Monday, December 26, 2016

The End is Near

The end of the year is fast approaching, and it can't end soon enough for me. Politics and what it has done to the average American, and to the country itself, is enough to make me cry. Social media seems to invite nastiness in every form, and this year it's been done in spades. Leaders I used to respect have proven to be devout liars, and people I considered friends crossed the lines of decency with their insults and ignorant repetition of slimy rumors in their effort to promote their party and candidates.

I wonder if this country will ever again become the bastion of goodness it once was? I think it will take more than draining the swamp and a new crop of self-serving thieves in government.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Will We Ever Learn?


Conventional thought suggests that the elders of the tribe should be treasured for their knowledge and wisdom. With my 75th birthday arriving this week, I believe I’ve reached the age to be considered and elder, but I can’t offer any wisdom that isn’t patently obvious for all of us to see if we read a paper or turn on the TV.

I was three months old when my country plunged into the first war of my lifetime, and it was a doozy. Millions of people died, and more millions were physically maimed and mentally scarred, but the result was that tyranny was held at bay, if not defeated.  For that reason it was generally regarded to be a good war.

A few years later, we…the US of A with the help of the UN…decided that the world needed a police force and we entered a war in Korea. We stuck our collective noses into something that was none of our business, and into an issue that we couldn’t resolve. Once again many millions died or suffered, and more than a half-century later the Korean problem still isn’t resolved.

You’d think we’d learn, but we still weren’t smart and we did it again. Well meaning, na├»ve people, goaded by international profiteers, decided we could resolve the disagreement in Indochina, even after the French failed miserably. Millions more died, trillions of dollars were spent, and the moral fabric of our country began to unravel…and we still didn’t learn anything. After we left that fetid morass, we went right back to interfering in regional conflicts. As Forrest Gump said…”Stupid is a stupid does”…and we does it in spades!

The result is that now we are engaged in another global war, and to borrow another phrase, we are stuck on stupid. We will never, ever, defeat a worldwide following of religious zealots. Because of the power we’ve allowed a bunch of misguided do-gooders who think it’s more important to feel good about our intentions, we never consider the laws of unintended consequences before we jump into the middle of family feuds and divine purification.

In an effort to accommodate disparate opinions, we take symbolic military actions that kill, maim, and empty the treasury, and then let lawyers, not generals, decide which violent acts are okay and which are not. Anyone with a lick of common sense can tell you that we have no chance of changing people’s minds about religious theories about what it takes to guarantee an afterlife. Instead of concentrating on our own problems, we throw dollars, unsolicited advice, and unrealistic demands at those who don’t like us, don’t respect us, who are different than us, and don’t want us nosing into their business.

We are only weeks away from another national election that will set in motion the next step in unraveling our country. I’ve met very few who can honestly and enthusiastically declare that they support either major party, or either presidential candidate. Instead they are against the people and politics of the opposition.

I have yet to hear any politician or any pundit say that their party is pledged to follow the Constitution of the United States. Instead they want to run things their way…and that is where our problems begin and end.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Storm Repairs

It took a month, but the roofing contractor finally repaired the leaky roof. He found the leak right away, so not many shingles had to be ripped off. It only took a couple of hours for one man to do the job.

Now if it doesn't leak in the next rain, I'll probably do the ceiling repair myself. If I have to wait for a sheetrock contractor, it will take forever.

The fence is still temporarily patched together and brisk wind from the northwest would blow it over again. This time of the year, southerly winds prevail, but in another few weeks they will shift to the north. The contractor said two weeks ago that he was ordering material and would be here in about two weeks, but no word since then.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Contagion?

Question of the day: Is stupid contagious?

If so, I think it's time to quarantine the entire government. I can't recall a time when so many idiotic lies, claims and comments were uttered by government officials of both major parties, elected, appointed or hired! I can't honestly think of one single congressman who displays the common sense expected of a trained walrus.

I think Baghdad Bob was Patient Zero, as I recognize the symptoms in our government as well as those in Europe. It's too bad the fifth estate can't see it, but they are just as guilty as the politicians when it comes to displaying terminal-stupid.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Texas Breeze

The strongest wind I've experienced during my twenty years in Texas destroyed our vinyl fence and a garage door. Afterward I spent most of a day trying to fix the fence good enough to keep the dogs in, but it's only  propped up and a moderate wind would take it down again. Unfortunately the fence company said they can't get to it for at least three weeks.





Monday, July 4, 2016

The 4th of July...What does it mean?

Ask the average millennial, and they don't have a clue what Independence Day means, much less how it was achieved, or even the country from which we gained our independence.

Until recently, many of the blogs written by those who cherish the liberties won by the founders were at least somewhat optimistic in thinking that the next election would put the country on track to renewing a government that would follow the constitution. Now, even the most patriotic among them is expecting more of the same, except under the administration of a new president. Since neither candidate is convincing, or visionary, or respectful of those who created this formerly great country, I am among those who have about given up with frustration. My posts from years past have chronicled the country's demise, and now I'm certain it will take something drastic and horrifying to draw our citizens together again. Another election won't do it.

Shame on us for ignoring Benjamin Franklin's answer to a woman who asked what type of government was created. "A republic, Madam, if you can keep it."

It appears more clearly every day that we failed Dr. Franklin.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

It's not exactly a Memorial Day story, but it's about the greatest generation and they were the ones who first made me aware of the cost of war. I met and wrote about this man a few years ago, but the simple uniqueness of his story has haunted my thoughts ever since. I posted it here before, but it seemed worth repeating.

I met a hero the other day. Normally, you might expect to meet a hero at a public event with the media present and politicians vying for camera time, but I met him in the service waiting room at an East Texas car dealership.

He stepped down out of his pickup just like any normal person, talked to the service writer and left it to have the oil changed.

He was a senior citizen, as we like to call them now, and as he walked across the driveway you could see that age had taken its toll. He was stooped and his skin was weathered by the Texas sun. He flashed a friendly smile as he headed my way, choosing an outdoor seat over a stuffy waiting room with a blaring television. He was an unimposing guy…jeans, boots and a straw cowboy hat. The hat wasn’t big, or fancy, or expensive like Hollywood cowboys wear. It was a working man’s hat…the kind you wear to shield you against the weather, but it was his go-to-town hat, too. He looked average in every way…medium height, slender build, glasses, and…well, just average looking as Texans go. He wasn’t a body builder, but he appeared fit for his age. He sat down on the bench beside me and we exchanged greetings.

The warm, morning sun had just cleared the hills behind us, and we both commented on the beautiful morning. He carried a Max Brand novel in his hand, but after we exchanged greetings, he placed it on the bench beside him and we struck up a conversation. He had already acquired my interest and I wasn’t going to let him read if I could indulge him in conversation.

We first talked about retirement, and the good old days, and cotton farming, and raising cows. He said he’d loved the idea of raising cattle since he was a kid in high school many decades earlier, but had to forego his plans to put some time in the Army.

It was then that I learned I was sitting beside a hero…a WWII combat vet. I asked him which unit he had been in…though I should have guessed. The former US Army Corporal was a native Texan and a member of the 36th Infantry Division…the Texas division…when they were sent first to Africa, and then to land on the Italian coast at Salerno in 1943.

After some general conversation about the military, he got this look in his eye. He was far away in another time, and in his soft East Texas drawl, he took me along…and I didn’t object.

He said he had wanted to tell his children and grandchildren all about war, but despite the urgings of his family, he was embarrassed to do so. I told him to respect his family’s request. They weren’t trying to humor an old man, they were truly interested. He said he had recorded part of his story on audio tapes, but hadn’t gone into the detail about many of the things that still filled his mind. One of his grandchildren had copied the tapes on a CD, but what he had recorded didn’t include everything he wanted to say...there was still so much to tell. All the little things.

He wanted them to understand what it was really like to be scared every day, but to hide the fear with jokes and bravado, like young men in combat always do. He wanted to explain what it felt like to be exhausted, and hungry, and cold, and wet for weeks on end. What it was like to look across an open field at the enemy whose job it was to defeat you by taking your life, and knowing you would soon meet him eye to eye. He wanted people to understand what went on in your mind when you saw friends die in an instant, and what it was like to cheat injury or death by a turn of fate’s card. He wanted to tell them that the way you dealt with it was to get rip-roaring drunk when you could, or to find a private place to cry until you couldn’t cry anymore. He told me several stories about individual battles, and what had happened to him and members of his unit.

The stories were not boastful tales of triumph, but rather one man’s quiet account of his tiny role in a brutal war fought between powerful countries. He never bragged that he had done anything more than what was expected of him as a member of a mortar squad. I don’t know if he was awarded any individual citations. He didn’t say, and I didn't ask, but he did say he was one of only two men in his original company not killed or wounded. He marveled at his good fortune, but mourned the loss of so many friends. He didn’t complain or speak ill of the government that sent him to war. It was something that had to be done and he was obliged to do his part. His pride was apparent, but his deeds were not demanding of praise or comment. And there was no anger in his voice, only the need to explain how it really was. I was eager to listen, and he was willing to talk about it.

You might wonder why, without medals and fanfare, I’ve referred to the Corporal from Texas as a hero, but that’s easy to explain. He belongs to a generation that’s rapidly disappearing; a generation we’ve selfishly taken for granted…and they’ve not complained. Not enough of us understand their personal sacrifice, nor do we appreciative how they built the world we live in today. The young soldiers that went to war did what was asked and expected of them, and they did it to the best of their ability. Like so many veterans I’ve talked to, he didn’t come home with expectations of being treated special. He did his job, and then he came home to rejoin society and start a family. He could finally get back home to raise cattle and to live the life he loved. When you are a real hero, that’s what you do. No demands. No whining. You quietly get on with life. I’m certain he’d be embarrassed at being called a hero, but in my eyes, he and his generation are all heroes. Their sacrifice allowed me all the comforts I now enjoy, and their labors have given the modern world a standard of living that couldn’t have even been envisioned when they were young.

All too soon the mechanic returned with his truck, and our conversation had to end. I could have listened to him for hours, but like anything good, a small amount makes you appreciate it even more. He apologized for bending my ear, but in my mind, he was passing on a personal record of history and I thank him for both the lesson and the pleasure of his company. We shook hands and I watched him walk away. It was time to do what modest heroes do. It was time to go home and check on the cows.