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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.

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WITCH HUNT!

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……………………………………………………………

 

Fake News and Irresponsible Politicians

Well, they’ve done it again – the news media and irresponsible politicians, all Democrats, from Joe Biden on down, have taken an incident and remanufactured it to serve their own agenda. I’m referring to the murders of eight employees and patrons of three Atlanta area “Asian Massage Spas.” Even though law enforcement has made clear that there is no motive for the crime – the accused told law enforcement he is a sex addict and there was no racial motivation – members of the media and dozens of politicians have turned the murders into “hate crimes,” attacks on Asian women because of “white supremacy” even though there is no evidence to support such claims.

The facts are that 21-year old Robert Long went into three massage parlors and shot and killed eight people, six of whom were Asian immigrants; most were South Koreans although one was Chinese. Long was raised in a Baptist church but had developed an addiction to pornography and has been treated for sex addiction. His parents threw him out of their house the night before the shootings because he was continually watching pornography. Long told law enforcement that he went to the three massage parlors with the intention of killing the staff because they were engaged in sexual activities. He has said that he had patronized all three facilities and a former roommate at a therapeutic institution says that he told him that he frequented massage parlors because they were a “quick” way to get sexual relief. Although the Atlanta mayor claimed that the facilities were not under any kind of investigation, two have actually been under investigation for prostitution for several years. The third is outside the city.

As soon as the victims were identified, Asian and other activists and Asian politicians began claiming that the shootings were motivated by “white supremacy” and the women were targeted because they were Asian. They conveniently left out that two of the victims were actually white, a female and male customers. Members of the media began, without evidence, making the same claim. A number of “experts” appeared on cable news outlets and were interviewed by the media and claimed the shootings were racially motivated, again without evidence. They claimed they “fit a pattern” of “white supremacy.” Some members of the media and “experts” claimed that Long was lying when he claimed he attacked the three massage parlors because of his sexual addiction. Incidentally, when he was finally apprehended south of Atlanta, he apparently told law enforcement he was on his way to Florida to attack pornographers. The media reports and activist’s claims have caused panic among Asians, particularly women. (A week after the murders, a West Asian man in the Boulder, Colorado area went into a local supermarket and started shooting. He killed ten people, all white, before surrendering to a SWAT team.)

Now, there are occasional attacks on Asians, just as there are attacks on members of other races and cultures, but there is no evidence to link such attacks with “white supremacy.” In fact, the highest percentage of attacks on Asians have been by blacks, many of them women. “Attacks” include name-calling and even shunning, by the way. A few have involved violence. In fact, the number of actual attacks on Asians are actually very few. While the percentages of such attacks are rising, those percentages may be as few as two incidents. As for the Atlanta attacks, the only connection to Asians is that the parlors were owned and operated by Asians and most of their employees were Asian immigrants. Had Long wanted to kill Asians, why not attack Chinese and other Asian restaurants, or start shooting people on the street in Chinese districts? Like every other major city in America, Atlanta is home to large numbers of Asians.

Some media accounts attempted to link Long’s actions to the sermons he heard at his church. One article reported that the pastor had preached that women are to “obey their husbands,” which is exactly what Paul said in his letter to the church at Ephesus and Peter said in his first letter which he addressed to certain churches in Asia. Just what the admonition to wives to obey their husbands has to do with Long’s actions is unclear, since his targets were staff and customers of Atlanta area massage parlors where “happy endings” seem to have been common. The “happy ending” massage is common in massage parlors throughout Asia, either through masturbation, oral stimulation, or actual intercourse. Long seems to have blamed the women in the massage parlors for abetting his sexual addiction. Two of the three establishments are known to have been under investigation for prostitution in the past.

Having been raised in a Baptist church and been a member of various Baptist congregations and also attending a Baptist Bible college, I understand Long’s problem. Unfortunately, while God’s grace is the center point of Baptist theology, many Baptists, particularly preachers, fail to make the distinction between the soul, which is saved, and the flesh, which is not. The writers of the New Testament made clear that Jesus’ sacrificial death brought salvation to the souls of those who believe but not their body, which dies and decays and returns to dust. (The Bible promises that some will not die, but that their bodies will be “changed” and they will meet the Lord in the air at His return.) Christians have the same body they had prior to the conversion of their soul and that body has the same physical urges as any other body. This causes problems for young men and women as they reach puberty and find themselves with sexual desires. They become confused, sometimes coming to believe that they’re not saved because of such desires. This is a result of Puritan teaching. Puritans were the seventeenth century version of the first century Jewish Pharisees, who believed they earned favor with God by their own works. The apostle Paul acknowledged sexual desire when he proclaimed that it is “better to marry than to burn.” However, Long seems to have carried his confusion to a different level, to the point that rather than resisting Satan’s temptation, he came to the conclusion that he should eliminate the source of his sin by murdering sex workers and pornographers.

It does not surprise me that the media took off running with the “hate crime” against Asians narrative. Although members of the media portray themselves as purveyors of truth, they are anything but. Rather than reporting news, journalists and broadcasters actually seek to influence, and they do this by manipulating the public discourse. Speech is the manifestation of thought, and members of the media, who wear the mantra of the “free press,” are expressing their own thoughts, not reporting “truth.” Truth to them is whatever they perceive as truth, even if that “truth” is a product of their own imagination. Rather than being purveyors of “truth,” journalists are actually propagandists and what they write and speak is actually propaganda designed to promote a particular view. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the first “newspapers” in what became The United States of America were actually pamphlets put out by those who had access to a printing press in order to gather support for their cause, whether it was to support the King of England or rebel against him. After the Revolution, Federalists put out pamphlets seeking support for the Federal government established by the new Constitution while anti-Federalists put out pamphlets advocating that Federal government was a bad idea. The situation was at least partially rectified by amending the Constitution to express certain defined rights to the people and the individual states. In later years, newspapers bore the name of the political party they were aligned with. Some still do.

While growing up, I read the newspaper every day and continued to read newspapers as a young adult and adult. It was while serving in the US Air Force in Southeast Asia that I realized that much of what appeared in news accounts wasn’t true. I was flying missions over North Vietnam and Laos supporting strike aircraft while the New York Times and other news outlets were claiming that Americans were “bombing indiscriminately”. In fact, just the opposite was true. There were strict procedures that had to be followed before a target could be attacked. We would spot a convoy of trucks but before we could run fighters in to attack them, we had to get permission from the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos on missions over Laos and from higher headquarters on missions over North Vietnam. US aircraft NEVER bombed indiscriminately yet the media reported that we did. I learned then not to trust the media. Since that time I have been involved in several incidents that attracted media attention and have been interviewed by members of the media. NOT ONCE did a member of the media report what I had actually said. They had to put their own spin on it. NOT ONCE did I see an accurate account of an incident I had personal knowledge of.

In addition to a dishonest media, we have irresponsible (and dishonest) politicians. A good example is how President Barack Obama inserted himself in the George Zimmerman case. The media and black activists – and Obama – jumped to the conclusion that because Zimmerman had a German last name, he was white while Trayvon Martin was black. Actually, Zimmerman is of mixed race and at least ¼ black. His father is white, but his mother is from Peru and is of mixed Amerindian and African blood. But the incident that led to Martin’s death was portrayed in the media as a racial incident. Now we have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris doing the same thing with the Atlanta shootings. (They haven’t said anything about the Colorado shootings, which involved a West Asian man (Syria is in West Asia) shooting and killing whites.) They claimed the Atlanta shootings were somehow related to “white supremacy.” They joined a horde of Democratic Congressmen and women, including nearly every Asian member, who blamed the murders on hatred of Asians – and somehow related to Donald Trump because he referred to COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, as the “Wuhan Virus” or the “China Virus.” In fact, the virus did come from China and was brought to the United States – as well at to Italy and other countries – by Chinese travelers. Incidentally, the deadly flu epidemic of 1957 was called the “Asian Flu” because it originated in Asia (China) just as the 1918 flu was called the “Spanish Flu” because it was first reported in Spain (although the first cases were actually in the United States.) Then there was the Hongkong Flu in 1968 that originated in Hongkong, or possibly Mainland China.

The Atlanta murders occurred late on March 16. On March 22, a Syrian immigrant named Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa went on a shooting rampage in a supermarket in Alveda, Colorado and killed ten people, all whites, with a semiautomatic rifle he had purchased six days before. Alissa, who is Muslim, had expressed outrage over “Islamophobia”. Syria is on the Asian continent, yet the media has yet to connect Alissa’s actions to his Asian origin. Were his actions prompted by the “anti-Asian” hysteria? We’ll never know. Already the media is portraying him as a deranged individual while portraying Long as a “white supremacist” whose actions were motivated by hatred of Asians.

My Buddy Tom

Tom Stalvey died last week. I can’t say I was surprised at the news. Tom had a lot of health problems and I never expected him to live as long as he did. Still, it was a shock. Tom and I go way back, all the way to February 1969 when I arrived at Clark Air Base, Philippines, along with my buddy Roy “Stony” Burk. Stony and I had been squadron mates in C-141s at Robins AFB, Georgia and had received orders to Clark together. After a waiver of C-130 training at Sewart AFB, Tennessee because of previous C-130 experience, we drove across the country together to Tacoma, Washington then after survival school, flew on the same airplane to Clark. When we got there, we learned we had been assigned to the 29th Tactical Airlift Squadron, otherwise known as F Troop because the squadron had been plagued with screwups during it’s first months in the Pacific. Our acting first sergeant, an engineer named Yogodzinski that I had served with at Pope AFB, North Carolina, gave us our billeting assignments. The four C-130 squadrons in the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing billeted enlisted aircrew in a trailer park that had been set up on part of the old parade ground due to congestion on the base. Yogi put Stony in his trailer and put me in the one next door. We called a base taxi and went to the trailers. I took my bags and walked into my new trailer. One of my new trailer mates, Tom Stalvey, was sitting on the sofa watching TV. His maid, a Filipina named Lee, was ironing clothes. Some other maids were watching TV.

Tom told me to put my stuff in the back room. There were two bunks in the room, and one was his. Dave Blanchard, the other roommate, wasn’t there. He was either downtown with his Filipina girlfriend or in country. I went in back and changed out of my blue Class A uniform into something more appropriate for the hot, humid conditions so common on Luzon, probably shorts and a T shirt. A few minutes later, Stony came over from his trailer after changing out of his blues. We sat down to get acquainted over cold San Miguel beer. Tom told us that he was from North Carolina and had been at Sewart before he got orders to Clark, where he’d arrived a little over a year before. At first, Tom acted like he was going to lord it over us because we had come from C-141s, but his attitude changed when we told him we both had C-130 experience. It softened even more when I told him I’d been in TAC at Pope and had been at Naha, Okinawa and had only been back in the States for a little over a year and a half. He proceeded to bring me up to date and what had been going on in the war while I was gone. I knew things had heated up – they were heating up when I left Naha – and I had seen reports in Air Force Times of C-130 losses, particularly at some place called Kham Duc. I would soon learn that the name was practically spoken in whispers. Tom had been right in the middle of it.

I’m not sure if he told me then or after we became reacquainted in later years, but Tom had arrived at Clark in early 1968 and had gone in country for the first time on the first day of the Tet Offensive. Bullets were still whizzing around Rebel Ramp at Tan Son Nhut when they landed, and the crew had to take shelter in the latrine behind C-130 Ops. Some of his first missions were into Khe Sanh, which had just fallen under siege. He went back in country for several weeks on duty loadmaster, which involved flying as second loadmaster on airdrops. He made at least 25 drops into Khe Sanh after C-130 landings were suspended because it got too hot. He was very fond of our new squadron commander, Col. Bill Coleman, who had just been promoted to full colonel and would be moving to wing soon. Tom had been flying with Coleman on the first day of airdrops into A Loi Airfield in the A Shau Valley in Operation DELAWARE when their airplane took over a hundred hits and suffered major battle damage. Col. Coleman was awarded the Silver Star for the mission. Tom later got a DFC and thought it was for that mission, but his citation read that it was actually an “end of tour” award which mentioned hazardous airdrops but wasn’t specific. He should have received one for that mission. A few weeks later he was sent out with Major Billie Mills, who was also from the 29th, to Kham Duc, which was in the process of evacuation under fire. Mills’ crew was one of the last to land on that terrible day that saw the loss of two C-130s and one of their crews. (Fortunately, the other crew crash-landed on the airfield and were rescued by ground personnel. The 834th Air Division commander, General Burl MacLaughlin, put Mills in for the Silver Star; Tom got nothing. There was also an incident when Tom went off the deep end and emptied his .38 into the ceiling of his hooch while he was on duty loadmaster. The detachment commander sent him back to Clark. Colonel Coleman saved his butt on that one and gave him another chance, which is why Tom was so fond of him.  

Tom took Stony and me to town that night. We went to an Americanized restaurant for dinner then went out on the town. The first place he took us was a rock joint on MacArthur Boulevard. He said before we went there we probably wouldn’t like it. Although I was less than a year older than Tom and Stony was a year older than me, the crowd was not our kind of crowd. It was made up mostly of lower-ranking airmen; Stony and I were both staff sergeants and Tom was a sergeant. We went to a country place called The Little Nashville or something like that but didn’t stay long. We ended up on Fields Avenue, a rundown part of town just across from the main gate. Tom had said that was where 463rd people hung out. We went to a bar called The Blue Eagle. It was owned by a flight engineer from the 773rd, which had a Blue Eagle as the squadron mascot, hence the name. The head honcho of the girls was Josie, who moonlighted from her fulltime job as a maid in the trailer courts. In fact, she was the maid in the trailer next door to ours, but she spent so much time in our trailer watching TV that in later years Tom actually thought she was his maid! If she was, it was before I got there because my maid the entire time I was there was Lee, who was from Bohol and had been a maid at Mactan. Many of the Mactan maids had moved to Clark after the 463rd shut down it’s Mactan operation and moved to Clark. A couple of months later, a new loadmaster backed Josie in the bar she set up in a house a couple of blocks off Fields. It became a new hangout for squadron personnel.

I don’t recall a lot of details over the next few months while Tom and I were trailermates. Once Stony and I requalified in the C-130 – we had arrived unqualified because MAC had managed to obtain a waiver for our RTU attendance – we were off on our own rotations to Tan Son Nhut, then Cam Ranh Bay after the 463rd swapped places with the 374th from Naha. When we were in country, we just saw each other in passing. When we were at Clark we tended to hang out together. Tom wasn’t eligible for NCO club membership and I wasn’t fond of the airmen’s club, but we liked the American Legion, which was only a couple of hundred yards or so from our trailer. Membership required proof of service on a military expedition which we had because of our Vietnam Service Medals and, at least in my case, Air Medals. The Legion had good food and the band was country, which made it popular with eligible NCOs and airmen as well as military retirees, of which there were was a large population on the island. I had my private pilot license and had joined the base aero club. Tom probably went flying with me a time or two. Stony had shipped his car to Manila so we got around in it until he decided to move off base with a couple of other NCOs. I remember one time in particular when we were at a place near the base that had a restaurant on one end and a bar on the other when Tom got involved with an especially attractive – and arrogant – Filipina.

Tom left Clark to go home for discharge in July, some five months after I got there. His DEROS (date of return overseas) coincided with his discharge date. All I really remember about his departure is that he owed me $100.00. He said he’d pay me back and he sent me a check a few months later – and it bounced, not once but twice. I let it go. He once showed me a letter he received from his former employer, a newspaper in his hometown where he’d been a typesetter, advising him not to reapply for his old job. Tom took it to mean it was because he was a Vietnam veteran. He was working for a newspaper in Lynchburg, Virginia (a town that would later play a big role in my own life) when he sent me the check. After that I lost touch with Tom. I still had a year to go at Clark when he left and I went back to the States to Charleston, South Carolina then to Dover, Delaware where I got out after 12 years in service. I got married, had a family, got divorced, stayed single for almost a decade then got married again. I never expected to hear from Tom again, although I had wondered about him when I had trips to airports in the vicinity of where he was from. (I had used my GI bill to obtain my commercial pilot license and became a professional pilot after I left the Air Force.)

One day I was sitting in my recliner, probably with my laptop in my lap, when my telephone rang. I answered and a voice said, “Is this the Sam McGowan who was at Clark?” I said it was and the voice said, “This is your all-time best buddy.”

I replied, “Brock, is that you?” I thought it was Brock Chapman, who got to Clark shortly after I did and lived in the trailer next to mine. We became very close, closer than Tom and I were, or even Stony and I.

“No, it’s Tom, Tom Stalvey.” I had to explain to him who Brock was, although he had been our next-door neighbor. Tom had come across a web page I had put up about the M-121 and Blu 82 bombs. He claimed he had dropped one at Khe Sanh, but if he did, it was the following year, not during the siege of the infamous combat base. He was living in Marietta, Georgia and was vice president in charge of property management for a large bank. He said he did a lot of traveling and it turned out that one of the properties he managed was in Milan, Tennessee near my childhood home. We spent an hour or so catching up. It turned out that Tom had gone back to Tennessee for a few years, and worked in the parts department at a motorcycle dealer. There was something about a girl he’d met when he was at Sewart. It seems like he married her, but it didn’t work out. He left Tennessee for some reason and got into property management, starting out as an apartment manager. He’d married a girl he met who was also in apartment management and they’d had two children, but the marriage fell apart.

I told him I’d look him up if I got to Atlanta. Eventually, I did but he was in Alabama at the time checking on properties. He was going home the next day and was going to come by my hotel. He was close to Atlanta when my passengers called and said they wanted to go home that night instead of the following day. I called Tom and told him we were leaving. I had another trip to the Atlanta area, this time to the Atlanta Peachtree Airport, and we finally got together. He picked me up at the hotel and took me to dinner then we went to his house for a while. A year or so later he flew to Houston and spent the night at our house, then went with my wife and I and several other members of the Troop Carrier/Tactical Airlift Association, which I had started in 2005, on a cruise to Mexico prior to our 2010 convention/reunion in Galveston. Tom offered to put together the 2012 reunion in Warner Robins, Georgia, and with the help of Roger Gruel, another member who lives in Georgia, did a fantastic job. Stony Burk came up from Florida and the three of us had a great time. That was the last time I saw him, but we remained in contact by phone. We’d talk every month or so.

Tom had told me when we first got back in contact that he had health problems. For one thing, he’d been diagnosed with PTSD years earlier, which isn’t surprising considering what he went through. Not many people are shot up on C-130s and live to tell about it. He had also developed Type II diabetes – as have I and many other Vietnam veterans – presumably due to herbicide exposure at the forward airfields we frequented, and had been diagnosed with ischemic heart failure, which is secondary to diabetes. Now, unlike me, Tom was NOT overweight! He was very athletic and ran several miles as often as he could. If I remember correctly, he had already had heart surgery of some kind. He experienced some heart issues right after the Warner Robins reunion and there was some question as to whether he’d make it. To be honest, after all he told me when he was at our house in 2010 I wasn’t expecting him to make it many more years. As it was, he made it another decade. He died last week, apparently his heart just finally gave out. I’m really going to miss him.

Tom’s Obituary

Note – Tom’s son and daughter are faced with the expense of his funeral. Someone set up a Go Fund Me page to help them out. Go here if you’d like to contribute.

The Truth About Slavery

Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, a black New Yorker who managed to get herself elected to Congress-for-life in a black and Hispanic district in Houston, recently introduced a bill to establish a study group to “study” slavery with the intent of paying all black Americans “reparations.” Among the bill’s aims, one is that members of the study group must have expertise in “African American Studies.” Now, African American Studies is a field colleges and universities began establishing in the 1960s and 1970s after civil rights activists at Berkeley insisted the school should set one up. Their efforts coincided with a movement to establish “black pride” among young blacks. Schools saw an opportunity to attract black students who had access to government funds through VA educational benefits, recently established Pell Grants, and student loans.[1] The courses were sold to young blacks as a means of establishing “black pride.” However, very little taught in the courses is actually truthful – most of it is appropriation, exaggeration and outright lies.[2] For example, students were led to believe that blacks had been robbed of credit for the invention of the cotton gin, electric light bulbs, and steam engines, among other things. A major objective of the courses was to “study” slavery. One objective that became public recently is the belief that slavery at Jamestown is the “real founding” of America, a belief revealed by the New York Times “1619 Project,” a project headed by one Nikole Hannah-Jones, a mixed-race woman whose educational background is in African American Studies.

I grew up in rural West Tennessee, a region torn by the War Between the States, which ended eighty years before I was born. There were people still living in the area who were alive during the war. There were several families of negroes around, descendants of the slaves who had worked the cotton fields on various plantations and large farms in the area. Most, if not all, were descendants of slaves who belonged to the McNail and Strayhorn families and still lived on McNail land and worked their fields. Most had the same last names as the more established families in the area. While my family roots in the area extend to the 1820s, I didn’t know – and didn’t care – whether my ancestors had owned slaves. As it turned out, some did, as did the ancestors of many, perhaps most, Americans whose ancestry dates back to Colonial America – some of my ancestry dates back to Jamestown and Tidewater Virginia, and some ten thousand years before that. Slavery was common throughout the thirteen colonies until they were replaced by states and some legislatures, all in the Northeast starting with Pennsylvania, voted to abolish slavery. Even the sanctimonious Puritans and Plymouth Colony Separatists owned slaves. Slavery was also common among native tribes in North America, and Spaniards captured Amerindians and put them to work in mines looking for gold and precious minerals and in sugarcane fields in the Caribbean.[3] Whites later captured Amerindians in the Carolinas and Georgia and sold them as slaves in the Caribbean.   

This article in the Encyclopedia Britannica gives a thorough history of slavery in the world, including the Americas. Briefly, slavery is not unique to the American South. Furthermore, African slaves had been in North America for more than a hundred years before the privateers White Lion and Treasurer landed at Point Comfort in Virginia in 1619 with Angolans the ships had taken from a Portuguese slave ship that was on its way to Mexico. In fact, the first African slaves brought to the Americas from Africa were brought by Portuguese slave ships which brought them from Angola, which was a Portuguese colony – and remained a Portuguese colony until 1975. Portugal colonized Brazil while Spain colonized Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean as well as Florida, which stretched to the Mississippi River. Although Spanish ships weren’t active in the slave trade, there were slaves of African descent in Spain who came to America and Spanish colonists bought slaves from Portuguese slave traders. Spaniards established the community of Saint Augustine in Florida in 1565 – almost half a century before English settlers landed in Virginia – and had African slaves. Spain colonized Mexico and not only brought African slaves to work as heavy laborers, they made slaves out of the natives and put them to work in mines. Portugal colonized Brazil and imported slaves from Angola; they also sold slaves to the Spanish in Mexico and the Caribbean. Making slaves of natives was a common practice of Portuguese and Spanish colonizers. When Spanish law forbade enslavement of natives, the Spanish colonies began bringing African slaves from Spain to the New World. (Slavery had existed in Spain since the days of the Roman Empire and many slaves were of African origin.) The Spanish colonies then turned to slaves brought directly from Africa.

The image seems to exist today of English, Dutch, Portuguese and other European ships arriving off the African coast then disembarking teams of men to go looking for Africans to capture and bring back to the ships. Such, however, was not the case. In reality, ships might remain at anchor offshore from African cities for up to a year while waiting for enough slaves to be brought from the interior to fill their hold. The slaves were not captured by the ships’ crews; they were captured by African tribesmen, often in some kind of conflict. Slavery had been practiced in Africa for thousands of years as warring tribes took captives from their enemies and made slaves out of them. However, while the women and children were carried into captivity, the men were usually killed because they were of no use to the triumphant tribe. (American Indian tribes also took captives and made slaves out of them, including white women and children.) The need for slaves in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies created a market for the men and older boys who would otherwise have been killed – and spared their lives. Myths have sprung up among the black population that their African ancestors were princes and princesses, kings and queens, but the reality is that most were primitive tribesmen who lived in mud huts and barely survived, just as many Africans exist today. There is one account of a Muslim nobleman who was captured in a tribal war in Guinea and was sold into slavery then ended up in Natchez, Mississippi when it still belonged to Spain. Although he was held as a slave, he managed to attract the attention of President John Quincy Adams who had him freed and sent to Liberia along with his wife, although their children remained as slaves in Mississippi. Some of their descendants refer to themselves as princes and princesses.

When English settlers first arrived in what is now the United States, the parties included large numbers of indentures, men, mostly very young men, and boys, who had sold their labor for a period of time to pay for their passage from English ports to Virginia and, later, Massachusetts. (The Mayflower’s passengers included indentures, some of whom were young children.) Some were skilled laborers, but most were not. They were attracted to the venture by the promise of land of their own once they worked off their indenture, although few of them survived to claim their due. England was plagued with large populations of young men and women who were living in poverty. Some were orphans. Some were convicts. America and Australia were seen as places to rid England of them. The colony established “head rights,” which gave land to those who purchased their own way to Virginia or who brought over other colonists and paid their way. It wasn’t until 1620 that young women and girls were sent to Virginia as indentures.[4] The first contingent of indentured women were a group of 100 who were recruited by the Virginia Company, which held the charter to colonize Virginia[5], to go to America to marry men who were being sent over as tenants of the company and establish families. After that first group of women, the ratio was six to one men to women, although it dropped to four to one and eventually to three to one after the colony became more stable. It has been estimated that over half of the Europeans who settled in the thirteen colonies came over as indentures. Although the demand for indentures lessened after the introduction of chattel slavery, indentured servitude continued into the nineteenth century.

After initially clearing land and establishing settlements, indentured servants in Virginia were primarily engaged in the production of tobacco after John Rolfe introduced Spanish tobacco to the region in 1612. The native tobacco smoked by the Indians wasn’t popular in England, but the Spanish tobacco was, and it soon made the Jamestown Colony productive. Growing tobacco was labor intensive, from planting the seeds then transplanting the seedlings to cutting and curing the leaves and binding them in preparation for shipment to England. Although horses, mules[6] and oxen were used to pull plows, there was much that had to be done manually. Pests had to be picked off the leaves by hand to keep them from destroying the plants. When they weren’t working in the tobacco fields, the indentures were busy clearing land and working in food plots.

Indentured servitude was the primary source of labor in the British colonies, even after Africans arrived. In fact, the first Africans were indentures, not bond slaves. The Africans who landed at Point Comfort had been slaves, but they were traded to the Jamestown Colony as indentures, the same as the young white men who were coming over from England.[7] Exactly what happened to those first Africans is unclear due to the turmoil of the times – the Powhattan attacked the James River settlements in 1822 and wiped out a third of the English settlers – including some of the Africans. They also took 19-20 English women as captives. The women who were not ransomed died in captivity. It is believed that some of the Angolans survived and went on to become landowners after their indenture ended. One who did was Anthony Johnson, who became the first slave owner in Virginia. African landowners owned indentures, including whites. The first slave in America was actually owned by Johnson, a former African indenture who had become a landowner and owned several indentures, white as well as African. It wasn’t until a half century after 1619 that slavery was established by law in Virginia. As a matter of fact, Puritan Massachusetts – where abolitionism would develop two centuries later – established slavery twenty years before Virginia. Other colonies followed their lead, although Georgia prohibited slavery shortly after the colony was established in 1732 and it was illegal to own slaves there for two decades.

The first chattel slave in Virginia was John Casor, whose indenture had been purchased by Angolan Anthony Johnson, who had served his indenture and had become a wealthy landowner. Whether Johnson was one of the Angolans from the White Lion or if he came later is uncertain, but he was definitely in the colony by 1622 because he survived the Powahatan massacre. He had served his indenture and established a plantation in Northampton on the north side of Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore. Casor sued for his freedom, claiming that the Johnsons – Anthony had married an Angolan woman named Mary – had already held him seven years past his indenture. Johnson countered that in Africa, slaves were slave for life and the court agreed and sent the unfortunate Casor back to his black master. Casor was the first slave declared to be a slave because of his status, but other indentures had been sentenced to lifetime servitude as punishment for infractions such as running away. Historians claim that the first African sentenced to life as a slave was John Punch, who was sentenced to a life of servitude for running away from his indenture. Little is known about Punch; the only record of him is the court record of his sentencing, but genealogists claim he married a white woman in 1630 and is the ancestor of the Bunch family, including Barrack Obama through his white mother.[8] However, some members of the Bunch family challenge this view.[9] They believe that Punch was actually of mixed race and was Pamunkey rather than African and his mother was white. It is certainly possible that his mother was one of the women captured in 1622. All that is known about Punch is that he had fled his master, who was prominent in the colony and a member of the House of Burgess, and made his way to Maryland where he was captured. There is no record of him before or after the trial.

There is a problem with identity when it comes to supposed Africans in Colonial North America because the word negro merely meant a person with dark skin, not necessarily an African. There were reportedly some 300 negroes in Virginia by 1661 when the General Assembly passed a law that any free man could own slaves. Whether all of the 300 were African is open to question since “negro” also referred to Amerindians. Some were indentures and some were no doubt free of indenture and property owners. There were also mixed-race people called mulattos in Virginia. Some were the product of relationships between white men, who initially had no white women as potential partners, and Pamunkey women, but there were some who were children of white women who had become impregnated by black men. Initially, indentures were boys and men who were brought over from England to work in the fields. It wasn’t until 1619 that single white women were brought to the colony with the intent of their becoming wives of the colonists. The initial group weren’t indentures in the technical sense; their passage was paid by colonists who had the means to pay for their passage and wanted wives. As it turned out, few of the initial group became part of families. Many returned to England, some got sick and died and 19-20 became Pamunkey captives, although some of the captives were part of a contingent of 100 young women who were sent over to become wives of tenants who had been assigned by the Virginia Company to be tenants on company land.

Some masters treated their indentures harshly, in New England as well as Virginia. Whippings were common and such whippings were often violent. Male and female indentures were sometimes whipped so brutally that they didn’t survive. There is an account of one young woman who was given over 500 lashes on the orders of her mistress because she had run away. Naturally, her injuries were so serious that she died. Indenture contracts called for masters to provide their indentures with food and shelter, but they were often very perfunctory. Indentures were to obey their masters and could have additional years added to their indenture for infractions such as running away, or in the case of young women, becoming pregnant. Pregnancy was forbidden by the contracts and later by law adopted in 1696. Children of indentures were to be placed under the care of the church and the master was obligated to pay for their care while the mother had additional years added to her contract. Fathers could also have additional years added to their contract to compensate for the care of the child. Freemen involved in such pregnancies could be fined.

The 1696 law also addressed the issue of children of which one or both parents were slaves. The status of the child was the same as the status of the mother. If the mother was a slave, so was the child but if the mother was free, the child was also free. If a free African impregnated a slave woman, the child would be a slave but if an African slave impregnated a free African woman, their child would be free. There were a significant number of mulatto children born to white women in Tidewater Virginia. The children came as a result of relations between white indentured servant girls and male black slaves. Some may have been from white servant girls who were impregnated by their black masters. Indentures were considered to be free since they would be upon completion of their indenture. Since the mothers were free, the children were also free, but they weren’t readily accepted by their neighbors and they moved west into the frontier, initially to Carolina then to the mountains of East Tennessee. Some scholars claim they are the ancestors of a group of people found in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky and East Tennessee known as Melungeons.[10] Researcher Paul Heinegg did extensive research on black families in Virginia prior to 1820. He discovered that 200 black families were descendants of white women, forty-six of freed slaves, twenty-nine of Indians and only sixteen of free black women impregnated by white men.[11]

By 1700, black slaves were prevalent in the tobacco-growing colonies of Virginia and Carolina. Almost all of the servants and field workers of the gentry were black while 25-40% of the commoners’ workforce were. However, the black slaves were not brought to North America from Africa is as commonly believed. More than 12 million African tribesmen were captured by other Africans and sold into slavery, but all but some 390,000 went to South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. An estimated ten percent failed to make it to the Americas; they died during the crossing along the “Middle Passage,” as did large numbers of the crews of the slave ships. Most of the slaves sold in the British colonies came from the Caribbean and South America, where they had become surplus. Few were actually from Africa; they had been born in the Americas and were several generations removed from their African ancestors. They were African only in ancestry.

While African slaves, or slaves with African ancestry, were most prevalent in the tobacco-producing Chesapeake Colonies, they were found in all of the colonies. New England Puritans imported African slaves to supplement the indentured servants who had been brought over from England. New England slaves had a less rigorous life than their counterparts in Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina, where slaves were used largely as field hands. Agriculture in New England was limited due to the rocky soil and few farmers owned slaves. Instead, slaves were owned by prominent people who used them as house servants. Some slaves were trained to perform skilled labor. (Some Southern slaves were also craftsmen.) Many had been purchased at Northern slave markets as children. The ships that brought slaves up from the Caribbean and South America belonged to New England shipping companies. Yet though slavery was widespread in the North, attitudes began to change after slavery was abolished in Great Britain and by the time of the Revolution, many Northerners favored abolition.

The abolitionist movement started primarily among New England Calvinists, the descendants of the Puritans who came over from England in the mid-seventeenth century with the intention of establishing a theocracy. After it became apparent their experiment in theocracy was a failure, they turned their attention to meddling in the affairs of others. They were very self-righteous people who were notorious for forcing their views on others. Some were Congregationalists while some, like Harriet Beecher Stowe, were Presbyterians.  They convinced themselves that seeking the abolition of slavery was a righteous endeavor even though there is nothing in the scriptures they claim as the basis of their faith against it. New England preachers spoke against slavery from their pulpits. Abolition soon became a political issue and was responsible for the formation of the Republican Party. Abolition divided the nation as it caused tension between the Northern states that had abolished slavery and the slave states in the South.

While tobacco was responsible for slavery in Virginia and Carolina, it was cotton that caused it to become widespread throughout the South. Cotton, which is found throughout the world and has been grown to produce thread for cloth since antiquity, was introduced at Jamestown shortly after the colony was established and was found to grow well. Virginia farmers grew the plants that produce the fluffy white bolls but only for their own use. Some cotton found its way to New England, where the climate prohibited it’s growth; the fibers were bought and spun into thread then woven into cloth. Unlike tobacco, which could be bundled and shipped to England, cotton fibers had to be taken apart lock by lock to remove the seeds. Although there were primitive cotton gins in existence, particularly a gin that had been invented in India, they weren’t able to process large amounts of cotton. A couple using an Indian gin could only produce 25 pounds of processed cotton in a day. That changed when New Englander Eli Whitney, who took a job in Georgia as a tutor, came up with a design for a gin that allowed the processing of amounts ranging from small amounts using hand-turned gins to wagon loads using horse powered, then steam-powered engines. Whitney’s design changed history.

Once ginning of cotton became practical, cotton became a major commodity on Southern farms. Cotton production was impossible in the frozen North due to the required growing season, but New England industrialists were building textile mills and were clamoring for it as were mills in England. Cherokee in Georgia and Alabama began growing cotton, and bought slaves to work their fields. Many became very wealthy, which aroused jealousy among whites who wanted their land. Prominent New Englanders purchased land in the South and established cotton plantations, particularly in the Natchez, Mississippi area, which had recently become part of the United States through the acquisition of Florida from Spain.[12] The rich Mississippi Delta proved ideal for growing cotton, and became the destination for speculators from back east who sought their fortune there. The 1820 Jackson Purchase opened up West Tennessee and western Kentucky west of the Tennessee River and north Mississippi to settlement by settlers who sought to grow cotton in the rich bottomlands.  The Treaty of Dancing Creek opened up central Mississippi ten years later. The Spanish cessation also brought much of Alabama into the United States while the Louisiana Purchase brought Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. Cotton was a major crop in Texas, which gained independence from Mexico in 1836 and became part of the United States a decade later. Southern cotton farmers sold their crops to cotton exchanges, who then sold it either to northern mills or mills in Great Britain.

The rapid growth of the cotton industry increased the demand for slaves at the same time that the recently established northern states were abolishing slavery. Many Northern slaves were taken south and sold rather than being set free. Importation of slaves from Africa was forbidden by Federal law after 1806, although some slaves were brought in by way of the Caribbean. An estimated 350,000-450,000 slaves were imported to the British colonies and the United States, but by the Civil War there were more than 4 million slaves in the eleven states that seceded – and thousands of others in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri where slavery had yet to be abolished even though they remained in the Union. West Virginia had a large population of slaves as well, some 48% of the labor force. While much of the growth in the white population of the United States was due to immigration from Europe, the growth of the slave population was due to reproduction. Slave girls and women had large families, often by multiple fathers, a trait that has continued among blacks. Some slave children were of mixed race. It has become common for apologists to claim that mixed-race children came from slave women who were “raped” by white men – uh, huh! Some mixed race children had white mothers, who were probably NOT raped, and black fathers.

There were white slaves. Some claim that Irish and other Europeans were sold as slaves in the Americas, but this is only technically true. Such people were indentures but since so many died due to the harsh conditions they faced in the hot and humid Caribbean they were “slaves for life.” Due to the law of Virginia and adopted by other colonies and states, a child whose mother was a slave was also a slave. Slavery was NOT a matter of race, but rather of status. For example, children born to free black women were not slaves, but children born to black female slaves were also slaves, even if the father was free. On the other hand, if the father was a slave and the mother was free, the child was free. The law in Virginia and other states prior to the Civil War was that a person who had blood other than white – black or Amerindian – to the third generation was mixed race but after that the person was white. The so-called “one drop rule” came along in the early Twentieth Century. Thousands of mixed race children were born to slaves and in many cases the children of mixed race slave mothers bore children fathered by white men. In 1864 Northern papers circulated photographs of recently emancipated children in New Orleans who were obviously white. Although the children were legally white, they had been born into slavery and were thus slaves. Samuel Clemens addressed the issue in his novel Puddin’ Head Wilson in which a slave women who was one/sixteenth black switched her child, who was one/thirty seconds black with a white baby who was in her care. She was later sold “downriver”.

A classic example of a woman who is referred to as “black” who was actually white was Sally Hemings, who is alleged to have had six children by her master, President Thomas Jefferson. Although she was a slave, Hemings was Jefferson’s wife Martha’s much younger half-sister. Her father was John Wales, a Virginia lawyer and tobacco broker who had also traded slaves. After his third wife died, Wales took Betty Hemings, a mixed-race slave whose mother had been presented to Wales and his first wife, Martha Epps, as a wedding present, as his mistress. Her descendants claim she was the daughter of an English sea captain and a black woman, although this is oral history and not documented. In reality, no one knows exactly who she was. Betty and her children became Martha Jefferson’s property when Wales died. Sometime after Martha died, Jefferson is alleged to have taken Sally Hemings, Betty’s youngest child, as his mistress and fathered several children with her.[13] There are no surviving portraits of Sally Hemings, if any were ever painted, so no one knows what she looked like except by oral tradition, which states she was “light-skinned and good-looking”. Portraits painted in her memory show her with Negroid features and a swarthy complexion but since she was at least three quarters white, this is barely probable. For all practical purposes, and perhaps legally, she was a white woman, though legally a slave. Her black ancestry went back to the third generation, but she wasn’t a black woman.    

 Blacks like to claim that slaves did everything manually, from tilling the ground to harvesting the crops. In truth, heavy labor such as pulling plows was done with draft animals, as had been common in Europe for centuries. While tilling may have been done by hand in the early days of the Jamestown Colony, those doing the tilling were white indentures. Plows pulled by oxen were in use by the time of the Roman Empire, and although the plow might be made of wood, they had steel tips. John Deere came up with the all-metal plow, but it was an improvement on plow design, not the invention of the plow itself. Farmers used horse-drawn drags made of heavy timbers, often with steel spikes driven through them, to break up the clods and smooth the ground to make the fields ready for planting. Granted, there was a lot of manual labor involved in planting, going through the fields with hoes to remove grass and weeds and harvesting in the fall. Tobacco had to be cut and cotton had to picked from the bolls. Original cotton gins were turned by hand, but they were soon replaced by commercial gins that used horses or mules – and later steam engines – to power the machinery. However, growing tobacco and cotton is seasonal work. Depending on where in the South a farm is located, raising a cotton crop takes place from about March with the preparation of the ground to October when the cotton is picked. Far from being back-breaking work, picking cotton can be categorized more as tedious.[14] Tobacco season starts in the winter when seeds are planted in a protected area, but tobacco is harvested at about the same time as cotton.

Another common image is of slaves picking cotton while an overseer stands over them with a bullwhip to keep them in line. While this may have been true on some large plantations, many cotton farms were small by comparison and the owners and their families worked in the fields with the slaves. Yes, slaves were sometimes whipped, but whipping was a common form of punishment throughout the world into the Twentieth Century. Thievery and other crimes were common among slaves, so much so that mounted “patrols” went around the slave dwellings each night to keep order.[15] Stealing was punishable by whipping. Whipping was punishment, and there is no doubt that some slaveowners went too far, just as the masters of white indentured servants sometimes did, but in many, if not most, cases such punishment was justified. An image of a slave with scars on his back from whipping made the rounds of Northern papers during the Civil War but none of the papers reported what the man had done to get whipped. Sailors were whipped and soldiers were whipped for infractions. The common image of whipped slaves comes from abolitionists, particularly Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose only experience south of the Ohio River was a visit to Washington, Kentucky to avoid a cholera epidemic in Cincinnati and whose accounts of slave life came from runaways.[16] The Beecher’s were a famous Puritan family with a reputation for advocacy. Her father was a controversial Presbyterian minister who left New England for Cincinnati to run a Calvinist college and Harriet joined him there. During her four years in Cincinnati, she witnessed debates on slavery at her father’s school.[17] However, Stowe didn’t begin work on her famous work until fourteen years after she left Cincinnati and returned to New England.

   Another myth is that slaves were fed table-scraps, like dogs. Actually, slaves grew their own food as well as food for their master’s table. It wasn’t in the master’s best interest to starve his or her slaves because malnourished slaves were of no worth. Incidentally, the large plantation with a large slave population was only common in parts of the South. Many slaves were owned by small farmers or individuals and as often as not lived in the same quarters and ate the same food as their owners. My relative filled out a Civil War pensioners’ questionnaire in which he was asked about slaves in his family’s household. He said his family owned thirteen slaves of which one was a young girl who was taught to sew and who lived in the house with the family. He also said that he, his father, and brothers worked in the fields alongside their slaves.

There were slave revolts, or attempts at revolts, especially after slaves in Haiti revolted against their French masters and killed many. The most famous is that of Nat Turner, a slave in Southampton, Virginia, who led a revolt in 1831 that took the lives of some 55-65 people, most of whom were white. Turner had been taught to read and write as a boy and claimed to be a preacher. He was also delusional. Turner claimed to be seeing visions and after he became an adult, he convinced himself that God had chosen him to lead American slaves out of bondage. But rather than convincing Pharaoh to let his people go, Turner, a supposedly Godly man, convinced other slaves to rise up and kill every white person they came across. Turner himself bludgeoned a young white woman to death with a piece of wood. His rebellion was quickly put down. For one thing, most of the slaves were opposed to it and refused to join him. Whites quickly organized to combat the insurrectionists and they were quickly subdued and were subsequently shot or hanged. Unfortunately some 200 other blacks who had not been involved also died. The result of the rebellion was that state legislatures passed laws restricting slaves to prevent future uprisings.

Denmark Vesey, a freedman in Charleston, South Carolina, plotted a slave revolt nine years before Turner’s spree modeled on the successful uprising in Haiti. Vesey had been born into slavery but had purchased his freedom with funds he won in a lottery. He opened a carpentry shop in Charleston and became prosperous. He hatched a plot to have slaves rise up on the French Bastille Day and kill all the slave owners and “liberate” the city then load onto ships crewed by black sailors and sail away to Haiti. However, two of his followers leaked word of the plot and the authorities came down hard. A hundred and thirty-one men were arrested and 67 were convicted of plotting a rebellion. Thirty-five were hanged. Among them was Vesey, whose accomplishment was to cause authorities to impose strict measures on the slave population. The AME church he attended and where he advocated for his rebellion was burned to the ground.

There was also a planned uprising that was supposed to take place all over the entire South. The plot was engineered by a white “nigger-stealer,” a man who would convince slaves to run away and let him sell them again, then run away and keep repeating the procedure until the slave had become too recognizable, at which point he would kill him and slit his belly open, then fill it with rocks and sand and sink it in a river. The man’s name was John Murrell. Murrell grew up on the Natchez Trace in Williamson County, Tennessee where his family operated an inn. His father was a Methodist evangelist who was constantly away from home, and his mother was a whore who taught her children to steal. She’d have the boy hide in a bedroom where she would service a customer at the family’s inn, then when the man had fallen asleep, the boy would sneak out of his hiding place and steal the man’s poke. He was convicted of stealing a neighbor’s horse when he was 16 and was branded and sentenced to a term in jail.

Somewhere along the line, Murrell met a man named Crenshaw, who may have been an Illinoisan who captured runaway slaves and sold them “down the river” in Tennessee and elsewhere. Murrell and Crenshaw cooked up the idea of organizing a “mystic confederacy” of likeminded men who would organize a slave revolt then go into the plantation houses and plunder the valuables.  Murrell’s plan fell apart when he stole slaves belonging to an elderly neighbor in Denmark, a community southwest of Jackson, Tennessee. The neighbor prevailed on a young man who had formerly lived in the area and was there on a visit to help get the slaves back, as he and his wife depended on them to take care of them in their old age. The young man, Virgil Stewart, followed Murrell toward Arkansas and caught up with him at the Hatchie River. He rode along with Murrell, who revealed his plans as they crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas and met up with some of his cohorts. Stewart went back to Denmark and told the neighbors what he had heard. They went to the authorities and Murrell was arrested and jailed in Jackson, Tennessee. His wife broke him out of jail, and he made it as far as Muscle Shoals, Alabama where he was recognized by a slave who turned him in. He was tried and convicted and spent most of the rest of his life in the Tennessee State Penitentiary.[18] There appears to have been truth to Stewart’s account of the impending slave revolt, because some slave women in Mississippi were overheard talking about an upcoming revolt and how pitiful it would be to kill the little white boy they were caring for. The authorities were called, and they interrogated the women, who pointed fingers at male slaves. Some white men were also implicated. Several slaves were hanged, and the South-wide revolt never came to pass.

 Black activists gloss over black slave ownership, probably because it causes problems with their claim that slavery was racial. The facts are that ANY free colonist, regardless of race, could own slaves, and many blacks did. This right continued in the United States. Former African indentures bought indentures of men and women who came over from Europe as well as indentures of Africans. The first slave in America, John Casor was owned by Anthony Johnson and his wife Mary, who were former indentures who had become successful land owners and owners of indentures. The Johnsons were one of thirteen free black families living in Northampton on what is now the Eastern Shore. Slave ownership by free blacks accounted for a significant portion of the slaves owned in the United States right up until the Civil War. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since slavery was common in Africa and the slaves shipped to the Americas were mostly captured and sold by other Africans. Black activists attempt to pass this off by claiming that blacks bought members of their family, but this doesn’t explain the black slave owners who owned dozens of slaves. Some slave traders were black. Some slave owners were mulattos who had been given property by their white fathers (and mothers.) Many became quite successful and owned large plantations. This was particularly true in Louisiana, which had a unique culture. Originally established by French settlers who brought in African slaves, it was owned for a time by Spain, then France again but managed by Spain until Thomas Jefferson bought it. Mixed marriages were common and led to the Creole culture. There were so many black slave owners in the state that they formed troops to support the Confederacy. Charleston, South Carolina also had a number of black slave owners, some of whom were quite wealthy.    

As the abolitionist movement grew, it became apparent that something needed to be done. Many prominent Americans, including Abraham Lincoln, believed that blacks should be sent elsewhere. Britain began sending “poor blacks” to Sierra Leon in 1787. The American Colonialization Society was founded in 1817 with the intention of moving free blacks back to Africa. The problem was that few blacks wanted to go. To them, Africa was the place where their ancestors had come from and it was rife with problems, including the hostility of the native tribes. Still, the society managed to get enough who were willing to go to establish a colony, which they named Liberia. Less than 5,000 free blacks went to Liberia and less than 2,000 of them survived the disease, lack of food and native hostility that plagued them. Still, the idea of shipping freed slaves somewhere else continued. Abraham Lincoln wanted to send freed slaves to South and Central America but he couldn’t find support for his plans among black leaders.

 As an institution, slavery was doomed. It would have ended by the mid-twentieth century, if not sooner, due to mechanization. Slaves cost money to buy, feed and house. Sick and elderly slaves were a liability, although slave owners took pains to take care of their older slaves. The first practical steam engines were developed in the early eighteenth century and by the turn of the nineteenth century, steam was used to power sawmills and cotton gins, tasks that had been done by hand, then horse/mule power. Steam engines were powering steamboats and railroads by the early 1800s and it was only a matter of time before they would be adapted for farm use to pull plows and other farm implements. The first farm tractors made their appearance only three years after the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment. The last task in cotton production done by hand was picking, The first patent for a mechanical cotton picker was recorded in 1850, eleven years before Lincoln’s election and the resulting secession of the Southern states. However, it wasn’t until just before World War II that cotton pickers went into production and even then it wasn’t until the 1960s that they went into wide use because of their cost. Once cotton pickers became common, share cropping, which some say replaced slavery, came to an end. It is no coincidence that the beginnings of the civil rights movement coincides with the end of sharecropping.


[1] The majority of student loan defaults are by blacks, who found that degrees in African American studies are practically worthless. Those with such degrees are primarily academics, journalists, and activists.

[2] In the spring of 1972 I attended the Military Airlift Command NCO Academy. My roommate was a young staff sergeant from Travis AFB, California where he worked in the “social actions” office. (Social actions was a recently established Air Force program that was supposed to address social and drug problems in the Air Force.) He was studying African American history in his spare time. He told me that in South Africa settlers had used pygmies for target practice. The trouble is, there WERE NO pygmies in South Africa! Pygmies are found in the Congo region, 1,500 miles from South Africa.

[3] After the British established colonies in the Caribbean, they brought in indentures to work the fields. After it became apparent workers from cold climes were unable to stand up against the hot and humid conditions, they resorted to African slaves.

[4] There seems to have been two groups of women sent to Virginia in 1620 and 1621. One group was intended as wives for the gentry while the second was made up of indentures. However, a few women were already in the colony, having come over with their husbands as early as 1609, two years after the colony was established.

[5] The Virginia Company was one of two companies that had been chartered to settle North America. The Virginia Colony’s charter extended north to the Hudson River while the Plymouth Colony was from the Hudson north to Maine. The Mayflower passengers had a contract with the Virginia Company but after reaching land at Cape Cod, they decided to settle in that area rather than continuing their journey.

[6] Mules are hybrids produced by breeding a mare to a donkey. The resulting mule was stubborn, but was stronger than horses and more able to withstand hard work.

[7] Actually, the blacks on the White Lion were not “sold,” they were traded to the Jamestown colony for provisions.

[8] Genealogy is pseudo-science. Genealogists look at court and other records and interpret them to suit their conjecture. Considering that the number of ancestors a person has doubles with each generation, it’s impossible to establish an accurate record. Amateur genealogists come up with lists that have no basis on fact. I once found a genealogy of another West Tennessee family which claimed descent from my great-grandmother, who died in her early thirties. The “genealogy” acknowledged her marriage to my great-grandfather but had her having children by their ancestor when she was, in fact, married to my great-grandfather at the time of their birth. She died, probably of infection, after the birth of my great-aunt.

[9] It is likely that the original Bunch family was white, but there are some members of the Bunch family today who show sub-Saharan African in their DNA, if the tests are to be believed. They may be descendants of mulatto children who had white mothers.

[10] The ancestry of the Melungeons is uncertain. They are known to have been in the mountains since the late eighteenth century. No one knows where the name came from, although some believe it came from the French word “mélange,” which means dark. Many believe their ancestors were Portuguese or Muslim sailors who were shipwrecked in the Carolinas and made their way inland.

[11] This is because there were few black women in Virginia while there was an increasing number of young white women coming over from England as indentures. Of the 20-odd Angolans who came in on the White Lion and Treasurer, only three were women. African tribes kept women and children for themselves and sold the men and boys to ship captains. Black indentures and, later, slaves had access to white girls because they were owned by the same masters and lived and worked together. Former indentured black men purchased indentures, including white women.  

[12] Simon Legree, the cruel slave master in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was a New Englander who owned a plantation in Louisiana.

[13] The claim is based on the tradition of Sally Hemings’ descendants. DNA testing found only that one of her children likely had Jefferson DNA, but did not specify that it came from Thomas.

[14] Having grown up on a farm in West Tennessee, I have hoed and picked plenty of cotton.

[15] Black activists claim the “patrollers” are the originators of police. Actually, the first police in the United States were in Memphis, Tennessee.

[16] She is supposed to have attended a slave auction in nearby Maysville and “scholars” theorize that the experience had a profound effect on her.

[17] Rev. Beecher forbade any more debates, and the offended students left the school and went to Oberlin, an abolitionist school in northern Ohio.

[18] Murrell was syphilitic and died soon after he was released from prison.

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.

http://sammcgowan.com/flareships.html

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

https://intelligence.house.gov/russiainvestigation/

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.