Picture 2

Picture 2

May 25, 2014

Memorial Day for a Nam Era Vet

As a Vietnam era veteran, my Memorial Day reflections center more on the civilian reaction to me than on my experiences in the US Air Force as a Systems Analyst Officer. 
First, let me say that I found my service itself very rewarding.  I learned to get along with a wide variety of people that I never would have met in any other walk of life.  I’ll never forget the response of a really smart sergeant I was training to program computers.  I asked him how he got into the military.  He said, “Well, sir, the judge gave me a choice.”  His other option was jail. 
     The officers I served under were generally very professional, but did not behave in the manner civilians imagine that military officers behave.  I had been working on a project which included a lot of late night and weekend testing as well as quite a few 60 hour weeks.  The Lt. Colonel I worked for was concerned I had pushed myself too hard.  So he explained to me that he wanted me to take two weeks off.  He told me he would let me do this with something called “basket leave.”  The way it worked was they would prepare leave papers but not submit them, instead leaving them in the OUT basket.  If something happened, like a recall that required my presence or if I was in a car accident that had to be reported, they would submit the leave paperwork.  If I came back on time and nothing happened, they would throw out the leave papers and I wouldn’t be charged with leave. 
     There were other incidents that were unexpected.  I was working for another Lt. Colonel when I found a written official order on my desk, signed by the Lt. Colonel.  It said that while our sergeant was on leave, I was appointed second alternate coffee maker.  I found out that the sergeant had been typing it up as a joke when the boss walked in.  The boss saw it and told the sergeant he would sign it himself, instead of having the sergeant signing it “For the Commander.”  This same officer heard that I played Avalon Hill war games.  He told me his son also played them and thought he was invincible. He asked me to come over to his house some weekend to teach the kid a lesson.  After I did, he thanked me and said that his son had needed to be taken down a peg.
     Reactions from the civilian community to me in uniform, in any place except the Deep South, were almost uniformly hostile.  I was called a “trained killer” so many times that I developed a routine for it.  I would ask, “Do you really believe I’m a trained killer?”  They would say yes.  Then I would ask, “Why are you pissing me off?” 
     The irony of this belief in my killer status was really impressive.  I fired a weapon in the military on exactly one occasion..  I was given a 38 caliber revolver and shot 72 rounds at a target.  This qualified me on the official Air Force side arm, which was a requirement for any officer.  I never handled another gun on active duty.  I shot more with the Boy Scouts than I did with the Air Force.
     Due to the televised Congressional testimony of John Kerry, who said war crimes by US troops in Vietnam were common, most people assumed every military person was a murderous psychopath. In addition, it was thought that participation in the military indicated a deep character flaw in any individual.  A popular slogan at the time was, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”  Since everyone was “Anti War,” the best way to stop the war was to harass the troops so they wouldn’t go to war.  While wearing my ROTC uniform on campus, I had a lot of people spit at me. 
      As a side note, did you ever wondered what the motivation of the Swift Boat Veterans was for bad mouthing Kerry?  His testimony about how common war crimes were in Vietnam is the reason they did it.  I’m sure a lot of Nam Era veterans gladly contributed for the ads.  I don’t remember if I did, but I sure thought about it.
     Sometimes this irrational fear worked in my favor.  My wife flipped somebody off in traffic in Phoenix, Arizona.  He followed us into the parking lot where we were going.  When I got out of the car, he started to yell at me.  He was much bigger than I was, but I was a military officer in uniform.  As he yelled, I quietly said “Uh huh” a couple of times while giving him what was called in the Air Force the “40 mission stare.”  I was about 15 feet from the guy.  He stopped yelling once he noticed the uniform and it dawned on him who I was.  He visibly shrank back from me, got back into his car and drove off.
      Even as recently as 5 years ago, the remains of the negative view of Nam vets was still around.  I transferred into a new unit at work.  One of the guys in my new unit had a chat with me at the end of the day.  He gingerly asked me if I was a Vietnam veteran.  I told him I was a Vietnam Era veteran, a programmer in the Air Force who had never left the Continental US.  He told me that a fellow employee, who had been drafted into the Soviet Army, was a little nervous about me.  I told him that I had no problem with Russian Army veterans.  It seemed to be a relief for all concerned.
     To be fair, there were a few occasions when my veteran status was the source of merely reasonable curiosity.  In the mid to late 70’s there was a big scandal about the over classification of secret documents.  At a party, a guy I just met, who had overheard I was a veteran, asked me if I had handled any classified documents.  I said yes.  He asked if I thought they were correctly classified.  I told him they were the exercise results for air defense units in the US, essentially how prepared they were to do the job for real.  He said he was glad they were classified as Secret.

     I am glad that the view of veterans is so great now days.  Even people who were not happy we invaded Iraq took it out on President Bush and not the guys who did the fighting.  This is the way it should have been for Vietnam veterans.  This is the way it ought to be for veterans from now on.

May 20, 2014

Responding to China's Hackers

Any counterattack on China's hackers should concentrate on the Party's biggest weakness, corruption. US hackers should concentrate on tracing Communist Party corruption and then leaking it to the press. As a secondary target, we should try, covertly, to provide software to the Chinese people that punches holes in the Great Firewall of China. If we both expose the regime's corruption and at the same time make it easier for ordinary Chinese to know what's really going on, it will both injure and scare the Chinese Communist Party.

May 15, 2014

Gay Marriage Backers Should Not Copy McCarthyism

am in favor of gay marriage as long as it's state legislation, as opposed to court order. Further, I think that all 50 (57?) states should have to recognize marriages performed in other states, whether or not the marriage could be legally performed in the state that the couple moved into.  That said, I find the hounding of people out of their jobs on this issue to be appalling and Un-American.  (Harry Reid said it first.)  These black listings go much farther than Joe McCarthy ever thought of doing, because the targets this time are much more numerous, and the alleged actions so minor. A $1000 contribution in 2008 to a group advocating marriage be limited to one man with one woman should not be an offence that gets you fired.  The only way the gay marriage issue will be worked out is if both sides play by the traditional American rules for political disagreements, and avoid retaliation for opposing viewpoints.  I don't understand how zealots like the Washington Blade editorial staff think this kind of behavior helps their cause.  It doesn't.  It makes opponents dig in and resist.  It seems clear to me that gay marriage is going to be enacted in most states in the next 15 years.  Civil recognition of marriages performed in other states has traditionally been the law. Harassing people for small political contributions will only make it take longer and leave a deep residue of bitter distrust.  The whole point should be that this change is not a big deal that's going to revolutionize America.  Gay couples that I know just want the house with a white picket fence and legal rights equivalent to straight couples.  The contractual obligations and benefits of marriage are desirable, and are well defined in law.  This change requires only that magistrates can legally marry gay couples.  It does not and should not require religious institutions to marry gay couples against their faith.  Marriage is a civil contract upon which inheritance is based.  The true American way is for everyone to be as tolerant as possible.  Gay couples should not force themselves on churches who do not want to marry them.  Conservative churches should allow as how civil marriage, as opposed to religious marriage, is not really their business from a legal point of view.  They can talk against it and don't have to recognize it religiously, but once it's the law they have to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. 

The ghost of Senator Joseph McCarthy is green with envy. Being anti-gay marriage gets you fired almost as quickly as being labeled a communist did back in McCarthy's day. I can imagine the questions Leftists will be asking soon in Senate hearings. "Are you now, or have you ever been, opposed to gay marriage?" It was only 2 years ago that the Community Organizer in Chief made the change in his position on gay marriage that we all were waiting for. Should our Dear Leader be censored for his position back then? I think Mr. Capehart was right in his original off-the-cuff position on the air. I wonder if his change in opinion was due to management threats to fire Mr. Capehart if he didn't correct his statements to the new, intolerant orthodoxy. Personally, my view of gay marriage has evolved over time. I would vote in favor of it on any referendum now. Twenty years ago, I don't think I would have. However, I have been publicly in favor of it longer than the Chicago Prodigy in Chief. At this point, I think it would be wise for the gay community to take yes for an answer. Once the opposition to gay marriage sees that not much has changed after it's legal, the opposition will lose strength based on experience. Right now, they just have fears that are being reinforced by the McCarthyism of militant gay marriage supporters. I think their fears are summed up by an old Bob Hope joke. In 1975, Hope said, “I’ve just flown in from California, where they’ve made homosexuality legal. I thought I’d get out before they make it compulsory.” Give the opposition time to work through the fact that they have lost and then discover that not all that much has changed. 

The article I reacted to:

May 9, 2014

Why No Effort to Support Benghazi?

The part of the Benghazi debacle that really bothers me is during the attack. As far as I can tell, absolutely no military effort was made to support our people under attack. Why didn't the USAF scramble F-16 fighters from Aviano in Northern Italy to be over Benghazi for air support? Aviano should have been able to launch armed and fueled F-16 aircraft within 2-3 hours, assuming a maximum effort. Cruising speed for an F-16 is 577 mph. The distance from Aviano to Benghazi is 2256 miles. So it seems that Benghazi is less than 4 hours flight time from Aviano, Italy, so our folks in Benghazi could have had air support by the time the CIA Annex was attacked. USAF tanker aircraft are stationed at Sigonella in Sicily which could have refueled the F-16 aircraft from Aviano so that they could stay over Benghazi for a while once they got there. As a side comment, Sigonella is used as a transit airfield for aircraft deploying to the Middle East or returning to the US from the Middle East. It is about a 2.5 hour flight from Benghazi. I really want to know if any fighter aircraft happened to be at Sigonella on 9/11/12. As a Vietnam era USAF veteran, I think our failure to even attempt to send any assistance to our people under attack is shameful. I really want to know why no effort was made.

On Further Review:

I know that KC-135 and KC-10 aircraft can and do fly out of Sigonella.
However, on further review,  it seems to be true that no tankers were there for 9/11/12. I assumed that it was likely that a couple of tankers were rotated through there almost constantly, but that, perhaps, was a mistake.

I got the cruising speed here
F-16 squadrons at Aviano here

Assuming that the Generals and Admirals testifying in Congress are telling the truth, there were no military assets that could get to Benghazi in 12 hours or less.  If we didn’t have any assets that could get to Benghazi, the question becomes why not?  The date of the attack as the 11th anniversary of the 9/11/2001.  Why didn’t we have tankers in place in Sigonella, Italy, just in case we needed to move the bombers from Aviano to somewhere in North Africa?  It’s not like there was no turmoil or risk in the region.  

May 6, 2014

Inequality Is Gone When We're All Broke

The fastest and easiest way to create income equality is to impoverish everyone. At least that seems to be the Democrats' preferred method at the moment. You are not supposed to notice that 11 of the 25 richest counties in the US are suburbs of Washington, DC. You are also meant to overlook the fact that income inequality has increased during the reign of the Community Organizer in Chief.