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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December 7, 1941

When I was five years old, I sat in the darkened theater in our little town watching a two-year-old film.

The theater, or picture shows as they were called back then in Neolithic times, was named ‘The Rogue’. The movie was ‘Wizard of Oz’, and the day was Sunday.

Dad was treating Mom and me to the town’s Sunday afternoon matinee, which always began at one pm, ran only one time, and then shut down for the day. Each Sunday film was shown again Monday night. Tuesdays, best I can remember, The Rogue was closed only to be open the rest of the week.

Dad wasn’t a movie-goer. In fact, not too many grownups back then were. Still the Guthrie family had enough business to keep the picture show in the black.

That was back in the country’s period of innocence. Our little town was so out of the way that delivery of new films was made at night and left at the front door of the movie house. Films to be returned were left at the same spot.

Try to imagine if you will the fate of films left in such a manner today? Probably before the delivery truck turned the first corner, the film would be in somebody’s car and heading for the pawn shop.

But, enough editorializing. Back to the movie.

That Sunday was a treat—while it lasted.

While the film enthralled me, what I remember most that day was the film stopping; the overhead lights suddenly flashing on; Mister Guthrie hurrying down one aisle and climbing up on the stage.

Holding up his hands to quiet the muttering of the audience, he told us the radio had just reported that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

Now to a five-year-old boy disappointed that the Munchkins had been turned off, that meant nothing. I didn’t have the slightest idea what a Pearl Harbor was. When I heard my Dad muyter a curse and Mom ask him what it meant, I knew something was wrong. It had to be something seriously wrong to shut down ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

At home, the family gathered, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins- all in front of the radio desperately seeking more news.

As the tragic figures grew, so did the family’s anger and resolve. Now, we had a vague idea there were problems with Japan. For months, the news carried bits and pieces concerning the rocky relationship between the U.S. and Japan.

But up there in the middle of nowhere called the Panhandle with only a couple ‘bobbed’ wire fences between us and the North Pole, the news meant little.

But as details trickled in, the words took on new meanings, and the anger and resolve grew in my family, as it did in millions of families across the country.

The surprise attack hit at 7:53 Sunday morning. The first wave damaged eight battleships, sinking five. Three light cruisers, three destroyers, and smaller vessels were lost along wit 188 aircraft. Fortunately, the main targets, the aircraft carriers, were not in harbor.

Casualties? 2,117 servicemen, 68 civilians, and over a thousand crewmen on the USS Arizona were killed plus 1,760 were wounded.

Sunday night, Japan attacked Hong Kong; Guam; Philippine Islands; and Wake Island. Monday morning, they hit Midway Island.

On Monday, December 8, President Roosevelt spoke to Congress, asking it for a declaration of war against Japan. He called the previous day ‘a date which will live in infamy.’

Congress did as he asked, and immediately infuriated Americans clamored to enlist.

I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I knew things were changing about me. And change it did. In its outrage, our country turned its bucolic existence into an all-consuming rage at its attackers.

A quote attributed incorrectly to Admiral Yamamoto, mastermind of the attack, states ‘I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping tiger.’

That’s a movie quote, not his, but it proved apropos.

The Greatest Generation, outraged at such treachery, responded with fervor never before nor since witnessed in the history of the world. All the men in my family volunteered. I had cousins in the Air Corp, uncles in the Navy and Army, and my father in the Navy. Fortunately they all returned.

A few years later in Korea, my cousin, Dooley, was lost, Missing in Action. As of November 30, 2011, he is still missing. His DNA is on record, our one hope someday he’ll be back.

Of the 16 million plus Americans serving in WWII, over four hundred and five thousand died. You and I are here today courtesy of that generation and their supreme sacrifices. We dishonor their sacrifices if we do not keep America great.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Feeding Frenzy

You’ve seen videos of sharks in a feeding frenzy, ripping chunks from the prey, tearing at each other, filling the water with blood and slivers of raw meat.

That’s what the media appears to be doing today to the GOP candidates under the guise of impartial reporting. Maybe their onslaught is deserved. Maybe it isn’t.

What's the sense eviscerating a candidate when our primary concern should be to show our sitting president the road out of Washington and back to his daytime job as community organizer.

Case in point, old Herman Cain. That guy has been the center of the cold-eyed media’s frenzy for weeks now. They’ve torn him to pieces.

I’ll bet he’s glad Jerry Sandusky and Penn State came along to take over the headlines. Between that guy and the over-the-hill hippies at the protests, perhaps Cain can find a tad of respite from the heated accusations and innuendoes directed at him.

But in all fairness, you know as well as I, such recrimination, whether deserved or not, was due old Herman since he had the unmitigated audacity to surge to the top tier of GOP candidates.

The media reminds me of some of the wacky (read dangerous) deer hunters I’ve had the misfortune to run into over the last forty or fifty years.

Those are the crazies so anxious to take a deer that they shoot when a leaf moves, figuring they’d spotted a ten-point buck when in reality, all they manage is to put a hole through a maple leaf. But, they sure killed that sucker dead.

Seems like as if by magic, a bullseye morphs onto the chest of any GOP candidate who rises to the top, and the media takes aim, dreaming of Boone and Crockett headlines.

Now, I’m not defending Cain. Maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t. I have the same reservations as any of you who struggle to keep an open mind. We need to know all about our candidates, warts and all-within the bounds of credibility.

Accusers have stepped forward, then fallen back. Makes me wonder. Is it all a ploy paid by liberals or even opposing conservatives to demean and disgrace the man? Or is it the truth?

Such is difficult to define since the majority of the media has been in Obama’s back pocket since the campaign in 2008. Anyone who opposes him is fair game.

I’ll be the first to admit, some of the poor jokers on the receiving end of the media’s Spanish Inquisition deserve much of what they get, but I have yet to see the mainstream media nitpick at the current president the way they scrutinize every thread in the fabric of his opposition’s life.

Take Michele Bachmann. A good person, she is very sincere in wanting to put America on the right track, but she made too many blunders early on when she was in the top tier of candidates. Some were outrageous, such as implying the ‘shot heard around the world’ was fired in New Hampshire’ when it was in Massachusetts. Or her assertion that Perry’s HPV vaccinations caused mental retardation.’

What do you want to bet if Obama had made those remarks, we’d never heard of them? The media doesn’t appear to be taking him to task today for the politics he’s playing with the Keystone pipeline, dragging his feet until next year’s election, then approving it.

And then along came Perry, who rocketed to the top of the candidate list and back to the bottom just as fast. Why? The media honed in on him, his hunting club with the derogatory name; his loss of memory; his deplorable debating skills; even his twang.

In his favor, he didn’t name the lease; everyone is forgetful at the wrong time; great orators are not automatically good presidents; and what’s wrong with a twang?

The result of the media’s obsession with Perry? Old Rick tumbled down the hill right behind Jill—oops, I mean, Michele, and then along came Herman, self-made, Washington outsider with plain and simple ideas at which the media scoffed.

Can’t you imagine just how frantically the media struggled to dig up bad press? And they found it in the sexual harassment business, a sordid business to which they clung like cur dogs on a gut wagon.

Cain didn’t help himself during a couple interviews when he had to pause to put together a response. That was all it took to bloody the waters, and here came the sharks, gaudy headlines glistening off their curved teeth.

I think there might have been a few shreds of old Herman left to sink to the bottom. I’m not sure, for the predators did a pretty thorough job on him.

Then came Newt, who early on had been pilloried, but survived. When Cain tumbled, Gingrich hit the top tier. Now, they’re after him like fresh chum tossed in the water because he worked as a consultant for Freddie Mac to the tune of $1.5 million over seven or eight years. What is that, $200 thousand a year? Less than half of what Joe Paterno made at Penn State.

Now I don’t know about you, but I can understand many of these candidates messing up from time to time, and okay, the media takes them to task. That’s their job. Can you tell me Obama hasn’t messed up? What do we hear? Nothing!

But sometimes, the media, in their quest for blood, overreach. Bachmann made a remark that as a youth in 1961, her parents paid five bucks for a doctor’s visit. The media pounced on it, pointing out that 1961’s five bucks was $37.94 today.

So what? She was trying to make a point, although she was somewhat clumsy about it.

They jump Perry about a hunting lease with a derogatory name over which his father had painted. And they assume Perry is racially biased because of that?

And why did Cain’s accusers wait so long? As far as I know, only two identified themselves. I suggested it before, but paid hecklers and informers is nothing new in the political jungle surrounding us.

Even Romney has had his share of bad press regarding his flip-flopping and healthcare, and the president, with the media’s blessing, goes tiptoeing around the world without a care to his name.

You think the battlefield is bloody now, wait until the presidential campaign begins. You’ll see Chicago politics at its gaudiest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Thanksgiving I Became a Man

Despite my age, I still look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas just as much as I did when I was a youngster up in the Texas Panhandle, but for different reasons.

As I youth, three-quarters of my anticipation was getting together with cousins. The other 25% was the piles of food.

Today as an age-challenged individual, I count myself blessed to be able to look forward to the warm gathering of family and friends.

No question, Thanksgiving has changed over the years.

While turkey has always been associated with the holiday, as a youngster, our main fare was chicken, and usually it was fried, but we sure didn’t argue the point.

Today after a good meal, we settle back for a football game.

Sixty-five years ago, instead of after dinner TV (there was no TV), grownups gathered around a small space heater and brought the whole family up to date on their lives for the past few months. Outside, we boys ran wild.

Like most old codgers, I’ve romanticized those days. So what? We all pick the most pleasant days from the past to remember. that's how most of us make it from day to day.

As I think back to those days, the delightful aroma of dinner on the oversized stove seemed more palpable than what comes packaged from today's vendor; the friendly joshing and laughter merrier than the inane rattling from broadcasters and color men; the days brighter, and everyones' enjoyment more fulfilled.

Usually, we spent Thanksgiving at my maternal grandmother’s. They lived about forty-five minutes north of Lubbock, right smack dab in the middle of what is called the Llano Estacada or Staked Plains.

The story goes that the early Spanish explorers used stakes to mark their path back to their camp since there were no trees nor shrubs nor hills nor prairie dog holes to serve as landmarks. The country then, as today, is as flat as a wet saddleblanket.

The drive from our home in the Panhandle was only about two hundred and fifty miles, but it usually took us around six hours in the old pre-war vehicles. Even the post-war autos took five or so hours.

That time of year, the weather was chilly—well, not chilly, but cold.

Mama’s house had four and a half rooms. the pot-bellied stove in the living room and the stove in the kitchen kept the two rooms warm. The two bedrooms were like ice as was the bathroom out on the closed-in back porch. I tell you, there was no piddling around when you had to use the facilities.

One Thanksgiving that I remember so clearly was the year I shifted from boyhood to manhood, at least in my mind. It was around 1944. I was eight.

My Aunt Mae drove into our home at Wheeler with her husband, a bull of a man named Millard Coate. He was big and rough and his favorite curse was ‘son-of-a-buck.’ He was as amiable and friendly as he was rugged, and I instantly idolized him.

Most men in my family with the exception of Uncle Henry were only around 5’9”. Millard, or M.O. as he preferred for Millard Ore, stood well over six feet.

He drove a Studebaker bobtail with a arched plywood top over the bed. He had constructed it with twelve-inch sides so it would slip down over the sideboards and tailgate like a hat. He planned on taking the truck on to Lubbock for a job after Thanksgiving.

Since Mae had not seen her sisters, Mom or Elva, for several months, nothing would do but the three ride together and do what sisters always do, find out the skinny on everything that’s gone on since they last got together.

Me, I rode with Mo. Boy was I proud. Eight years old and traveling across the Panhandle without my Mom. A heady feeling for a younker like me.

I don’t remember much about the trip except somewhere past Plainview (the name clearly describes the how flat the land is around there), the top blew off the bed.

With a ‘son-of-a-buck’ curse, Mo pulled off and backed up.

I jumped out and almost froze when the bitter wind hit me. That land was so flat I swear I could see the North Pole. Clenching my teeth, I grabbed the top. I couldn’t budge it, but here came Mo, muttering under his breath. Without seemingly an effort, he lifted the top and propped it against the truck. He told me to hold it in place, which I barely managed to do until he shed his jacket. He bent over and grabbed the edge of the plywood, and heaved, sliding the cumbersome top back into place.

That was sixty-five years ago, and I still marvel at his strength.

Back in the truck, Mo laughed and slapped me on the leg. “By god, we got it back in place, didn’t we, boy? You did a good job. I reckon that calls for a cup of coffee and hot cocoa, what do you say?”

If you think I felt grown up helping him with the top, you can imagine how I felt when we marched in a nice warm café and sat at the counter, me beside that great hulk of a man who called out to the waitress, “Lady, I’ll have a cup of coffee and bring a hot cocoa for my partner here-with marshmallows if you got them.”

Mo’s been gone a long time, over twenty-five years.

I still miss that big old bear of a man.

Incidentally, I didn’t get the marshmallows. They were rationed, but I didn’t even notice. I was with my hero.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Green America Turns Red

If you didn’t know it, our president has been out on the road, riding in a great black RV constructed in Canada. The purpose of his journey is not to inform, but to campaign. After all, in a year from now the presidential election takes place.

Most sitting presidents do not to hit the trail so soon, but then, he is like no other president in our history. And no, I’m not referring to his race or eloquence, but to his inept attempts to administer the duties of his office efficiently and effectively. He’s learning the hard way that sophisticated educational theory hatched in an Ivy League all-nighter usually stinks like a rotten egg.

He does, however, possess a great deal in common with many federal and state bureaucrats in that he spends money like water. Of course, it is taxpayer funds, not his.

They say death and taxes are the only sure things in life, but I suggest there is a third that could claim a spot in that unholy Trinity, “No amount of money thrown at a project can ensure its success.’

That is what he and his administration of brilliant idiots have attempted since they first got their hands on the country’s purse strings. Their ideas bordered on the grandiose and ostentatious, never realizing that job creation, from which all else comes, cannot be generated by word or unproven ideas or fanciful theories, but by hard work, sweat, experiment, failure, regrouping, and working again.

And no, jobs do not come from sitting on one's tail drawing welfare either.

Today, our country is drawing near fifteen trillion in debt. That is almost $50,000. per individual.

Think back to the stimulus of 2009, over eight hundred billion.

Here’s one example among hundreds of waste. The administration gave the Department of Energy $500 million for green jobs. One hundred and eleven million was spent to train 21,000 workers for green jobs. To date, none of them are employed.

And then there was Beacon Power Corporation that filed for bankruptcy just a year after receiving $43 million guarantee from the Department of Energy.

Then you have Solyndra, maker of solar panels. They received a $535 million loan from the DOE. A couple years later, our president visited them and gushed just how proud he was of the way they had handled themselves. Solyndra, he claimed, was a model for all green energy companies.

And then what did they have the audacity and nerve to do. Why only months later, they went belly up, filing for bankruptcy.

Serves him right. No one, not even the president, has the right to take foolish chances with another’s money, but that is exactly what his administration is doing. And, to be fair, previous administrations also. Bush is in for his share of the blame. He can’t escape that.

Oh, they try to cover it up.

Another example.

How many of you out there own a Volt, GM’s electric car?

Not many, I can tell you that.


You see, the government anticipated building a 100,000 thousand Volts, but to date have sold only 928, a major, but well-deserved, embarrassment for Obama.

Why didn’t they sell?

Price for one thing--$41,000 plus it is a lemon among lemons.

The cars wouldn’t sell at that price, so GM lobbied Obama, who was pushing the Volt, for a federal tax rebate. They received a $7,500 federal rebate.

Federal rebate?

You know, don’t you, where that money comes from?

Think your wallet.

At a Detroit auto show, a Volt failed to start when it was demonstrated.

After testing Volt, Consumer Reports estimated mileage range on the battery is between 25 and 50 miles. And the only reason electric motor range is that much is because the heater or the air conditioner is not running. Range would be even less with either of the two in operation.

And oh, yes, the Volt requires premium fuel, so what little gas savings you get is consumed by the expense of premium fuel.

To save Obama’s face, General Electric (remember-they pay no taxes courtesy the present administration and Charley Rangel) committed to buy 50,000 Volts.

Everyone’s happy.

GM because they get rid of a dud of a vehicle.

Obama because it falsely appears he is greening the country.

GE because Obama is happy.

The only unhappy ones are the suckers, the US taxpayers We will be paying $5,000,000 for fifty thousand lemons.

Now, I never believed his ‘hope and change’ hype. If you still do, give me a call. I have a mountainside retreat in Galveston I’ll sell you at a real bargain.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Coincidence or Politics?

A couple days back, an old classmate of mine from decades past sent me a few interesting tidbits of information that caught my attention. After reading the first scrap of Washington nonsense, I started to skip the second piece, but for some reason I went ahead and read it.

I’m glad I did. Makes me wonder once again; just what is going on up there in Washington. At first, I figured the two incidents were simply coincidence, but upon second reading and a little research, I’ve come to the conclusion the two events are part of a larger game that is being played out behind the ludicrous façade of politics today.

You decide for yourself.

Now, everyone is aware of the ‘Occupiers’ in New York, a group of protestors endorsed by President Obama. I’m not exactly sure what they are protesting, but that isn’t as important as the spot at which they are conducting their protest.

I had heard the park in which they have settled, Zucotti Park, is not owned by the city. It is a private park owned by Brookfield Properties. I often wondered why the trustees of the park didn’t order the people off.

Naïve me.

Guess whom they recently hired as their attorney? Vice-President Joe Biden’s son. But that’s not all. Sitting on the board of Brookfield Properties is New York Mayor Bloomberg’s live-in girlfriend, and now guess what company just received some of the last of Obama’s billions in stimulus?

If you guessed Brookfield Properties, go to the head of the class.

How is that for coincidence?

No wonder Brookfield doesn’t mind folks squatting on their property.

But our President doesn’t just have his finger in the New York pies. He’s also hard at work in the kitchen over in Wisconsin, a state that could be ‘the’ swing state in 2012.

Now, I’m sure this is just coincidence, but do you have any idea who will be tabulating the electronic votes in Wisconsin in 2012?

No one but George Soros.

And who is George Soros, you ask.

He is none other that the biggest financial contributor to Obama, that’s who.

Talk about a fox in the hen house.

Anyone care to give odds on who will win Wisconsin?

My ex-classmate closed his message with a quote from Joseph Stalin. I didn’t verify the quote, but it seems apropos here. “He who votes does not have power. He who counts the votes has power.”

I’ll bet Florida would second that.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen too many Washington ‘coincidences’ to believe very few are anything but carefully constructed events to achieve political gains.

Think back, if you will, to the days prior to the first Republican debate. A time was designated for the debate. The next day, the president and the White House announced a request for a joint session of Congress on that same date so he could give his jobs speech. He was forced to back down, but can you tell me with a straight face that such an announcement was a coincidence; that he was not deliberately trying to disrupt their debate?

I’m gullible, probably more than the average person, but I’m not that easy to fool.

Ever since the first stimulus, I’ve wondered about the recipients of the grants or loans.

I hadn’t thought much about the loan to General Electric until I ran across it during research of several sources online. To my surprise, many of the sources utilized the expertise of one writer, Walter Korschek.

According to Mister Korschek, sometime back word surfaced that General Electric had over a billion in worldwide profits as well as a billion in domestic earnings in 2010. In addition, they paid no income taxes, receiving in fact a two billion dollar tax refund.

For years, GE had been making overseas loans and receiving interest. According to a loophole in our tax codes, they paid no taxes on the interest.

The Democrats got their nose out of joint and swore to their sorely taxed constituents that GE would indeed pay taxes. Charley Rangel, at the time Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, decided to rewrite the code so GE would have to pay taxes.

And then a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

One day Rangel stood ready drop the floor from under GE, tightening the noose about the neck of their loophole. The next day, he inexplicably removed the rope and tore down the scaffolding altogether.

An then a miracle. A few days later, a GE Foundation donated millions to New York City schools, several million of which went to schools in Charley’s Congressional District.

Coincidence? Or politics? Or a miracle?

You and I both know the president is always talking about spreading the wealth around.

Personally, he’s doing a lot better job at it than I care for. I don’t know how the wealth could be spread around any better than what old Charley Rangel is doing.

Rangel’s district is a model that Obama would love to see spread to the rest of the USA. The majority live in government housing, cash government checks, utilized government food stamps, accept government cell phones, use government health services, and take advantage of government social services.

On the other hand, it might be we should thank Obama. Had he not tried so overtly to move our country into a socialistic society, we might never have noticed just how far we’ve already slid as a result of back door politics and Congressional greed.

Irate Americans put many new faces into Congress in 2010. Our only salvation is to send that many more new faces to Washington in 2012.

Give us time, and we’ll win out.