Rota, a navy base on Spain’s west coast. Incirlik, Turkey also became a destination. Later on, we started going to Tehran, Iran.

In April 1972, the Vietnam War flared up when communist troops came out of Cambodia and Laos to attack along Highway 13 in an effort to capture Saigon while others poured across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) into South Vietnam’s northern provinces. This was when the C-5 came into its own. In response to the attacks, the US decided to beef up air forces in the Pacific, particularly in Guam where B-52s operated against communist targets in Southeast Asia, and within South Vietnam itself. C-5s were used to airlift cargo that was too big for other airplanes to carry, cargo such as large fire trucks, fuel trucks, etc. I was on a mission to Shreveport, Louisiana where we picked up a load of outsize vehicles and took them to Guam. I went back out on another Cam Ranh mission with palletized cargo then was sent to Hickam AFB, Hawaii, where we picked up a load of tiny O-2 Skymasters belonging to an Air Force tactical support squadron that was being returned to Vietnam. Three C-5 missions transported large tanks from Japan to Da Nang. MAC claimed it as a combat airlift, but the closest enemy opposition was fifty miles away at Dong Ha. The tanks had to be driven there.  

At some point, MAC decided to transfer a number of experienced C-5 crewmembers from the 3rd to Dover, where the 9th MAS was equipping with C-5s. A number of 3rd loadmasters were transferred, mostly instructors. Just when the 9th actually started getting airplanes is unclear. The squadron was reactivated at Dover in April 1971, but I don’t believe it started getting airplanes for several months afterward. Rumors were starting to spread in the 3rd that we would be leaving Charleston and transferring to Dover to join the 9th. Congressman Rivers died of a heart attack a few months after I got to Charleston (he died on December 28, 1970) and many took his death as the handwriting on the wall. Rivers was the reason the C-5s were in Charleston in the first place, but once he was gone, complaints starting coming from local citizens about the noise and pollution made by the big airplanes.[10] The engines did smoke, as did all jet engines, although the problem was rectified and all of the engines were modified. There was a lot of speculation about where we would move, if we actually did. Orlando, Florida where the Air Force was closing a large SAC base, was the favored destination. The former Hunter AFB at Savannah, which had transferred to the Army, was another. NOBODY wanted to go to Dover!

After two years of operations, the C-5 was getting much better. Most of the problems had been rectified and incorporated into the newer airplanes on the assembly line. One of the first fixes was the replacement of the rails and rollers which caused loadmasters so much trouble. Lockheed had also redesigned the kneeling system and replaced the pneumatic motors with hydraulics, which most people thought they should have had from the beginning. Other systems had become more reliable, thanks in large measure to the gradual familiarity of the maintenance personnel and the supply of parts out in the MAC system. If an airplane did break, parts were more likely to be available somewhere closer and didn’t have to come from the States. However, we still were not flying that much. Since MAC was holding the flying time down, trips for individual crewmembers were infrequent, which was okay with me. I was still single and living in an apartment with a lot of other singles “West of the Ashley.” I was heavily involved in commercial flight training and had even bought an airplane of my own. I wasn’t hurting for money but many of the other loadmasters were. They had been used to extra combat pay and per diem and it had dried up since we weren’t getting many trips to the combat zone. The Air Force had cracked down on MAC for it’s liberal per diem policies and we were no longer getting off base quarters without justification. MAC crew quarters had been set up at Kadena so we were no longer staying off base in contract hotels and drawing half per diem for meals. Many had purchased pickup trucks and boats with credit union loans and the reduction in their checks caused problems. Some, quite a few actually, took part time jobs. It was common to go to the commissary and have your groceries bagged by a C-5 loadmaster, a staff sergeant or even a tech sergeant, at the rate of a quarter a bag. Some were working at the NCO club.

In the spring of 1973, the rumor of a move to Dover turned out to be true. I had just met a young WAF and we had decided to get married eventually. The move caused us to move up our wedding date – by almost a year. The 3rd was going to swap places with the remaining C-141 squadron at Dover, the 20th, and join the 9th at Dover which would become solely a C-5 base. The 3rd was heavy with Southerners (like myself) who liked hunting and fishing and warm weather. NOBODY was enthusiastic about moving north, even though Delaware is south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I wasn’t as put off by the move as I would have been if I were still single. The move actually took place over several months during which we did little flying. The 9th had become operational with C-5s and they got most of the missions. My bride and I were married at the end of June so she could put in for a “join spouse” assignment and move with me but our transfer didn’t take place until August. We were more enthusiastic about the move than most. My new wife had ties to the Dover area. As it turned out, most of the guys actually came to like Dover. The Dover move thinned the ranks of the squadron, especially the master sergeants. Many put in their paperwork to retire while others did so after they got to Dover. Sometime before the move, MAC had opened up the C-5 program to first-termers. Several came over from the C-141 squadrons and went with us to Dover.

The squadron had been at Dover for only a couple of months when we became part of a massive airlift of supplies to Israel, which had become embroiled in another war with its Arabic neighbors (the last, as it turned out.) The Israelis were taking heavy losses and running short of ammunition and other supplies. They appealed for help but only the United States was willing to support them. As it turned out, I was on the first C-5 to depart Dover bound for Tel Aviv. We were deadheading and were supposed to take the airplane on to Israel from Lajes AB, Azores while the other crew entered the stage. However, when we arrived at Lajes, we learned that the Portuguese government had yet to grant permission to use the base on missions to Israel so both crews were put into crew rest. My crew departed Lajes late the next afternoon – on a mission into a hazardous area without parachutes! Air Force regulations stipulated that any airplane venturing into a hostile area had to have parachutes, but MAC had got around the regulation in the past and had none for its crews. The Arab countries threatened to shoot down any transports that came to Israel’s aid. The Israelis said they’d protect us. We were intercepted by IAF F-4s who escorted us to Tel Aviv. I am not certain if we were the first C-5 to land at Lod or the second. We were told we would be number one in the stage, but the other crew may have been alerted before us. At any rate, we flew a Travis bird from Lajes to Lod, then flew back to Lajes. We were met by enthusiastic Israelis but no K-loaders to offload our load of ammunition. The Israelis finally supplied one of their cargo loaders from El Al Airlines and used it to offload.

The Israel Airlift, or NICKEL GRASS, proved the C-5A. After all of the growing pains of the previous three years, it had become a reliable airplane. The weight restrictions were lifted for the operation and we were carrying full loads of cargo, mostly ammunition although some carried tanks and other equipment. On one trip, I picked up a load of armor at nearby Fort Made that the Army wanted to test in combat. On a return mission, we carried a load of captured Russian equipment, a radar van and support equipment. We went to Dover from Lajes then flew it to Nellis AFB, Nevada the next day. The load was destined for the Air Force test range at Jackass Flats. The reliability rate for the C-5s was equal to if not greater than the C-141s that were also involved in the airlift and we were carrying three times as much cargo as they were. In the final analysis, C-5s brought in just under half of the total tonnage in a quarter of the missions while burning 25% less fuel. Prior to NICKEL GRASS, the C-5 was the butt of jokes throughout MAC and a favorite whipping boy of the press. Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin had been a constant critic as had columnist Jack Anderson. NICKEL GRASS shut them up. Perhaps the most glaring testimony to the C-5 is that the Soviet Union decided to build it’s own fleet of large transports.

[1] I am not 100% certain of his rank. I believe he had made chief since I had last seen him, but he may have still been a senior master sergeant. However, we had a senior master sergeant, Ray Yount, who was assistant loadmaster.

[2] The lavatories were equipped with specially-made seats that were manufactured to military specs. They were costly because they had to be able to withstand frequent changes in pressure.

[3] The coffee makers were high quality devices made in Germany and used on commercial airlines. They were nothing like the coffee makers available in department stores!

[4] I don’t recall what happened to the crew. When Jay and I left, they were supposed to stay with the airplane but I don’t know if they did or if they were brought home and sent back.

[5] She was a Jewish girl from New York City and I don’t remember her as being exceptionally bright. She had recently recovered from mononucleosis which may be why she had fallen behind.

[6] My own AFSC was that of a supervisor, a 7-level.

[7] In fact, Ted took a creative writing course there on base. Jay may have. I didn’t. I already knew how to bullshit.

[8] The 25 and 40K loaders the Air Force used could be raised hydraulically to levels compatible with airliners, which was the level of the C-5 cargo floor when the airplane wasn’t knelt.

[9] The FRED nickname didn’t come along until many years later.

[10] Charleston was famous for pollution from pulp mills!