Bill Hobbs tagged me with this meme of four. (Thanks, Bill) Normally, I don’t answer these kinds of blog chain letters, but it’s the end of the year, and thus, I’m in an introspective mood anyway. So here goes:
Four jobs you’ve had in your life: Newspaper delivery boy, greenhouse worker, bartender, cavalry troop commander
Four movies you could watch over and over: It’s a Wonderful Life, Casablanca, The Blues Brothers, any James Bond (so long as it’s Sean Connery in the part of Bond)
Four places you’ve lived: Nurnberg, Germany; Fort Knox, Ky; Harker Heights, Tx; and Newport News, Va
Four TV shows you love to watch: Monday Night Football, CSI (the original), Iron Chef, and Law and Order (Do you think that a New York DA could grow up to be President some day?)
Four places you’ve been on vacation: Zermatt, Kitzbühl, Banff, and Hilton Head
Four websites you visit daily: InstaPundit, The Tennessean, Drudge Report, and Busy Mom
Four of your favorite foods: Beef tenderloin, jaeger schnitzel, bleu cheese, and red wine
Four places you’d rather be: New Hampshire (Live Free or Die), Ireland, Park City, and Jackson Hole, (Can you tell that I want to be skiing this time of year?)
Four albums you can’t live without: Eagles Greatest Hits, Life’s Rich Pageant by REM, Come Away With Me by Norah Jones, Unforgettable by Natalie Cole
The end of 2005 marks another end. After 60 years, Americans returned Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt back to Germany. In a ceremony earlier today, the U.S. Air Force turned over the keys to German officials, who will now raze most of the structures in order to create a third terminal at Frankfurt Flughafen, which is already Contintental Europe’s busiest airport.
There was a lot of history made there. Millions of American servicemen have flown through Rhein-Main during the Cold War, including me in 1988. It was the first free place the American hostages in Tehran saw at the end of their 444 days of captivity.
Earlier, Rhein-Main got its greatest workout as the start point for the Luftbrucke, (air bridge) that supplied Soviet-surrounded West Berlin with a flight every three minutes for fifteen months from 1948-49.
My favorite Rhein-Main story was an accident of history. It was the departure point for American candy bombing runs during that same Berlin blockade.
Colonel Gail Halvorsen, a C-54 pilot had a chance meeting with some hungry children in Berlin. As youngsters the world over still do when they meet American GIs, they asked Halvosen if he had any gum or candy. He gave them the gum that he had, but promised to bring more on his next flight “saying that he would drop it to them as he passed over them while landing. When asked how they would know which of the huge airplanes was his, he said he would “wiggle his wings” as he approached their position.”
True to his word, on his next mission to Tempelhof Airport, on final approach to the runway Halvorsen “wiggled his wings” and had the Flight Engineer push three bundles of sweets through the flare chute on the C-54 flightdeck. (Halvorsen had gathered the candy by talking other pilots into donating their Candy Ration Cards to the effort.) The three small parcels floated down on tiny, homemade handkerchief parachutes . . .
Over the next few weeks Halvorsen repeated the airdrops to an ever-growing audience of German children at the fence. Soon he even began to receive letters at the airport, addressed simply to “Uncle Wiggly Wings — Tempelhof,” requesting special airdrops at other locations within the city! Local newspapers picked up the story and his fame began to spread. Back at his home base Halvorsen began to receive mail from other pilots who wanted to help. Candy was donated, handkerchief parachutes were made by volunteers, and the tiny parcels began to fall all over Berlin.
Halvorsen got in a brief bit of trouble for his bombing runs, as tossing stuff out of the aircraft was against regulations. It was “okay to drop a bomb from a plane,” he said “but not gum.”
Once discovered, he was called to his commander’s office:
“The colonel asked me what I’d been doing. I said, ‘Flying my ass off, sir.’ He said, ‘Halvorsen, I’m not stupid. What else have you been doing?’ So I finally told him and he chewed me out for a while and then he said I was lucky. ‘One of your parachutes almost hit a newspaperman.’
“He pulled out a paper and the story was all over the front page. The colonel said, ‘The general called to congratulate me and I didn’t know anything about it.”‘
After that, Halvorsen said, “it was gangbusters.” Members of the unit chipped in their candy rations — a real sacrifice, Halvorsen notes. because you could get a German to do a week’s washing for one chocolate bar — and the men donated handkerchiefs to keep the candy bombing operation underway.
Word of the operation finally made its way back to the US.
On a quick trip to the States, Halvorsen met with the president of a confectionary company who was anxious to contribute to the project.
“I told him we could use some outlandish amount of candy, and then forgot about it. Well one day I flew back in to Rhein Main and one of the guys there said he wanted to show me something. He took me down to the rail yard and there was this boxcar sitting there.
“There was 3,000 pounds of candy sitting in there and the following week there was 3,500 pounds more.”
More than twenty years later, Colonel Halvorsen took command of Tempelhof Air Base in Berlin, the destination of his candy bombing missions. Berliners remembered their favorite pilot well. “I commanded the base for four years and I had a dinner invitation or official function every night for the whole tour,” he said.
An equal opportunity bomber, Halvorsen even “bombed” the Soviet-occupied sector. After receiving several letters from East Berlin youngsters, “Uncle Wiggly Wings” made a few drops to school yards there, angering Soviet officials for the “attempted subversion of young minds.” When asked about it Halvorsen commented that “kids are kids everywhere.”
ps. There’s a tearjerker of a movie in this story for someone who wants to write it.
Chris Jackson notes a Commercial Appeal report about a speech by Rep. Harold Ford Jr to students and faculty at Harding Academy in Memphis.
Nothing strange about a politician talking at a school. Except that the report ran on the 29th of December.
Huh? What school is in session during the week between Christmas and New Years? Well, according to Harding Academy’s website, they’re not open until the 4th of January.
The only clue in this story is the reference to HFJ being late for the speech due to an appearance on the Don Imus Show. Surely, the Commercial Appeal isn’t just now getting around to reporting the news from November 29th, is it?
Apparently it is. Why even bother?
Bull Moose offers a long but thoughtful read on the current state of political affairs in Washington at the close of 2005. Here’s a short excerpt:
There is a great need for a serious opposition party to critique the Administration’s ineptitude in Iraq or its hapless policy toward the growing threat in Iran. During the Cold War, great Democrats like JFK and Scoop offered a more hawkish alternative to the Republicans.
Unfortunately, too many of the National Democrats play the role of modern Robert Taft/Henry Wallacites in the war against terror. Of course, there are some notable exceptions – but they are a distinct minority in a party that is animated by full-throated Bush rage. The great, and possibly only hope of the Democrats, is that the Governors assert power within the party. Maybe, they can reinvigorate the long dormant JFK wing of the party.
Democrats, don’t despair; Moose also takes on national Republicans as well:
"The primary domestic objective of the contemporary GOP is to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted."
Moose also leaves us with a new phrase for the new year:
It appears that we have an entirely new category of politicians -the "hindsight heroes". They express disgust at those same policies that they either supported or did not strenuously object to until after they become unpopular with the Democratic base.
Read the whole thing.
Some people might think that this is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. I don’t.
Update: So that Scott and others won’t have to register, here’s an excerpt:
Aaron was the only Memphis Police dog to ever be named officer of the month.
He patrolled the streets of Memphis with the K-9 Unit for more than eight years, caught thieves and secured rooms for presidents. He retired three years ago, when owner and Officer Paul Keating noticed the German shepherd was getting arthritis. He died Monday. He was 14.
Police officers, family and friends honored him Thursday at a funeral service at Dixie Memorial Pet Cemetery in Millington.
Yes, you heard me right, it’s time for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush. Let me explain.
Talk of impeachment first began immediately after the 2004 election. I suppose that up until the end of the first term Democrats had convinced themselves that they could actually win back the Presidency. However, less than forty-eight hours after John Kerry’s concession speech, thoughts of a scandal-ridden Bush being driven out of office began to surface.
Paul Krugman was among the first. “Future events,” he said on November 5, 2004, “will almost surely offer opportunities for a Democratic comeback.” “I don’t hope for more and worse scandals and failures during Bush’s second term,” Krugman duly noted, however, he quickly added that he did “expect them.” I can’t help but to think that his statement had too much of a, “I am not a racist (wink, wink), but . . .” contained within it.
In the nearly 14 months since, the phrase “Impeach Bush” has very often been one of the top ten phrases bloggers are writing about according to Technorati, a site which ranks blog traffic. Even now during the slow period in between Christmas and New Years, 30 different blogs have discussed impeaching the President in just the last 24 hours.
The simple fact is that, outside of a few locked-in-a-feedback-loop-leftists, the word impeachment is not near anyone’s lips. Richard Morin, head of polling for ABC news noted impatiently that impeachment is “not a serious option or a topic of considered discussion.” Sure, the I-word is all over the liberal websites. One Daily Kos writer actually explores the possibility that Democrats could win the House in 2006 and then impeach both Bush and Cheney so that Nancy Pelosi would be president. (In fairness, she said that it probably wouldn’t work, but that she considered it at all is preposterous.) However, even the Washington Monthly correctly noted in an otherwise fawning article about Kos founder, Markos Moulitsas, that frequent readers of those sites are “trapped in a bubble of [liberal] reassurance.”
Actually, there are more than just a few leftists arguing for impeachment. Pat Buchanan now argues for the impeachment of the President because he hasn’t secured the borders as Buchanan would have done. (Must be too many Jews breaking into the country for Buchanan to get his hackles up.) Paul Craig Roberts also adds his voice to the impeachment chorus. For him, Bush’s impeachable offense occurred in New Orleans because the President was unable to overcome (a) the weather, (b) an incompetent mayor, and (c) a governor more concerned with her fashion sense. At least Buchanan and Roberts provide the valuable service of reminding Americans that political lunacy is not a monopoly of the left.
That the word impeachment—only twice tried against a president in over two centuries, and never yet resulting in a Senate conviction—springs so easily from so many people’s lips says not as much about President Bush as it says about those uttering the phrase.
It’s like cussing. Several years ago I went to Kuwait for four months to live in the desert surrounded only by other cavalrymen. Like everyone else there, my language was atrocious at the end of the tour. Whether used as adjective, exclamation, or punctuation, the F-word made its way into my every sentence. I was trapped in my own feedback loop of swearing. However, it didn’t take me long after my return to remember that civilized people don’t talk that way.
What those within the Impeach Bush-crowd don’t understand is that, similarly, civilized people don’t use the I-word all the time.
Oh, but they’ll learn. When they push the issue in Congress, and it comes to the floor of the House for a vote, boy, will they learn. Then, having been chastised by the great middle ground that is the strength of the American body politic, far left Democrats, and a few on the radical right will finally come to the realization that George W. Bush is going to be President until January 20, 2009. Either that, or those radicals will be marginalized by their stance and ostracized by their peers.
So, yes, bring forth Rep. John Conyers’ articles of impeachment. It should be Speaker Hastert’s first order of business in the new year. Rush it to the floor for a vote a la Rep John Murtha’s demand for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And when the motion is overwhelmingly defeated, perhaps then we can put all this nonsensical talk about impeachment behind us and finally focus instead on the nation’s future.
I don’t normally like to post long excerpts of other people’s work, but what Dr. Tony posted is powerful stuff. He’s an ER doctor in a community hospital in Tennessee.
I’ve recently done a construction project for another rural county hospital. I learned then that meth is the number one problem they deal with–and it’s getting worse.
Please visit Dr. Tony’s site for more on what it’s like to live with meth:
An interview of AR by ST.
AR is a 14 year-old girl who was brought to the ER by EMS after the Sheriff’s Drug Task Force raided a home with a meth lab. ST is a counselor with Child Protective Services.
ST: Do you know why you are here?
AR: My mother was arrested and the cops said I had to come here.
ST: Do you know why your mother was arrested?
AR: The cops say she was making meth.
ST: Was she?
AR: My mom said to keep my mouth shut.
ST: What we discuss today is going to be used to help you, not to hurt your mother. I need to know what chemicals you may have been around.
AR: I don’t know what kind of stuff I been around. Lots of stuff.
ST: Do you feel safe at home?
AR: I guess I do. But I been worried about my Sissy and Bubba.
ST: How old are they?
AR: Sissy is 10 and Bubba is 3.
ST: What are you worried about?
AR: Well, them chemicals you talked about. And the people that come over.
ST: What about the people?
AR: They always have guns. My momma has a rule that you have to leave you guns and knives at the door. There’s always a big pile on the floor at the front.
ST: Do you touch them?
AR: No. But Bubba got ‘hold of one once. A gun, I mean. I don’t know what kind. But Sissy and me had come out to clean and found him in the front hall waving a gun around. He wouldna shot it, I mean he don’t know how. But we were afraid of an accident. Sissy and me was real scared until we got it from him.
ST: Why didn’t you get your mother?
AR: She was asleep and we couldn’t wake her up.
ST: How often did your mother have people over?
AR: Oh, there was people over all the time. But sometimes she would have these parties and lots of people would come over. The would use drugs and drink and have sex. Everybody would end up naked on the floor of the living room.
ST: And you and your brother and sister were part of this?
AR: No, ma’am. I mean, we would watch TV in momma’s room. When everything would get quiet, me and Sissy would come out and pick up all the needles so as Bubba wouldn’t get into them. That was scary.
AR: Yeah. You know you can get sick from them needles. That’s why we can’t let Bubba get ahold of ‘em.
This story is a typical meth story. The guns, the sex, the needles, the abuse–they are nearly always present in meth cases. Tony argues that these byproducts of meth aren’t a function of the drug’s illegality, but a function of the mind-altering nature of the drug.
So let’s talk about drug legalization . . .
My wife has, unfortunately, been a frequent reader of a different kind of blog this past week. It’s called Caring Bridge, and it offers "free, easy-to-create web sites that help connect friends and family when they need it most."
A close friend of the family was diagnosed with a particularly vile form of cancer just before Christmas. When she entered the hospital, one of her sons thought to start a Caring Bridge web site about his mom. It has been the portal through which friends and family have been able to keep in touch.
In fairness to the family I won’t provide her name, but all of the web sites are open for anyone to read. You just have to know the name of the patient.
CaringBridge™ is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization offering free personalized Web sites to those wishing to stay in touch with family and friends during significant life events. Our mission is to bring together a global community of care powered by the love of family and friends in an easy, accessible and private way.
CaringBridge authors quickly and easily create personalized Web sites that display journal entries and photographs. Well-wishers visit the page to read updates and leave messages in the Guestbook.
Hopefully you won’t have a need for a Caring Bridge site any time soon, but if you do, it’s nice to know that this service is out there.
Just two days ago Frank Ritter asked where was the "black leadership we so desperately need?" He is likely to get volumes of hate mail for that column. However, he may have been saved from all that additional reading by another columnist appearing on the Tennessean’s editorial page. New York Times writer Bob Herbert has now joined Ritter in asking black leaders to step up.
Herbert opens with this salvo:
One of the cruelest aspects of slavery was the way it wrenched apart black families, separating husbands from wives and children from their parents.
It is ironic, to say the least that now, nearly a century and a half after the Emancipation Prodlamation, much of the most devastating damage to black families, and especially balck children, is self inflicted.
Another Herbert complaint was the "self-imposed ignorance" of the "legions of black youngsters turning their backs on school." Again, he found it ironic that blacks are doing to themselves what whites forced upon them in the days of slavery: denying them an education.
The problem, Herbert notes, rests squarely at the feet of black leadership who refuse to look inward to fix problems.
The problems facing black people today are comparable in magnitude to those of the Jim Crow era . . . There were leaders in those days who were equal to the challenge.
Today, Herbert concludes, "there is a vacuum where our leadership should be."
One of my wishes for 2006 is that it be the year when we can start discussing race without being called racists. Frank Ritter and Bob Herbert have provided a good start.
(Note: I can’t find a link to Herbert’s column on the Tennessean’s site. I have a feeling it may be related to the Times’ decision to make all of their content available only through their paid web site. I wonder how that’s working out for them.)
Lt. Governor John Wilder thinks that a month-long special ethics session is unnecessary. Instead, he argues, the ethics legislation could have been considered during regular session.
"We don’t do anything the first six weeks we’re there (in regular session). We don’t pass any bills for six or seven weeks."
Ummm, Senator, are you saying that you lead an organization that doesn’t "do anything" for six weeks every year? How much taxpayer money have you wasted over the last quarter-century?
Well, let’s figure it out. John Wilder has led the Senate since 1971. Thirty-five years times six weeks a year, times seven days a week, is 1,470 days–over four full years of time that the Lt. Governor says has been wasted while the Legislature has been in session. At $19,800 per day, the estimated daily cost of running the Legislature, John Wilder admits to having wasted 29,106,000 of the taxpayers’ dollars under his watch.
Senator Wilder, it’s time for you to go.
UPDATE: I can’t believe that no one caught my math error. John Wilder has led the Senate since 1971. That’s not 25 years; that’s 35 years–more than a third-of-a-century. That means that he’s responsible for wasting almost 30 million dollars during four years of total wasted time that the Legislature was in session. The moral of the story is that I shouldn’t try to do math at 5:30 am. (corrected above).