Stumbling into History


A week or so ago, I popped into David Stockman’s website.  He was in the Reagan administration for awhile before getting the boot.  Very sharp guy regarding economics.  Anyway, he had an entry about The Donald and the offer to sit down for talks with North Korea.   I expected some commentary, but ended up with a bit of history lesson instead.

Like many Americans, the only things I knew about Korea were:

  1. We fought a war there in the 50’s, when North Korea invaded South Korea.
  2. Korea was divided in two at some earlier point in history.
  3. They make an awful lot of cars and electronics.
  4. Some of their food is “call the fire department  because flames are shooting out of your mouth” hot.

Well, it turns out that there are some valid reasons that Koreans in the past have been wary of the US.  After being partially colonized by Japan up to and including WWII, the country was arbitrarily divided at the 38th parallel by the US and Russia.  It was not a well thought out decision, but instead a decision made in 30 minutes by the US the night of Japan’s surrender.  The idea was to prevent Russia from getting the whole territory.

So then the US went into the south, set up a strongman (sound familiar?), and proceeded to help kill and bomb quite a bit of the country.  This was prior to the 1950 invasion by the North.  In addition, the side the US was backing had a large contingent of Koreans who had collaborated with Japan.  So obviously there was a lot of resentment by Koreans.  So when the North invaded, it wasn’t necessarily just a power grab.

It has some parallels to Vietnam, and I would encourage you to read the article.  I am putting a link below:


Just gives you a little more information about why the North would be paranoid about the US, and why the US wasn’t always the good guy riding to the rescue.


A Loss For Wars


Last Friday, news broke of an Army vet, suffering from PTSD, killing three staff members at the Pathway rehabilitation facility in Yountville.  The picture accompanying the story showed a group of sheriff’s deputies all dressed in camouflage uniforms.  My first thought was “this looks more like the Army than the police”.  It started me thinking about how militarized this country has become.  The police and sheriff departments have military uniforms, military weapons, and military vehicles and equipment.  Much of the equipment is given to them from the US government.

We have the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, and the War in Afghanistan/Iraq/Syria/Somalia/Yemen/etc.  We have constant reminders that we are under attack, at risk from drug dealers, Hispanics, Arabs, Muslims, Chinese, Koreans, Iranians, and gang bangers of various colors.  The world is full of bad people, coming to get us.  Who is us?  Why, we are the good people who live in peace and honor, virtuous in our national collective mind.

Protecting us are valiant troops, and we must always remember to honor them, as they are willing to give their lives to protect us.  So we make it a point to attend Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day events, fly the flag where we can, and tell uniformed service members, “thank you for your service”.  After all, that’s the right thing to do.

Except for when it isn’t.

If we really cared about our service members, we would do our best to keep them out of danger, deploying them only as a last resort.  We would elect politicians who truly value the meaning of life, and the life of a soldier, a medic, a nurse, and so forth.  Whether it applies to a country in the Mideast or the house down the street, the philosophy of “barge in and start shooting” would change.

Instead, this country rolls along on a constant war footing.  While this results in a lot of money for the upper management of the weapon / security / logistics / equipment suppliers to the Pentagon, as well as other national security related companies and personnel, it doesn’t do that much for the military veterans.  The meat grinder takes them into the various theaters of operations, and then spits out chunks of legs, arms, minds, and bodies.  Thousands dead, tens of thousands wounded (maybe more), and hundreds of thousands of relatives affected.  Not to mention three therapy / staff members in Yountville.

Returning veterans, partly because there are so many of them, don’t get the proper care they need.  Relatives, family members, and friends & aquaintances all bear part of the burden of care.  Add in the emotional cost of kids growing up with missing or damage parents, wives and husbands seeing marriages fall apart, and parents losing their children.  What do you end up with?  A whole lot of damaged lives.  Compared to all that, a few empty words twice a year from politicians and some occasional thanks from the public is a drop in the bucket.  Some might say, in a way, that it’s an insult.

We have troops in over 75 countries, and both declared and non declared wars going on in numerous countries.  Until the public says “enough”, the wars will continue, and more of our “honored” troops will be disabled or dead.  As a country, I think that’s our Badge of Shame.

Mental Wanderings

It all started yesterday with a pink kleenex.  I had reached into my pants pocket since it was cold outside and my nose wanted some attention. I have a habit of keeping a kleenex (some say tissue) in one pocket of any pants I wear, just in case.  I do NOT want to be the guy that has the runny nose, no tissue to wipe, so brings out the grade school finger, hand, or arm wipe.  No matter how you try to hide or disguise it, no matter how casually or quickly you do it, EVERYONE sees you!  The next thing you know, people will be losing their breakfast/lunch/dinner, others will slip on it and fall, and the whole world comes to a screeching halt…..

Now, the sight of the pink tissue startled me a bit.  I only buy white, and for the life of me I couldn’t remember where I  had grabbed the pink from.  It made me think of my grandparents’ house, where my grandmother used to always have pink toilet paper.  Ever since then, I am not a big fan of pink tissue or toilet paper.  Probably those memories of a less than nice grandmother.

This morning, I was thinking of various things to blog about.  I read a little about society and behavior in one article, and it got me thinking about manners.  My grandparents popped into my mind again.  I remember growing up, and hearing adults talk about how kids and people “nowadays” had no manners, compared to when they were young.  Back in the 50’s, 40’s and before, people used “Sir” and “Madam” more frequently, and dressed up more as well.  I have to admit, that as a kid, I thought “Oh, that’s dumb, just another old person talking about how things were back when.  That’s old fashioned, they just don’t get it.”

It is only as I get older that I realize there was some value in good manners.  The high levels of anger, frustration, and shouting in society today are in part a direct result of bad manners.  So I thought, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”, and immediately thought of the song by the same name, done in the 80’s by the hard rock band Cinderella.  They were one of the big Hair bands back then, doing their part to keep America’s hair salons strong.

So I popped onto Youtube to see if there was a video.  There was.  As I watched, I started thinking, “Hey, that place looks familiar!”.  Some of the video was shot at Mono Lake in California, just east of Yosemite.  Other parts were shot in Bodie, an abandoned mining town that is now a state park.  My wife and I visited Bodie about 3 years ago.  Upon entering the park, I was struck by how many structures were there.  Some have been mostly preserved, some are in some decay, and many others are gone.

What I remember most is the view inside on of the “normal” houses.  Not the fancy ones the few rich people lived in, but one of the everyday folk.  In an area that sees temperatures below zero and high wind in the winter, there was absolutely no insulation in the walls or ceiling.  Outer wood frame had newspaper under wood slats but just a thin layer of a sheet or two.  It would have been cold as hell in the winter.  I just kept thinking what a hard life that was, lived up into the 1940’s for a few remaining souls.  Compared to modern construction, it’s night and day.  Makes you appreciate what you have.

So my mind’s journey went from kleenex to old folks to manners to rock stars to travel to history to houses.  Funny how one thing leads to another and you end up at a destination you never foresee.

I’m posting links to Cinderella video below.  If you don’t like the music, put volume on low and watch for the scenery. (and the hair…..)

Cinderella video

Bodie state park:


Tilting at Windmills


There are times when I contemplate suiting up to do battle with the world.  Lately, (and I use that term loosely, since my last post was over 6 months ago) it seems I am in front of the computer, thinking I should put up a blog post.  So I mentally march to the closet to get my suit of armor.  Yanking open the door, I am not greeted by a single shining suit of armor, but instead by a hoarder’s landfill of ideas that threatens to bury me in a landslide.  Where to start in a fight for justice?  Politics?  Corporate misdeeds?  Racial or sexual injustice?  Legal issues?  Human behavior?  Pollution?  Financial misdeeds?

There are so many issues out there, that in a way, it is paralyzing.  I’m like the new immigrant at the mega grocery store that is tasked with buying toothpaste from 68 choices.  Just as you’d struggle to figure out which brand and type of toothpaste is best, I struggle with deciding what to write.  In the background, there is a huge clock ticking in my head.  Blogging about a controversial issue would require some research, which takes time.  Even a humorous post needs to be done when I’m relaxed, not when I’m wound up after a long day.  If it’s a weeknight, forget it.  I find I get through work and dinner with maybe an hour left before bed.  The weekends have been hectic too, so I end up saying “Aw, maybe next week”.   Which turns into another “next week”, and another, and……………pretty soon I feel like the guy that stares at the phone feeling guilty because he never called his date back the next day, and it’s now months later.

I am envious of the people who blog regularly.  Some never seem to struggle with a lack of material, and always have the perfect illustration or picture.  The Martha Stewarts of the blog world.  I think I’m more Dennis the Menace, late turning in my homework and missing a few teeth from when I occasionally put my foot into my mouth.  Sigh….

Time is a precious commodity, and I think that’s the first thing to fight for right now.  So I don my armor on a Sunday morning, then attempt to find my trusty steed as I push the landfill back into the closet.  I think he’s in here somewhere………

Are We Enablers of Violence?

I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) today as they discussed the Charlottesville protests and Trump’s tweets and statements. One of the guests was from Color of Change (I believe that was the group’s name), and he was asked if the left bore any responsibility for not speaking up against the violence by the left. He just about turned into a pretzel as he hemmed and hawed and danced around the question. Never admitted to any need to speak up. Yet only a few sentences later, he castigated Republicans for their failure to strongly denounce Trump and the white supremacists. My thought? “Wow, what a hypocrite”.


It seems as if the mainstream media (with a lot of help from other interested groups) is going great guns after Trump for his denounciation of violence “from all sides”, even though old Donald was exactly right in his initial response. It is absolutely proper to denounce violence from all sides.


In the last few years, many conservative commentators have castigated moderate Muslims for not denouncing the violence of radical Muslims. Liberals have castigated conservatives for not denouncing Trump and others. Now, it should be the turn of America to castigate liberals for not denouncing the violence of Antifa and others. Yet, so far, it’s…..crickets…..


This tendency to avoid criticizing extremists “on our side” is natural, to some degree, as I’m sure there is a general feeling of “well, yes, our side shouldn’t do that, but those other people against us are so horrible that they do even worse things”. With this kind of thinking, the end result is that violence goes unpunished and allowed, and naturally escalates. By our silence, we promote war amongst ourselves. The winners are the politicians and power brokers that exploit the turmoil for their own benefit. The losers….. are the rest of us, as possible solutions disappear into the fog of war.


There are significant problems in the US today regarding race, income inequality, criminal justice, government misdeeds, drug use, to name a few. Shouting at each other and throwing things, physical violence, and harassment only serve to inflame each side, with attention diverted from the problem to the battle. Very little gets done. We need to instead denounce the violence, and focus attention and efforts to focus on what we have in common, what we can agree on, and what we could together develop to address these issues.

An Inconvenient Truth?

Another damn political post……my apologies.


Back when I was around 10 or 12, my Mom got a phone call late one afternoon from a father in the neighborhood. He claimed I was yelling things or making fun of his daughter. I remember my parents asking me what I did, and I had no idea. My first thought was “Who?” I knew of this girl, but that was it. I had never talked to her, never bothered her, and to my knowledge never really crossed paths with her either at school or away from school. Nevertheless, my mom drove to their house, and I apologized to the girl. It was a bizarre feeling, being falsely accused and having to, in a way, confirm the “truth” by apologizing.

Even though the facts should have showed I was innocent, the “facts” in this case showed I was guilty.


It came to my mind today as I read about the House bravely passed a bill (419-3) further tightening sanctions on Russia, as punishment for their hacking of the US election. Apparently the Democrats pushed it to get back at Trump and avenge their losses in the 2016 elections, and the Republicans pushed it because the neocons hate Russia.


Which is all fine and dandy. Except for some potential facts that they didn’t do it. There was a very interesting letter to the President posted today (I believe it was today, could have been last day or two) regarding the DNC hacks. I have yet to see it in any mainstream news outlet, but it sheds a whole new light on the incident. If true, and if it publicized, it could put a kink in the Dems efforts to derail Trump and the Republicans efforts to continue regime change in Syria and elsewhere.


From the forensic analysis of the hacked material, they believe there were TWO incidents of copying material from the DNC servers. Both were indicative of copying material to another device (flash drive or portable drive), and NOT a hack. The first was most likely what Wikileaks announced on June 12, 2016, and was copied prior to that. The second copy incident was on July 5, and that material appears to have been implanted with so called Russia “tells”.


The theory would be that after the DNC info was announced, someone went in and got another copy, inserted things that would incriminate Russia, and released it as damage control. That would result in attention on Russia, as well as discredit Wikileaks as a Russian agent. This doctored info is what the Democrats and much of the press was touting as Russia hacking the US election.


The analysis was done by some respectable names, including William Binney (ex NSA) and John Kiriakou (ex CIA), among others. Link is below:



While some may see American troops overseas as “protecting our liberty”, I get the uneasy feeling we are morphing into a hybrid 1984 / Fourth Reich. At home, we have picked scapegoats (Hispanics, Muslims, and Blacks), and are increasing surveillance and repression by the state. Overseas, we are marching into numerous countries and killing more and more people. A survey done a few years ago asked people worldwide who they thought the biggest threat to world peace was. The number 1 answer? The USA.


The War on Terror is going on 16 years. During that time we have watched pet videos on Facebook, debated about Caitlyn Jenner, railed about Obamacare and Russian hacking, and welcomed home thousands of dead soldiers and up to a million wounded ones (including brain trauma and PTSD). Of course, we thank those soldiers for their service (insert sarcasm here). Civilian deaths in the Middle East run as high as 500,000 or possibly more. We have performed large scale invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and small scale incursions in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Our support (both financial and weapons) of various groups and various governments, as well as our own actions, have destroyed families, homes, towns, cities, and countries. We have brought pain and suffering, hunger and starvations, and disease. We have become a 1939 Germany Lite, in a way.


 Just as there were a lot of good Germans back then, there are a lot of good Americans now. We believe what we see on the news and what the government says, and we don’t go out of our way to seek alternate news sources. The Hispanics and Blacks at home, and the Muslims overseas…….well, they probably had it coming, whether it be abuse or death. After all, they are all a potential threat to our country.


The Lutheran pastor Martin Neimoller recited a famous poem back in the 30’s:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


The American people seem like they’re still in the early stages of speaking out. I feel like there’s an existing Warrior Culture promoted by the government and media. We glorify soldiers protecting us overseas, police protecting us here, and government protecting us everywhere. We don’t question why we would need protection and whether there are other ways to minimize threats. Nor do we spend much time examining whether our deeds are responsible for some of the problems. In the Gods of War we trust.

 Although this post is probably going to be read by a few people, I want to clarify my sarcastic “thank you for your service” comment.  I understand the sacrifice soldiers make, and I understand the desire to thank them for that.  What gets me a bit irritated is that this “thank you” by people and the government, indicates a concern for the soldier.  If that was the case, the government would take a whole lot more care in trying every available alternate path, before sending them out to do battle.  It would not use the military for regime change or political gain in other countries.  Unfortunately, that is not the case and has not been the case in previous wars.  Too many leaders see soldiers as cannon fodder to be used to achieve their goals, with not enough appreciation of the impact those deaths and injuries have on the families and communities across the nation.

July 4th

July 4th is a man’s day holiday focused on things men enjoy. Food, fire, and explosives. None of that annoying shopping that Christmas and Valentine’s Day require. No forced exposure to unwanted relatives like Thanksgiving.


The first step is to fire up the barbecue. Some lazier folk use gas barbecues. Real men use charcoal, which requires lighter fluid. LOTS of lighter fluid. Your goal here, men, is to see how high that flame will be when you light it. If it reaches the roof level, you’ve done well. If it goes up another 20 or 30 feet, and scorches the eyebrows of Aunt Mabel sitting over at the picnic table, you’ve done even better.


Once the grill is ready, it’s time for the burgers and dogs. Dogs, unfortunately, are limited to hot dogs, even though it may be tempting to take care of the yapping Chihuahua that one of your relatives brought. You may also have to fight off attempts by the women to place tofu, veggies, and other “healthy food” on your grill. Do not let this happen. Keep small amounts of lighter fluid handy to create flare ups that will drive away unwanted pests like these.


Once the food is done, it’s time to begin the homage to “things that go boom”. The fire crackers and cherry bombs are good for daytime enjoyment, as well as dispensing with any unneeded appendages. Since merely lighting them on the ground will soon get boring, firecrackers can be relocated to underneath the lawn chair of an unsuspecting dozing celebrant. Cherry bombs work best in tree stumps, garbage cans, or underneath the fuel tank of the neighbor’s RV.


As darkness descends, someone may bring out sparklers. These are okay for girls and children under 5, but be vigilant to make sure you don’t get one of these thrust in your hand, as it could be captured on camera and you’d have your man status revoked in short order. Instead, you need to fire up the whistlers, the screamers, and the sky level boomers. Do not stop until your supplies are exhausted and the air is foggy with gunpowder smoke.


Happy 4th.

Hilary & Vladimir

Is the average American sitting in their high chair, watching mainstream news outlets and Facebook, while waiting for the pablum to be delivered? It would seem so, after seeing all the Russia / hacking / DNC / stolen election news lately. Getting lost in all of that are the facts, however inconvenient they might be. So here’s a few things I think should be mentioned:


Hilary lost the election. Period. Why? Because not enough people voted for her. Why is that? Maybe because she did not go out seeking all voters (no visits to Wisconsin, among other places). Maybe people didn’t approve of her mishandling government documents and wiping servers, then getting a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from a friendly FBI head. Maybe they didn’t like her selling State Department access and favors in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation. Maybe they didn’t like how she, the DNC, and certain media outlets schemed to take down Bernie Sanders and give her unfair edges in the debates. There were an awful lot of negatives. It was ironic that after all the Clinton push in the debates to get Trump to promise to abide by the election results, it was Clinton that showed signs of not abiding.


Some have claimed the US wasn’t ready for a woman President. Nonsense. The US wasn’t ready for a CORRUPT woman President. Add in a vice president candidate that generated all the inspiration of library paste, and you have a ticket that has no appeal to many Americans. There were no younger candidates, no non-white candidates, no non-corporate candidates, no new faces (except for Donald). “Why vote?” is a question many Americans asked themselves, and stayed home that Tuesday.


This whole business of Russia being the evil global force out to destroy the world is a little ridiculous. In the debates, Hilary mentioned that “17 US intelligence agencies” had agreed that Russia had hacked the DNC. Yet no such decree was ever issued. The problem is that a soundbyte is issued, and major media outlets are either lazy or have agendas, and repeat the soundbyte until be becomes a “fact”.


Then on November 24, the Washington Post had an article decrying “fake news” and listing some 200 fake news sites that were supposedly controlled by Russia. This was immediately spread by other mainstream outlets, and became a rallying cry in some quarters. The only problem? Only a handful of those sites were fake news outlets, and even less were shown to be controlled by Russia. The rest were real websites run by real people, delivering real information. People such as David Stockman, the budget director in the Reagan years. People such as the veterans of the USS Liberty. People such as Ron Paul. This smacks of McCarthyism, where false accusations were trumpeted at truth. Take a look at the PropOrNot group that provided the information for the article. Shadowy members, recently formed. Smells a little fishy to me.


Then just this week, another claim that the Russians had hacked a Massachusetts utility. Started in the Washington Post, it was another baseless claim. So this weekend, we kick out some Russians, to teach them a lesson.


What is left? A public whose attention is conveniently diverted from Hilary’s misdeeds and the Democratic establishment’s misjudgements. Interesting how that worked out, isn’t it?


I am providing some links below to various sites that have more information. Some of the ones on hacking are done by individuals with backgrounds in that area and computers, etc. Well worth reading.

There are more sites and articles on the internet as well, I just ran out of time.


In closing, I want to also mention that I did NOT vote for Trump and am not a certified TIN HAT wearer. Just in case you were wondering. And that concludes my political post for the day.