Charlottesville – and Donald Trump

 

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Along with most Americans, I am dismayed but also incensed by the events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia a week ago last Saturday. It is sad that a young woman died in an incident that may or may not have been the result of a deliberate act. However, what causes me the most alarm is that there is an attack on the rights of ALL Americans as expressed in the First Amendment, as authored by Virginian James Madison and adopted by the First Congress in 1791.

Regardless of their beliefs, repugnant or not, those who assembled in Charlottesville for a rally at the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee had every right to be there. They had a permit from the city – even though the city tried every way they could to deny it – a Federal court order and the support of the ACLU. They were opposed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signor and a host of left-wing protestors, including Antifa, Black Lives Matter and leftwing organizations involved with labor unions. Finally, McAuliffe used the excuse of violence to declare a state of emergency then someone ordered the Charlottesville police to declare the rally to be “an unlawful assembly.” Never mind that there was no violence going on in the park at the time, as evidenced by videos made by participants and posted on altight.com. https://altright.com/2017/08/14/charlottesville-the-view-from-lee-park/ In fact, as the video plainly shows, the violence started when the rally organizers and participants were being forced out of the park and encountered a rock-throwing mob. Several were hit on the head by rocks and required medical attention at the aid stations. Protestors even used homemade flamethrowers against those there for the rally. http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/08/12/photos-violence-charlottesville/M6SLPmlA7kAa4WCQIv7GkM/story.html?pic=20

The most disgusting aspect of the events are the attacks on President Donald Trump for his comments. On Saturday afternoon, he addressed the issue and, correctly, condemned the violence from both sides. Leftists and some Republicans immediately went bonkers because he didn’t keep his comments confined solely to the “white supremacists, racists, KKK, etc. and etc.” who had gathered in the park. In the minds of those people, who apparently were depending solely on accounts on cable news, the violence was solely one-sided. However, more detailed video as referenced above and many others, show that those gathered to protest the rally were as violent or more so than those who were there for it. On Monday, President Trump held a news conference in which he condemned “white supremacists, etc. and etc.” and did not mention the left-wing protestors. (At that point, Donald Trump lost my support because he appeared to be announcing an effort to arrest people for their beliefs.) However, the following day in another appearance he made a more detailed statement in which he blamed the protestors as much as those there for the rally for the violence. Needless to say, the left-wing media (Washington Post, New York Times and LA Times, in particular) went ballistic. (When he made that statement, he got back my support.)

There is a big problem in America, and that is that too many like to paint with a very broad brush when they should be using a fine-pointed artist’s brush. To their mind, any white person who doesn’t admit guilt over slavery is a racist and white supremacist. Anyone who ever criticizes a Jew for anything is automatically an anti-Semite and will be branded as one by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Centrer (which has very little to do with poverty and is actually an arm of the Democratic Party.) (Note – the anniversary of the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jew who had been convicted of the murder of Mary Phagan, a 13-year old girl who worked in his factory, was August 17. The Jewish Anti-defamation League was formed by defenders of Frank: the second Ku Klux Klan was also formed as a result of the trial.) Yes, there are neo-Nazis involved in right-wing politics but that doesn’t mean everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a neo-Nazi. There are also communists in the Democratic Party, a lot of them. There may still be some people in the Democratic Party who are actually sincere patriots but the majority have left the party. My 86-year old aunt is a classic example. She was a Democrat all her life but no longer because of the Democrats’ position on abortion. (FYI, my great-grandfather was a staunch Democrat and a muckedy-muck in the Klan. My grandmother and my other aunt were Democrats to the day they died. My mother, on the other hand, voted Republican.)

I have looked at as many videos of the events in Charlottesville as I can find and it appears that overall, things were pretty calm. There were some confrontations between rally -goers and protestors who confronted them along their route but once the attendees were in the park, it appears that things had settled down. Allegedly, the vice-mayor of Charlottesville, Wes Bellamy, a black with a history of hate speech, showed up at the park and police gathered around to “protect” him and subsequently declared the rally “an unlawful assembly” and ordered those there for the rally to disperse. Videos taken at the time show there was no violence occurring and that people were waiting peaceably for the rally to begin. Then, as the rally speakers were leaving the park – after the police ordered them out and arrested one speaker, a military veteran who was mouthing off at them, protestors attacked them with mace and concrete-filled plastic bottles – after police had used pepper spray to force the speakers out of the park. Many in the news media are referring to the event as a “riot” but, in fact, there was no rioting at all. The violence was perpetrated against those there for the rally by protestors who came armed with everything from rocks and concrete-filled bottles to improvised flamethrowers and AR-15s. (Yes, Virginia, there were left-wingers there carrying “assault rifles” and wearing communist hammer and sickle belt buckles.)

After the Charlottesville police cleared Lee Park, those there for the rally walked a mile and a half to another park outside the city. However, after they got there, they received word that the National Guard was on the way to the park to arrest them so they began walking to the parking lot for their cars.

Meanwhile, in Charlottesville the streets had been taken over by protestors, some of whom had permits for demonstrations (but were not ordered to disperse even though there was supposed to be “an unlawful assembly” and the governor had declared an emergency.) One group of blacks surrounded a small group of people who had been there for the rally and threw rocks, concrete-filled bottles and taunts at them until the police finally came and escorted the group – who were armed – to their vehicles. Blacks taunted another group of ralliers as they walked down the street to the parking garage where they had left their vehicles. The blacks followed them into the garage and the whites turned around. A brief melee ensued in  which one of the blacks was separated from his buddies and assaulted. (The black photographed with an improvised flamethrower, one Corey Long, was one of the blacks in the group. He claimed he used the aerosol spray can after he found it on the ground. He claims he used it because one of the whites had aimed a pistol at him then fired into the ground at his feet. The trouble with his narrative is that no shots were reported fired. He also claimed he and his buddies were attacked while they were peaceable but video shows otherwise.)

The march that led to the incident with the car was captured on video by a number of people, but particularly Taylor Lorenz, a reporter for the political site The Hill. Ms. Lorenz video, which is available on the The Hill Facebook page, shows plainly that the group in the march were Antifa because they were marching under the black Antifa flag, as well as the red flag of a communist workers group and other flags associated with the radical leftist movement, who call themselves “social justice warriors,” or SJW. The group marched down Waters Street shouting out their hateful slogans until they reached the intersection with 4th Street. At that point someone with a microphone addresses the group and tells them that the people in the neighborhood ahead “do not want us here.” The group was milling around and, based on video shot from a drone, turned north on 4th Street. It was at this point that the Dodge Charger driven by James Alex Fields Jr. came into the crowd and struck one of two vehicles that had been blocked at the intersection by the marchers and forced one into the other, which went into the intersection knocking people left and right. One of the marchers, a local Charlottesville-area woman named Heather Heyer, suffered fatal injuries.

“Witnesses” claimed that Fields was “driving at a high rate of speed” when he hit the protestors. However, video of the incident shows otherwise. I measured the distance from the intersection on the Downtown Mall where Field’s car first appears in the video to the intersection using Google Earth and came up with a distance of 265 feet. There is a time lapse of 6 seconds until the car impacts the first protestor, which works out to a speed of 44.11 feet per second, or 30 MPH. Considering that the point where he impacts the crowd is some distance from the intersection, more than two car lengths, his speed would have been under 30 mph. (A distance of 230 feet divided by 6 seconds would be 38.3 feet per second, or 26.1 MPH.) A photographer for the Charlottesville Daily Progress took a photograph the instant before Fields went into the crowd that plainly shows that the brakes were on just prior to the impact with the crowd. While the media, politicians – including Donald Trump – and others are harping that Field’s actions are “an act of terrorism”, the photograph and his relatively low speed may indicate otherwise. We won’t know until he either confesses or is brought to trial. The video also shows that protestors were throwing things at and hitting his car, which may have influenced his actions.

As for the woman, Heather Heyer, who died as a result of her injuries, very little has been revealed about her. All that is really known is that she was a paralegal who worked for a black lawyer, and that she was “an activist” against injustice. Some, including apparently the organizer of the Unite the Right rally, have Tweeted that she was “A fat communist.” That she and her friends were marching with a group of Anti-Fascists may be an indication. There is one thing for certain, had she not been in that march, she wouldn’t have died that day. The governor of Virginia and the media also attribute the deaths of the two State Police officers who died in the crash of the helicopter to the “white supremacists.” What the fuck? I am a retired professional pilot and former instructor with a large flight instruction corporation. The crash occurred for one of three reasons: (1) human error, (2) mechanical failure or (3) it was somehow shot down. However, the State Police have said there was no outside interference so it was one of the first two. It is sad that the two officers lost their lives but to blame their deaths on the rally organizers is way over the top.

No official estimates of crowd size in Charlottesville have been given but the number of 500 for those there for the rally with double that number for those there to protest and some 1,000 police has appeared in the media. There were definitely some among those there for the rally who fall into the category of “neo-Nazi” and “white nationalist” but it’s hard to tell now because their web sites are no longer available for scrutiny. This is particularly true of Richard Spencer, whose views were available on his National Policy Institute site. That site is no longer available although the Alt-Right site is. One group, Vanguard America, who were wearing white shirts and included James Fields, had a site that has been taken down. Another group, the League of the South, is still up. From what I’ve seen of their site, it appears they’re not a white nationalist organization, but rather an organization dedicated to preserving Southern cultural and the impossible dream of forming a separate Southern state.

Antifa is getting little opposition, even though their goals are deplorable. Canadian/American historian Conrad Black outlines Antifa’s goals in this article. Among other things, they want anyone of color by DNA analysis to be given preferred status and they want to reduce the white population of America to 30%. This three-part series gives an excellent description of Antifa. The state of New Jersey recently declared them a terrorist organization.  I am convinced that Antifa is a far-worse organization than any of the “white supremacy” or neo-Nazi groups that are being so maligned by the media and politicians. If I had to choose between them, I’d definitely side with the “far-right” groups.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Russians (and Donald Trump) Did It!

http://intelligence.house.gov/

I just finished watching yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. I came away from it with the opinion that the Democrats on the committee are only interested in advancing a political agenda, as evidenced by the many, many statements they made rather than actually asking questions of the two subjects. Those statements were all based on information taken from the media, which is ironic because Director Comey made clear that media accounts regarding classified information are almost without exception inaccurate. (He gave them an accuracy of maybe ten percent.)  He also said that the “sources” used by the media are often some distance removed from the actual information and that the information they provide members of the media is usually inaccurate. Yet, even after he made this statement, the Democrats on the committee continued to read their obviously pre-written statements that were largely based on media accounts. Such a travesty!

The purpose of the hearings was, at least ostensibly, to hear from the two agency directors regarding the ongoing investigation into Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election. The Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was not there, probably because he just took over the agency. At the time of the alleged “meddling,” the CIA director was John Brennan, an Obama appointee who left office on January 20. Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former Federal prosecutor, insinuated that Brennan may have been responsible for some of the highly illegal leaks of information that have appeared in the media since President Trump’s election, leaks that Director Comey made clear are criminal and that the leakers should be found and prosecuted. The most serious is the leaking of information pertaining to Lt. General Mike Flynn, the short-lived Director of Intelligence in the Trump Administration. (Gowdy may have even been insinuating that Obama himself is the leaker. Someone in his administration authorized the “unmasking” of the general after his voice was found on recordings of the Russian ambassador.)

As the hearings proceeded, it became obvious that the object of Democrats was to attempt to influence Director Comey to investigate/prosecute various members of the Trump circle, particularly General Flynn. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a black woman from Alabama, was the attack dog. She kept harping on General Flynn, insinuating that he is a criminal, in spite of Director Comey’s continual refusal to answer her questions. Comey had made it clear at the beginning of the hearing that he was not going to answer any questions related to individuals or information that had appeared in the media. (It has recently come to light that General Flynn’s company was paid $500,000 for consulting work for a Dutch company that is suspected of “having ties” to Turkey.) Sewell was obviously trying to get Comey to have Flynn charged for not registering as a foreign agent (which he did on March 8.) GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy, insinuated that the Obama White House leaked information about General Flynn that had been obtained illegally by the NSA. Remember that General Flynn is alleged to have engaged in a number of conversations with the Russian ambassador, information that could have only been obtained by surveillance, which is illegal since General Flynn is an American citizen and surveillance requires a court order.

When it comes to the actual Russian “interference” in the election, very little was actually said about it. At the beginning of the hearing, Congressman Nunes solicited statements from both directors that there is no evidence that the Russians changed the vote in any of the states that President Trump won by a narrow margin. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers stated that there is no evidence of any Russian interference in the actual election in those states. The two directors referred to the findings of the three intelligence agencies – CIA, FBI and NSA – that the Russians meddled in the election primarily by spreading “propaganda” on the Russian government-owned television station RT and it’s associated web site designed to hurt Mrs. Clinton. (There was no mention of the American propaganda stations – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC. However, as stated previously, Director Comey stated that their stories are highly inaccurate.) In reality, the information I’ve seen on RT was no different than accounts I have seen on other outlets dating back to the 1990s. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers referred to Russia as an “adversary” of the United States, but neither actually stated why they considered the two countries to be adversaries. (Adversary is not the same as an enemy – adversary is actually synonymous with opponent, as in a contest.)

Are Russia and the United States actually in competition with one another? If so, just how? Back when the Soviet Union was still in power, there was the matter of ideology as the Soviet Union was the leading advocate of the spread of communism. Those days are over, however. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and since then Russia and the United States have had a different kind of relationship. Russia is not trying to manipulate ideology in the West; in fact, Russia is now capitalist even if the country is run, at least allegedly, by an oligarchy (another word that is often thrown about without consideration – some allege that the United States is an oligarchy, or was before Donald Trump became president. Since then, it’s often called fascist – by people who are actually Marxist themselves.) The truth is that the United States has nothing Russia wants. Yes, Russia now owns a company that owns a uranium mine in the US but it also has large uranium reserves of its own, more than twice as much as the United States. It’s the same with oil – Russian oil reserves are more than double those of the United States. The fear and hatred of Russia characteristic of so many Americans, particularly those in government, is actually a holdover from the Cold War combined with animosity over Russia’s occupation of Crimea and influence in Ukraine, both of which have strong connections to Russia dating back for centuries. It’s actually Europe that fears Russia, and that fear has spread into elements in the United States.

Director Comey stated something that has been made public in the past, that the FBI never had access to the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. The claim that they were hacked by “the Russians” (the hackers were actually not from the Russian government, but are alleged to have been working for it) is based on information provided by a third party internet security company contracted by the DNC. He alleged that this is not abnormal, but that the FBI often depends on information from third party internet security companies when investigating cyber crimes.

Personally, I doubt that the hearings and the House (and FBI) investigations will accomplish anything. One writer has referred to the hearing as a “nothing burger.” I tend to agree.

 

 

Red Blood of Patriots

Dong Ha Takeoff (2)

This morning as I was watching coverage of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, I was keeping track of Twitter. In his speech, President Trump spoke this line – “It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.” Immediately after he said it ,  Conservative, Inc. writer John Podhoretz, who has a reputation for arrogance, tweeted that traitors have red blood too, which is true enough but the way he said it really pissed me off. The president’s line reminded me of my own experience with red, American blood, although it was Podhoretz’ comment that caused me to dwell on it for some time. I know exactly what the blood of our armed forces, whether patriot or not, looks like after it has been spilled.

During the late Southeast Asian unpleasantness, I was an Air Force flight crewmember, a loadmaster assigned to squadrons that flew the now-famous, but not so much then, Lockheed C-130 Hercules. It was sometime in the spring of 1967. I was nearing the end of my tour. A year before, I was flying on missions over North Vietnam and Laos dropping flares for fighters to attack trucks bringing supplies south to the communists who were seeking to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. I had returned to routine transport flying, or hauling trash, as we were beginning to call it. Our flying really was routine – hauling troops and cargo, but mostly cargo, around South Vietnam and Thailand. We were physically based at Naha, Okinawa but we’d go TDY for sixteen days at a time to either Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam or Bangkok, Thailand to fly airlift missions. We called the stints “shuttles.” We’d take off early on our first day in country, then start later and later each day until we were flying mainly night missions, then we’d have a day off and start over again on the day missions. After two weeks, we’d go home for a few days then come back and do it all over again.

On this particular shuttle, I was flying with Captain Tom McQuaide, an experienced C-130 pilot who had come to our squadron from a Tactical Air Command C-130 squadron at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. Some of our pilots had come from other commands and other aircraft types, and were restricted to airfields with runways at least 4,000 feet long because of several prop-reversal accidents involving the C-130As we were flying. Flying with them truly was routine but when flying with an experienced C-130 pilot like Captain McQuaide, we got into the short, unimproved airfields out in the boondocks where the war was. (We actually got shot at no matter what airfield we went to – one night after landing at Tan Son Nhut, the huge airport at Saigon, the air freight people who met us told me they’d watch us come in and that we’d been trailed by tracer bullets.)

We were a little over half-way through our two weeks of flying. We took off for our first sortie late in the afternoon and had then gone to night missions, which usually involved moving backlog cargo out of Cam Ranh to the major airfields around South Vietnam, particularly Qui Nhon. We went north to Da Nang for the last part of our mission and after dropping off our load, air freight brought out a stack of five empty pallets – we were required to always have five pallets on the airplane to insure a supply of pallets in the country – and were supposed to take off and fly south to Qui Nhon to pick up cargo for Cam Ranh. When we reached Cam Ranh, we’d be finished for the night. I had just finished chaining the empties to the ramp when a dispatch truck drove up to the back of the open ramp. The driver stuck his head out of the window and informed me that our mission had been changed – we were being diverted to a combat emergency air evacuation mission to Dong Ha. Combat emergency was the highest priority for airlift missions in Southeast Asia. My adrenaline started pumping just at the words.

I was well-acquainted with Dong Ha. I took the above picture there in the fall of 1965 when I was at a tiny island in the Philippines called Macton on temporary duty from Pope AFB, North Carolina. We took a hit that day, although we didn’t know it until we got back to Mactan. Miraculously, it was only one of two hits I took in more than 1,200 combat sorties although we got shot at on nearly every flight. I had flown air evac missions before, but not a CE. In fact, although air evac was one of our missions, we rarely flew them because Army and Marine helicopters usually flew wounded men to rear area hospitals. As the dispatcher was pulling away, a forklift came up to  remove the forklift. As soon as the pallets were removed, I went to the front of the airplane and got the emergency escape ladder and installed it just behind the wing – the ladder was part of the litter system. Then another truck pulled up and the air evac crew got out, a nurse and two enlisted medical technicians. The nurse was male – only male nurses were assigned to combat missions. They loaded their equipment on the airplane and got on.

The nurse, a lieutenant, told me that Dong Ha was under attack and that a Marine had been hit in the head. We were to pick him up and bring him back to Da Nang, hopefully in time for emergency surgery to save his life. Casualties were mounting and there were other wounded, some in litters and some walking, and we would be bringing them back as well because the field hospital at Dong Ha was running out of space. After engine start, I continued setting up litter stanchions and dropping the straps from the ceiling that served to secure one side of each litter. We continued rigging stanchions and dropping straps while we taxied out and took off. Each stanchion had steps that could be dropped down so someone could climb up and reach the straps – since it was my airplane, that someone was me. The medical crew and I also dropped the nylon seats on the sides to have them available for walking wounded.

The flight wasn’t that long, not more than twenty minutes at most. Dong Ha was about 50 miles northwest of Da Nang. It sat right on the Demilitarized Zone. On the other side was North Vietnam. When I went in there the first time in the fall of 1965, there was nothing much there but since then, the Marines had moved in and made it a major base. Navy Seabees had laid 2,900 feet of pierced-aluminum planking on the dirt runway, making it an “all-weather” runway. C-130s went in there every day, but not normally at night.  North Vietnamese troops probed the base nearly every night; it was considered too dangerous for routine missions at night.

The firefight was still going on right off the runway when we landed. The guys in the cockpit saw the green and red tracers flying back and forth. I didn’t see them. I was too busy in the back. I was so pumped up on adrenaline that I went outside and started opening the doors that covered the gas turbine compressor, the auxiliary power unit that provided power when the engines weren’t running with the #2 propeller still coasting down. As soon as I got the rear ramp opened, Navy ambulances began arriving with the wounded Marines. The number had increased drastically since we left Da Nang a half hour before. I don’t recall the exact number but there were around a dozen or so men in litters and around twice that many walking wounded. I remember noticing that none of the men were black. I noticed this because civil rights leaders in the US, particularly Martin Luther King, were claiming that blacks were being killed and wounded at rates far in excess of their numbers.

The men had received only minimal medical care and many were bloody and still bleeding. In addition to the Marine with the head wound for which we had initially been sent out, there was at least one other patient whose life was in danger. While the medical crew took care of the litter patients, I helped the walking wounded settle into their seats and fasten their seatbelts. Now, I had always thought I was squeamish; Vietnam proved that I’m not. The men were all bloody but they seemed lucid enough. Once all of the patients were loaded, we fired up the four engines. When the flight engineer switched power from one generator to another, there was a momentary power loss. A huge sigh of dismay went up from the patients. The loss was only momentary and the airplane was only dark for a couple of seconds. Captain McQuaide took off right over the firefight. He reckoned it was safer than taxiing to that end of the runway and then turning around, and exposing the airplane to AK-47 fire in the process. By taking off over them, we’d only be in range for a few seconds. As far as I know, we took no hits.

There wasn’t anything I could do once we were airborne but keep watch on everybody. The medics and the nurse were tending to the litter patients. They were cleaning their wounds and nipping away pieces of flesh, although I didn’t notice it at the time as they were in the back of the cargo compartment and I was sitting in the first seat aft of the entrance door at the front. The nurse was devoting his attention to the Marine with the head wound. He looked up then started walking toward me. I knew the Marine was dead. He told me to ask the navigator for our coordinates so he could put it in the death certificate. He told me not to say anything to the other wounded. He left the dead Marine’s head uncovered. I felt very deflated.

We continued to Da Nang. We taxied to the ramp and were met by a blue Air Force ambulance/bus. They are large busses that had been configured with litter stanchions in the back and seats in the front. More medical personnel were with them. I stood by the dead Marine while the medical crew offloaded the litters and the walking wounded filed by. The nurse had put me there to try to keep the other Marines from realizing he had died. It didn’t work. The other litter patients had been offloaded and the one litter remained in place. The walking wounded had to go right by it and they realized something was wrong.

The bus pulled away and the medical crew got their stuff and went with it, leaving me with the dead Marine. Because we were only a few minutes out when the copilot called and advised that we needed Graves Registration, it was some time before they arrived to take the body. The nurse had given me the paperwork recording the man’s death. I didn’t cover up his head. I looked at him and thought to myself, “What a waste.” I wondered about him. He had the rough face of a coal miner or a football player. I wondered if he might be from Pennsylvania. I didn’t have a clue how old he was. I was twenty-one myself. He could have been older or he could have been nineteen for all I knew. One of the officers, I think it was Capt. McQuaide, came back to where I was keeping watch over the dead Marine and kept me company until Graves Registration finally came out in their olive drab ambulance to pick up the body, or KIA as they are referred to in the military, or were before the military became “sensitive.” After they left, I went outside to keep watch on the engines during engine start then came back inside and closed the ramp. Once the engines were started, I went to work stowing the litter straps and moving the stanchions to their stowage at the front of the cargo compartment.

It was after I had put everything away that I realized that our airplane looked like an operating room after multiple surgeries. Normally, I would sweep the floor and put the dirt in the trash can that was part of every airplane’s extra equipment. We were on our way back to Cam Ranh empty as we had already exceeded our crew duty day. I called Captain McQuaide on the intercom and told him we were going to need a firetruck. I’d never called for one before but had heard of others doing it. The floor was covered with blood but there were also pieces of flesh where the nurse had snipped them off of the wounds. The only way to clean it up was to wash it out.

By the time we landed at Cam Ranh, the sun was up. There was no firetruck but there was a water truck waiting for us. We pulled into our parking spot and shut down the engines. The maintenance dispatcher’s truck pulled up and the airplane’s crew chief got out. He bounded up the steps and took one look at his airplane, then turned around with his hand over his mouth and ran back down the steps, then started retching. The water truck driver took one look then handed me the hose and left. The officers and flight engineer had all left. It was just me, a water hose and a bloody, gory airplane. I started washing. The water mixed with the blood and turned red.

I grew up in West Tennessee about 75 miles from Shiloh Battlefield where one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought. I’d been there once on a field trip when I was in elementary school. One of the features on the park is a pond called The Bloody Pond. According to local tradition, the waters of the pond turned red with the blood of the wounded soldiers, Confederate and Federal, who went there to drink and wash their wounds. As I washed the blood and gore out of the airplane that was now being returned to its crew chief, the bloody water reminded me of that pond.

Now, I don’t know if those young Marines considered themselves to be patriots or not. Seriously, I doubt that they did. Patriotism was not something young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines talked about in those days. I’m sure they were volunteers, at least most probably were. Draftees only went into the Army as a rule, although the Marine Corps had started accepting them due to the lack of volunteers in a country where the youth were becoming violently “anti-war” and pro-Viet Cong. Nevertheless, we were serving our country, no matter our motivations – and we all bled red.

What upset me about Podhoretz’ Tweet is that he’s never seen anyone shed blood for their country and never will. He, along with the rest of the Conservative, Inc. crowd are good at using the word processor as a weapon but none of them will ever hear a shot fired in anger. They’re all talk. As for “traitors,” a traitor is a patriot to the country he or she supports. We all bleed red.

Treason? Nope!

18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason

Current through Pub. L. 114-38. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

§ 2381.
Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

18 U.S. Code § 953 – Private correspondence with foreign governments

Current through Pub. L. 114-38. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

§ 953.
Private correspondence with foreign governments

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 744; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)
In November 1968 I voted for the first time. Actually, I didn’t vote on November 5, I had already voted by absentee ballot, along with most other US military personnel. At age 22 – I turned 23 just before the election – 1968 was the first election I could vote in. As a legal Tennessee resident, that it is where I voted although I was physically at Warner Robins, Georgia at the time. I was on my second enlistment in the US Air Force, having reenlisted in Vietnam the previous year. I’d been back in the United States for a little over a year and already had orders back to the Pacific, orders that I knew would put me back in combat again. In order to vote, I had to send a request for an absentee ballot through our squadron voting officer to my Tennessee county’s election commission. The ballot went to my squadron, and I was notified it was there. I went to the squadron and saw the officer, who opened a safe and took out the ballot and gave it to me to mark. After I had marked my choices, I handed it back. He sealed it and put it in the mail.

Recently, political author John A. Ferrell wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times (obviously, to publicize his upcoming book on President Richard Nixon) in which he claimed he had “proof” that Richard Nixon tried to sabotage the 1968 election. He points as “proof” to notes written by Nixon associate and later Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman in which he briefly mentions noted Chinese newspaper woman and widow of Lt. General Claire Chennault that he found in an archive. Ferrell and Nixon critics immediately seized on the notes as definite proof that Nixon used Mrs. Chennault as a go-between to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to establish peace talks between South Vietnam and North Vietnam.  There is no doubt that Mrs. Chennault had a close relationship with the South Vietnamese government. Although she is alleged to have become an American citizen in 1950, she was Chinese by birth and an active supporter of the Nationalist Chinese government of Chaing Ki Shek. A virulent anti-communist, as had been her husband, she was active with the Republican party. However, that doesn’t mean that the very brief notes Ferrell found prove that she was acting on Richard Nixon’s behalf. If anything, they indicate that he knew she was in contact with Saigon and had been there numerous times. Since Haldeman and Nixon are both dead, there’s no way to know what the notes meant. That they are “proof” of Nixon’s “treason” is (erroneous) conjecture.

 Democrats and Nixon-haters like to claim that South Vietnam’s refusal to participate in peace talks cost Hubert Humphreys the election. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a myth that American voters wait until the last minute to decide who they are going to vote for. In fact, the vast majority of Americans know who they’re going to vote for as soon as the candidates are announced. The idea that people wait to the last minute to decide is a sham. Johnson announced that a halt of all offensive actions against North Vietnam on October 31, less than a week before the election. If it had any effect on the election at all, it was negative. I was an Air Force flight crewmember and had flown missions over North Vietnam as well as Laos. The general consensus among the officers and non-commissioned officers I flew with was that it was a mistake. As Johnson’s talk of impending peace talks, we paid little attention.

Was Anna Chennault’s relationship with the South Vietnamese treason? The answer is unequivocally NO! The definition of treason, shown above, is very narrow. It consists solely of waging war against the United States or providing aid and comfort within the United States and elsewhere. Anna Chennault was not supporting the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese communist Viet Cong in any way. In fact, she was vehemently opposed to them. Did her actions violate the Logan Act?  At first glance, it appears she might have but a closer reading of the 1799 act shows that there must be with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States. Mrs. Chennault’s relationship with the South Vietnamese president and South Vietnam’s ambassador to the United States was purely to convey political information. There were no disputes or controversies with the United States involved. Incidentally, since the Logan Act was adopted by Congress in 1799, there has been only one person indicted and the subject, a Kentucky farmer who had written an article in the Frankfort, KY paper advocating a separate nation in the western part of what was then the United States to ally with France. He was never prosecuted.
There are parallels between Anna Chennault’s contacts with South Vietnam and the allegations of President Donald Trump’s relations with Russia, although the first is factual and the second is unfounded. There are allegations of violation of the Logan Act by President Trump’s security advisor, Lt. General Mike Flynn in that he had conversations with the Russian ambassador without White House clearance. A number of Democrats, including left-wing journalist and White House Press Secretary for LBJ Bill Moyers, are calling for a senate investigation of allegations against President Trump and using Anna Chennault’s activities as a basis for such an action. However, in both instances, Democrats are grasping at straws to explain why Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 lost the election.
Commentators often like to call the 1968 election “close.” In fact, it wasn’t. Nixon won by a 110 vote margin. Alabama Governor George Wallace, running for the American Independent Party, captured 46 votes and was the preferred candidate among young men, (based on exit polling.) In short, Nixon was the preferred candidate as the 1972 election proved when he received 520 votes, as opposed to his opponent’s 17. Similarly, Donald Trump won the 2016 election by a wide margin, winning 77 more votes than Clinton and winning 30 states as opposed to her 20 and the District of Columbia. Nixon and Trump didn’t win because of “dirty politics,” they won because they were popular and had large followings nationwide. I voted for both of them.
Canadian/British/American Conrad Black’s take on it.

Electoral Confusion

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 choose 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 choose the President. But in choosing 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 choose from them by ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

There seems to be a lot of confusion and ignorance in the United States right now. We held an election this week as the Constitution instructs in the preceding paragraphs but there seems to be a group who do not want to accept the results because Hillary Clinton “won the popular vote.” They think that when they voted, they were actually voting for the candidate and that the results should be based on the number of Americans who voted for the candidates. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no “national” election, there were 50 state elections and in the District of Columbia. Voters in each state and the District voted to determine who each state’s electors will vote for in the actual election, which will be held on December 19. That is how elections have been held in this country since it was established and is how they are held today.

A few people – mostly Democrats – have expressed hostility toward our system of election. They don’t like it because it allows the nation to elect the president rather than the major population centers, which is what the Founders intended. When the Founders were meeting in Philadelphia, their purpose was to establish a nation of states, a single nation in that there would be a national government whose role would be to represent the interests of the states as a whole. They decided to have a single branch, the Legislative Branch, with one house to be made up of representatives of the states elected by the people and the other to be elected by the state legislatures. The Executive Branch would be administered by a President of the United States, who would be chosen in the manor described above.

2016

The map shows how each county in the United States voted in the recent election. Note that the counties in Red, the ones that voted for Trump, cover the entire country while the counties in blue show up as islands in a red sea. Also note that in most cases they represent large population center. Note, for example, that the state of New York is mostly red except for New York City and the counties along the Hudson River. Other areas represent concentrations of either blacks or Hispanics. In New Mexico, the blue areas are Indian reservations. None of the blue areas represent the national as a whole. It was to prevent areas of high population from controlling the nation – as we’ve seen for the past eight years – that the Founders created the electoral college.

So, who did I vote for when I cast my vote for a straight Republican ticket two and a half weeks ago on the first day of early voting?  Although I was casting my vote for Donald Trump, I was actually voting for the electors who will actually vote for him on December 19. My vote was only to determine for whom Texas’ electoral votes will be cast. My vote does not go into some kind of national poll of votes to be totaled up to determine who the president will be. In the term “national vote” and “popular vote” are erroneous because there is no such thing. Nowhere in the Constitution is a national or popular vote mentioned and there are no regulations pertaining to such a vote. In short, it’s an invention of the media and serves no purpose.

There are “movements” to abolish the electoral college but there are movements for everything. The only way the electoral college can be abolished is to change the Constitution itself. This would require Congressional action and any change would have to be ratified by a majority of the states. In short, those who are protesting the electoral college and seeking to replace it with a single national vote are pissing in the wind.

The Dawn of a Bright New Day

2016

I woke up this morning to a new day; a new day in terms of it being a new one in terms of the sun but also because it is a new day for this country. For the first time in recent memory, a non-politician has been elected president of the United States even though he was opposed by everyone from the political elites to the coyotes who charge desperate Latinos big bucks to smuggle them through Mexico and across the border into the United States – including all of the broadcast networks and apparently all of the cable channels, including FOX News, the New York Times, the Washington Post and most large newspapers. But all of those opposing him lost and Trump won.

The media pronounced Hillary queen several months ago, as soon as she declared her candidacy, actually, and “the polls” confirmed it – with three exceptions. Way out on the Left Coast there is a company known as the Rand Corporation, a little known company founded right after World War II by Douglas Aircraft to provide research information to what was then the Army Air Forces. Rand is essentially a high-powered think tank which, over the years, has been involved in numerous projects for the military, industry and health care. Prior to the 2012 election, Rand developed a new polling method. After conducting the poll themselves in 2012, Rand turned the project over to the University of Southern California’s Dornsife Understanding America Study. The Dornsife school conducted the poll this year for the Los Angeles Time. The Dornisfe poll consistently showed that the presidential race was much closer than other polls were showing it. So did the TIPP tracking poll, which only kicked in a couple of weeks before the election. Rasmussen was also showing a closer race. All three polls were discounted by the big name pollsters and the national media.

On the day before the election, I noticed two things that caused me to think that Trump had a chance. The first was that the Dornsife poll showed Trump with a 5-point lead while the TIPP poll showed him a 2 point lead. Rasmussen also showed Trump with a lead. On election day, the Dornsife had Trump favored by 3 points, TIPP remained at 2 while Rasmussen had dropped to -2 – most other polls showed Clinton leading by 3-5 points. I also noted that the Real Clear Politics web page was showing most of the “battleground states” as undecided, with their “no tossup” electoral college map showing Clinton with a less than 5-vote advantage over Trump. I knew that Trump had a good chance of winning the election. History now shows that I was right.

Things have changed. The next event will be Donald Trump picking his cabinet. Of course, the media is going to spin and speculate just as they’ve been doing ever since there was a hint that he might run. Consequently, we really don’t know that much about him because damn near everything published about him came straight from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. They fed information to the so-called journalists and they rushed it into print. According to them, Trump is a rich opportunist who likes to “abuse” women and never pays any taxes. Maybe he’s all of that but there’s a lot more to him. Now, I want to say that I have never been a Trump fan. I never watched his television shows and some of my friends started pushing him to be the GOP nominee, I thought they were nuts. I early voted for Jeb Bush in the Texas primary but he withdrew from the race before the election so my vote didn’t matter. There’s no way I’m ever going to support Ted Cruz for anything. Once it became apparent that Trump was going to be the nominee, I started paying more attention and realized he was the best candidate of the field. If Trump had not been the nominee, I’m afraid Hillary would be crowing today instead of drowning her sorrows.

Criticism of Trump centers mostly around his views on ILLEGAL immigration. ILLEGAL is the key word here. Estimates of the numbers of illegal immigrants in the US vary, but regardless of how many are here, they are here ILLEGALLY, which means they are breaking the law, which calls for deportation. Since the vast majority of illegals in the US are Mexican, the law naturally comes down hard on Mexicans. Trump – correctly – stated that many of the Mexican immigrants are criminals, particularly rapists, and this is true. I live near Houston, Texas, which has the largest concentration of immigrants in the country, and there is definitely a fairly high crime rate among Mexicans, whether they’re legal or illegal. There’re shootings almost every day and there have been several incidents where Mexican immigrants have raped young girls, most of whom are also of Mexican origin. Are all Mexican immigrants criminals? The answer is obviously no but some are, and there’s no way to screen those who come here illegally.

Then there is the issue of Muslims. Contrary to what many seem to think, Trump has not called for deportation of Muslims. What he’s called for is a – temporary – moratorium on immigration of Muslims from areas where so-called “radical Islam” prevails. Such an action is, incidentally, a right of the Executive Branch. Contrary to the insinuations of the Khan man, immigrants who are not citizens have no rights and the Constitution does not address immigration at all. Immigrants are actually guests of the United States until they complete the citizenship process and become citizens and thus entitled to the rights of citizens as expressed in the Bill of Rights and other Constitutional amendments. Until that time, they are still citizens of whatever country they came from and have no Constitutional rights.

A lot of criticism has been directed at Trump over his announcement that he  will build a wall along the Mexican border. Now, the Mexican border runs from a few miles from Brownsville, Texas some 1,500 miles to just south of San Diego, California. The border with Texas is the Rio Grande River, which is so shallow in places a person can wade it – I’ve done so myself.  Just west of El Paso, the border becomes an imaginary line across the most desolate land on the North American continent. Those who wish to cross are required to do so at checkpoints run by both governments. However, the border is porous. Part of it is fenced but illegal immigrants cross practically at will. Some are caught, some die in the desert and some get through. Many are trucked to cities like Dallas and Houston.

imgp1802

Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park – Mexico on the other side

Trump’s wall is not only doable, having a wall along the border would not only provide security against illegal crossings, it would serve to channel those who have the documentation to come here legally to an authorized crossing.

Trump critics like to accuse him of “racism,” but their logic is faulty. “Mexican” is a nationality, not a race, and Hispanic is both a language or a national origin. “Latino” is an invented term for people with a connection to “Latin America,” meaning anything south of the Mexican border with the United States. In reality, Mexicans are of European origin just like Americans. If not, they are Amerindian or mestizo, a Spanish term for people of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry. The ancestors of some Mexicans even came from the United States. Trump is also called a misogynist, which is a gross misuse of a term that means “hater of women.” Trump is anything but.

Some claim that Trump won’t be able to accomplish his goals because of opposition from Congress. Well, I’ve got news for you folks.  Every single member of the House of Representatives was just elected or reelected. Trump critics might want to take a look and see where those representatives came from. That’s right, the same people who voted for those Republican representatives voted for Trump. Members of Congress answer to those who sent them there, not to their political party or their financial supporters.  Trump won’t have any problem getting Congressional support for his programs. So what that he’s lacking in foreign policy experience? What president ever goes into office with such experience? That’s why presidents have cabinets and advisors, both civilian and military. It’s a new day. Hide and watch what happens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Vote for Satan

I was born and raised in West Tennessee, the western division of the great state of Tennessee, the region lying between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. West Tennessee is part of the purchase of land from the Chickasaw orchestrated on behalf of the United States by Tennessean Andrew Jackson and Kentuckian Isaac Shelby in 1818. The northern part of the purchase became part of Kentucky and is now referred to as “The Purchase” while the rest became part of Tennessee and became West Tennessee. After the purchase, the land was opened up for settlement and settlers – including my ancestors – began coming in from the Carolinas and elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee. The rich bottomlands along the Forked Deer, Hatchie, Obion and Mississippi Rivers were settled largely by slave owners who established large cotton farms while the higher ground to the east was settled by mostly livestock farmers who owned few, if any slaves. Consequently, the region had divided loyalties when Tennessee seceded from the Union – my home county, Carroll, was one of several West Tennessee counties that voted to remain. Large numbers of West Tennesseans fought in both armies and the region, which the Union initially captured but abandoned, saw warfare between irregular Southern guerrillas and Unionist “bushwhackers.”

After the war, West Tennessee remained in turmoil as some of the guerrilla and bushwhacker bands continued fighting both with each other and together as outlaws. Most of the history of that period has been obscured and by the time I was born right after World War II, no one knew what had happened during those terrible times. However, one thing remained – the Democratic Party dominated Tennessee, and West Tennessee Democrats, many of them at least, were so devoted to the party that they’d vote for Satan if he ran on the Democratic ticket. I know; my grandmother was one such Democrat.

My mother never talked about her family much and it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I found out why. She once told me that her grandfather was “a bad man” and went on to say that he was “a grand dragon” in the KKK. I still don’t know much about him and never knew him because he died as a result of injuries suffered when he was hit by a car when I was ten months old. (I do have a memory – my earliest of all memories – of looking down on him in his coffin and my mother’s teenage cousins crying.) I still don’t know much about him other than that he wasn’t born until after the Civil War and that his father apparently was not a soldier but I do know that he was a staunch Democrat. I also know that while he probably was not a “grand dragon,” he was definitely a member of a group of night-riders who went out at night as an enforcer. I haven’t found anything to indicate they ever lynched anyone but the Madison County night riders were real. My aunt tells me that they went after people who ran afoul of the mores of the time.

My grandmother was like so many of her time – and since. She was a staunch Democrat who, although she never voiced hatred for Republicans, at least not in my presence, never voted for a Republican. Neither did my grandfather, whose grandfather evidently was a Confederate cavalryman who rode the legendary Nathan Bedford Forrest – until he apparently deserted and went home. They had three daughters, one of whom, my mother, came to her senses and became a Republican after she met my father, one who was as staunch a Democrat as my grandmother and one who recently left the Democrats, or so I’m told although I’m not certain she has.

Democrats like my grandmother are like those in the Piney Woods of East Texas who are called “Yellow Dog Democrats” because they’d vote for a yellow dog if it was on the Democratic ticket. I’ll take it a step further – such Democrats would vote for Satan if he was on the ticket. In fact, I heard a black Hillary supporter say on TV recently that she’d vote for Hillary even if Jesus Christ Himself endorsed Donald Trump. There’s no doubt that such voters would vote for Satan. This time, they are.