Archive for November, 2009


Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

When Thanksgiving comes to mind, many of us grab the waistline and grumble. Inevitably, eating too much goes with the territory on that festive Thursday in November.

Such was not always the case. Those first hardy souls who joined with the Indians to enjoy a repast in the woodlands never could have envisioned what we maintain as “a normal Thanksgiving” today. Their focus was the next meal, and the ingredient were not as important as its existence.

Few of us went out to hunt our main course, but there are exceptions. I remember one particular Thanksgiving day when my father did furnish all the meat — and not from the neighborhood grocery store! That meal was different. Let’s say that we did it just that once.

Looking back, let’s reflect on the motives that spurred the Pilgrims to venture forth over a huge expanse of water in search of a new home. It was religious freedom.

We pride ourselves on that freedom today, and a plethora of religions practice within America’s borders.

Take a moment and put yourself in the position of a Pilgrim. Your main job is to stay alive in a virtually untamed environment. Forest creatures abound, and not all of them are friendly. Weather is unpredictable and shelter is paramount.

You are thankful, not only for food for sustenance, but also for the friendship of natives who join with you to exalt the Almighty. While you name Him God, your Indian neighbors deem Him The Great Spirit.

In any event, you recognize that there is something greater than yourself. A timeless lesson, that knowledge humbles us and prods us to use our time on this earth wisely.

On this Thanksgiving Day, vow to make a difference in your world. Your efforts need not be global. They can be within your own family or neighborhood. By extension, they could be in your township or community. Join with others. There IS strength in numbers.

Encourage others to espouse religion and select a house of worship. We all need a good dose of God on a regular basis. If you are truly thankful for each week, then set aside one hour of it to spend with the Lord. Make sure your children recognize the importance of faith in their lives. You won’t be sorry that you did.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers.

Know Your Sources

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Journalists are warned to confirm sources for their work. Sadly, not all of them do it, but they should. Of the words and phrases we hear everyday, language, some are not understood by their actual definitions, but are seen, through the lens of those who coined them. Take the phrase “The Final Solution”, for example. Anyone familiar with World War II links them to Adolf Hitler. The two words hardly sanitize the practice of murdering millions of people in an attempt to produce an Aryan race. His avowed goal is odd, isn’t it? Hitler hardly fit the description he praised. Instead of blond and fair skinned, he was dark and swarthy.

Today, another term assails us. “Political correctness” is so much a part of every discourse that few recognize its source. Do you? People routinely use the term with a cavalier attitude, applying it to almost every instance of assumed discrimination. Yet, once you understand its roots, you may demand that proponents grab the soap and wash out their political mouths!

According to both political scientists and sociologists, “political correctness” roots in the ideology of Karl Marx. Basically, it requires a radical inversion of the prevailing traditional culture using cultural Marxism to achieve a social revolution. Such a social revolution is the kind envisioned by Karl Marx as an inversion of the social order and a commensurate inversion of the structure of power.

Since those pushing for “hope and change” cite the term redistribution of wealth, we need to be very alert. Is it any wonder that historically savvy onlookers view the current events in Washington with great suspicion? I see Marxism as a social cancer. It begins with a few cells (and/or people and groups) and then, over time, grows exponentially —- often unrecognized until it threatens the entire organism. Don’t ignore this movement, readers. It threatens America.

Decades ago, Richard Carlson starred in a TV series titled “I led three lives”. Plots focused on a man who held down a regular job, worked undercover for the US government, and functioned within the Communist party. The theme is not new. Covert operations have never been limited to military personnel. I, for one, hope that our government has thousands upon thousands of agents now working tirelessly to uncover plots against this nation. The inordinate risks they take keep us all safe.

Coined phrases can enrich language or sully it. The incessant use of political correctness, then, can be considered a form of misinformation. Some see the value of repetition. Haven’t you noticed that when a statement is repeatedly, it assumes a life of its own? It happens, and there are so many examples that it would take a book to list them. The book, sadly, would be outdated in no time, since the practice of rampant repetition seems endemic given all means of communication today.

What happens if you challenge someone on the veracity of a widely disseminated fallacy or blatant lie? An accusation immediately prompts a proclamation of innocence. What was that phrase from Hamlet? Ah, yes “Methinks he doth protest too much.” In addition, when you cite facts to back up your argument, you immediately find yourself the target. Suddenly, facts don’t matter. The reply is name-calling.

If you doubt this, just watch the news a bit closer. Watch the exchanges between opposing sides, and you’ll see how the side without facts resorts to calling the other side names such as insensitive, uninformed, backward, red neck, provincial….. The list goes on interminably.

We should all take it upon ourselves to eliminate “political correctness” from the national vocabulary. Although it can take generations to take meaningful action to remove elements of discrimination from society, it can be done. Old wounds can heal. We move ahead.

Begin with yourself. Refute the use of “political correctness” as an operative term in everyday speech. If you take a side, get your facts straight — but be prepared to fend off personal slurs. Unless you are speaking with a person with better than average manners, you will find yourself the “bad guy” (or gal, as the case may be). Many, when faced with facts, can only reply with name-calling. How sad.

Political change often comes as the direct result of social change — a term used to describe the clearly stated goal of some in Washington today. They pledge to issue in massive change. As I have stated before, change applies as much to weather as diapers, the former is natural, the latter — of necessity. Methinks the aroma wafting from inside The Beltway more closely resembles the latter.

The ongoing effort to upend America and change her “fundamentally” should scare you to death. America’s fundamentals are solid as the bedrock beneath our topsoil.

As a people, we need to set our feet firmly on the principles of our Founding Fathers and vow to be Americans first and ignore partisan labels. There’s enough blame on both sides of the political aisle to sink our ship of state. Don’t allow that to happen!

When we pledge to save this previous republic, we insure our future — and, more importantly, that of generations unborn. Reserve the initials “PC” to personal computers. Don’t utter “political correctness”. It is not a term for freedom loving people. Think about it.

The Reel Thing! A Veterans’ Day Retrospective

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The Reel Thing!  — Think you know James Stewart?  Maybe not…

Who among us hasn’t winced or gasped in a particularly emotional scene of a war movie? I surely have. Undoubtedly, you have a favorite war movie. Actually, I have several. Thankfully, film is about as close a most of us will ever come to top-secret war planning, a frenzied fight for survival, or the grisly reality of a battlefield.

The saving grace of such films is that they constantly remind the general population that America’s freedom and way of life came at great cost — both in terms of money and lives.

If you are a movie buff, then the mention of Jimmy Stewart brings forth all manner of mental images… Elwood P. Dowd in Mary Chase’s film version of the classic play about the huge white rabbit “Harvey”… George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”… Jefferson Smith in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”… Virginia farmer Charlie Anderson in “Shenandoah”… photographer L. B. Jeffries in the Alfred Hitchcock Classic “Rear Window….

A five-time Oscar nominee, he amassed a venerable reputation over his career. Jimmy Stewart has always been a favorite of mine and I recently read a mesmerizing book on him by World War II war correspondent Starr Smith.

While many of us are familiar with his acting career, few of us are aware of his role as a World War II bomber pilot. Reporting to Draft Board # 245 in Los Angeles in February of 1941, he was — at 138 — underweight by five pounds. While many men sought to avoid the draft, Jimmy Stewart relished the opportunity. In fact, he was the first Hollywood star to enter military service prior to, or during, World War II. An avid pilot who held a commercial license, he volunteered to serve his country in the US Army Air Corps (now the US Air Force). Of particular interest to Hoosiers is the fact that his first flight experience was in Indiana — riding with a traveling barnstorming pilot.

After serving as a pilot in bombardier Training at Kirtland for six months, he transferred to Hobbs for four-engine training. An instructor on the B-17, he went to Gowen Field for nine months and then made Squadron Commander of the 703rd Squadron of the 445th Bomb Group at Sioux City, Iowa.

Heed his own words about the planes he flew stateside in the early 1940s:
“I put the B-24 to a severe test one night in Iowa: ‘I was making a landing in a thunderstorm and, between lots of lightning and some bad judgment on my part, I flew the poor bird into the ground at 120 miles an hour. The nose wheel gave way and was never found again, but, other than that, she just bounced and settled down with a groan. I remember the B-24 very well and, although it came out of the war with a rather questionable reputation for some reason I think most of those who flew the airplane have a very soft spot in their hearts for the machine. I learned four-engine operation in the B-17. But while I was instructing in that airplane the change was suddenly made to the B-24; the transition didn’t seem at all difficult, which speaks well for the bird. In combat, the airplane was no match for the B-17 as a formation bomber above 25,000 feet, but, from 12,000 to, 18,000 feet the airplane did a fine job.”

By 1942 and the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, he was a four-engine flight instructor at Mather Field, California, and oversaw pilots on both the B-17 and the B-24 heavy bombers. After constant requests for overseas duty, Captain James Maitland Stewart finally arrived as Operations Officer for the 703rd bombe Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force in Tibenham, England.

Starr Smith tells how the men in his unit were apprehensive about having a major film star for their superior, but those fears were put to rest in short order. Efficient, fair, and a talented leader, Stewart fit in with his men and earned their loyalty and respect. By 1944, he transferred to the 453rd at Buckenham and flew — as he had throughout his overseas career — as the lead pilot in B-24 Liberators.

Many web sources cite that his record included 20 combat missions as command pilot over enemy territory, including bombing raids to Berlin, Brunswick, Bremen, Frankfurt and Schweinfurt. He led the 2nd Combat Wing — the 389th, 445th and 453rd groups — to Berlin on March 22, 1944. Historians deem the most memorable mission of his career as flight leader of a 1000-plane raid to Berlin for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. Early in 1944, he transferred to the 453rd Bomb Group, one of the 445th’s two sister groups, as group operations officer. Stewart held the rank of Colonel at war’s end and returned to the states in 1945. His first post-war movie was Frank Capra’s 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life” — a classic work with a timeless message.

Jimmy Stewart remained with the Air Force Reserve and made Brigadier General in 1959. In 1966, during his annual two weeks of active duty, he participated in a bombing strike in Vietnam as an observer on a B-52 bomber. Sadly, Stewart’s stepson, 1st Lt. Ronald McLean was killed at age 24 in the Vietnam War. Clearly, sources were nearly verbatim in text when it came to biographical information on James Maitland Stewart. In poring over seven sources for this information, I found that one in particular was most helpful. Titled, Something about Everything Military, the website should be of interest to anyone wishing to research war topics for the United States. Consult

Stewart retired from the Air Force in 1968 and received the Distinguished Service Medal and — ultimately — the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Like other World War II veterans, Jimmy Stewart seldom spoke of the war years. I was especially struck by the words of one of his daughters, Kelly Stewart.

“Starr Smith’s book has opened a door for me into this part of my father’s life. Mr. Smith conveys with great skill what it meant to fly in the Eighth Air Force during the war; to be Operations Officer of a Bomb Group; what was involved, for example, in the planning and execution of missions. Above all, Mr. Smith, who worked with my father during that time, shows us what he was like as an individual in his role of pilot and leader. I know the war held terrible memories for my father, as it must for anyone who lived through that combat. But he was also deeply proud to have served his country. He would feel honored by this book.

I recommend the book highly. Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot by Starr Smith (Foreword by Walter Cronkite) is well worth your time. James Maitland Stewart is a vivid reminder of what it means to love one’s country and put one’s life on the line to defend her.

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

On Line Edition

Week of November 2, 2009

# 5 – “Enough is enough!”

If you can’t lift 30 pounds, then don’t attempt to pick up the newly revised, proposed Health Care Reform bill. As a new recipient of Medicare, I cringe to think of the changes looming if this massive pile of paper passes in Congress.

Defined, ration means to restrict the amount of something (usually a commodity in short supply) that an individual is allowed to buy, consume, or use. That the government and its minions would control of whom should receive what care should make every senior citizen shudder.

The vast majority of American seniors paid into the system their entire working lives. Now, at the hands of politicians eager to grab one-sixth of the American economy, all retirees teeter on the precipice of care denied due to age. Panels will determine who deserves care and who does not.

Ironically, their very longevity is precisely what bolstered the system from the “get go”. If our seniors hadn’t been so work brittle… if they had sat on their backsides and relied on government programs for their livelihood… if they hadn’t adhered to a strong work ethic… Well, you can see where this discussion is going.

Some strident voices of the younger set shock me. In a letter to a newspaper, one college student said (paraphrasing), “Move over, grandma. I want my health care and I want it now!” How comforting….

A James Bond movie title comes to mind: “Live And Let Die”. Oops! The proverbial cat is about to leap from the bag of tricks within the nearly 2000 pages of this latest bill. Analysts claim “shall” appears more than 3500 times. Legally, shall is not a suggestion. It’s an order. Shall mandates compliance. There will be no choice. That’s no surprise. Whenever politicians, such as those supporting this bill, are faced with giving the public choice, the answer is no. Remember school choice? Parents petitioning for it sure do! So you think you’ll have choice in health care? Yeah, and I found the Lost Dutchman Mine!

MSRP may hold for retail, but when applied to insurance premiums and medical costs, it will be a mirage! I don’t have the mathematical expertise to estimate the approximate cost, but it’s just common sense that if you assume financial responsibility for the estimated 15% of uninsured Americans, you would be money ahead. Why scrap the entire health insurance system for the other 85% of the population — taxing generations unborn to get the money?

Such coverage for the uninsured should link to personal responsibility. Ah, but that quality seems to be widely lacking today — especially in those who clamor for Uncle Sam to morph into a health care Sugar Daddy.

A thousand thousand billion equals a trillion. Can you envision that amount? Well, if you can’t complain, be prepared to suffer the consequences of spending such obscene amounts of money. Look at the history. Medicare was said to cost one amount when proposed in the 1960s, but it outstripped estimations exponentially. What makes you think that this new plan would be any different?

And what of the millions of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will be forced to shoulder the huge financial burden? Do proponents care? Oh, they talk a good game, but their actions belie any real concern for either end of the age spectrum — young or old. If rationing mirrors that of England and Canada, then young will pay in money, and old will pay in lives.

It’s the old drug problem — Beltway OPM — not opium, but “Other People’s Money”. It’s so easy to spend. If Congress passes any health reform then each federal employee — up to and including all members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate — should be forced to sign on with the rest of us.

My grandfather would have dubbed this bill “for the birds.” To illustrate, consider an old saying: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. If the bill were on line as promised, I would urge you to take a gander at it, bt it’s not there.

One gander at this huge piece of legislation and you come to one conclusion: the health reform goose deserves to be cooked! Oh, and while you’re trying to get a handle on this rules and regulations behemoth, contact your Congressman and Senator. Gifts are off limits when applied to tangibles, so offer them a freebie. Give them a piece of your mind!