Category Archives: Terrorism

ISIS Wants You!

Throughout the United States history, many posters and slogans have been used to recruit people to join the US military.

Who could forget that poster of Uncle Sam pointing his finger with the slogan, ‘I Want You for the US Army.’  That poster and slogan were designed by an artist from New York by the name of James Montgomery Flagg.  Flagg designed this poster for the Army after our entry in World War I in 1917. Four million of these four-color posters were printed and plastered all over the United States from coast to coast.  The pointing Uncle Sam finger was not a new idea.  He actually copied the idea from a British recruiting poster featuring Lord Kitchener.  Kitchener was also pointing his finger accompanied by the slogan, ‘Your Country Needs You.’  Amazingly, these posters were so successful that both Russia and Germany followed with similar posters.

My little hometown was a little backward and sometimes out of date, so I can remember some of those posters with the slogan, ‘Uncle Sam Wants You’ actually posted in the Legion Club and the Post Office in the 50s. .  That poster was reinvented for recruitment during WWII.

There have been some really good recruiting slogans that the US military has used over the years.  I have a degree of familiarity with the Army, so I will start with them.  From the 50s to 1971, the Army slogan was, ‘Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Go Army.’  Doesn’t that slogan just stir your hormones and make you want to enlist?  That was the slogan that was in vogue during the Viet Nam War.  The draft was still in effect during this war.  In retrospect, a more appropriate slogan should have been, ‘Two Extremities, Two Eyes, a Pulse?  Uncle Sam Will Draft You!

From 1971 to 1980, the US Army slogan was, ‘Today’s Army Wants to Join You.’  Say what?  What in hell does that mean?  Doesn’t that slogan send shivers up your spine accompanied by patriotic fervor?  It is amazing that slogan recruited anyone.

Thankfully, my personal favorite Army slogan came into use in 1980.  It was so popular and successful that it was used until 2001.  Do you remember it?  ‘Be All You Can Be.’  This was accompanied by an amped-up catchy versed song and proved to be wildly successful.  Other than ‘Uncle Sam Wants You,’ it is the most recognizable Army slogan of all time.

But all good things must come to an end and the ‘Be All You Can Be’  was replaced in 2001 with the stupidest slogan ever, ‘Army of One.”   I think that was the worse slogan ever.  What happened to teamwork?  What happened to camaraderie?  How far does an Army of One get on any battlefield?  I have a confession.  I did not know what this slogan meant until I researched this post.  The word ‘One’ was suppose to represent an acronym meaning, Officers, Non-Commissioned, and Enlisted.  Even with this discovery and revelation, I still think it is the stupidest slogan …..EVER!

In 2006, the slogan,  ‘Army Strong’ was introduced.  That is the current Army slogan.  Lame.  But a vast improvement over ‘Army of One.’

Some of our other service branches have had memorable recruiting slogans.  The Marine Corps has used, ‘The Few, the Proud,’ and the sexist slogan, ‘We’re Looking for a few Good Men.’  The Air Force has used, ‘Aim High, and ‘Cross Into the Blue.’  The Navy has used. ‘Accelerate your Life,’ and ‘It’s Not Just a Job, It’s an Adventure.’  ‘Be Part of the Action,’ is the motto of the Coast Guard.  Combining these slogans with songs and slick videos has served all of these branches well since the inception of the volunteer Army.

Do you know who else is very successful in recruiting?  ISIS, or ISIL or Daish.  Pick a name, it’s all the same organization. They have been wildly successful in recruiting from other terrorist organizations, from sympathizers from Arab countries, and from sympathizers from Western countries.  How do they do this?

According to the Syria Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors activity in the Syrian civil war, some of the new recruits in Syria include former militants of the al-Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria and opponent of the Islamic State.  ISIS ability to convert members of rival terror organizations, in addition to the thousands of citizens worldwide- many who are Westerners and not natural-born Muslims – reflects the extend of its recruitment power.   ISIS recruits approximately 20 new members a day, and most of the foreign fighters are between 15-20 years old, according to a spokesperson for the Islam Army.  The Syria Observatory estimates that the group has more than 50,000 militants in Syria alone.

ISIS has a professional production company designing its videos.  Unlike the old Al Qaeda group that had a bearded fighter talking in front of a single camera for 45 minutes, these videos are all high production quality, sometimes employing multiple cameras.  Like any army recruitment video, ISIS videos promise the reward of having a purpose and playing an important role in something larger than yourself – smartly edited with slow-motion action shots.  They also aim to address any concern a potential recruit may have.

ISIS has even opened a marriage center in Syria where women can register to become the wife of a jihadist.  The terror group even gifts couples honeymoons after getting married, but they can only vacation within the caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

In addition to the well-made videos, the media arm also produces an online English language magazine called Dabiq that publishes propagandist articles and reports aimed to glorify the Islamic State.  But the most powerful media tool ISIS has mastered is social media.  It has a  presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Middle Eastern networks.  They have aps and hashtags and use both to spread their propaganda.

According to Michael Steinbach, FBI’s assistant director of counter-terrorism, “They have mastered the use of it (social media)…as a propaganda tool, as a recruitment tool and as a targeting tool.”   He goes on to say, “ISIL has used social media better than any terrorist group before or currently.” Steinbach says the message from ISIS or ISIL is clear: “come join the caliphate, and if you can’t join the caliphate, conduct an attack in the U.S.”

I have thought for quite some time that our government has attempted to gloss over the severity of Westerners joining an Islamic terrorist group.    As of October 2015, law enforcement authorities know of 250 Americans who had traveled or tried to travel to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS fighters.  There are about 900 active investigations against ISIS sympathizers in all 50 states.  Why do I think these numbers are low?  Germany has stated that 900 of its citizens have left the country to fight for an Islamic terrorist organization.  France is claiming  between 200-300 of its citizens.  Admittedly, these are only the people they are aware that have left their countries.  America  at 250?  Firstly, look at our population compared to France and Germany combined.  Secondly, about five years ago, authorities in Minnesota admitted that over 200 Somali teens were missing.  Missing?

These Somali teens, both boys and girls are not missing.  They are either with ISIS or with an off-shoot organization of Al Qaeda in Somalia.  They are targeted.  They are wanted because they speak English, are computer savvy and educated, and they are vulnerable.  I have seen an ISIS recruiting video on the internet.  It makes ISIS look like their caliphate is the Muslim version of Club Med.  Do you know what is really scary about this situation in Minnesota?  All of these teens were born in the US!  They have attended Minnesota schools all of their life.  And yet – with all of the opportunity available to these teens, they still select to go fight for an enemy of their birth country.

Here is a wake-up call for all of my Minnesota friends………………26% of Muslims who leave the US to fight for ISIS and Al Qaeda are from Minnesota!  Only New York provides more terrorist recruits.

The point of this blog?  Contrary to what the POTUS said when he said ISIS is the Al Qaeda junior varsity team, this organization is technologically savvy, pathologically dedicated to their religion and  well funded.  Their recruitment techniques are just as professional as those used by our service branches.  My fear is that their recruiting techniques may be more successful than ours.

Viet Nam War and Islamic terrorism. What’s the strategy?

I am beginning to get that pit in my stomach that tells me that I am experiencing a feeling that I last experienced almost 50 years ago.  Or, as that great philosopher Yogi Berra said, “it’s deja vu all over again.”  So sayeth the late Yogi.

This feeling of discomfort is being caused by my memories of the Viet Nam War and how we are approaching the handling/elimination of radical Islamic military groups.  In particular, our recent involvement in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

People that are younger than the baby boomer generation were never exposed to the turbulence and violence of the Viet Nam War.  It was also known as the Second Indochina War and, by our antagonists the North Vietnamese, it was known as the Resistance War Against America.

Because of the US strategy for curbing the spread of communism, we got involved in Southeast Asia.  The Eisenhower administration had a strategy that was called the ‘domino theory.’  The domino theory was the belief that if one country fell to the Communists, in this case South Viet Nam, then other surrounding countries would also fall to communism.  Specifically, there was concern about Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and, believe it or not, concern about India, Japan and the Philippines.  In retrospect, this all seems surreal, but at that time, it was a concern that formulated into a strategy.

Viet Nam became a Cold War era proxy war.  In one corner, we had the US with its anti-communist allies.  Most of these allies were members of SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization).  In the other corner, the North Vietnamese were supported by Russia, China and other communist countries.  Did you know that Castro visited and Cuba supported the North Vietnamese with troops?

In 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina.  US involvement escalated in the early 60s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 (3,200) and again in 1962 (11,300).  The US involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident in which a US destroyer clashed with a North Vietnamese fast attack craft. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed through congress, which gave the POTUS authorization to increase the military presence.  Thus, regular US combat units were deployed beginning in 1965.  Operations crossed international borders.  Laos and Cambodia were heavily bombed because the Ho Chi Minh trail ran through both countries and moved men and material from the North into the South.  Our troop level reached its zenith in 1968 with 536,100 US military personnel in Viet Nam.

Any time the enemy massed their forces and attempted to fight the US/South Vietnamese forces in conventional warfare, the US side was the winner.  An example of this was the infamous Tet offensive, which was launched by the North Vietnamese on January 31, 1967.  Over 100 cities were attacked by over 85,000 North Vietnamese troops at a time when there was suppose to be a cease-fire truce. The US forces, after the initial shock, responded and decimated the enemy with the use of the US superior firepower.  Tet was also the turning point for American civilian support for the US war effort.  The Tet offensive came as a surprise and generated many American deaths.  It did not matter that we won that battle decisively, it was more a belief that our military and political leaders were losing credibility in the conduct of the war.

Viet Nam has been called the ‘Living Room’ war.  That is because on every newscast, there were very explicit pictures of injured, dying or dead Americans.  It was reality TV before reality TV was ever concocted.  Cameramen had no scruples when it came to sticking a TV camera inches from the face of a dying American.  They also did this with the faces of the dead.  How would you like to have seen your loved one dying on the 6PM newscast?   That is exactly what happened.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the reality of war should be shown……but our news broadcasts went on broadcasting steroids and showed all of this night, after night, after night.  And the more bloody and violent, the more the media reveled in bringing it into your living room.  It was little wonder that American support for the war waned as the war continued.  I have not watched a newscast since the Viet Nam war because of this.  I read my news or select my news sources on the internet; but I have held true to not watching a TV newscast since the 70s.

Our enemy was smart and patient.  They conducted large scale operations infrequently and relied more on small unit or gorilla tactics.  They were much more successful with this tactic.  Eventually, we realized that Viet Nam was a losing proposition.  This was mostly because of weak and unstable South Vietnamese leadership.  Direct US military involvement ended on 15 August, 1973.  Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army in April 1975.

There you have it.  Five presidents, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon were all involved in some degree with placing military advisors or military troops in Viet Nam.  There were 58,220 American causalities.  The best estimates of North Vietnamese causalities is 1.1 million!

I can tell you from firsthand experience that the Viet Nam War turned the lives of draft age men upside down.  Draft?  Do you younger readers have any idea of what the draft entailed?  Men were needed to fill the ranks of the military, so the government reinstituted the draft for the first time since World War II.  This was handled by the Selective Service Administration.  December 1, 1969 was the fateful night the first draft was conducted since 1942!  Your fate, your future was dependent on what order your birthdate was drawn on one of the 366 little balls that looked exactly like bingo balls.  And the first winner of this wonderful lottery?  September 14 was the first number selected.  Bummer.  June 8 was the 366th ball drawn.  You were golden!  All of the men drafted were from the first 195 numbers drawn that night.

There were deferments for college, married with children, sole source of family support, physical disability and a myriad of other conditions.  But the college deferment was a double edged sword.  If you flunked out, or dropped out from lack of money…you immediately received your ‘Order to Report for Physical Exam.’  If you were physically fit, you then received your ‘Order to Report for Induction.’  Many men chose another military branch before being drafted into the Army or Marines.  72,000 chose to flee to Canada, as Canada did not support our Viet Nam War effort and provided a safe haven.

At this point, I need to interject that I am not a lucky person.  I will never win the Powerball.  I began college in the fall of 1966 and enrolled in ROTC.  I was commissioned in 1971 and missed the Viet Nam experience as the war was rapidly winding down by the time I completed my Office Basic Course.  My draft number?  293.  I would never have been drafted.  Many of my ROTC classmates that dropped out of college for any reason, were immediately drafted as the Army already had a file on them and they had already passed a physical.  There were times when they dropped out of college and were inducted within 2 weeks!  I have never visited the Viet Nam memorial, as I know too many men killed in Viet Nam from my ROTC classes of 1967-1970.  The class of 1968 was decimated.

In 1973, we went to an all volunteer military system.

Remember my deja vu feeling from the first paragraph?  Well, here is why I have it.  During the Viet Nam War, Lyndon Baines Johnson escalated the war like no other president.  He had a ‘war room’ in the White House.  He and his staff would determine targets to be bombed or not bombed, and then send their decisions to the Pentagon.  Micromanaging at its finest.  I am a believer that war is the result of the failure of political processes.  No war in the US was ever started by the military.  Once the politicians turn our forces loose on an enemy, they should let the war-planners do what they do best…..win one for the home team!  But that was not what happened in Viet Nam.  The politicians not only put their fingers in the pie, they were in up to their elbows.  The result?  We lost.  We decided to fight this war with one arm behind our back and we lost many lives needlessly.

Another example?  Remember ‘Stormin’ Norman’ Schwarzkopf and the first Iraqi War?  It was a marvelous example of military planning and execution.  We won the war with cunning and daring with a minimal amount of casualties.  Then the politicians got involved.  They thought it would be cute if it could be called the ‘100 hour’ war even though the largest battle took place after that 100 hour mark.  Then the politicians decided that we needed to stop knocking out tanks and leave Saddam Hussein in power.  The result?  Iraqi War II.

So here it is.  What is our strategy to defeat Islamic terrorism at home and abroad?  Do we have a strategy?  Are we using airplanes to attack this enemy, when a knife would be more appropriate?  Is the White House directing our efforts or is the Pentagon?   Is there an effort?   Quite honestly, with the number of generals and admirals that have been ‘voluntarily retired’ during this administration, I am losing confidence in both.  Shades of Viet Nam.  I’m feeling that pit in my stomach again.

PS:  HB2U, HB2U, HB Common Sense by Grandpa T, HB2U.

Yes, December 28 is the third anniversary of when I established this website.  I began writing after the election in 2012, but did not establish the blog until December 28.  After our first year, we had 42,556 unique hits.  On our second anniversary last year, 130,612 unique hits.  This year?  277,463 unique hits!   More than double the first two years!   Wow and thank you.   Grandpa T

Is Homeland Security an Oxymoron?

Everyone who has taken high school physics is familiar with Newton’s three laws of physics.  The third law states, ‘ for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’  We have all heard it, and we pretty much know what it denotes.

Here is the action.  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that he would stop Syrian refugees and Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.  The reason?  Well, the obvious reasons would be the recent shootings in Paris and in San Bernardino, which were both carried out by Muslim extremists.   The not quite as obvious reason is that “The Donald” does not believe that Syrian refugees, or any other Muslim refugee can be properly vetted by the United States government with all of its intelligence sources.  Does he have a point?

Here is one reaction to Trump’s comments.  This Wednesday, December 16, the St. Paul, Minnesota city council is going to vote on a resolution proposed by Ward 1 Councilmember Dai Thao that states that Donald Trump is not welcome in the City of St. Paul.   The intent of the resolution is to condemn Trump’s recent  remarks about Muslims and immigrants.

The St. Paul City Council has no authority over who can or cannot enter the city limits.  Trump has  not announced any plans to visit Minnesota. ( But two other presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, are planning visits in Minnesota next week.)

Thank God (can I say that in the spirit of political correctness) the city council does not have the authority to dictate who visits the city.  After all, if Trump were to plan a visit, would he be arrested?  Who would be the arresting agency, the St. Paul City  police department or the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood?  I can just see it now…….”Mr. Trump, I arrest you for being…..well, for being yourself!”

Gosh darn it!  I have been writing this blog for almost three years and I have attempted to make it entertaining, informative and thought provoking.  I have attempted to keep it simple.  My Grandpa T definition for common sense has been, ‘ the ability to know the difference between, right, wrong and stupid.’  Which of these tenants to common sense does the city council, in particular councilmember Dai Thao break?

Let me try to simplify this.  Donald Trump, who has been scrutinized with a fine tooth comb is not welcome in St. Paul, but Syrian and Muslim refugees that cannot be vetted are welcome?  What part of common sense is that?  Does Trump have a point to his remarks?

But, just like the TV commercials…..there’s more!

Have you heard of Kelli Burriesci?  Ms. Burriesci is a high ranking person within the Homeland Security Agency.  Specifically, her title is Deputy Assistant Secretary Screening Coordination Office of Policy Department of Homeland Security.  (How do you get all of that on a name card?)

The thirty-something Ms. Burriesci  appeared before a fact-finding congressional committee that was to discuss visa procedures within the United States.  She was sent by her superior as the authority on the visa procedures within the US.    Admittedly, there are many u-tube videos circulating with the 5 minute portion of her appearance before the committee. Here is a recap of her appearance:

“What is the number of Americans who have travelled to Syria?”  “I don’t have that information with me; I don’t know.”

“What is the number of Americans who have travelled to Syria and may have returned to the US?”  “I don’t know.”

“How many Syrian refugees entered the US last year?”  “I don’t know.”   (Are you beginning to see a pattern developing here?)

“How many visa waiver overstays may have gone to Syria and returned?”  “I don’t know.”

” What is the number of Americans on the no-fly list?”  “I don’t know.”

I have watched the u-tube video of this meeting and after the pit left my stomach, my first thought was: ‘ the inmates are finally in charge of the insane asylum!’.

This is a supposedly high ranking official from HOMELAND SECURITY.  Aren’t all of our security agencies suppose to be working together for the protection of the citizenry of the United States?  Off the top of my head we have the CIA, the FBI, NSA, Border Patrol, Sheriff’s Departments, Highway Patrols, Police Departments and some other organizations with three letter acronym names that I have forgotten.

The congressmen sitting on this committee showed clear signs of frustration.  I can understand completely.  We are paying billions of dollars for this agency and yet they cannot provide information to congress which is at the very core of their existence!  Do you find this frightening?

With all the controversy surrounding this Syrian refugee issue which has resulted in name calling, demonstrations and confrontational behavior, our responsible agency does not even have a guess as to how many Syrian refugees entered the country in the last year?  They do not have an estimate of the number of Americans who have gone to Syria?  Exactly, what did our government think these people going to Syria were going to do there?  Site seeing?  Peace Corps?  Delivering Christmas presents?  (Oops!  Politically incorrect once again.)  I don’t think so.

As you probably know, our President wants to allow a whole bunch more Syrian refugees into this country.  The administration inference is that these refugees can be properly vetted before entering this country.  After watching that video of Ms. Burriesci, I am positive that there is no possible way that proper screening can be done on these potential immigrants.

ISIS is on the roll in Syria.  It has been reported that they control over half the country.  In addition, they have overrun government facilities and buildings that were responsible for granting and printing Syrian passports.  They are now printing and counterfeiting passports because they have the paper and equipment to do it.  How do you distinguish between a legitimate passport and a counterfeited passport when they look exactly the same?

With all of this in mind, does Trump have a legitimate point?  Are his comments inappropriate?  The core of his message makes total sense, but it is not sugar-coated like we are used to hearing.  I would agree that his delivery is about as subtle as a sledge hammer.  Contrary to what the POTUS is trying to shove down our throats, the vast majority of Americans agree with Trump’s statement of not allowing Syrian refuges and Muslim immigrants into the country until there are effective vetting procedures in place.  Admittedly, I was sitting on the fence concerning Trump’s comments until watching the Homeland Security guru.  Her comments, or should I say her inability to comment, made me realize how vulnerable we are by the ineffective workings of our protective agencies.  I was of the opinion that regardless of the drivel that has been pandered by this administration, our security agencies were strong and vigilant.   I was wrong.

The City of St. Paul?  Well, they will have to come to grips with their beliefs tomorrow night.  I am sure Mr. Trump will not lose any sleep about not being welcome in St. Paul, Minnesota.

God Bless America!  Merry Christmas.

Gun Control or People Control -Which is it?

The hunter was moving slowly, picking each step carefully.  A misplaced step would scare the prey.  The crackle of a leaf or the snap of an obscured twig would prove to be the difference between hunting success or hunting failure.  He continues to move.  The prey would be much more difficult to find if it were not for his trusty dog, Goldie.  Goldie, that ever faithful dog of a Labrador mix combined with an unknown breed that produced the best hunting dog the hunter had ever owned.  Even though the dog was jet black, the medium sized dog was named Goldie when the hunter got him as a pup.  The young hunter had made up his mind about the dog’s name before his father brought it home.

They move further, eyes straining to get the slightest glimpse of the elusive prey.  Goldie’s sensitive nose was in the air.  The dog was using all of its amplified, hunting senses to locate the prey.  And then finally, a slight movement.  Both dog and man perceived it at the same time.  There it was!  Both dog and man froze.  No time for rash movements or noises.  The hunter inched slowly to the nearest tree, never taking his eyes off the elusive animal. The prey, now sensing danger, did not know if it should run or attack.   Once the hunter got to the tree, he took a steady position by leaning against it.  He slowly raised his rifle.  He took aim.  The hunter focused on the front sight, then the prey, then back to the front sight and then the rear sight.  He had the perfect sight picture.    The dog was becoming restless, but like the hunter, Goldie was patient and did not make a move or sound.  The hunter exhaled until practically all the breath was out of his lungs.  Then,  with the experience of a hundred hunts, the hunter delicately squeezed the trigger.  A trigger squeeze,  that if done to rapidly or with a tug would throw off the aim.  The shot rang out and echoed through the forest.  And then………………..

And that, dear readers, is gun control.  Steady position, aim, perfect sight picture, breath and trigger squeeze.  But unfortunately for us, that is not what is meant when the media is talking gun control

The media, bleeding heart liberals and even the POTUS is blaming all of the current unfortunate shootings on the lack of gun control.  This is a fancy way of saying that they want to remove all guns from all Americans…..that is their idea of gun control.

I have another take on this issue.  We don’t need gun control the way it has been put forth, what we need is people control.  Let me explain my idea for people control.

1.  I would pass a federal law stating that any person committing a crime with a gun is automatically given a ten year sentence to be served in a federal penitentiary.  No appeal, no parole, no pardon.  That person would have to serve the entire sentence.    Do you think that would make someone think twice about robbing a 7-11, a bank, or even holding a family at gunpoint during a break-in?  Then, this person would have a trial to determine how much additional prison time they get for the particular crime they actually committed.  If they did rob a bank or a 7-11, they might get an additional 15-20 years tacked onto the initial 10 years.  Do you think this would be a deterrent for anyone committing gun violence?

2.  If someone commits murder with either a gun or a bomb, they get the death penalty.  That’s right.  Grandpa T is advocating a federal law stating that if a murder is committed with either a gun or a bomb, the guilty party receives the death penalty.  Period.  If this law was enacted, do you think that it would be a deterrent?

3.  Anyone caught carrying a concealed weapon without the proper permit, has all of their weapons confiscated, is heavily fined, and serves  a specified amount of time in jail.  If you feel the need to carry a concealed weapon, a permit would have to be applied for through appropriate channels.  I propose a rigorous background check before granting these permits.

I can’t make it any simpler.  I think that all three of the proposed measures would certainly be a deterrent to crimes involving guns.  It is a get-tough policy, but the law abiding citizens need not worry. They need to be protected.  I don’t care if we have to build 100 new prisons, or put a fence around Rhode Island to hold all the prisoners.  If you want to have ‘gun control,’ you need to start with people control.

It gores my bull that the convicted Colorado theater shooter, James Holmes, did not receive the death penalty for the 12 people he killed during his shooting spree.  It really gets  my undies in a bunch that the death sentences for the Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan and the Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has not been carried out.  Amazingly, the appeals process afforded these last two people before their sentences are carried out, could be 10 years or more!  Is there any question that these men committed the crimes?

At this point, I am writing an open letter to the politicians of the United States:  We, the majority of the people of the United States, are not interested in ‘rehabilitating’ mass murderers.  We, the majority of the people of the United States, are not interested in supplementing the existence of mass murderers at taxpayers’ expense in any of our penal institutions.  Therefore, we would like to see the aforementioned three laws passed, and the appeal process for murderers restricted to 6 months or less before their execution is carried out.

That is the way that Grandpa T would enact gun control.  It would be done with people control.  But what brand of gun control is being bantered by liberals, the media, by celebrities and by politicians?

Somehow, in the amazing world of Wonderland where they live, these gun control advocates think they can disregard the Second Amendment, wave a magic wand, and make all guns disappear.  I have bad news for these people.  You have been sniffing too much of your fairy dust because you will never, ever make over 300 millions guns disappear in America.  And, if you could theoretically convince the public to turn in their weapons, only the law-abiding people would do it.  Do you think the criminals will do it?  The end result would be a country where the law-abiding citizens are unarmed and the criminals are armed.  What kind of pandemonium would that situation bring?

Unfortunately, as good as my laws are and as well intended as they are to protect the public, there is one large flaw in my people control policy.  The media skirts the issue, the celebrities skirt the issue and the POTUS has skirted the issue all the while they are pounding on their podiums about gun control.  They have skirted the issue of psychopaths.  Yes, those people that would go to any lengths to kill innocent people to achieve their 15 minutes of fame, even if it means the loss of their own life.  Recently, we had the Oregon shooting by Christopher Harper-Mercer.  Christoper killed nine people and wounded nine others at a rural community college before committing suicide.  The Sandy Hook elementary school shooter, Adam Lanza killed 20 children and 6 adults before taking his own life.  I know of no logical way that either of these events could have been stopped with any of the present gun legislation or any other gun control measures.  The fact is, they would have gotten their weapons somewhere to conduct these heinous killings, regardless of the laws.  They were crazy, and how exactly do you control crazy?

The American public has difficulties coming to grips with people that will wantonly murder and then take their own lives.  We have trouble coming to grips with suicide bombers.  Our problem is, we appreciate life too much and cherish it dearly.

I want to put forth a premise that is designed to be thought provoking:  Do you think any of these murderers would have done their killing if they knew the victims were armed?  The Colorado shooter passed two other theaters to get to the theater that had a sign posted stating that ‘no guns are allowed.’  Would he have been as brave in his mission if some of those theater goers were returning fire?  Would the Sandy Hook shooter or the Oregon shooter been as likely to have done their dastardly deeds if they knew the teachers or students were armed?  This is compelling because, if they were stopped immediately they would not have finished their mission, and thus, not received their 15 minutes of fame.  This is not advocacy for arming everyone old enough to pull a trigger, but a way of further defining the problem.

Oh……about the little hunting story?  It was me and my dog, and yes the dog’s name was Goldie.  The prey?  Why, it was those vicious tree climbing rats with bushy tails. Or as most people call them, squirrels.  We ate them.  Goldie was a fantastic dog.  We hunted together for pheasants, partridge, ducks and geese.  Goldie was always waiting to recover any game that I bagged.  If I missed the shot, Goldie gave me a condescending look as if to say, “What am I doing out here, if you keep missing?”  It was similar to the look that Grandma P gives me for watching football all day Saturday and all day Sunday.  (Really.  Would you have read this piece if you knew it was about squirrel hunting?)

Do You Trust the Media?

I mentioned in my last post that during the 50s and 60s we had very limited news sources.  We had TV and radio news, magazines and newspapers. That was about it.   Because we were not a part of the ‘instantaneous -quick as a  flash culture’ of today, our weekly magazines were excellent and popular.  The three biggies were Look, Life, and Time.  Look and Life are both out of business, but in their day, they provided photographic in-depth articles of national and world events.  Today, no one would buy any magazine that is touting news that is one week old.  (Okay.  I forgot about National Enquirer, Star and all the other gossip rags.)

We also had terrific television news personalities.  The big three networks, NBC, CBS and ABC all had their headliner news broadcasters.  John Cameron Swayze, Douglas Edwards, Edward R. Morrow, Walter Cronkite and the team of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were the biggies.

Edward R. Morrow gained notoriety by providing ‘on the spot’ reports for radio listeners about World War II.  In particular, he would report from a rooftop in London during the Blitz.  German and English planes were dogfighting, bombs were dropping, sirens were blaring and Edward would verbally paint a very descriptive picture of what was going on.  The bombs exploding and the sirens blaring could always be heard in the background.  He never occupied a full time TV anchor desk once TV became popular after WWII.  He would provide details of world events while on special assignments that would be shown during the newscast.

John Cameron Swayze and Douglas Edwards were both experienced reporters.  Most of the eventual newscasters started in either newspaper reporting, radio reporting, or both.  The one thing about both of these guys was that they were both credible and reliable.  Swayze may be remembered for being the spokesperson for Timex watches for years.  His phrase: “Timex, it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”  They were both on national networks and both got replaced once the ownership of a TV got to be more mainstream and news reporting became more competitive.

As an aside, we got our first black and white, 19″,  cabinet TV in late 1952.  I was four years old and became addicted to the newfangled electronic babysitter.  My mother was delighted!  We got our first color TV in 1963.  It was also a 19″ , cabinet TV.  It cost $750!  That was a very princely sum at the time.  If I remember correctly, it was about 8 weeks of my dad’s salary.  All for a 19″ TV!  Our first color programs?  Bonanza and the Wonderful World of Disney were absolute mainstays in our house.  Less than 10 % of the TV shows at that time were in color.  When is the last time you called a TV repair man?  If you are under 50 years old, you most likely have never called a TV repair man.  We had one in our home town and he was at our house often to keep those televisions working.  That darn color TV always needed some type of tube or adjustment.  It was a major household expense.

As television became more popular and newscasts became more competitive, the networks upped their game.  Edwards and Swayze were replaced because even though they were excellent reporters, their TV personality came off as rather dry.  Douglas Edwards was replaced on CBS by the man who became a household name, Walter Cronkite.

Cronkite made his notoriety during WWII, just like Edward R. Murrow.  He flew in bombing missions over Germany, he was with the 101st Airborne during Operation Market Garden, and he reported on the Nuremberg trials.  My most vivid memory of Walter Cronkite was when he reported the death of  President John F. Kennedy.  Even with all his vast reporting experience, Cronkite could barely keep it together while he was notifying the people of the United States that they had just lost their president.  He reported the death, removed his glasses, and wiped the tears from his eyes.  It was all on camera.  In this man, you could see his sorrow and as Kennedy was a very popular president, we all felt it with him.  During the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 moon missions, he was the most watched newscaster in the nation.

But the most amazing item to know about Walter Cronkite, was that he had the unofficial title of, “the most trusted man in America.”  He was often referred to by this title.

Swayze was replaced on NBC by the team of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.  This was done to eat into the popularity of Walter Cronkite on CBS.  Chet Huntley reported from New York City and David Brinkley reported from Washington, D.C.  Initially, they enjoyed great success and did draw more viewers than Cronkite.  This went on for a few more years, but eventually Walter again dominated the news reporting business, especially after Huntley retired in 1970.

The reason for all of this?  As our generation grew up, we absolutely trusted all of these men delivering our news.  Not only that, but we were confident that anything that appeared in our newspapers and magazines was indeed, factual.  The general consensus was that if Walter Cronkite said it, it had to damn well be true.  If trust in our media sources was not 100%, I would bet it would have been pretty darn close.

In a recent Gallup Poll, it was determined that confidence and trust in our media was at an all time low since the poll was initiated in 1990.  Overall, only 40% of the population expressed a ‘great deal or fair amount’ of trust in the media.  Those numbers were lower, 36%, for people in the 18-49 age bracket.  People 50 and older had a 45% trust rate in the media. Oddly enough, liberals had a higher trust rate than conservatives by about a 10% margin. (Apparently, those liberals will believe anything!)

What happened?  Isn’t this the Age of Information with all our electronic gizmos and computer/internet/social media capabilities?  And now that we have gotten all this capability and information, we don’t believe its true?  What’s with that?

Well, the Gallup Poll had one theory.  Their theory was that people do not trust the United States government or governmental institutions.  If that is indeed the case, that should be an indication that the general public is getting wiser!  That, coupled with the fact that as government gets bigger, it becomes less efficient and less trustworthy.  Benghazi.  Tea Party/IRS scandal.  Iranian Nuclear deal.  Fiscal cliff.  National debt.  Funding of Planned Parenthood.  Foreign Policy.  I am guessing by the results of the poll, the public is not issuing any “A” ratings to the manner in which our government has handled any of the aforementioned concerns.

I have another theory.  Here is the Grandpa T, common sense theory.  With all the media sources today, with all of the personal devices that can be cameras or make movies, with all the social media capability, the mainstream news sources have to compete for the advertising dollars with a whole different bunch of ‘personal news sources’  as well as with each other.  Additionally, because we have become the ‘instantaneous – quick as a flash’ society, it has got to be published or broadcasted immediately.  Never mind authenticating the  news source.  Never mind assuring accuracy.  Get the darn thing published or televised or broadcast immediately before someone else does!

I believe there is another reason.  Look at all the news shows on cable and on the primary networks today compared to what we had during my youth.  Instead of three networks, there are hundreds with many of them having news shows.  All of these news shows are competing with each other for advertising dollars.  Additionally, they are always trying to differentiate themselves from the field of competitors.  They have a voracious appetite for anything that approaches being newsworthy, and they have to feed that beast with news to survive.  If something does not appear newsworthy, embellish it.  If it is a slow news day, make something up!  If I want to appear to be the Indiana Jones of newscasters………..

Enter the antithesis of Walter Cronkite……..Brian Williams.  Not only has Brian been accused of 32 lies and embellishments over a decade, but apparently NBC knew of it and allowed their fair-haired boy to continue broadcasting these lies.  Brian lied about everything; from being in a helicopter that was hit by a rocket propelled grenade in Afghanistan to seeing someone commit suicide during Hurricane Katrina.  Chet Huntley and David Brinkley have to be absolutely rolling over in their graves!   Huntley and Brinkley dominated the news business for years for NBC.  Now, with the egotistical Brian Williams, their news credibility rates slightly lower than the Kardashian Christmas special, and that’s pretty darn low.  I am sure that Brian wanted to make his mark by emulating many of the deeds that  his predecessors had done during WWII and Viet Nam.  The problem is that when we combine an ego with a corporation wanting advertiser dollars in a ‘instantaneous – quick as a flash’ society, the public ultimately gets garbage.  Unreliable, fictitious but fast garbage.

Brian Williams is not the only fabricator.  Dan Rather was so vehement about President George W. Bush’s military record, that he fabricated information to strengthen his accusations against the President.  It became obvious that Rather was becoming obsessed with the topic.  It also became obvious that he was using his stage to wage a fabricated vendetta, even though some of what he said was true.  That did not work well for him.  Ultimately, he was exposed…and forced to retire.

Maybe during the 50s and 60s we were a little naïve about our news and news sources, because we pretty much believed all of it.  I prefer to think we had better newscasters, writers and reporters that believed they had a moral obligation to get it right.  There is a lesson to be learned.  Electronic devices, for as marvelous as they are, have only power cords and batteries.  Humans are the only device that contains a ‘truth filter.’  Much like our old TVs in the 60s, some of these may need their tubes replaced or have an adjustment.