Archive for March, 2014

“Wooly Bully”

March 15, 2014


“Matty told Hatty about a thing she saw.
Had two big horns and a wooly

“Wooly Bully” – Sam the Sham (June 1965)

Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Vladimir Putin may pugnaciously posture with a scary pit bull stare, but the top ten bullies on my scorecard don’t have Russian names.

They even pretend to be a friend.

They are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Halliburton, BAE Systems, United Technologies, Huntington Ingalls Industries and SAIC, Incorporated.

They steal billions of our collective lunch money every year with a time-honored scheme unbelievably simple and perfectly legal.

They hire thousands of lobbyists recruited from top military decision makers, important congressional staffers and duly elected public officials, thereby providing a sweet payoff for “good behavior” over decades of unspoken, unwritten complicity in advancing and approving costly new weapons systems and associated schemes, rarely critical and often completely unneeded. That’s just for openers.

One thing they do quite well is frighten us out of our wits, often succeeding to an astounding degree. And they keep FOX News viewers glued to their flat screens or old-fashioned boob tubes, confirming every comforting suspicion.

Right now, these lobbyists are pushing the insane notion that the new proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2015 will reduce our military strength to a level not seen since before World War Two, ignoring the fact that 21st Century warfare operates with completely different dynamics. Global troop strength will be reduced by 9.2% with the active-duty Army trimmed from 520,000 to 450,000, the Army National Guard moving from 355,000 to 335,000 and Army Reserves drawing down to 195,000 soldiers — 10,000 less than currently participate.

Here’s current Mississippi Senator (R) and probable future Lobbyist Roger Wicker –
“Amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, President Obama is proposing defense cuts that could jeopardize the future vitality and preparedness of America’s armed forces. At a time for demonstrating “peace through strength”, the President’s budget blueprint instead suggests America is on retreat.”

Are you kidding me?

Consider this one critical FACT:

Even with the reductions outlined above, the total United States Military Budget for fiscal year 2015 will still be larger than the next DOZEN nations of the world COMBINED.
According to the highly regarded Stockholm International Institute, 2013 expenditures around the world looked like this:

The United States —- 1,753 Billion Dollars
People’s Republic of China – 682 Billion.
Russia —— 90 Billion
The United Kingdom – 61 Billion
Japan – 59 Billion.
France – 58 Billion
Saudi Arabia – 56 Billion
India – 46 Billion
Germany – 45 Billion
Italy – 34 Billion
Brazil – 33 Billion
South Korea – 32 Billion

If size matters, Putin’s present purchasing punch is approximately five percent of our own. We’re twenty times bigger. Ouch. Indeed, we spent more last year in Afghanistan alone than the entire Russian military budget on everything they’ve been involved with, including outer space.

The day we can simply “send in the jets” and have our way in the world has long since disappeared – if it ever existed in the first place.

As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates properly observed last year at the Dwight David Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas – “Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined – 11 of which are our partners and allies?”

President Eisenhower, the only general elected to our nation’s highest office in the 20th Century and victorious Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War Two, warned against the dangers of a powerful “military-industrial complex” threatening our American way of life in his famed “Farewell Address” to the nation on January 17, 1961.

In this last public speech of his phenomenal career, Eisenhower also stressed: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense, a theft. The cost of one modern, heavy bomber is this: a modern, brick school in more than 30 cities.” And then he thoughtfully added: “Together, we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms – but with intellect and decent purpose.”

With those words, it’s not difficult imagining “Ike” fondly recalling his formative childhood days faithfully attending weekly Sunday School in old Abilene.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

Matthew 5:9.


March 2, 2014


There’s no doubt in my mind who won “The Great Debate.”

With a standing room only crowd filling every chair at the Oakhurst Community Center and lining the back of the room from start to finish, David Linn delivered on his passionate promise to present detailed reasons for running against the incumbent; District Attorney Michael Keitz was similarly energized in thoughtful responses to accusations generously leveled in his direction and Madera County Deputy Counselor Miranda Neal made an impressive debut in her admittedly novice effort at gaining major elective office.

But the real winners were those hardly souls who braved whipping winds and a torrential downpour to attend this first significant political event in Election Year 2014.

My last column challenged local residents to come together at this Oakhurst Democratic Club sponsored debate, regardless of party affiliation or philosophy, and become “participatory in political activities of all valid persuasions, consistently considering the opinion of others with any honestly open mind.” The title of the column was “Get in the Game.” You enthusiastically did and were awesomely pro.

With the Community Center figuratively filled to the rafters, one could literally hear a pin drop from 7 P.M. until our conclusion at 8:35 with a jam-packed audience maintaining respectful, thoughtful, reflective silence throughout the entire exercise.

Various spectrums of thought and candidate preference were in evidence as response to a request for written submission of questions was beyond our most optimistic expectations. This provided the Democratic Club’s Executive Committee with an opportunity to insure that the mix of questions included all publicly expressed areas of focus in the D.A. race, ranging from “softballs” to “sliding curves right over the plate.” None of the candidates heard any of the questions until they were announced and I believe everything important was covered — and then some.

Prior to last Friday night, the most attentive audience I had ever encountered was years ago when Eileen and I were in Dublin, Ireland, attending a sold-out performance at the Abbey Theater of Eugene O’Neill’s classic “The Iceman Cometh”, starring Irish-American Brian Dennehy as “Hickey.” The play was performed as originally written without edit and ran over four hours in length. From opening curtain to closing lines, the theater was surrealistically, stunningly, contemplatively quiet – – like church. This was our Community Center Friday night. Ask anyone.

And, Begorrah!

Since this is my last column before St. Patrick’s Day (Alan O’Cheah writes next week’s “For Your Consideration,”) I’m going to smoothly segue from those Irish references above to my favorite St. Patrick’s Day story of all – surely as true as all other tales connected with this heroic Celtic figure.

Although the legend of St. Patrick, as with many fables of the past, is filled with varying contradictions in a wild assortment of stories half-myth and half-true (Ireland, for example, never had any snakes to start with) — one incident reported by several prominent Irish historians of the time dealt with a mass conversion held for Eastern Irish tribes on the sacred Druidic Hill of Tara. During fairly prolonged ceremonies conducted by Patrick, himself, the High King, seeking to find more comfort for the duration, removed his iron sword from its scabbard and sought to drive it into the ground – there to rest without support.

Alas, his aim was a bit off and he inadvertently drove the sword through his right foot, pinning himself to the ground. Filled with, some would say, the instinctive grace of his heritage and being unwilling to interrupt the service over such a potentially damaging public embarrassment, the King merely ignored the mishap, registering not the slightest degree of discomfort.

The rest of the King’s immediate warrior entourage, assuming that the act was an official part of the strange liturgical observances they had been ordered to embrace, promptly drew their swords and plunged them into their own right feet without hesitation or questioning comment.

As has been often said, surely our good Lord only invented whiskey to keep the Irish from taking over the world.

So Happy Saint Patrick’s Month — and keep your feet clear.