Category Archives: Growing Up in America 65 Years Ago

My Senses are Degrading….Just Like Our Society!

Gosh Darn It!  There are times when getting older really does suck.  And as I get older, my senses are degrading in acuity.  You remember those five senses from grammar school…sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch.  It appears to me that as my senses are degrading, so are the senses of our society.  (My mind is faltering, too.  But, dammit, I did not have to use Google to remember the five senses!)  Let me provide examples of how I think society’s senses are faltering, much as mine.

Hearing

Have you ever watched an episode of ‘The View?’  That is a daytime show with four very left- leaning women, trying to convince other women to be left-leaning.  Well…admittedly, I have never watched more than 5 minutes of that show, mostly because I am not left-leaning or a woman.  Surprise.  The four primary women on this show are Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Abby Huntsman, and Sunny Hostin.  This past week, they were mocking the message that Melania Trump produced about defending her husband from a New York op-ed piece.  Sunny Hostin began reading this message in an improvised, not funny-at-all, Melania accent.  Admittedly, one of the other women had the good graces and common sense to tell her to stop.

I am sure than anyone that hears Melania speak, can also hear her accent.  (Did you catch that segue?)  I wonder if they would have mocked her accent if they would have heard her speak the other five languages that she speaks?  Yes, Melania speaks six languages: Slovenian, French, Serbian, German and Italian, and of course, English.  I am willing to bet that she speaks more languages than the other four ladies on The View combined.

Touch

Have there ever been instances in your life that you ‘would not touch with a 10 foot flagpole?’  I know I have, but whenever I have gotten close to a real ’10 foot flag pole’, I was either saluting it or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  During all twelve years of my el-hi education, the day was begun with the Pledge of Allegiance.  If Colin Kaepernick gets close to a ’10 foot flagpole….he takes a knee.

Amazingly, just to show how disrespectful this act is, the Nike corporation has decided to use Colin as the face of their newest ad campaign.  Their reasoning?  They believe that Kaepernick showed ‘bravery and sacrifice’ by taking the knee.  Now I realize that my mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, but I am having one hell of a time equating disrespect for our flag, our national anthem and our country as being ‘brave and sacrificing!’  

I will give Nike the benefit of the doubt about market research in making this decision.  They realized that their target group is younger people, and that virtually anyone over the age of 55 is off their radar.  But you screwed up in your assumptions.  Us ‘over 55’ crowd are parents and grandparents, which means that those grandkids get presents for birthdays and Christmas.  Do you think us older folks, us that recited the Pledge of Allegiance every day,  are going to rush to buy Nike gear for their grandkids?  Not likely.  You may be spot on by targeting the generation that has never had to live through a costly war.  Their perception of ‘sacrifice and bravery’ would be diluted from us who lost friends and relatives in Viet Nam or Korea or World War II or from 9/11.

Nike, you missed the boat.  If you wanted to push the envelope of society, and touch the hearts of a patriotic America, you could have been a trendsetter by choosing someone else.  How about a fire figher who rushed into the World Trade Center, knowing they may die while trying to rescue others?  How about a paraplegic, athletic soldier or Marine that has lost both legs while defending this country rather than denigrating it.  Those military people who have lost their limbs would only take two knees to pray, but never one knee to disrespect this country.   Need a famous athlete, as you have selected in the past?  How about J.J. Watt?  He raised over $47 million for Hurricane Harvey relief.  But I would guess that J.J. Watts, excellent role model like he is, is not ‘edgy’ enough for your campaign.  Peyton Manning would be left out because he has only built a children’s hospital with his own money.

But there is an upside to this whole affair.  In today’s Trump improving economy, even Colin Kaepernick got a job!

Smell

This past week, the New York Times came out with a scathing op-ed piece about the White House and Donald Trump.  The entire article was based upon a ‘high level anonymous source.’  Within the last two weeks, Bob Woodward has published a new book, also very negative about the White House and Donald Trump.  His book is largely based on ‘anonymous sources and hearsay.’  In his book, he has said that, “his anonymous source overheard” a conversation in the White House.

Does anyone ‘smell a rat’ when it comes to ‘anonymous sources and hearsay?’  I don’t know about you, but I am beginning to equate the word ‘anonymous’ with the word, ‘fictitious’  and the word  ‘hearsay with the word, ‘rumor.’  The reason why I ‘smell a rat’  concerning this type of reporting and journalism is that I am wildly skeptical because of the timing.  It has become common in the last few decades, to release negative garbage just prior to an upcoming election, by both parties.  (Okay.  I am biased.  I feel like the liberal media has the edge in the garbage department.)  This year’s midterm election is going to be huge on how the outcome affects the direction of America and the smelly  journalistic garbage campaign is already beginning.  You can certainly be assured that there will be more to follow.

My opinion about ‘anonymous sources’ is that if they feel so strongly about what information they are providing, then they should be courageous enough to identify themselves.  If they are not willing to identify themselves, then they should not disclose their information.  That is the way it would be in the Grandpa T fantasy world.

Sight

One of my fondest memories of growing up was being in, and watching parades.  I would love to see the floats, the bands with their beautiful majorettes, the beauty queens, the classic cars and catching the handfuls of candy that accompanied every parade.

But I have one regret.  I have only seen one circus.  I was probably 5 or 6, and somehow our family got tickets to see the Ringling Brothers circus.  For a young kid, it was magical!

There are advantages to getting old.  For one advantage, I get to watch a whole lot of television.  For one disadvantage, I get to watch a whole lot of television.  With that in mind, I would like to share with you that while watching television this past week, I got to see another circus.  That makes two circuses in my lifetime!   This particular circus was hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee during its confirmation hearings involving Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  It was obvious from the questioning and from the proceedings that there were more clowns in this circus than Ringling Brothers could ever afford.  Total lack of respect.  Total lack of decorum.  Total dedication to disrupting the proceedings.

I can see that this is what we receive when we load a room with over-inflated egos, posturing to become a presidential candidate.  Eventually, we did get a smattering of what the Supreme Court Justice nominee had to say, but it was secondary to the circus being in town.  After watching this event, I began wishing for two things:  1.  Take the cameras out of the room, because most of these clowns never met a TV camera they didn’t like, and, 2.  Is it too late to change our government to a benevolent dictator so we would not have to watch how crappy our government really operates?  (How did those 70 demonstrators get into that meeting room?  Did they need a pass from one of the senatorial participants?  Just wondering out loud.)

Taste

In late June,  Sarah Sanders and her family were asked to leave before getting a taste of the cuisine at at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.  Bummer.  She was asked to leave by the owner, stating that she was asked to leave because she works for Donald Trump.  The owner then took this personal display of stupidity and disrespect by following Sarah and her family to the next restaurant.

But just like the TV commercials, ‘but wait…there’s more!’  Maxine Waters, U.S. Representative from the California 43rd congressional district took this one step further by stating that, “Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up.  And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd.  And you push back on them.  And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”  Wow!  Aren’t our elected officials suppose to do what is best for America?  Aren’t they suppose to set an example for Americans?  Heal racial wounds?  Promote a united America?  Well, in this instance, Maxine went out of her way to demonstrate her intolerance and stupidity.

One can only hope that sometime in the near future, Maxine Waters gets a taste of her own medicine and gets thrown out of some facility.  Hopefully that would be the House of Representatives.  Just thinking out loud about the Grandpa T fantasy world.

I still have enough intellectual wits about me to know that my senses are slightly duller as I get older.  My big concern is, ‘Does our society have enough intellectual wits to realize that its senses are dulling, also?’  (And, probably faster than mine!)   America needs to become more cognizant of its ‘senses.’  And in that vein, let’s continue to “Make America Great Again!”

It’s Open Season on Non-Career Politicians in Washington, D.C.!

I will make no bones about it….I supported and voted for Donald Trump.  Why?  Well, after living through the terms of more Presidents than I care to count, I decided that maybe career politicians did not make the best Presidents.  (Okay.  I confess.  Trump makes number 13 during my lifetime!)

In the good old days, many of our Presidents were elected because of having military experience.  During my lifetime, that would have been Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.  Ten of the thirteen Presidents during my lifetime had some form of military experience.  The three that have not served in the military are: Clinton, Obama and Trump.

So, for the last three that did not have military experience, which were the professional career politicians?  That would be Clinton and Obama.  That leaves just one person left and he was a career businessman as opposed to a career politician, Donald Trump.  And Washington, D.C., the political muck-hole and swamp of the political world cannot tolerate a non-career politician in the Oval Office.  Thus he, and anyone associated with him, have become targets in a political assassination game that the majority of this country finds detestable.

So what were the significant contributions and accomplishments of William Jefferson Clinton, the first non-military experienced president during my lifetime?  He was the Attorney General for the State of Arkansas, before becoming the Governor of Arkansas.  He then became the third youngest POTUS in 1993 and was POTUS until 2001.  In today’s political arena, he would have been considered a moderate. With some of his legislation, by today’s Democratic socialist yardstick, he may have even been considered slightly moderate to conservative!  But Bill also had the distinction of being only the second POTUS to ever be impeached.  (The first POTUS to be impeached was Andrew Johnson.)  Yup.  Bill had an affair with a White House intern and lied about it before congressional committees.  He lied about the affair before the 1996 election, which he won, and was impeached in 1998 after scathing evidence was presented concerning the affair.  Because the Republicans did not want to give Al Gore, the Vice President, presidential exposure and experience before the next election, Bill was allowed to finish out his term.  Bill was a lawyer.  As scandalous as his affair was, it pales in comparison as to what he and his wife have done since his presidency.

Barack Obama had a different career path.  Initially, he was a community organizer.  I am not sure for what organization, but that is what he did.  He served 7 years in the Illinois senate.  He then won election as a U.S. Senator.  Within 150 days after becoming a U.S. Senator, Obama began his campaign to become POTUS.  Amazingly, he won the Democratic nomination for POTUS, defeating the well-entrenched, well-funded Hillary Clinton.  He served as POTUS from 2009 to 2017. He was also a lawyer.  (And, from the day he was inaugurated until the day he left the presidency, his net worth increased 30 times!  Wow! )

Now along comes the billionaire and successful businessman, Donald Trump.  The one big advantage for Trump was that because he was not a career politician, he did not owe his political success to any particular lobby group or voting bloc.  Thus, unlike Clinton and Obama, he could not be controlled by campaign contributors or lobbyists.  He spent half of what Hillary Clinton spent on her campaign.  Hillary was the first politician in the United States to spend over a BILLION dollars on a campaign. The Washington smut machine does not like independent players on its field.  They are considered uncontrollable, and….they can be dangerous because you just never know what they can do.  When I was a teenager, I asked my dad why he voted for John F. Kennedy.  My dad’s reply?  I voted for JFK because “its tough to bribe a millionaire.”  Big Daddy G was ahead of his time without knowing it.  Now Trump is in the same position, except he is a billionaire.

Then, Trump had the audacity to place the best and brightest in his cabinet positions and his advisory positions.  As he was making these selections, I said to Grandma P, “This country could not afford to hire the people that Trump is appointing.”  They were the best and the brightest people that could be gotten.  They were paragons of industry, high level military leaders; and the best at everything.  He made these appointments without having to settle political debts, with one exception.  He even appointed Ben Carson, a former political opponent, to be Director of Housing and Urban Development.  How many people would do that?

But the media and the denizens of the deepest part of the ‘swamp’ reared their ugly heads and wasted no time in doing it.  The new word of the day became the ‘I’ word….impeachment.  And they began using this word before he was inaugurated!   But wait…for impeachment to take place, one would have to commit some impeachable offense.  So, in the truest tradition of fake it or make it up news,  we ended up with the Mueller investigation.  It is difficult to remember that this investigation began to determine the Russian influence and tampering in our last election.  It now has become an extended ‘witch hunt’ into Donald Trump and anyone associated with, or close to Donald Trump.

I am not sure what Paul Manafort is guilty of, but I am sure it was not something that required a 4:00AM arrest at his home, and incarceration without bail.  His arrest, when he answered the door in his underwear, was well recorded and publicized.  How convenient.  Manafort was the former campaign chairman for the Trump campaign.  In the good old days, those being any days before the Obama presidency, Manafort would have been subject to an IRS audit, not a publicized arrest by the FBI.

Some of Trump’s former friends and associates have come under scrutiny because of the Mueller investigation and are pleading guilty and plea bargaining to circumstances that are not really criminal.  Why would they do that?  Well…it is really quite simple.  Once the Justice Department, the IRS or the FBI wants to get into your knickers, they can do it with a battalion of attorneys that are all on the government payroll and at tax payer expense.  The accused, on the other hand, has to pay for a defense out of their own pockets.  With the Mueller investigation now rapidly approaching two years of existence, it is evident to any accused to what lengths our misguided legal system will go to harass.  A lengthy court battle would put most people into financial ruination.  Or, you could get a get out of jail card if you turn on Trump?  You would have to be some kind of person not to take a plea deal and turn on Trump with the alternative being financial ruination.  Our misguided legal/judicial system is using this sentiment to their advantage.  Rather than handling the accused persons with ‘kid gloves,’ they come at them with a sledge hammer.

But now as the skins of the onion are being peeled away, we are learning that this ‘witch hunt’ has been coordinated between three departments within the US Government; Justice, FBI and the CIA.  All of this dependent on a fictitious Fusion GPS dossier that was funded by the Clinton campaign.  If I am reading the tea leaves correctly, John Brennan, former head of the CIA, submitted the Fusion GPS report to the FBI while knowing it was all baloney.  The well entrenched FBI Obamaites/Clintonites could not pass up the opportunity to take this to the mat and received all kinds of judicial support, all the while knowing it was baloney, also.  Remember in an earlier paragraph where I said Trump appointed people without political debt except for one?  That one person would be Jeff Sessions, the current Attorney General .  Sessions was an early Trump supporter, and was rewarded with the appointment.  When the issue of the Mueller investigation gained steam, Sessions recused himself.  Big mistake for him and for Trump.  The now steam-rolling Mueller investigation has proceeded unencumbered because the Attorney General has taken a ‘hands off’ approach to the whole affair and the investigation is in the hands of entrenched ‘Anti-Trumpers.”

The arrogance of some of the key people concerning this investigation is breath taking.  John Brennan, the head CIA ‘spook’, has not found a TV camera he doesn’t like in his jihad to belittle Donald Trump and his presidency.  (Aren’t ‘spooks’ suppose to keep their mouths shut?)  Peter Strzok, the most arrogant piece of beetle dung that is collecting a government paycheck, said in a congressional hearing that, he “knew what was best for Americans.”  This was suppose to justify his nefarious actions and his office affair?  Peter, I know what is best for America today…not having our governmental agencies politically weaponized to influence this nation, favor a political party, or chastise and harass a candidate/elected official.  Brennan was CIA, Strzok was FBI, and Bruce Ohr was at the DOJ.  It was Ohr’s wife that worked at Fusion GPS and submitted the fictitious report that worked its way through all three agencies.  

Why are some of the leaders of these three organizations (and the all-to-willing media) attacking Trump and his associates with such ‘heavy  handedness?’  In football parlance, ‘the best defense is a good offense’ and there is not anyone more offensive than the above mentioned individuals.  They are up to their crooked necks in a highly illegal and treasonous  cabal at the highest levels of our government.

If I had a genie in a lamp and could rub it three times for three wishes (did I mention my genie would look like Sandra Bullock?) I would wish for the following.   Wish one:  Jeff Sessions is replaced by Trey Gowdy as Attorney General. Wish two:  Brennan, Strzok and Ohr all lose their jobs, lose their retirements and have their security clearances stripped.  Wish three:  The legal process will finally investigate that the Clinton money machine and Barack Obama are behind all the ‘Anti-Trump’ machinations taking place in ‘Swampington, D.C.’  One can only hope for justice…finally.  Obama may have only been a community organizer, but he certainly is excellent at organizing resistance.

Who is watching the top policemen (FBI), when its top hierarchy is loaded with crooked cops?

Hopefully, God and the midterm election will save this great nation.

What is the Value of a College Degree Today?

When I was young, my father, Big Daddy G, never attended one PTA meeting or one parent-teacher conference.  Nope.  Not one.  But Big Daddy G did not have to attend either of these ‘child developmental’ programs.  I was in the unenviable position of having three of my grade school teachers having husbands that worked every day with my dad.  In essence, he attended a parent-teacher conference almost every day, even if it did come second hand through his co-workers.  This worked out very well for Big Daddy G, but not too well for me.  Talk in class?  One week of being grounded.  Do poorly on an assignment?  No need to wait for a report card; one week of being grounded.  Anything I did that was remotely determined to be marginal behavior or performance got to Big Daddy G faster than word travels in the middle of the Congo by drumbeat.  I was the proud recipient of any punishment coming from those drumbeats.  The situation did not improve in high school, either.

My mom, as practically all the moms, attended all the parent-teacher conferences.  In our small town, it was a social event.  My mother bought a new dress for these conferences.  Most of the other moms did the same.  In a small town, with a minimal number of weddings or funerals taking place, these conferences provided the perfect excuse for a new ‘outfit.’

Then something remarkable happened.  I grew up and went away to college at a Big Ten university in the Midwest.  After 50 years, I still remember my two day orientation as if it were yesterday.  The most memorable part was the last hour when we met with our two senior coed escorts at the student union.  Their last comment to our group of 25 incoming freshmen was this: “Look around.  Only 10% of you will graduate from this university.”  Say what?  Did I hear that right?  My thoughts were racing.  Most of these kids came from big city schools that held more kids in a bathroom than I had in my graduating high school class!  I reverted to my high school math.  If 10% of 25 freshmen equates to 2.5 graduates, maybe I could be the .5 graduate!  Made sense to me because most of these 25 freshmen looked pretty gosh darn intelligent.

During my freshmen year, I saw just about every one the members of my orientation class.  My sophomore year?  About half.  By the time I graduated, I had not seen any of those students for over a year.

So what has happened over the last 50 years to higher education?  It is much more expensive, for sure.  But now, my alma mater boasts of a college graduation rate of 65% up from a graduation rate of 41% of just 10 years ago.  I am guessing the 10% graduation rate from 50 years ago is close to accurate.

In my mind, I am questioning whether today’s college freshmen are that much smarter than 50 years ago, or if higher education is falling in line with the Grandpa T rule #2, ‘businesses are in the business of making money.’  If you were to ask my grandchildren, they would tell you that they are much smarter, if you can get them off their devices long enough to converse.  But I believe there has been a lowering of academic standards to receive that degree.   Let us review some statistics and data.

ATHLETES

Look at how much money a college spends on its athletic programs.  Why?   Because winning teams bring in huge monies for athletic event attendance.  I do not need to do research when I say that at least 6 college football coaches are making in excess of $5 million a year.  Usually, their income is higher from endorsements or from ‘sports talk’ programs.  The secondary benefit is that the alumni (and wannabe alumni) always donate and endow more to colleges with winning sports teams.  A third benefit is the royalties on the college branded merchandise.  You know what I mean, the foam fingers proclaiming their team is number one, mugs, hats, t-shirts and sweat shirts, etc.   But what happens to those colleges that do not have winning teams?  Well, the cost of the athletic department is passed down to the students in the form of tuition increases.

What does it take to have winning teams besides a coach.  Well, you need to have winning athletes!  And if you are a 5 star athlete, your ticket is punched.  If Bubba weighs 325 pounds and can run the 40 yard dash in 4.4 seconds while tearing off car doors with his bare hands, Bubba will be playing tackle on any football team he wants.   And Bubba will have an all inclusive scholarship, with private tutoring and privilege that the average student could only dream of.  But Bubba has been a 5 star student for his entire playing career.  He had marginal grades in high school, but was given a grade high enough to insure he was always eligible.  Now that he is in college, they will tailor a program that may get him a degree…just for him!

Does lowering the standards for Bubba sound like a stretch to reality?  During a recent University of North Carolina scandal, a learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the period from 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of the 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth and eighth grade levels.  About 10 percent read below a third grade level.  Keep in mind that all of these athletes both graduated from high school and were admitted to college.  Do you think this is just a problem at UNC?

INSTRUCTION

During my college career, I had good instructors and I had bad instructors.  I know that my university attempted to hire professors with ‘distinction.’  Many of them had written books.  One of them had been a member of John Kennedy’s cabinet.  But do well educated people, regardless of their distinction necessarily make for being a good instructor?  After all, during my lifetime I have met people with educational credentials up the wazoo, but would not be able to figure out which way was up if the sun was not shining.  I call them ‘educated idiots,’ because they had absolutely no common sense, and sadly, no teaching charisma.

Would you like your student to attend Harvard law school?  Well if you do, your student would have Laurence Tribe, author of the book, “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment” as a professor.  On CNN last week, this supposedly brilliant prof said this about the POTUS:  “You can’t be the boy who cried wolf and have a viable impeachment power.  You can’t use it over and over again against the same president.  If you’re going to shoot him, you have to shoot to kill.”  Ah, there it is.  Academic brilliance at its finest…and its stupidest.  That turd would not have floated during my college years.

Or, just to show that your student may have a prof with immense compassion, there is this from an English prof at the California State University in Fresno within an hour after the death of Barbara Bush.  Her name is Randa Jarrar.  She decided to twitter that, “the late Barbara Bush is an ‘amazing racist.’  She went on to say, “happy the witch is dead”…and then crowed that because she had tenure, she’d never be penalized for her ugly comments.  Is this who you want teaching your student?

(As an aside, my instructors at my officer basic course were absolutely top notch.  95% of those instructors were better than my profs at my Big Ten university.)

Do I think a college education is ‘watered down’ since my college years?  Absolutely!  I believe colleges have become more corporate than educational.  They strive to keep up attendance because they cannot receive monies from students that drop out.  Bragging about their high graduation rates makes more sense when they are dealing with a generation of students that are accustomed to getting ‘participation trophies.’  A college degree today appears to have become a participation trophy for many universities.

I believe the quality of instruction has suffered, because profs are not hired as to how well they instruct, but by how ‘distinguished’ they are.  Most of my high school teachers and practically all of my military instructors, were better than my college professors with few exceptions.

After looking at the available degree programs at my alma mater, it becomes evident that some of the degree programs are ‘watered down.’  In other words…a cake walk degree program to keep the student in college, paying tuition.  Inter-college bachelor’s degree program?  Multidisciplinary bachelor’s study program?  Yup.  They are both in the catalog and I have no flippin’ idea what either of them encompass.

Here is what is really missing from a college education today.  Mom and/or dad.  Remember at the beginning I explained how my mom would always attend the parent-teacher conference?  Well, how many colleges have that as a program?  Once I left home, I was on my own.  A novel concept in today’s society, but none the less, my parents had no input into my college career.  I think parents should sit through some of their student’s classes, just to assess the quality of the instruction they are receiving.  I know that if my parents knew that I was receiving instruction from the two professors I quoted, Harvard and California State University administration would have experienced a ‘crap storm without an umbrella.’

My advice?  Be selective about where to attend a college.  Pick a major that produces a career and earning potential.  Pick a school with excellent instructors and not necessarily the school with the most ‘distinguished’ instructors.  Remember that not all people are cut out to go to college.  Skilled labor is needed in our country and does provide for a decent living, so technical schools are essential.  Just hire a plumber or an electrician and get the bill to see how decent that living can be.  Additionally, one-third of all college graduates are in jobs that only require a high school diploma.   Education is expensive.  Use your money wisely.

Stop Killing Our Kids!

Since the tragic school shooting in Florida, there have been no shortage of theories as to why it took place.  And, as is common in today’s society, there is no shortage of blame.   I have a different theory from most, but it requires some background history.

In the late 80s and early 90s I was very much involved with the military.  For some unknown reason, my fellow officers and I and the NCO’s were continually being contacted about joining the NRA.  For the most part, none of us joined the NRA.  I am not a member today, even though I strongly support the 2nd Amendment.   There was a major controversy taking place at the time about assault weapons in the United States.  All of us in the military were very familiar with the M-16 rifle.  The Vietnam veterans were intimately familiar with the rifle and its characteristics as they utilized the weapon in a combat environment.  The M-16 was adopted by the military in 1964, replacing the heavier M-14.  The rifle utilized a high velocity 5.56 mm cartridge, with a 20 round magazine.  Later, along with other improvements, that capacity was increased to a 30 round magazine.  By taping two  30 round magazines together, 60 rounds were available in a matter of seconds by changing magazines..  With the use of a selector switch, the military version rifle could fired automatic or semi-automatic.

So here we were with the NRA facing off against Congress to determine the future of assault weapons in the United States.  I place part of the blame on the NRA, because they were using the 2nd Amendment (and their political contributions) as a sledge hammer to bludgeon politicians into assuring there would be no restrictions on any weapon.  Let me point out that this is the primary purpose of the NRA; to assure there are no restrictions on any weapon.  In other words….they were doing their job as required by their very extensive paying membership.

But, I also put part of the blame on Congress.  Many of these politicians received significant funds from the NRA in their election and reelection campaigns.  So at a time when common sense could have prevailed, nothing happened.  For instance, there could have been a limit as to the number of rounds for magazine capacity.  I was a hunter, and the largest capacity that any of my hunting rifles or shotguns had was 7.  Where I hunted, if you didn’t hit what you were aiming for in the first three shots, you were pretty much screwed.  Mostly, the third shot was a desperation/frustration shot after having missed with the first two shots.  So could the magazine capacity been limited to 8?  10?  Should assault style weapons have been banned from the beginning before becoming available to the civilian population?

The reason my fellow military compatriots and I did not join the NRA was because we felt that only the police and the military should have that weapon.  Military and police ‘wannabes’ began buying the M-16 and other assault style weapons by the millions, even though they weren’t for hunting and were not very good target weapons.  There have been over 8 million M-16’s produced.  But the real winner of the assault weapon sweepstakes is the Russian AK-47.  Originally designed with a 30 round magazine, later versions allowed for a 40 round magazine and a 75 round drum magazine.  Russia was the initial manufacturer of the weapon, but then China and many of the old Soviet satellite countries began knocking them off.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the gun markets were flooded with some version of the AK-47.  While attending gun shows in the early 90s, a person could purchase some version of the AK-47 with a case of ammunition for $200!  There are over 100 million AK-47s or it’s knockoffs in the world!

Now we fast forward to today and face the tragedy that there have been over 200 school shootings in the United States.  In order to be classified a ‘mass shooting,’ there must be four or more victims.  In the first two hundred years of this countries existence, there were 7 mass shooting school incidences.  (The first occurred in 1764 in Pennsylvania, when a schoolmaster was shot by marauding Indians, and nine students were bludgeoned to death!)  Since July 4, 1976, this country has experienced 17 mass-murder school shootings!  Twelve of these shootings have taken place since 1999, beginning with the infamous Columbine School shooting in Littleton, Colorado.  If we include school shootings with less than four victims, the number of school shootings would increase to 17 since Columbine.

Why the large increase since 1999?

Well, for one thing, let us look at our entertainment since 1999.  For starters, our television and our movies have become more violent, more sexually explicit, and more vulgar.  During my childhood, what use to take imagination now takes little imagination as everything in so explicit.  We did not see the murder, but would see blood on a wall or shadows on a curtain.   Today, many programs are a compendium as to how many ways a victim can be murdered.  The more gruesome, the better.  What happened to comedies?  What happened to shows showing a normal, stable family environment?  What happened to westerns?   What happened to variety shows?  If you don’t remember these shows, ask your grandparents.  They can give you a list.

Video games.  Have you seen some of these?  They are very similar to our TV and movie entertainment, except worse!  You may think they are a cartoon, but these games are nothing like any cartoons during my childhood.  Killing, sex, and vulgarity are the mainstay of many of these video games. (Can’t the Angry Birds become the Happy Birds?)

Our news reporting does not miss an opportunity to sensationalize a tragic event.  I had to stop watching the news for four days because of the Florida school shooting.  There was not a facet of that event that was not discussed at depth….24/7.  Unfortunately, because of this extensive news coverage, what is a tragic event for the sane becomes a pathway to infamy for the disturbed.  (Gee, if I kill a bunch of people, I can be on television!)  And, because of their extensive, in-depth coverage, they almost provide a road map as to how the crime can be done.

What happened to respect?  We don’t respect the police.  We don’t respect our teachers.  We don’t respect the opinion of others.  We don’t respect the rights of others.  It appears to me that the word ‘compromise’ has been removed from the English language and replaced by the word, ‘confrontation.’  I was continually told while growing up that I should ‘respect my elders.’  Now that I am an elder, that is not working out real well for me.  What’s with that?

So how do we stop school shootings in America?  It has been proposed to arm certain teachers.  An ‘in-school’ reaction squad.  Check.  We can provide in-depth background checks for gun purchasers.  Check.  We can raise the minimum age for purchasing a gun.  Check.  We could ask for military and police retirees to volunteer to assist in providing school security.  Check.  Have our legislators enact legislation against high capacity rifles and pistols.  (Pistols are actually the murderer weapon of choice.)  Check.  Increase gun violation punishments.  Check.  There are a myriad of things that can be proposed or enacted.  Many of which I do not agree.  But here is the one thing and one problem no one has ever approached……..

Our world and our society has changed significantly during my lifetime.  The technological advances have been amazing.  The technological advances have impacted every facet of our society:  how we eat, how we travel, our recreation, information resources, our military hardware, health treatment and services…..the list is endless!

But the one thing that has remained constant during this entire tumultuous period?  Parenting.  Our kids are bombarded and are exposed to sensory overload like no other previous generation.  Who is responsible for the movies and television that children are subjected to and watch?  The parents.  Who controls the usage of video games?  Parents.  Who teaches respect for others?  Parents.  Who has the best idea if a child is emotionally or mentally disturbed?  It would be the parent.

I empathize with anyone who has lost a child to violence.  But the fact remains, a gun or rifle did not load itself, jump out of a box, and then deliberately kill.  It requires the human element to pull the trigger and that is where the weakness of our murder prevention system lies.  Most mass school shootings are done by the young.  Blame others if it makes you feel better, blame the guns if it makes you feel better, but until our young are raised by parents that get into every aspect of their children’s lives, you can expect more of the same.  Stop being a friend and begin being a parent.  Its a much more difficult job, but society will get a better result.

Get Off Your Knees and Honor Your Country!

Next weekend, our country will again be commemorating Veterans Day.  Yes, November 11 is once again upon us.  Most everyone knows why the holiday is celebrated on November 11.  World War I hostilities ended on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:00 AM in the year 1918.  An armistice was finally reached and recognized the ending of a war that truly had countries from most every continent involved.

On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day.  It was a passionate speech about what was sacrificed in order to win that war.  But Veterans Day did not begin in 1919, as a matter of fact, neither did Armistice Day.  The United States Congress adopted a resolution on June 4, 1926, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies.  But…A Congressional Act finally approved on May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.”  So there you have it.  The war ended in 1918, a speech was made in 1919, a recommendation was made for celebration in 1926, and finally, yes, finally it was made a national holiday in 1938.  (19 years, and we want tax cuts by Christmas!  I digress)

(William Armstrong, James Calhoun, John Chavis, Samuel Jefferson)

But another large scale happening occurred, which ultimately became known as World War II.    In 1945, a veteran from Alabama, Raymond Weeks, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I.  He took his idea to then General Dwight Eisenhower.  Again, with the speed of a snail, it took until May 26, 1954 for a bill to be signed which would recognize all veterans, from both world wars on Armistice Day.  But just days later, on June 1, 1954, Congress amended the bill replacing ‘Armistice Day’ with ‘Veterans Day,’ and it has been know as Veterans Day since.

Regardless of what we call the November 11 holiday, we Americans oftentimes forget about the sacrifices that have been made to protect this great nation.  For instance, during World War I, America lost 63,100 people in combat fighting in Europe.  Thus the origination of the holiday.  In World War II, 419,400 American service people lost their lives defending this nation in particular, but also protecting the world from the tyranny of the Axis Powers.  During both World Wars,  American men and women were killed.   People representing  all the races living in the United States were also killed.  For informational purposes, 36,516 American lives were lost fighting in the Korean Conflict.  Viet Nam was responsible for 58,209 American lives lost.  All of the Islamic terroristic fighting that has taken place in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other countries where we are attempting to wipe out Islamic terrorism have accounted for about 9000 lost American lives.  If you are a ‘big picture’ person, let it be known that since our initial fight for independence for Britain in 1775, it is estimated that over 1,354,600 people have lost their lives to defend (and create) this country.

(Maurice Esters, Samuel Foreman, Joseph Gordon, Oscar Hutton)

So, in recognition of this very special day, Veterans Day, I would like to recognize one amazing group of people for their heroics and actions during World War II.  This particular group was a unit within the Army Air Corps.  To best describe the unit, let me relate their war accomplishments:

  1.  1578 combat missions, 1267 for the Twelfth Air Force, 311 for the Fifteenth Air Force
  2.  179 bomber escort missions, losing bombers on only seven missions and a total of only 27,    compared to an average of 46 among other 15th Air Force P-51 groups
  3.   112 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground and 148 damaged
  4.   950 rail cars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed (over 600 rail cars)
  5.   One destroyer put out of action, 40 boats and barges destroyed.

This unit was not without recognition.  During its wartime experience, it received the following awards and decorations:

  1.  Three Distinguished Unit Citations
  2.   One Silver Star
  3.   96 Distinguished Flying Crosses to 95 Airmen
  4.   14 Bronze Stars
  5.   744 Air Medals
  6.   8 Purple Hearts

(Charles Johnson, Samuel Leftenant, Andrew Maples, James L. McCullin)

Have you figured out which unit I am describing?  I am sure that some of my military history friends have already figured it out, but let me be more descriptive.  I am describing the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the 99th Fighter Squadron, and the 332nd Fighter Group with its three Fighter Squadrons, the 99th, 100th and 301st Fighter Squadrons.  There you have it!  Still no recognition?  What if I were to tell you that these were the units of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all black aviators of World War II.  They were also known as the ‘Red Tails’ because of the distinctive red on their rudders and on the red stripes on the  noses of their airplanes.  Now do you know who they were?

This was a truly remarkable unit.  In all, 992 black pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941-1946.   355 of these pilots were deployed overseas, and 84 lost their lives in accidents or combat.  The toll included 68 pilots killed in action or accidents, 12 killed in training and non-combat missions and 32 captured as prisoners of war.

What makes these people exceptional, other than their war fighting skills, is that the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces.  During World War II, black Americans in many US states were still subject to the Jim Crow laws and the American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government.  The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to discrimination, both within and outside the army.  And yet, they volunteered to defend this country and defeat the tyranny of the Axis Powers.

So let me put this in a clearer perspective.  These people, from this unit were considered second class citizens, they were discriminated against on a daily basis, and yet they gladly volunteered to fight for the United States and die for a country that had not treated them the best it could.  But yet, they were on their knees to God, and on their feet, at attention, saluting the flag.

Where has this country gone wrong?  We have black and white over-indulged athletes taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.  We have rap artists with album covers showing the death of the POTUS.  Yet, there is not one of these black entertainers or black athletes that ever, ever faced the discrimination that was prevalent during World War II and what the Tuskegee Airmen faced.  So, for clarification I need to ask the question that is on the minds of most Americans……“What the hell is your beef?”  Can you verbalize it, as I have not heard an intelligent answer.  And, if as I suspect, you cannot verbalize your beef, my next question is. “What the hell is your problem?”

I keep hearing this gibberish about the lack of respect.  If that is truly what this whole little charade is about, let me be perfectly clear about expressing the thoughts of the majority of Americans:

  1.  Americans love fun and games and entertainment.  We especially love them because they provide us with a diversion from our everyday lives.  It is our way of ‘taking a trip without leaving the farm.’  We do not want the people who provide us with this entertainment to begin using their platform to advance some cockamamie  form of political correctness, social injustice, or advancing some b.s. political message or cause.
  2.  Don’t think for one nanosecond that your disrespect for our flag, our anthem, our country and the people who protect it is going to garner one drop of respect for whatever your cause may be.  If your cause is to irritate and piss off the American public that pays your exorbitant salary…you have succeeded.  We do not think of you as geniuses.  You are entertainers, and very disrespectful at that!  You not only exhibit disgrace for this country, but for your ancestors that have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Your ability to run off at the mouth has been paid for by their blood.
  3. If you need to demonstrate your opinions, do it on your own time.  Your employer does not need to support your negative behavior.

I highlighted the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen because of what they did and the adversity they faced in realizing these accomplishments.  I have the utmost respect for these honorable men.   I  respect and revere all of those individuals that have placed their lives at risk to protect this great nation.

The best advice I have heard lately?  “It is time for this nation to stand at attention in front of the flag, and to take a knee in front of God.”  Veterans Day gives us this opportunity.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Those names that are placed between the paragraphs?  Those are names of Tuskegee Airmen that made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our great nation.  Those NFL knee takers would be wise to crack open a history book and really learn what duty, honor, and country meant to the real heroes, under the most adverse circumstances.

God Bless America and those people who have protected it, past and present.

(PS.  There have been calls for an NFL boycott next weekend.  You knee benders may just be surprised when America demonstrates its disdain for your actions.   Maybe you will get the message when NFL revenues decline….along with your privileged salary.)