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Sunday, December 30, 2007

In Wake of Bhutto Death, Candidates Stress Foreign Policy Experience


"But I have more experience than Snow White!"


As the Iowa caucus approaches, the primaries are getting downright petty-on both sides. Now that the world has been shaken by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan reels on the edge, all the candidates are trying to outdo each other by trying to convince the public that they have the most requisite foreign experience that now rightfully seems more important than ever. As expected, the worst examples of pettiness are coming out of the Clinton and Obama camps.

Clinton, of course, keeps talking about all her experience as First Lady while her husband was in the White House. She talks about all the countries she visited. In one recent statement, she said to ABC News, "I think my experience is unique. I have been 8 years in the White House, having yes, been part of making history." She also claimed that she had unsuccessfully lobbied her husband to intervene militarily in Rwanda, then later went to Uganda to apologize to the victims. She contrasted her "experience" to the lack of foreign policy experience on the part of Obama. In response, Obama played up his experience of spending some childhood years in Indonesia, which he contrasted with Hillary's traveling on overseas trips and "drinking tea". Not to be outdone, Hillary recounted her trip to Bosnia to attend a peace treaty signing, in which she had to "run from the airplane to avoid 'possible' sniper fire". (learning a few tricks from Bill, eh Hillary?)

Of course, Mrs Clinton could not resist the need to inform one audience of Iowa voters that she "knew Mrs Bhutto-for 12 years."

Meanwhile, David Axelrod, one of Obama's horseholders, all but implied that Hillary bore some responsibility for Bhutto's death since she had voted for the Iraq War. (Huh?!!?)

Bill Richardson, a former UN Ambassador, made an ill-advised comment that the US should force Musharraf from power. (How would you do that, sir?)

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee started whining about some 600+ Pakistani illegal aliens who had entered the US illegally, supposedly the largest national influx after the Mexicans.

Then there is Joe Biden, who is all over this issue trying to illustrate why he has the most experience (probably true). He is letting everyone know that he had sent requests to Musharraf to enhance Bhutto's security after the initial assassination attempt in October. This morning, he told a TV interviewer that just before she died, Bhutto had sent an e-mail to a Biden associate with a message for the Democratic senator. (By the time, Joe tells this one a few more times, it will sound like Bhutto's last words were...."Get Joe.") Of course, like all the Democrats, Biden blames Bush for not having done more to keep Bhutto alive. In reality, the only way to save Bhutto would have been to get her the hell out of Pakistan.

It is unfortunate, but hopefully, Bhutto's death will have a positive effect on our own elections in re-focusing the public's eye on the dangerous world that is out there.

What Will Happen in Pakistan?


With Benazir Bhutto already interred, the situation in Pakistan is chaotic with no let up in sight. The cities are wracked by violent protests, the exact cause of her death is not clear (was she shot, killed by shrapnel or when her head hit a sun roof lever?) Also not entirely established is who killed her? Was it Al Qaeda or the Taliban, which certainly had every motive to see her dead- or Musharraf and his allies in the government? Could it have been a conspiracy between elements of both? At this point, the government is blaming Al Qaeda, quoting as proof an intercepted telephone call between 2 known operatives congratulating each other on the assassination. It seems however, that the Pakistani street is having none of it-preferring to lay the blame on Musharraf-and, don't forget his supporters-the US.

So while the fires burn in Pakistani cities and the future of the upcoming election stands in doubt, Bhutto's party, the Pakistan People's Party-PPP, has elevated Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari and husband, Asif ali Zardari, to the head of the party. Since the son is a 19 year old student from Oxford and the husband has a reputation for corruption and being a playboy, it is hard to see how they will make a meaningful contribution to their country.

As for Benazir herself, her return to Pakistan and death will certainly cement her legacy as a courageous martyr. Once the first attempt occurred on the day of her return, it was inevitable that she was facing death. Would she have made a difference in Pakistan? We will never know, but many knowledable observers are doubtful. She was already twice prime minister in Pakistan. Her rule ended in charges of corruption. It was hoped that if elected, she would go after the terrorist elements in Waziristan, which she indicated she would do. Now we will never know.

The larger question is what will happen in Pakistan. Will Musharraf (if he survives himself) decide that it is time to go all out against the bad guys? Will he have the full support he needs from his military? Will the Pakistani people turn against Al Qaeda and the Taliban if they realize that they were the true perpetrators of this awful crime? Ultimately, who will seize power in this dangerous country that possesses nuclear weapons? What will India do if Pakistan falls? Who knows the answers to any of these questions? After all, this is Pakistan.

Friday, December 28, 2007

"Letters from Nuremberg"- by Sen. Chris Dodd


This Christmas season, I did something I almost never do. While picking up a Christmas present for myself in a local book shop, I chose "Letters from Nuremberg" by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). Normally, I never buy books by political figures. They always seem to correspond with the writer's run for the presidency, and they tend to be self-serving. I made an exception here because I am fascinated by anything having to do with the city of Nuremberg-especially, the Nazi era. (I was stationed just outside Nuremberg from 1966-1968) during my Army service, and I know the city intimately. The book is a compilation of letters written by Dodd's father, Thomas Dodd, a prosecutor during the War Crimes Trials, to his wife back home in Connecticut when Chris was a small child.

The book is a result of the recent discovery of the elder Dodd's letters, which had been stored away, by one of his children. As historical documents, they are interesting and useful. They are usually one page in length and combine Dodd's expressions of love for his wife, from whom he was separated for about a year, with descriptions of the trial's daily events. They also provide an insight into Dodd's relations with his prosecutorial colleagues and others involved with the trials of the major Nazi figures.

Dodd, who was one of several staff members of the American contingent, became the chief assistent to Chief American Prosecutor, Robert Jackson, who was at the time also a member of the US Supreme Court. After the conclusion of the trial, Dodd returned home to Connecticut and entered politics. Rising to the position of US Senator for Connecticut, his career ended in the 1960s with his censure in the Senate for converting campaign funds to his personal use. Broken, he died a few years later. Chris Dodd's book has been viewed by many as an attempt to vindicate the memory of his father. (Thomas Dodd's legacy was brought up in a recent Democratic debate in Iowa when moderator Carolyn Washburn threw it out in a question to Chris, a question many viewed as a cheap shot.)

As stated, Dodd's letters describe his day to day life in Nuremberg during the trial as well as his longing to be reunited with his wife, Grace, to whom he was clearly devoted. They also include a brief description of the day's court events, testimonies, his interviews with the defendants and his relationships with others in Nuremberg. Also included are speculations as to his future career when he returns to the States-either to practice law or enter politics. (Dodd had hereto been an investigator and prosecutor with the FBI before accepting the assignment in Nuremberg.)

There are also some recurring themes in the course of the book that leave an impression upon the reader. For one, Dodd, while speaking kindly about several colleagues, most notably Justice Jackson, had harsh words for so many others. He had a very negative impression of the Russians, the Chief American Judge, Francis Biddle, and numerous others whom he dismissed as incompetent. In particular, he blasted many of the American military officers who were involved in the trial. Dodd, in fact, seemed to have a generally negative opinion of the American military itself, though praising certain individuals. He mentioned the devastation of the German cities-and wondered if the Germans would ever forgive us for bombing them.

In addition, Dodd continually expressed negative thoughts about various individuals back home in the States, whom he viewed as enemies. Indeed, he gives the impression of a man who had a lot of enemies.

But, for me, the most disturbing part of Chris Dodd's book is his comparison of the crimes of the Nazis with the post-911 actions of the Bush Administration. Dodd himself, had very little, if anything to write. Aside from his father's letters, there is only the prologue (1st three chapters, which I assume were written by Dodd's "ghost writer", Lary Bloom.)which was left to be added to the book. In the introduction, Dodd (or Bloom) refers to Bush's establishment of Guantanemo Bay, denial of Geneva Convention rights, Abu Ghraib, NSA intercepts etc, as a denial of the principles established at Nuremberg. In my view, Dodd thus trivializes the crimes of the Nazis. Whatever one thinks of Bush's actions, they have been done to protect American lives against Islamic terrorism-hardly comparable to the acts and motives of Hitler and the Nazi regime.

If one is interested in the Third Reich and Nuremberg trials, then this book is a recommended read. It is unfortunate that Sen. Dodd had to intersperse his irrelevant condemnation of President Bush into the book.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Example of Real Patriotism


"Duty, Honor, Country"


I got a Christmas e-mail a couple of days ago from an old friend and DEA colleague. I am just going to call him Bill. I first met Bill in 1973, when we were both assigned to attend language school at the Foreign Service Institute in Rosslyn, Va. For the next 6 months, Bill and I studied the Thai language in preparation for our eventual transfer to Thailand. Subsequently, Bill was assigned to Chiang Mai, and I was assigned to Bangkok.

After Thailand, we went our separate ways, crossing paths every few years. At one point, Bill was assigned to Islamabad, Pakistan. During his tour there, the embassy was attacked and burned by an angry mob with loss of life. For his actions in helping save American and Pakistani lives, Bill was cited as a hero in that tragedy.

Eventually, our careers ran their course, and both of us retired from DEA. Bill continued in law enforcement for a while, then retired for good- for a short period. In the wake of 9-11 and our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bill (an Air Force Viet Nam veteran) decided he could not just sit back on the sidelines and enjoy his comfortable retirement-even though he was well into his 60s. As a result, he signed up about a year ago to assist our military in Afganistan. I assume his assignment has something to do with drug intelligence, but the important thing is that Bill is embedded with Army troops. After intensive training with the Army in the US and Germany, Bill went to Afghanistan, where he is today.

My point here is that there are few people like my friend, Bill. While I am in awe of the young men and women who are willing (in the absence of a draft) to put on the uniform and go fight for their country, that one in his 60s would step out of retirement to do the same is heroic beyond measure.

If this country can continue to produce more people like Bill, there will always be hope for our future.

God bless you, Bill....and stay safe.

Benazir Bhutto


The news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, as shocking as it is, cannot be unexpected. Ever since she recently returned to her country and narrowly escaped death, it seemed just a matter of time. With the dust not yet settled, it is too soon to foretell the final fallout from this horrible crime. How will this effect Pakistan's future and the public attitudes of its people? We must wait and see, but it is hard to be optimistic.

I have posted a number of foreign language news articles regarding the incident and the reactions from around the world. I will try to keep them updated as events progress.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jimmy Carter- How Should He Be Viewed?


To many Americans who are too young to remember when he was president, Jimmy Carter is still a well-known figure. They know him as an activist for human rights (as he was as president), a critic of Israel, defender of the Palestinian cause and lastly, as a critic of President George W Bush despite the traditional protocol that says ex-presidents should not criticize their successors. Since he left office-discredited as a weak, failed president, Carter has remained in the public spotlight, writing books and traveling the world, monitoring foreign elections and making speeches-often controversial in nature. To his admirers, he is a hero. Even though he was not a successful president, he is regarded (by his supporters) as a great former president; to his detractors, he is a naive individual, who has added to his failed presidency by being a thorn in the hide of succeeding presidents and also criticizing his own country. In my view, I side with the latter group.

When Carter burst upon the public scene in the 1970s, I found him initially to be an attractive figure. He had succeeded a true racist, Lester Maddox, as governor of Georgia preaching equality and racial reconciliation. When he began his race for the White House, I hoped that he would win the nomination based on his history as governor. Yet, by the time it was time to vote, I decided to cast my vote for Gerald Ford.

As president, Carter presided over a huge decline in American fortunes. Much of the credit for his election went to the fact that the country had just gone through Watergate and the pardon of Richard Nixon by Ford. Yet, it seemed that nothing improved under Carter. The country remained dispirited; the economy was a mess; gas lines stretched for blocks. At one point, Carter publicly called a conference of various "experts" and public figures (including a composer, Leonard Bernstein) to the White House to give him advice on how to fix the country. His critics accused him of being hopelessy naive in his insistence on human rights in foreign policy. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, he responded by boycotting the Moscow Olympics. Under his administration, the military was gutted.

Part of Carter's problem, according to some observers, was his micro-management style. One story told of how Carter maintained the sign-in book for the White House tennis court in his office due to squabbles over reservations. Thus, if someone wanted to reserve the court, they had to go to Carter.

While Carter worked hard to maintain a public image as "Mr Nice Guy", many insiders regarded him as cold and aloof. When I was a DEA agent and had occasional contact with Secret Service agents, I was given a first-hand story of how one agent had spent a winter evening guarding the outside of Carter's home in Plains, Georgia. When Carter awoke and stepped out to get the morning paper, he wouldn't even say "Good morning" to the agents who had spent the night outside in their car.

Of course, Carter's greatest accomplishment as president was his brokering of the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel. The treaty sealed the subsequent death by assassination of Anwar Sadat. Though it still holds as of today, time will tell if it proves permanent in the face of continued tensions in the Middle East.

But it was the Iranian hostage crisis that has, to this day, been the main negative legacy of Carter's presidency. Many charge Carter with having greased the skids for the departure of the Shah (over human rights issues) and the accession of the Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Subsequently, against the advice of his embassy in Teheran, who advised that such a measure could lead to the takeover of said embassy, Carter allowed the ailing Shah to come to America for cancer treatment. The reaction was swift. The American embassy in Teheran was taken over by militants, dozens of Americans were taken hostage, and the crisis lasted well over a year. The Iranian government involved itself in the custody of the hostages, threatened trials for expionage and even threatened to execute our diplomats as spies. During this prolonged period, the hostages were mistreated and subjected to mock executions. And what did our president do? Well, he went to the United Nations to ask for measures, he made "strong" statements and eventually he authorized a "mission impossible" by which a small force of American military was to enter Teheran by stealth and snatch the hostages with a minimal loss of innocent life. Of course, a helicopter collision in the desert ended that mission with loss of rescuers lives, the desecration of their bodies by the Iranians and more American humiliation.

Eventually, the hostages were released through diplomacy via 3rd nations and probably the Iranian realization that Reagan was coming to office. They were released concurrently with the inauguration of Reagan. Unfortunately, it was a humiliation for America. I have seen more than one interview of former hostages who, while acknowledging that Carter got them out alive, also conceded that it was not an honorable agreement for our country.

After Carter left office and to this day, it is difficult to find even many Democrats who would call Carter a successful president. Most of his defenders acknowledge that his was an unsuccessful presidency. It is his post-presidency that has given life to a legion of Carter admirers. In my mind, his largest contribution has been his involvement in Habitat for Humanity. I am not so generous when I consider his meddling in foreign affairs. His Carter Center in Georgia has received millions in contributions from various Middle East sources since Carter is openly pro-Palestinian in his sympathies and critical of Israel. His diplomatic efforts in Haiti were dangerous since he remained in that country beyond a deadline set by President Clinton, after which an invasion was to be launched. His diplomatic venture into N Korea led to an agreement between Secretary of State Madeline Albright and the North Koreans- which was quickly violated by the former. Indeed, once Carter decides to go on a diplomatic mission, he doesn't much care if the incumbent president wants him to go or not. Carter has even gone to foreign soil and criticized his country and government-advising them not to cooperate with the Bush Administration.

In summary, Jimmy Carter may have vindicated his public life in the eyes of his admirers with his activities since leaving office. The legacy of his presidency is pretty much established as a failure. I am pretty sure that history will judge his subsequent years in the same light. I believe that Jimmy Carter will be remembered as our most incompetent president and most troublesome ex-president.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ronald Reagan- A Great President?


If you follow the Republican campaign, you have heard Ronald Reagan's name mentioned a lot lately. Virtually all of the candidates pay tribute to Reagan's conservative philosophy of government and try to paint themselves as the successor to the Reagan legacy. Indeed, among conservatives, Reagan is pictured as one of our greatest presidents-the one who won the Cold War. As someone who lived through Reagan's presidency and his prior governorship of California, I have mostly positive recollections of him. What follows is my own personal assessment of Reagan as president and historical figure.

Being from California, my memories of Reagan go back to his days as an actor. Even then, he was active politically. When he was younger, there was no question about his mental prowess (as there was in his later years as president when he was slowing down.) Reagan was a conservative figure with passionate, forceful beliefs-which were not shared by many in California, particularly Hollywood. As governor, he incurred the wrath of many liberal figures, but he fought hard and eloquently for the principles he believed in.

I voted for Reagan against Jimmy Carter because after 4 years of Carter's ineptitude, the country was in a mess, economically, politically and in terms of our overall morale as a nation. Worst of all, we were being humiliated by a 4th rate country (Iran) run by a bunch of fanatical mullahs that was holding our diplomats hostage while Carter sat around and wrung his hands in futility.

As president, Reagan did much to restore our pride as a nation. His fiscal policies were a great improvement over those of his predecessor. Of course, after Carter all but decimated the military, Reagan built it back up.

As for the Soviet Union, I think Reagan handled the Cold War masterfully, refusing to concede any military advantage we had and forcing the Soviet Union to continue an arms race that Gorbachev finally realized the USSR couldn't win. Nonetheless, unlike many, I don't give Reagan full credit for "winning" the Cold War. Having studied Soviet history in researching my first book (on the languages of the former Soviet republics), I am convinced that the Soviet Union simply imploded from within largely because of the forces of the non-Russian peoples, who took advantage of glasnost and perestroika to revive a sense of nationalism that had been hereto repressed. This led to a desire for independence on the part of many of the non-Russian republics. Reagan's policies helped, no doubt, but I don't think they were the most important factor.

One of the acts that I cheered Reagan for the most was his firing of air traffic controllers who had gone on strike and refused to return to work. I believe strongly that certain professions that are involved with public safety should never be allowed to strike.

In terms of the Middle East, I think Reagan was not very successful. Our intrusion into Lebanon only accomplished the bombing of the Marine barracks, which led to a withdrawal. In a related matter, Reagan allowed the delivery of arms to Iran (which was connected to the support of Nicaraguan rebels). His main motive was in trying to gain the release of an American official who was being held and tortured by terrorists. While I had no problem with helping overthrow a communist regime in Central America, I was furious that our government was sending arms to Iran-so soon after they had held our diplomats hostage. I was so angry, I didn't bother to vote in Reagan's second victory over (Mondale).

Perhaps, we should also remember that in 1986, Reagan granted amnesty to illegal aliens (then only numbered about 3 million). In exchange, Congress was supposed to increase border security-which they failed to do. That should serve as a lesson for us today.

In his second term, we all began to see that he was slowing down mentally. Perhaps it was the beginning of his Alzheimer's Disease, which finally ended his life

Yet,in evaluating Reagan today,I feel that first of all, he was a good and decent man. Some like to throw brickbats at him over his religious conviction (or lack thereof), his marriages and his relationships with his children. So what? His daughter, Patty and his son, Ron made their "careers" on bad-mouthing their father. In my view, they are dopes.

More importantly, Reagan left behind a philosophy of government and economic policies that was sound and should be emulated. He believed that government should stay out of our lives and out of our pocketbook. Yes, there are certain roles of government, such as defense, law enforcement and maintaining the infrastructure-and they require a certain amount of taxes. Yet, he saw that the more government intruded into our lives-even with the intent of helping us- the bigger and more unwieldy that government became. He also projected a pride in being an American. He loved his country and had great faith in its people. He knew that America's greatness derived from its people, not its government.

Those are the things that made Ronald Reagan great. That is his legacy.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Bill Clinton Revised Primer of American English




William on the left- Bill on the right


Being a teacher of English as a Second Language and having studied linguistics, I have never ceased to be amazed at former president Bill Clinton's ability to use the English language, especially to twist it to suit his purposes. What Cervantes was to Spanish, what Dante was to Italian, what Goethe was to German, what Shakespeare was to British English, Bill Clinton has been to American English. Think of it; our ex-prez has virtually revolutionized the English language-especially those troublesome English verb tenses.

Maybe you have never thought about it if English is your native language, but our language has a rather complex system of verb tenses-perhaps not as complex as the Romance languages-but complex in its own right. It serves us well because we try to make it as clear as possible when an action happened, whether the action is completed or still in progress, and did it happen before or after another action. In the middle of all this is our basic verb-"To be".

For example, we use the simple present tense to describe an action that occurs on a regular, habitual basis-or to describe a general truth or statement of fact, "is", for example. If the action happened in the past, is completed and happened at a specific time in the past, we use the simple past tense- "was", for example. If the action happened in the past, is completed, but no specific time is mentioned, we use the present perfect, "has been" for example. We also use the present perfect to describe an action that began in the past and continues to the present.

So having said all that, it gives me great pride to announce the publication of Bill Clinton's Revised Primer of American English. Make no mistake, this book will be the standard textbook for future generations of students-especially those planning to go into law or politics.

Bill Clinton, to his enormous credit, uses our verb tenses like a true linguist. The most famous example of this was his famous declaration, "It all depends what the meaning of "is" is. This was his explanation to the special prosecutor, Ken Starr, who was questioning Clinton about his testimony in the Paula Jones lawsuit when he was asked about his relationship with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton had answered that "There is no relationship." Was that a false statement? Hardly, since, when he was asked the question, the relationship had apparently ended when Ms Lewinsky had been transferred out of the White House.

Clinton also made masterful use of his verb tenses when he declared in a speech that, "The era of big government is over." However, as we all know,something that is over at the moment of speaking can begin again-like the next day.

Clinton also makes great use of his adjectives. Again, during the Lewinsky mess, he was asked if he was ever "alone" with Ms Lewinsky. His answer was that he was "never alone" with her. Was that a lie? Of course not! What Bill really meant was that one is never alone in the White House, which is always occupied by many people-never just the president and an intern. Why think of all the Secret Service people that were only a few yards away-in another room. No, Bill Clinton was never alone with Ms Lewinsky. Never.

Well, you say. Clinton certainly lied when he pointed his finger at the TV camera and said, "I did not have a sexual relationship with that woman, Ms Lewinsky." We got him on that one, right? Wrong again. You see, Bill was really talkng to Monica through the camera-note the comma before Ms Lewinsky- Bill was assuring Monica that he did not have sex with "that woman". Who was "that woman" that Bill was referring to? Your guess is as good as mine. Here again, Clinton shows that he really knows his English punctuation rules. (If you don't know it, commas can often change the meaning of a sentence dramatically.)

But, you say, in that same statement, he told us that he never told anyone to lie-not a single time. Once again, Bill has trumped the rest of us illiterate fools. Obviously, he never told anyone to lie-not a single time-but perhaps, multiple times? If that's the case- Bill skates again on the old polygraph.

One of Bill's classics was when he denied having sex with Lewinsky, then, when the truth was known, tried to use the old teenage excuse that oral sex is not really sex. Well, you say- why do they call it sex? Or you might scoff and say, "Right, and a red car is not a car." But, as Bill would point out; English is such a rich language that there are always exceptions. Certain words can be used as expressions-completely different from their dictionary definition. For example, a lemon is not always a fruit. It can also refer to a bad car. So how can you say that oral sex must be sex? Hmmm?

Another great Clinton contribution to the English language was his creation of new synonyms. One classic example was his use of the phrase "revenue enhancements", which actually means-NEW TAXES!

Then there was the night when Bill went on national TV to fess up to the American people that he had, indeed, been ivolved in a relationship with Lewinsky. Since he knew that it had also been revealed that he had been having phone sex with the lady, he also added a phrase about "inappropriate sexual banter on the telephone". Indeed.

Aside from being the grand master of creative use of the English language, Bill has passed on his skills to his pals. Take Vernon Jordan, for example. For years, rumors were going around that Jordan was Bill's locker room pal. It was also brought out that Jordan attempted to find employment for Monica when her presence in the White House was becoming "uncomfortable". During the investigation, Jordan was supoened into the grand jury to be asked about what he knew and when he did it... er knew it. Certainly that must have been a nervous time for Bill wondering what Jordan was saying. Jordan, almost as slick as der schlickmeister himself, exited the grand jury and was met by a mob of reporters. He then stated, "When I went into the grand jury, I was a friend of Bill Clinton, and now that I have finished testifying, I am still a friend of Bill Clinton." (I am paraphrasing part of the sentence, but the part about "was a friend" -"still am a friend" is accurate.) Bill, obviously watching on TV, with his masterful command of the English language, and using that old English art of implying and inferring, instinctively inferred what Jordan had
implied. (He had not spilled the beans.)

So now, let's take a little test to see how much you have learned.

(multiple choice) Choose the correct verb tense.

1 Bill Clinton _______ sex with Monica Lewinsky.

a had
b has
c will have
d all of the above

2 Bill Clinton_________ a womanizer.

a is
b was
c has been
d will be

3 Oral sex_________ sex.

a was
b is
c has been
d isn't

4 A red Mercedes________ a car.

a was
b is
c isn't
d will be

5 "Alone" means:

a two people in the same city
b one person in a room
c two people in a room
d 200 people in the White House

6 (Punctuation drill-pay attention to the commas)

A- In his final week in office, Bill Clinton received 200 requests for pardons. The applicants who contributed money to his presidential library were granted pardons.

B- In his final week in office,Bill Clinton received 200 requests for pardons. The applicants, who contributed money to his presidential library, were granted pardons.

In A- How many people contributed to the Clinton Library? How many received pardons?

a somewhere between 2-199
b all 200
c none
d 100

In B- How many people contributed to the Clinton Library? How many received pardons?

a none
b all 200
c 135
d one

* note: In A and B, the answers are different.

Which would you infer from the below statements?

7 There was a soccer match between Brazil and Italy. The Italian fans went home sad.

a Italy won
b Brazil won
c The game was cancelled due to rain
d The game ended in a scorelss tie (as usual)

8 Vernon Jordan was still Clinton's friend subsequent to his grand jury testimony.

a Jordan gave Clinton up
b Jordan took the 5th
c Jordan protected Clinton
d Jordan arranged a date for Clinton with a good looking female grand juror

9 When Bill Clinton met Paula Jones in a Little Rock Hotel, his knees;

a were knocking
b are knocking
c will be knocking
d knocked

10 A "revenue enhancement" is:

a more taxes
b a more attractive dollar bill
c a tax break
d money paid to the Clinton Library fund in exchange for a pardon

11 "Inappropriate sexual banter on the phone" means;

a letting Dick Morris' call-girl listen in on a call discussing official government business
b asking the 911 operator for a date
c talking over old times with Vernon Jordan
d phone sex

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Jewish Cemetery in Germany


Erlangen- Former Margravial Palace-Now University Administration Building


In 2005, my third book was published. It was entitled: Erlangen-An American's History of a German Town (University Press of America). Erlangen is a university town of about 100,000 people situated 20 kilometers north of Nuremberg. Along with Munich, it is a co-hqs of the Siemens Corporation. I chose Erlangen as a subject since I had been stationed there in the 1960s as a young US Army MP. I have returned many times since my Army period there was a formative part of my life, and I had formed a deep personal attachment to the town. During my research, I learned so much history that I had never even given much thought to when I was a soldier. One aspect of that historical research was the fate of the Jewish community of Erlangen during the Nazi era. That, of course, is not a pleasant chapter, but, in the midst of tragedy and evil, there were instances of good. One example is the story of Erlangen's Jewish cemetery.

At the time of the Nazi takeover in 1933, Erlangen's Jewish community consisted of approximately 120 persons. A larger Jewish community existed in neighboring Fuerth (birthplace of Henry Kissinger). Until 1891, Erlangen's Jews had principally used the cemetery in nearby Baiersdorf to the north. In 1891, their own cemetery was dedicated on the northern outskirts of the city.

Needless to say, Erlangen's Jewish community was not spared the measures taken against Jews under Hitler. Jewish shops were subject to boycott on April 1, 1933 as part of a nation-wide action. Similarly, Erlangen's Jews experienced Reichskristallnacht in November 1938. Not surprisingly, most of the community emigrated during the Third Reich. By the time the final roundup and deportations were carried out during World War II, there were only 20 or so Jews left in the city. Most did not survive.

By February 1944, Erlangen was declared Judenrein (Free of Jews). Only the dead in the Jewish cemetery remained. On July 6, 1943, the Bavarian State Ministry issued an order authorizing the conversion of the Jewish cemetery for other uses and the removal of the dead in the process. At the time, the cemetery was under the care of Philipp and Anna Kilian, a Christian couple. Courageously, the couple defied the authorities and refused to open the gates of the cemetery. They felt that they had been entrusted with the care of the dead and would not cooperate in this act of desecration. Incredibly, the authorities backed down. During the final war years-and after the war, it was not always possible to conduct a formal Jewish funeral since religious leaders were not available. In those cases, the Kilians conducted the funerals themselves saying prayers for the deceased. Today, their son, Helmut is the caretaker, representing the 3rd generation in his family to care for the cemetery. It was my privilege to meet him when I visited the cemetery during my research trip in 2004.

In recent years, the cemetery has been re-dedicated and turned back over to a newly-established Jewish community (consisting almost entirely of Russian emigrees). Periodically, the city holds memorial ceremonies at the site in honor of the former Jewish community. In addition, visits to the site are regularly organized for local schoolchildren. Norbert Krapf, an American schoolteacher who was teaching in Erlangen in the 1980s, wrote a poem about the cemetery entitled: "Stones for the Dead". Krapf's young daughter, who was attending school in Erlangen, was taken on a school outing to the cemetery. In Krapf's poem, he describes trying to explain to his daughter why none of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were buried in the cemetery. The answer is, of course, that they did not die in Erlangen; they perished in places like Auschwitz, Theresienstadt and Riga.

A " World Class Genius"



One of these people is a world class genius. Which is it?






Bill Clinton outdid himself again this week when he referred to his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as a "world class genius" who has made the lives of so many people better. It seems the Clinton camp is going for the shotgun approach since recent attacks on Barack Obama seem to be having a negative effect on Hillary's ratings. In addition to Bill's blustering, Hillary is now engaged in what many are referring to as her "charm offensive". Have you noticed in recent speaking engagements that her voice is softer and her decibles lowered? Attempting to reverse two decades of establishing her image as one of cold, ruthless ambition, she is now smiling and laughing (cackling actually) and generally trying to portray an image of warmth.

So which is it? Is she the second coming of Albert Einstein or the second coming of Mary Poppins? Is she the tough cookie who can stand up to and take the measure of Mehmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jung Il, Vladimir Putin and Osama bin Laden? Or is she the poor defenseless female who is being ganged up on by her male Democratic rivals, evil Republicans and the Media? Well, she did tell the Daily Kos convention several weeks ago that she had stood up to Bill O'Reilly. That should be worth some points in somebody's eyes. She then followed it up by playing the victim card when people jumped on her for her disastrous answer to the drivers licenses for illegal aliens question at the Philadelphia debate. Then, after her spokespeople starting floating stories about Obama scheming his presidential bid when he was in kindergarten, questioning whether he was a closet Muslim and beginning his presidential campaign on his frst day in the Senate (in stark contrast to Hillary and all her years of "experience") with negative results, now it's Mrs Nice Guy, er Lady.

Undoubtedly, her advisors believe that there are enough dummies out there who will think, "Gee, she's not so bad after all!", that this can change the public perception of her. I, for one, believe that Mrs Clinton's image is well established and not subject to change. After all, she has worked very hard all these years to show the country who she is. There are few things harder to undo than a "bad jacket", (bad reputation) as we used to say in law enforcement. Are there really many folks out there who don't have an opinion on Hillary Rodham Clinton? If anything, it seems that she is losing support from those on the left who see her as too establishment and not prepared to make the drastic changes they want to see. Of course, many of Hillary's supporters are confident that she is only playing a game to win over moderates and undecideds. Once she is in office, they say, she will do all the "right things". I think they are correct.

It seems that Mrs Clinton is walking down the same trail that Al Gore and John Kerry walked when they were running (re-inventing themselves). I can't see it working. Can it actually be that even Democrats are getting sick of her and all her phoniness?

And more thing: If anyone reading this thinks that Hillary has changed your life in any way, I sure would like to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Death Penalty Opponents and Their Lack of Compassion


Jesse Timmendequas- Raped and Murdered Megan Kanka- Spared by Gov. Jon Corzine

Megan Kanka



Recently, I wrote a piece on the on-going legal issues over Jamal Abu Mumia, who killed a Philadelphia Police officer a quarter of a century ago. His defenders, which include activists, university types, actors and Europeans, have, for years, argued that Mumia is innocent and the victim of a white racist society. They are currently arguing for a new trial based on "new" evidence, which they say will exonerate him. In the process, they ignore the convincing evidence that the jurors heard and which points to his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

My posting, which argued the case for Mumia's guilt, drew two responses from Hans Bennett, a Philadelphia photo-journalist who is one of the leaders on Mumia's behalf. Bennett is a left wing activist engaged in a host of far-left causes. Over the course of several years, Bennett and others have challenged the evidence against Mumia and suggested that he is the victim of a police frame.

All of this, of course, comes at the same time that the New Jersey Assembly and Governor Jon Corzine have abolished the death penalty in that state. Predictably, the Democrats voted for abolition while the Republicans voted against. As Corzine signed the bill surrounded by smiling Democratic lawmakers, he also commuted the death sentences of the 8 inmates on Death Row including the man who raped and murdered 7-year-old Megan Kanka (the inspiration for Megan's Law). This despite recent polls showing a solid majority of New Jersey's citizens in favor of the death penalty. Megan's father had unsuccessfully implored the Assembly not to abolish the death penalty a few days previous.

Corzine's comments regarding his action paint a picture of "principle and compassion". My question is this: What compassion does this show for the victims and their families? (I know liberals deride this comment as an old conservative knee-jerk reaction, but it applies.)To me, the actions of Corzine and his (Democrat) elite colleagues in the New Jersey Assembly are, in effect, spitting in the faces of the survivors. The truth is Corzine could care less about the family of Megan Kanka. He has only renewed their agony.

Similarly, Bennett and his radical colleagues who are so enamored of Mumia as a symbol of resistance are not concerned a whit for the police officer (Daniel Faulkner) who was senselessly murdered by Mumia. Nor are they concerned with Faulkner's widow, Maureen, who has fought for years to achieve justice for her husband. Last week, as she was being grilled by a sceptical Matt Lauer on the Today Show, Mumia's supporters demonstrated outside the studio in New York, in effect spitting in her face. But these are the "compassionate" ones- the ones who are fighting for life. I don't have the numbers, but I would bet you my mortgage that most of these death penalty opponnents also believe in abortion rights. Interesting how the same people who want to protect a murderer's right to life would deny that right to life to an innocent one (fetus).

The hypocrisy of these so-called compassionate liberals never ceases to amaze me. I would invite you to look up the photos of Corzine and his Democratic colleagues cheerfully signing the bill abolishing the death penalty-Corzine passing out souvenir pens during the ceremony. Also present was Helen Prejean the death penalty activist nun from "Dead Man Walking" fame.

Who was not present? Marilyn Flax, the widow of a man who was kidnapped and murdered in New Jersey, was not there to celebrate with the lawmakers. Neither were the parents of Megan Kanka.

Monday, December 17, 2007

CNN's "God's Warriors"




Osama bin Laden-Jerry Falwell- A Moral Equivalency According to CNN?


This week, CNN is airing a production by their foreign correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, entitled: "God's Warriors". The three part series discusses the so-called rise of "extremism" within Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The quotation marks I inserted in the word extremism is because I can only think of one of these three religions where the word has any real contemporary meaning. It seems to me that Amanpour is trying to draw a moral equivalency among the three religions when it comes to extremism.

First of all, when we talk of Islamic extremism, the meaning is clear. Do we need to rehash all the terrorist acts that have occurred over the past several years in the name of Islam? Do we really need to mention 9-11, the Madrid train bombing, the London subway bombing, Bali, Theo van Gogh, the beheadings, and the suicide bombers in Israel? We don't. Suffice to say that a faction of Islam believes in imposing Islam and Shariah law all over the world, and anyone who stands in their way must be killed. Enough said about that.

So now here comes Ms Amanpour talking to us about Jerry Falwell (She interviewed him a week before he died.), other Evangelical Christian ministers, the so-called Christian Right, a San Francisco Christian youth group and others to show Christian "extremism". These are counterparts to Muslim Jihadists? Excuse me, ma'am, but none of these individuals or groups are setting off bombs, flying planes into buildings, beheading people or calling for death to non-Christians. You have to go back hundreds of years to find people like that. Yet, Amanpour tried to portray Evangelical Christians as extremists, which they are not.

I would also remind Ms Amanpour that people like Falwell and the Christian Right have every right to participate in the political process and make their voices heard. That is not tantamount to imposing Shariah law over the land. They are not talking about imposing a theocracy upon America. They are just trying to defend Christianity from the attacks of the secularists who want it removed from the public arena (and ultimately from public consciousness). Ms Amanpour seems to have a problem with the fact that many Americans are still active Christians as compared to those great secular Europeans.

She also featured some American connections between Christians and Jews, which seems to trouble her. Ms Amanpour should understand that, cases of anti-Semitism aside, American Jews have been able to find refuge, peace and prosperity in America because we are mostly a Christian nation that practices love thy neighbor, practices freedom of religion, and supports Israel's right to exist. I also believe that most of the more recent cases of anti-Semitism in the US have been fomented by American Muslims-especially on university campuses.

Similiarly, what Jewish faction is there that corresponds to the Islamic radicals? Jewish settlers in the West Bank? True, there are some in the Middle East who will take an eye for an eye against those that are trying to destroy them. The young man who shot up a mosque in Israel several years ago comes to mind. Also the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. Correspondingly, I have never been a defender of the US-based Jewish Defense League, nor of the late Meir Kahane, a hate-monger. Yet, how can you compare them with what is going on within Islam? There is no comparison. There is no contemporary debate going on anywhere over whether Judaism is a peaceful or violent religion.

In many ways, I respect Ms Amanpour. As a foreign correspondant, she has put herself in virtually every hot spot around the globe. But I have noticed over the years that there is a bias in her reporting-especially when she does special reports such as this. What she is trying to do is make the point that all three religions are equally culpable when it comes to extremism. They are clearly not.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Who is the Best Democratic Candidate for President?


Senator Joe Biden of Delaware


At this writing, everybody is buzzing about whether Barack Obama is going to take the Democratic nomination away from Hillary Clinton. Some still hold out hope that both Clinton and Obama will flame out, leaving the prize to John "Po Folks" Edwards. These are presently the top three candidates, according to the polls. But are they the best qualified in terms of experience? Not in my view. The one who probably should get the nomination in a perfect world basically doesn't have a chance, at least as long as his numbers remain in single digits. In my view, the best of the Democratic candidates is Joe Biden.

Actually, I don't much care for the Senator from Delaware. I think he is arrogant, pompous and abrasive. He treats witnesses who appear before his committees like errant schoolboys. With an ego as big as Texas, he never seems to stop talking-and talking down to people. As is not surprising for someone with such a big mouth, he often gets in trouble with his words, once referring to Indians who fill all the 7-11jobs in Delaware, another time, calling Obama clean and articulate (Ouch)! A few years back, he was embarrassed by charges of plagiarism. In a general election, I would not vote for him.

Yet, if you are a Democrat, would you not consider that Biden is clearly the most experienced politically of all the candidates? Biden is a 6-term senator, who has served on the Judicary Committee, and is now the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations. He is generally considered a moderate, and enjoys considerable respect from his peers on both sides of the aisle for his knowledge and experience. Obviously, Biden has much more experience than any of the three top contenders. The only other candidate who compares to Biden in this regard is Chris Dodd.

So why is it that Biden doesn't get more support from Democratic voters? Is it his personality? If that were all, where would Hillary be? Is it because he is such an old familiar face-too establishment? I think it has to do with the general nature of the Democratic voter (mostly liberals). Liberals tend to think more emotionally than do conservatives; thus, they are attracted to figures like Clinton, who would be the first female president-or Obama, who would be the first black president. Also, Obama has presence and charisma. Edwards also is an accomplished speaker, polished by years in a courtroom hoodwinking jurors and appealing to their emotions. Yet, compared to Biden in experience, all the top three have to offer is one undistinguished term in the US Senate each.

So look for Biden to stay in single digits. He is not what Democratic voters are seeking. Don't, however, count him out as a VP running mate.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"I Am Vetted"


Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane in Iowa: "Gee, Hillary. Not even SuperBill can save us now!"


Yesterday, Hillary Clinton, faced with the polls showing her nine points behind Barack Obama in Iowa and her leads slipping away in New Hampshire and South Carolina, appeared before the press to make her case why she should get the Democratic nomination. Her main theme? "I am vetted. I am tested." Did she mean that she has a long track record of political experience, managerial experience or legislative accomplishments? Well, no. What she is referring to is the fact that she has been the target of attacks from those mean old Republicans for years and has managed to survive. Great! So has Barbara Streisand (one of her biggest supporters). At least she didn't claim to have "gravitas".

Concurrently, her erstwhile husband, Bill, has declared that at this point, it would be a "miracle" for Hillary to win in Iowa. The reason? It's all the fault of the media for focusing on her disastrous answer to the debate question on drivers licenses for illegal aliens. The news media??!!? You mean the Republican-controlled news media? The Republican controlled New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC? C'mon, Bill! You know darn well that most of the news media is pulling for Hillary to go all the way. It's time for the Clintons to pull out the victim card again. Blame everybody but Hillary herself.

What I think (hopefully) is happening here is that, after all these years, even Democrats are starting to see through Hillary Clinton and realize that she is a vapid, ruthless empty pants suit. Maybe Democrats in Iowa are starting to view her in the same light as 4 years ago when Howard Dean and his northeastern manner swept through Iowa and destoyed his candidacy in the process.

Let me tell you what Hillary's greatest hope for reclaiming the lead and winning the nomination is. As I sit here typing and watching Barack Obama's speech in Waterloo, Iowa, I have to believe that voters will similarly catch on to Obama. How can one man talk so much and say so little? He has a great speaking style, but no specifics. Lots of platitudes, but no substance, no plan. The man is a carnival barker-a man who will talk his way through your front door- but talk his way out the back door. Most people will eventually catch on to that. If they do early enough, then Hillary may get back some lost ground. Probably, however, any support that Obama loses will go to John (Two Americas) Edwards.

This promises to be an interesting race after all instead of the expected coronation. It should be fun with lots of treats (for us) ahead.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Keith Olbermann on "Meltdown"


This is a Doberman-It Rhymes With Olbermann


I have a confession to make. I find Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's "Countdown" highly amusing. I thought he was great on Sports Center with Dan Patrick. He is bright, articulate and very witty. I get a kick whenever he throws his papers in the air as he goes to a commercial. The finish to his "Worst Person in the World" piece is funny. The problem is, Keith is biased to the point of sheer hatred toward George Bush and all things Republican/conservative. Not only is his "Worst Person in the World" uniformly a conservative or Republican, but he can't put two sentences together without crucifying his enemies.

Once you get past Keith's partisan rhetoric, the next thing you notice about him is that he has a regular stable of left-wing commentators, many of whom are on his show almost every night. Folks like Rachel Maddow of Air America and Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post must sleep at the MSNBC studio. Other regulars are Lawrence O'Donnell, Dana Milbank (Washington Post) Howard Kurtz and Jonathan Alter, smug liberals all. Tonight he even had on Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos for some "impartial" analysis.

Sometimes, Keith gets so emotionally involved with his editorial pieces, usually calling Bush every name in the book that doesn't have 4 letters, that one fears he is about to put a gun to his head and declare,"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" It wouldn't surprise me if someday Keith walks into the MSNBC studio and takes hostages.

If you look into Olbermann's bio, it seems he has a habit of burning bridges, such as he did with the Sports Center Show. The man comes across as angry, with a host of issues. He also seems to relish collecting enemies. The most prominent is undoubtedly, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly (no shrinking violet himself), who Keith now attacks on an almost nightly basis. O'Reilly must hold the record for most "Worst Person in the World" awards. As for his part, O'Reilly treats Olbermann as a non-person, never mentioning his name-perhaps out of deference to Keith's non-existent ratings.

To be fair, Fox News has its Hannity's America show, which gives a one-sided conservative viewpoint (with which I agree). Olbermann, however, mixes his humor with genuine anger toward those with whom he disagrees.

I am not trying to make the point that Olbermann should balance his show with more conservative viewpoints. MSNBC is what it is. It is completely liberal, and I am not arguing for a fairness doctrine. We conservatives have our Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys, and we will defend their right to say what they want on the airwaves. Olbermann can say what he wants about whomever he wants. That is his right. It is also my right to critique him. In my view, this is a pretty poor example of news analysis.

In addition, I have one final observation that both liberals and conservatives should consider. Keith Olbermann was the moderator on a recent MSNBC-held Democratic debate. Could we all not agree that such moderators at least have a modicum of impartiality? Keith Olbermann hardly fits that bill.

But I have to give credit to Olbermann. When I grow up, I want to be his "Worst Person in the Wooorld".

Can Muslims Assimilate in the West?


Aqsa Parvez-Victim of an "Honor Killing"


A few days ago in the Toronto area, a 16-year-old Muslim girl, Aqsa Parvez, was murdered by her father because she refused to wear the traditional hijab headscarf when she went out. Apparently, one of the girl's brothers actually lured her to her father's home where the murder took place. This is an example of so-called honor killings, carried out by a female's own family member when the girl violates traditional Islamic customs or defies her parents. It also happened in the US back in 1989, when a Palestinian Muslim father and mother in St. Louis viciously stabbed their 16-year-old daughter (Palestina Isa) to death for similar "offenses". Ironically, the FBI had the house bugged because the father, Zein Isa, was a member of the Abu Nidal terrorist cell. Thus, the murder was captured on audiotape. This murder in the parents' unremorseful eyes, was another example of an honor killing. Fortunately, our US court didn't see it that way. The parents were convicted and sentenced to death.

This raises a serious question in western countries with large Muslim immigrant communities: How do we deal with certain practices that are accepted in Muslim communities that are clear violations of US laws? How much can we demand of all of our immigrants that they assimilate into our culture? Europe is faced with the same problem. Germany and other countries have witnessed honor killings. In Holland, female circumcision has been carried out behind closed doors. People (like Theo van Gogh) have been murdered for "defaming" Islam. In other cases, Fatwas have been issued by Islamic clerics, to be carried out against people like Salmon Rushdie who live in Europe. This is clearly intolerable and must be addressed, both here and other countries in the West.

As I have said before, I welcome legal immigration, but I do feel that immigrants should make the decision to assimilate. They should especially accept that their children and grandchildren will assimilate even more, which is a natural process. They will be Americans, speak English, and will be exposed to all the American influences for better or worse.

When it comes to religion, we do not demand that immigrants give up their religion. It is their right to practice their faith. However, it is a natural process that the younger generations may choose at some point to become Christian, or Jewish or whatever. I don't have any empirical evidence, but I know from my own experiences with Asian-Americans that many of the younger generations eventually become Christian. In California, you will see numerous Christian churches with a predominantly Korean, Japanese or Chinese congregation. It appears that the Islamic community would not tolerate this kind of conversion.

So here is the dilemma: Should Muslim immigrants to America accept the possibility that their children and grandchildren will become Americanized and engage in social activities or dress that they disapprove of? Should they accept the fact that their children may decide to convert to another religion? Should they accept the fact that honor killings and fatwas are not tolerated here and will be severely punished? The answer is yes.

If Muslim parents want to protect their children from drugs, premarital sex, drinking etc., I say join the club of millions of concerned American parents (including me). If Islamic influence encourages young people to act in a moral and modest manner, I am fine with that. However, if even the more innocent forms of assimilation into Western society are unacceptable, then they should remain in their own countries.

Which Party Would.........?

I've made up a little questionaire that I think every voter should consider in deciding on their candidates-and their party. I've tried to make these questions as impartial as possible because, depending on where one stands politically, the propositions could be viewed as favorable or unfavorable. Since there are exceptions to the general rule in both parties, the questions are all headed by-"In general". In the interest of full disclosure, I will repeat that am an independent, who, being conservative, has always up to this point, voted Republican. So, with that said, let's go to the questions.

In general,

1 Which party do you think stands for more government involvement in the daily lives of the people? Which party for less?

2 Which party do you think believes in higher taxes? Which party for less?

3 Which party do you think would spend more of the taxpayers' money?

4 Which party do you think places more emphasis on social prgrams? Which party for defense?

5 Which party do you think is more supportive of law enforcement?

6 Which party do you think is more concerned with the rights of criminals?

7 Which party do you think is more supportive of our military?

8 Which party do you think is more supportive of our War on Terror?

9 Which party do you think has defended our troops overseas more against accusations of war crimes?

10 Which party do you think has spoken out more in calling some of our troops words like Nazis and war criminals?

11 Which party do you think would push harder for rights of terrorist prisoners?

12 Which party do you think would call off the War on Terror-at least as far as military involvement?

13 Which party do you think would close places like Guantanemo Bay and give terrorist prisoners access to our courts?

14 Which party do you think would have greater support from the ACLU?

15 Which party do you think enjoys greater support from Hollywood, universities, unions and the mainstream news media?

16 Which party do you think would do more to secure our borders and reduce illegal immigration, now that so much of the public is demanding action?

17 Which party do you think would favor restoring voting rights to convicted felons and even prisoners?

18 Which party do you think gives more support to Right to Life? Which to abortion rights?

19 Which party do you think would give more power to unions?

20 Which party do you think believes that America is a great and noble country that should maintain its traditions?

21 Which party do you think believes more that America is a flawed country with serious need for overhaul?

22 Which party do you think gives greater support to maintaining our Judeo-Christian heritage?

23 Which party do you think more favors a secular approach, with religion removed from the public arena?

24 Which party do you think more favors capitalism?

25 Which party do you think would restrict capitalism in favor of socialism?

26 Which party do you think would try to maintain American power (militarily)?

27 Which party do you think would try to bring America more in line with the "international community", at the expense of much of our sovreignty?

* Up to this point, I think you'll agree, the answers are easy. However, depending where you stand, you will have different views toward those ideas. Now I will ask a couple more, the answers of which, may not be so easy. (I have my own opinion, but you may disagree.)

28 Which party do you think has more corruption at this point in time?

29 Finally, which party do you think, if they achieve absolute political power in terms of majorities, would do more to take away Americans' freedoms? In other words, which party would do more to try and stifle opposing viewpoints? You should think long and hard about this one before you answer.

So there they are. Surely, I have forgotton a few questions, and I reserve the right to add to this posting when they come to mind. I think it would be especially important for a young voter to consider these questions in deciding which party more represents his or her beliefs.

Let Them Come to Kalifornia


"Lasst sie nach Kalifornien kommen!" (Let them come to California)



Since it's the political season, and one of the biggest debates is how much government we want in our lives, I thought it would be instructive to all of you in the other 49 states to know what our government is doing to us in California. I won't even bother with San Francisco because everyone knows what a joke that place is, with full encouragement and participation of their tribal council or city government. I would like to concentrate here on the Los Angeles Unified School District and the State Government in Sacramento. If anyone thinks that more government is needed to fix what's wrong with our nation, I say, in the immortal words of John F Kennedy in his 1963 speech in Berlin- let them come to California.

First, the LA Unified School District (LAUSD), one the worst in the country. I myself graduated from University High School in West LA in 1963. At that time, it was rated number 2 in the nation, only behind New Trier High School in Northbrook, Illinois. Not any more. In my days there, Uni had probably the most beautiful setting of any school in the country, set on a pine tree studded hill with an Indian spring running through the campus. As a result, many movies and TV shows have been filmed on the campus. Today, however, many of the trees are gone and the campus is full of weeds and pavement cracks.

What has happened in the intervening decades? For decades now, bussing has accomplished nothing but force students to get up before dawn and spend half of their day sitting on school busses. Yet, it still continues. Illegal immigration, basically supported by LA City Government, has filled the classrooms with non-English-speaking students. In addition, gangs and drugs rule over many campuses.
Under conditions like those, education does not occur. The drop-out rate is somewhere between 25-50%. That, however, has not stopped the city from pouring huge amounts of money into the schools with no real results. Up until a year ago, the LAUSD was run by former Colorado Governor and Democratic political hack (DNC Chairman), Roy Romer, who continued throwing away taxpayers' money and demanding more and more. Now there is some guy named David Brewer in charge. He can't even pronounce the name of the Mayor he works for (Tony Villaraigosa-"Villagarosa"!)

Recently, the LAUSD sank millions of dollars into a new computer pay system for its teachers. The system was so good that it overpaid teachers something like 53 million dollars. When LAUSD found the error, they started trying to collect back pay from their teachers, many of whom are disputing the amount of overpay. So now, LAUSD will spend upwards of 130 million more to correct the system plus 5 million to a PR firm to explain to the public how the school district is "on the job taking care of business". Now Brewer has brought in two consultants, at annual salaries of $178,000 and $90,000 respectively to "help fix the problem" and deal with the negative publicity. But wait, the guy who will make $178,000 doesn't even have a college degree. He doesn't have the requisite qualifications for the position. Well, that's OK. He's going to take classes to get his degree from the UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX!!

Then there is the State Government in Sacramento under the "reign" of Arnold Schwarzenegger who was elected during the recall of Grey Davis, promising to come to Sacramento and clean up the mess, cut spending and cut taxes. Problem was, he is virtually the only Republican there. Sacramento is firmly in the hands of not only the Democratic Party, but the far-left (and corrupt wing) of the Democratic Party. If you are not in California, you probably don't know the names of Fabian Nunez, Don Perata, Cruz Bustamante et al. The spending and high life these people enjoy is a scandal unto itself. Interestingly enough, many of these figures were members of Mecha, a Mexican-American university student group that has advocated the return of the SW United States to Mexico. Today, as state leaders, these characters pushed the far-left political agenda and spend, spend, spend. Not enough money for a new program? Easy solution-raise taxes. As a result, many productive people are packing up and leaving California-in many cases, taking their businesses with them due to the taxes and regulation. As for the reformer, Schwarzenegger, he quickly learned in office that, if you can't lick 'em, join 'em. That is what he has done. His reign as governor has become pretty much like Queen Elizabeth's reign in England. (Just sit there and wear the crown while the country falls to pieces around you.)

Today, it has been announced in Sacramento that the state is short 14 billion dollars. In other words, they have 14 billion more in expenses than money on hand. Nunez and Perata are already stating that taxes must be raised. If the Republicans (what few there are in Sacramento) get in the way, they will have to go to the voters (in the form of a bond or voter initiative).

Tom McClintock,a Republican, and one of the few sane politicians in the state (he has run for Governor and Lt Governor unsuccessfully), has, for years, laid out the problem in Sacramento. In the last decade, while inflation has risen, state income has risen even more. Unfortunately, spending has risen the most of all. The math is easy. California doesn't have an income problem; it has a spending problem.

Then there is a recent episode in Glendale, outside Los Angeles where a local family was ordered by the Fire Department to trim some of their trees. When they complied, they were hit with a $347,000 fine by the City for "damaging indigenous trees", whatever that means. It was only a public outcry against the city and Mayor Ara Najarian, fueled by KFI radio talk jocks, John and Ken, that finally caused the city to rescind the fine after being deluged with calls and e-mails and being held up to ridicule by the aforementioned talk jocks.

So what is the lesson for all this? It is obvious that Democrats like Hillary Clinton want to create more government involvement in areas like education and health care, just to name two. That means more taxes and more power to the government. Do you really believe that government will use that power and money wisely? I don't for two basic reasons; First, I spent my career in government. Second, Ich bin ein Kaliforniener.

"El Al" Blames US for Bali Stalemate


Don't you wish you were Al Gore? Just imagine-this week, Al has flown in his private jet to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, then on to Bali, Indonesia to enjoy the sunsets and trash his own country (a la Jimmy Carter) at a UN Convention on Climate Change.

Yesterday, Gore, holding his hand over his heart, solemnly told international delegates that it was the US, "my country", that "is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali." (Applause) He then urged the distinguished delegates to come to an agreement even without the backing of his own country. (European delegates are threatening to boycott an up and coming conference in the US.)Never mind the fact that the US had a delegation at Bali working with the other delegations. What a slap in the face of those delegates. But who cares about them, anyway? Big Al's in town. The Bali conference comes to a close today, thankfully. It is not known whether "El Al" is getting back on his private jet for some other exotic destination to save the world or whether he'll stay over a few days to pick up some famous Balinese woodcarvings and paintings.

Meanwhile, back in the US, Gore's 2.3 million dollar mansion in Tennessee has been hailed for becoming more energy efficient-you know, solar panels and special compact flourescent light-emitting diode bulbs (whatever those are). Nevertheless, the house still uses well above the average in electricity according to an AP article by Erik Schelzig, who otherwise gushed over Gore's renovations. Gads! The place must like like some giant erector set by now.

By the way, did the Bali conference get any concessions from India and China to cut back on their emissions? I doubt it. Are the Europeans meeting any of their unrealistic goals to reduce their emissions? I doubt it.

I would suggest to Mr Gore that before we take the lead in drastically impacting our own economy, that we make sure we know what we are talking about when it comes to Global Warming. Gore tells us that the scientific facts are in and there is no more debate among the "experts". That is a misstatement. There are plenty of scientists out there who dispute Gore's opinions. They maintain that the increase of 1 degree over the last 100 is cyclical and normal. They remind us that 30 years ago, we were proclaiming the coming of a new ice age. Maybe Gore is right, but don't tell me that the argument is settled. By the way, do you know which decade was the hottest of the 20th century? Answer-the 1930s. Hottest year? 1934.

Recently, Gore dodged a question on whether he might decide to run for president. I guess he is still taking a wait and see attitude-maybe as to whether Hillary's numbers continue to slide. Meanwhile, life is good. Fly around on private jets, collect Emmys, Oscars,and Nobel Peace prizes. Bask in the adulation of the liberal elite. Hey! Who needs to be president when you can be a saint?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Democrat Debate in Iowa- Washburn Goes From Nurse Rachet to Florence Nightengale


".....and we'll live happily ever after."


I don't know what to say about the Democrat debate in Iowa other than moderator, Carolyn Washburn again provided the most newsworthy story.

The debate itself was boring-same limitation on topics, no Kucinich, no Gravel. There were no fireworks, no candidates taking shots at each other. It was just one big love fest with all of the candidates basically echoing each other's platitudes.

Washburn, who was cold, distant and basically rude to the Republican candidates the day before, showed that she really does have some warmth and personality-at least for Democrats. She was still somewhat wooden, but she was polite, she smiled, she laughed and she thanked the candidates for their kind words about Iowans. Problem is, it really underscored the charge that she is biased-as is most of the mainstream media. She basically was two different people from one debate to the other.

She did, however, attempt to throw some hard questions at some of the candidates. Yet, I think her shots at Biden about past racial gaffes and to Dodd about his father (who was censured by the Senate)were somewhat cheap. After the debate, Dodd was asked about the questions and stated that the question to Biden was a cheap shot.

But enough about the moderator. Neither she nor any other moderator should be the main event. The big issue that was leading up to the debate was the statement by Clinton campaign operative, Billy Shaheen, that Obama's drug history would make him a vulnerable candidate-an issue that the "mean old right-wing Republicans" would surely exploit. Typical Clinton tactic. Yeah, those Republicans will really go after Hillary's Democratic opponent for his (you fill in the blank). So now, Shaheen has resigned from the Clinton campaign and Hillary has issued an apology to Obama along with a statement that this has no place in her campaign. Right.

All in all, it was a lousy, boring debate, occasionally "livened up" by Hillary's cackling laughter. Iowans must be disappointed by both debates.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Republican Debate in Iowa-Who is Carolyn Washburn?


"Raise your hands, you Republican swine! Sheez!"


To me, there is only one story coming out of the Republican debate in Iowa-and it isn't any of the candidates. The whole story today was the so-called moderator, Carolyn Washburn, Editor of the Des Moines Register. She literally stole (or destroyed) the debate with her best impersonation of Nurse Ratchet.

Incredibly, Washburn set a groundrule that Iraq and Illegal Immigration would not be discussed. Excuse me? Aren't these two of the biggest issues before the American public today? Well, not to Ms Washburn. Apparently, the taciturn lady places global warming on a higher plane. When she asked for a show of hands among candidates if global warming was a problem and caused by humans, Fred Thompson refused to play the game (to his credit), to Ms Washburn's great annoyance.

On several occasions, the humorless Ms Washburn scolded the candidates for one offense or another and cut off exchanges between candidates. On one occasion, Alan Keyes (where did he come from?)protested his being given a shorter time to respond than other candidates. Typically, Washburn refused to budge. She also inserted her own personal opinion into a question on human rights-"Considering that poverty and abuse foster terrorism......."

I did think, however, that most of the candidates did very well in articulating their philosophy on taxes and spending.

Of course, none of that kept the "always fair and balanced" Keith Olbermann and his nightly left-wing guests from nit-picking all of the candidates on his nightly "news" broadcast, while ignoring the obvious headline story of Ms Washburn. Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post even expressed sympathy for Washburn for having to deal with the likes of Keyes. If Keith had an ounce of objectivity, he would have named Washburn tonight's "Worst Person in the Woooorld".

Which brings to mind a final question: Why are the Republicans always having to hold their debates before liberal, Democratic moderators, while Democrats are questioned by.....liberal, Democratic moderators? Surely, most of the viewing public has picked up on that by now. (I should add that I don't know Washburn's political affiliation-but I can sure make an educated guess.)

As Ms Washburn herself was heard to mutter during the debate, "Sheez!"

Muslims Killing Muslims- Whose Fault is That?


Car Bombing in Iraq 2005

In the past 24 hours, three bomb attacks have been carried out in Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq. The final body count is not yet complete, but it appears about 100 people have died. It also appears that all of the victims are local folks-probably all Muslims. With all the hoopla about the supposed sins of America, Israel and the West committed against Muslims, why is there so little comment about the internecine violence committed by Muslims upon other Muslims?

In Algiers, Algeria, two bombs went off, one near the Algerian Constitutional Council, the other near a United Nations office dedicated to relief operations. At this point, it appears over 60 people have been killed. Credit has been claimed by an organization called Al Qaeda in the Meghreb.

Algeria has been plagued by civil strife since the 1990s, when Islamic fundamentalists went to war against the government. Over 200,000 people have died in that period.

In Lebanon, a top Lebanese general, Francois Al-Hajj, was the targeted victim, killed by a bomb placed under a nearby car, in apparent retaliation for his role in the recent siege by government forces upon a Palestinian refugee camp used by terrorists.

And in Iraq, three car bombs went off Wednesday in the town of Amarah, killing at least 27 people. Were the bombs directed at American, British or coalition soldiers? Hardly. There are no coalition soldiers in that area since the Brits pulled out. Clearly, another case of internecine killing.

So why do we hear all this breast-beating about how we have created the problems in the Middle East? The fact of the matter is that even if the US and every Western nation left the Middle East tomorrow, people would still be killing each other, either because they want to take over the government, install a religious regime, kill Sunnis/or kill Shia, etc. Why is it that many Sunnis want to kill Shia and vice-versa?

There is something very wrong in the Middle East, and it has little to do with the West. It is a region that has never seen democracy. Its leaders have skillfully diverted attention and blame to Israel, blaming that tiny nation for all the woes of Palestinians and Arabs in general. And now, millions are turning inward toward Islam to vent anger at outsiders. A truly explosive mix.

I don't pretend to have the solution to the problems in the region. I wish we could isolate ourselves from it, but I know that is illusionary. On the one hand, the world should encourage moderate factions and hope they prevail. On the other hand, I am not optimistic.

DOE Civil Rights Office Says No Anti-Semitism at UC-Irvine


"Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil"

It has been announced today that the Civil Rights Office under the Department of Education failed to find evidence that the University of California at Irvine failed to respond to complaints by Jewish students of anti-Semitism on campus. The investigators reportedly visited the campus on 11 occasions since last year, monitoring demonstrations and interviewing students and staff members. The complaints of anti-Semitism are a result of friction between Jewish and Muslim students that dates back severaL years, in large part over the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The investigation concluded that actions by Muslim students were based not on feelings against Jews per se, rather than opposition to the practices and policies of the state of Israel.

I disagree.

As a part-time instructor at UC-Irvine since 1998, I have seen who the Muslim Student Union brings to UCI to speak virtually on a quarterly basis. These are vitriolic speakers like Oakland-based Imam Amir Abdel Malik Ali, who, in his speeches, calls suicide bombers in Israel "heroes", constantly refers to "Zionist Jews" (both in the US,Israel-and on the UCI campus), and advocates the destruction of Israel. Another is Washington DC-based Imam, Abdul Alim Musa, a convert to Islam while in prison, who mirrors the comments of Malik Ali, talks about Islam taking over the US, and condemns America in general. Their speeches are routinely expressions of resentment and hatred. In my view, they have no place on a university campus.

I want to add here that among the overwhelming majority of students, there really is no anti-Semitism. As I have repeatedly stated, most of our students are great kids who concentrate on their studies and are enjoying their college experience.

In my opinion, the report of the DOE is a whitewash and an exercise in political correctness. University leadership has refused to deal with the issue of hate-mongering speakers coming to UCI, even when confronted with complaints by Jewish students who feel intimidated on campus. To the Administration, free speech is paramount and sacred. I say let hate-mongers, such as Malik Ali and Musa exercise their free speech on a soapbox on a city street. If UCI wants to be known as a serious university, then it needs to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility on campus.

I, for one, am disappointed in the findings of this so-called "civil rights office".

Waterboarding


"Hey, this ain't so bad!"


In a recent post, I conceded that, in my view, waterboarding was a form of torture. I will stick by that assessment although I would never compare it to more traditional forms that cause real pain and real injury-leading to death if prolonged. Following the debates this month over the pros and cons of waterboarding, I have come to the opinion that in certain cases, it is ok with me.

First of all, I don't think it should be practiced by our military and certainly not by our police in attempting to extract a confession from criminals. If, as it appears, the CIA has been using the technique with success on selected terrorist prisoners, with the goal of preventing terrorist attacks and saving innocent lives, then I have to concur.

What drives me over the edge on this question is the revelation that the technique was used on two major terrorist figures, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the 9-11 planners and Abu Zubaydah. In both cases, these terrorists quicky gave in, and gave confessions and intelligence that has prevented several attacks, according to the CIA.

So do I favor prosecuting the CIA operatives who carried out the interrogations? Absolutely not, especially since it appears they had authorization at the highest levels. Does that mean that George Bush, Dick Cheney and others should be prosecuted for authorizing the technique? Not in my opinion. Whatever you may think of the practice, the motive was to save innocent lives against an enemy that we had never confronted before. Other practicioners of torture, such as Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran and others did it for purposes of protecting their power and suppressing their enemies, usually decent, innocent people.

Another argument that goes against prosecuting Bush et al is that we now know that in Septemebr 2002, several members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, were given a tour of CIA detention facilities and briefed on the interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. Not only was there no objection, but at least two members asked why more aggressive means of questioning were not used. In addition, several other Congressional leaders received briefings, apparently including Jane Harmon (D-CA) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Duncan Hunter (R-CA) freely acknowledges that he received briefings and that he agrees with the practice. Joe Biden (who doesn't) says he wants the appointment of a special prosecutor. Of course, he knows Congress can call for hearings itself, but perhaps he is reluctant to lead an inquest that would embarrass Pelosi and other key Democrats.

In my earlier posting on torture, I stated that as a retired law enforcement officer (DEA), I never did it and never would have countenanced the practice as a law enforcement tool. I would make an exception in the case of a kidnapped agent (such as DEA's Enrique Camarena in 1985)and if I were ever confronted with a suspect who I knew was aware of the agent's location. This seems to me to be similar to having a prisoner such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was aware of numerous plots in the works to kill innocent Americans by the thousands. How do you look yourself in the mirror if you refuse to use aggressive interrogation techniques, the terrorist remains defiantly silent and, as a result, a terrorist act is carried out with a huge loss of life? No. I think we have to realize that this is a dirty war, one in which we didn't set the ground rules. If the rest of the world doesn't like it-too bad. Most of the rest of the world is not lifting a finger to help us anyway.

And don't talk to me about the Geneva Convention. That is a treaty designed to protect captured soldiers (who are honorable people), not criminal terrorists-who represent no nation, represent no signatory to the Convention, do not follow its rules-indeed, they use methods that target innocent civilians. They are not protected by the Geneva Convention either morally or legally. In addition, we have also learned that being humane to those we take as prisoner in no way protects our own soldiers who fall into terrorist hands. They are routinely slaughtered anyway.

So enough. Let's stop flagellating ourselves over this waterboarding business and stop advertising to our enemies how we are going to interrogate them. Finally, lets stop fighting ourselves and direct our attention to the bad guys.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Two Names on the Wall


Dorian Jan Houser (1946-1967)
Michael G Vinassa (1946-1966)


The recent news that someone had defaced the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington served to bring back my memories of two of my childhood friends whose names appear on that wall. Mike Vinassa and Dorian Houser were both from west Los Angeles, where I also grew up. We belonged to the same high school social club. All three of us entered military service after high school. I was assigned to Germany; they were sent to Viet Nam. I returned and went on with the rest of my life. They died in Viet Nam. Forty years later, with our country once again at war and American soldiers sacrificing their lives for America, we should also remember those that gave their lives in Viet Nam.

Dorian

I first knew Dorian in the 1950s. He and his brother, Lee, played on my little league team. Their father was our coach. Later, my relationship with Dory continued in school. In high school, we both belonged to a club called the Chancellors of Venice. As was common in west LA, there were many (off-campus) clubs formed for social purposes. We all had our club jackets, with the name of the club and locale (Venice or WLA) embroidered on the back. The colors of the clubs varied (ours was green). As we ended our high school days, these clubs disbanded as we went our separate ways-off to college, work or military service. In Dory's case, he entered the Marines in 1966, and after training, was sent to Viet Nam. On May 10, 1967, one month before his 21st birthday, he was killed in Quang Tin. He was hit in the chest by shrapnel and killed instantly.

I happened to be home on leave from Germany when we got the news that Dory was dead. I was able to attend his funeral before returning back to Germany. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it after all these years, but I chose not to wear my uniform to the funeral, simply because I was afraid his family might react emotionally to it. I have always regretted that decision.

Dory was the kind of guy that no one could dislike. He was friendly and unassuming. Needless to say, his funeral was a sad and emotional event. In the last couple of years, I have visited his grave a couple of times since my mother-in-law is interred in the same cemetery. About a year ago, I came across a posting about Dory by his sister. She described her brother and was looking for anyone who knew Dory and remembered him. I answered her post, but the email is no longer valid. As yet, I have not been able to contact her.

Mike

Mike Vinassa was also a member of the Chancellors. He was a stout, barrel-chested kid with a big tattoo on his shoulder, something unusual at the time for someone so young (still in high school). Needless to say, he was tough and didn't mind a good fight. Most other kids knew not to mess with him, but among his friends, he was well-liked. I remember one night we were at a party and he wanted to (playfully) roughhouse with me. We started slap-fighting and wrestling on the front yard of the house, and (somehow) I was able to throw him to the ground and fall on top of him. As you may know, innocent roughhousing among teenagers can easily turn into a real fight, and I remember thinking that Mike might suddenly get mad, so I rolled over and let him get on top, thus letting him win the match.

After high school, I went on to complete 2 years of college before I entered the Army. I basically lost touch with Mike and Dory at that time.

I had recently arrived at my post of duty in Germany when I came across Mike's name while reading the Viet Nam obituaries in the Army Times. It wasn't until several months ago that I learned the circumstances of Mike's death, which occurred on May 22, 1966.

Mike was a member of C Co, Ist Bn, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cav Division (US Army). Ironically, Mike was a short-timer, soon to return to the US, and, on that day, assigned to non-combat duties. Yet he insisted on accompanying his unit on a final combat mission in the Vinh Thanh Valley. It was on that final mission, that Mike lost his life-under heroic conditions. He personally led a group of his comrades in charging and taking out a machine gun nest that was pinning down his unit, but was fatally shot in the process. For his actions, Mike was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His sole survivor was his mother.

In subsequent years, I have been able to find both their names on the Viet Nam Memorial. (I was living in the Washington area at the time.) As stated, I have visited Dory's grave, but as yet, have not identified Mike's cemetery. When I look back at my life after the Army, I contemplate how I finished college, began my career, got married, had children, retired, and now find myself in my 60s. But as I looked down on Dory's grave, I realized that he and Mike are frozen in time-forever 20 years old. I wonder what became of their parents, the rest of the families.

In a sense, today's soldiers are more fortunate than those who went to Viet Nam. The overwhelming majority of the American people greatly respect them (with the notable exception of the usual mindless idiots who are not worth further mention in this essay). Soldiers returning from Viet Nam were often subject to despicable treatment from those of their own generation who did everything they could to avoid military service. Once the Viet Nam War ended, the country wanted to forget about it as quickly as possible-after all, it was just a tragic period in our history. We also forgot about our Viet Nam veterans who came back alive-in so many cases, as walking wounded. They deserved so much better from us. They are still among us, and in many cases, still wounded.

All of us who lost friends or family members in Viet Nam should try to keep their memories alive and honor them. God rest their souls.

Michael G Vinassa- Panel 07E, line 104
Dorian Jan Houser- Panel 19E, line 082