Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Remembering the Fallen on Thanksgiving

This originally was written for Thanksgiving Day 2005. It is updated for today in this column. It has been 45 years, but the memory is as fresh as if it was yesterday. The message is still relevant.

Although I frequently write about the Vietnam War, and my book Masters of the Art is based on my service there, I don't have a repository of dates locked in my mind that surfaces like a mental file folder reminding me of long ago battles and deaths.

But on Thanksgiving Day every year I make it a point to stop for a moment and remember one day, and one comrade. On that special day in 1968 I volunteered to fly gunner as helicopters from my squadron, HMM-161, delivered hot turkey dinners to our Marine infantry in outposts and fire-bases all over northern I Corps.

There was little action to speak of that day, and I was not involved in any firefights. Just a long, long day delivering canisters of turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and even cases of beer, to give the grunts a brief respite from the war.

I held no animosity about spending my entire day in a series of flights under leaden monsoon season skies. I knew what the grunts faced every day of that war and anything we could do to give them even the slightest break was fine by me.

After a day of seeing and smelling all that food, I was truly ready for a meal of my own by the time we returned to the air strip at Quang Tri. But a Thanksgiving dinner was not to be, at least not one prepared in a mess hall.

There had been a dinner. But it was consumed in its entirety by the troops who stayed back on the base that day. Little more than crumbs were left for those who had been flying. I returned to my hooch totally dejected, ready to curse out any and all who crossed my path and not at all looking forward to a meal of C-rations.

Enter a new guy, Billy Bazemore, only recently arrived from the states, who like me was a helicopter electrician, and like me volunteered to fly gunner. New guys had little to no status in Vietnam, and usually deferred to the veterans on virtually all matters. But seeing the look on my face prompted Billy to question its origin, and then to offer a solution.

Reaching triumphantly under his cot, Billy dragged out a box that had arrived in the mail from home, containing a canned turkey, potatoes, carrots, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. To add to my amazement, I also had received a package, bearing a Sara Lee chocolate cake that had survived the voyage from The World intact.

Billy could have kept his stash secret. He could have squirreled it away and hoarded it for himself. But he was a Marine and believed in the Marine code of sharing the contents of food packages from home. We spread the food out on boxes and proceeded to divvy it up among several other crewmen who also had returned to Quang Tri to discover there would be no dinner for them that day. In short order, the dismal grayness of a monsoon day was forgotten, and probably for the first time in my life I completely understood the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Billy Bazemore's life ended a few short months later, in a vicious firefight with the North Vietnamese. I know the exact date, but I would rather celebrate his life than his death. He was flying with another electrician, Tommy Lenz, who had served with our unit, HMM-161 since we were stationed at what was then the Marine Corps Air Facility at New River, North Carolina.

We had traveled to Vietnam together as a unit, all our personnel and our helicopters, arriving in early 1968. We were friends, fellow Marines and Brothers-in-Arms.

Tommy and Billy died together that day, and their names are on The Wall, not far from each other.
So this Thanksgiving, as our troops are once again fighting what has become yet another 'unpopular' war – this time in Afghanistan, although the media seems to have forgotten they are still in danger - I will remember where they are and what they are enduring for those of us back home who will be warm, and secure and well fed because of their sacrifices.

I'll offer a toast to my fellow Americans and all other freedom-loving troops who are fighting the terrorists wherever they are. Because I know that out there somewhere, it is very likely that two Marines will straggle back to their base from a long day that held harshness and death, only to find that there will be no traditional meal waiting for them.

But they will pull together, as we did 45 years ago, and will find a way to salvage their day. In that moment a bond of brotherhood that can not be duplicated under any other circumstances will be forged, and it will endure.

I will say a silent prayer for them, and ask that this time they both make it back home, safe and sound, to enjoy other Thanksgiving Days in the warmth and comfort of their homes, with families that may even make an effort to understand why this day has such meaning for their returned warriors.

And although I won't share it with my family and friends because it is just too personal and private, I will find a moment to remember Thanksgiving Day, 1968, Quang Tri, Vietnam. I'll raise my glass to toast Billy Bazemore, a new guy who long ago taught a lesson in Marine brotherhood to a veteran, to Tommy Lenz who stayed at his post until his death, and to every other American serviceman and woman, and our allies, who still believe in freedom and will fight to the death to preserve it for future generations.
Monday, September 16, 2013

Presidential Puppetry: What if the Conspiracy Theories are True?

We've all heard the phrase, usually uttered with a sneer of disdain or condescension, "Conspiracy Theorist."

It crops up wherever someone points out that something doesn't seem right, usually with our government. Too many things look suspicious; too many things don't add up. But unless there is solid evidence, the so-called "smoking gun," the 'someone' who has unearthed the disturbing information is promptly labeled as a nutcase, always looking for wrongdoing where none exists.

But what if the theories are real? What if the person exposing them is a highly respected career investigative reporter? What if, as it turns out, there really is collusion behind the scenes, say between the two political parties that claim to be at odds with each other? What if there really are big money interests behind both parties, and our system of government has become a sham, using trillions of tax dollars to pad the bloated, overstuffed pockets of a handful of elitists while everyone else struggles?

What if Washington really is a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah where an incestuous mélange of public officials, lobbyists, bureaucrats and yes, even the media, are lined up at the public feeding trough and spend entire careers manipulating and expanding both the sources of tax dollars, and their share?

Washington, D.C., based journalist and lawyer Andrew Kreig, in his just released book Presidential Puppetry, Obama, Romney and Their Masters, brings to light story after story of insider manipulation and corruption in the nation's capital and elsewhere, but contrary to the often dismissed conspiracy theories, he does it with facts, hundreds of them.

Kreig applies the lessons learned through a distinguished career as investigative journalist, making sure that every single scandal he exposes is documented. Kreig makes extensive use of both 'on-the-record' witnesses, and painstakingly cataloged footnotes often referring to previously published reports that received scant attention from the "mainstream media," at the time of original publication.

For instance, while much of Presidential Puppetry is focused, as the title suggests, on Mitt Romney's presidential bid, Kreig also asserts that President Barack Obama has far more in common with former President George Bush – both of them – than differences. The common thread is the nation's intelligence community, which shockingly, Kreig notes, knew of and had dealings with Obama decades before he emerged on the national political scene.

For instance, Kreig reports that Obama worked at Business International Corporation, which gave Obama his first job "after his 1983 graduation with a bachelor's degree from Columbia University." Kreig writes that BIC had been exposed several years earlier as a CIA front company but adds, "the most striking aspect is how few in the media or anywhere else even dare to ask questions publicly abut Obama's former employer …"

Similarly, while Kreig dismisses the "birther" claims that Obama was born outside the US, there is significant evidence that Obama's mother renounced his US citizenship in the late 1960s when she moved to Indonesia to join her second husband, Obama's stepfather. The rationale behind this claim is that Obama could benefit from attending Muslim schools, which required that he be a citizen of Indonesia, and not hold dual citizenship.

Apparently, political operatives believed it would be easier to deny birther claims, than to explain how and when Obama's US citizenship was restored.

Kreig also reports extensively on members of past administrations and how they are still connected to the current administration, and how those connections are not necessarily beneficial to the general public.

Among the themes Kreig gives particular attention is the under-the-radar scandal involving vote counting hardware and software. Kreig writes that Karl Rove, former chief of staff for President George Bush is at the center of the vote-counting industry. Kreig avers that Rove has amassed a vote-counting "empire" that can alter the outcome of any election from local to national.

Rove isn't the only national figure with vote counting connections in his resume. Prior to entering politics Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was CEO of American Information Systems, a vote-counting firm which had tabulated votes in Nebraska elections and elsewhere. Hagel became Nebraska's senator after his 1996 upset victory in the state's GOP Senate primary, and then defeating Democrat Ben Nelson, who was heavily favored. Both victories came in elections using machines from AIS, which Hagel left shortly before announcing his candidacy, Kreig reports.

Another subject of interest is closeness of relationships between government officials, bureaucrats and the media. Presidential Puppetry is replete with instances of spouses who work both sides of the fence, either in the media, as bureaucrats or office holders, all making money off the public trough, and often influencing where taxpayer dollars go.

For serious students of government excess, spanning a century from the administration of Woodrow Wilson to the president day, Kreig has compiled a comprehensive collection of evidence pointing out that the US government – or more accurately, those who comprise the US Government, do not always work in the best interests of the country.

And while some may dismiss Presidential Puppetry as just another "conspiracy theory," it again should be stressed, Kreig has meticulously sourced the entire book, involving dozens, if not hundreds of verifiable sources. And it should also be pointed out, that the legal definition of a conspiracy requires only two participants – far more than can be found living, working and yes, conspiring, inside the DC Beltway.


© 2013 By Andrew Kreig
Publisher: Eagle View Books
ISBN: 978-0-9886728-1-9
Thursday, June 27, 2013

Troopathon Today - Please Support America's Armed Forces

The annual Troopathon, supported by this website since its inception, in conjunction with WTIC-1080 talk radio host Jim Vicevich, is on again today, starting at 4pm Eastern, 1pm Pacific.

Hosted by the non-profit charity Move America Forward, "Troopathon" is a month-long care package drive that ends with an eight-hour web-a-thon broadcast full of familiar personalities and political figures. This year’s broadcast will be on June 27th from the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, CA.

Breitbart News's Larry O'Connor will be hosting the event along with Governor Mike Huckabee, Troopathon co-founder Melanie Morgan, and Gold Star mom and troop activist Debbie Lee.

The event features a star-studded lineup including Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Rick Perry, Mark Levin, Herman Cain, Ambassador John Bolton, Gene Simmons, Gary Sinise, Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski, Col. Allen West, and Adam Carolla, along with many others.

You can watch it here, and please, use the link on this website to make a tax-free donation to help our troops. Don't leave them in the lurch wondering if anyone knows they are still there.

Video streaming by Ustream
Friday, March 01, 2013

Happy Sequestration Day! The Sky Did NOT Fall!

The very first thing this morning I walked outside and looked upwards to see if the sky was gone.

Fortunately, it is still right where I left it last night, and looks none the worse for wear.

Checking on the status of a constant and dependable scientific reality should not be seen as excessive, given the media's month's-long predictions that today it would fall.

The media, a concept which defies definition in the real world, is a subgroup of a lower order of being that is identifiable by its nonstop braying and carping. The intensity of its noise-making ebbs and flows in direct proportion to the ability of its current subject to draw attention to it – the media that is, not the subject.

The subject for today, as reported for months by the media, is drastic cuts in federal government spending scheduled to take effect this morning. The cuts, according to the media, herald the end of civilization as we know it; or at least as it is known in a section of the Planet Earth commonly known as "inside the Beltway," or metropolitan Washington, D.C.

The media claimed that if Congress and the President couldn't find common financial ground for our astronomical federal spending and out-of-control debt, then everyone and everything, everywhere, would be negatively impacted by a sudden dearth of federal tax dollars across the board. This plan was conceived of and hatched by President Barack Hussein Obama, and put in place with help from his henchmen in Congress and the media.

It is called Sequestration but now the prez wants us to believe it will cause the downfall of the United States of America and it is all the fault of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. So all interested parties inside the beltway are arguing interminably about this and the media is right there jabbing any malingerers who get tired of the game with a sharp stick to get them back inside the ring.

Since there are far more outstretched hands and fat wallets demanding constant and immediate resupply from federal tax dollars than the supply of federal tax dollars, the argument breaks down along the lines of either limit the demand or create more tax dollars. Failure to do so, the media claims, will be calamitous.

But in the last week or so cooler heads determined that if the aforementioned agreement was not reached, there really wouldn't be CUTS in federal spending, there just would be a miniscule reduction in the INCREASE in federal spending. Big difference. No one will be laid off, no services will dry up, no children will starve, no teachers will be on the unemployment line and the sky will stay right where I left it last night.

Do you know where the federal politicians and the symbiotic media that feast on them came up with that idea? From every single municipality and local school board in the United States of America, that's where!

If you own property and pay taxes you know that municipal budget season is upon most of us and if we hold our collective breath for just a month we will be exposed to headlines and television news segments screaming that proposed local budgets are being "cut to the bare bones," and can't be cut one cent further or "the children will suffer."

Every single year America's towns and cities come up with budgets that are always higher than the previous year's budget even if real costs of government have gone down.
Some years for instance, municipalities will pay off bond issues, or school enrollments will drop, meaning there is no longer a need for as many teachers or administrators, or the money that paid them, or paid off the bonds.

But even with reduced needs, the town councils and selectmen and mayors and school boards find ways to fill in those nasty spending gaps with other items that apparently reproduce with abandon in hidden supply closets that are jammed packed with unreported tools of good governance. This "reproduction of need" comes with total disregard for the taxpayers who pay for all of this one way or another, including the higher costs of goods and services that are passed on to consumers as a result of corporate taxation and regulation.

Know what we do in my community when the government turns a blind eye and deaf ear to the plight of taxpayers? We hold referendums … or referenda if you prefer … because it usually takes more than one to get the attention of the tax and spend people. And we keep holding them – a total of 13 in one fiscal year a while back – until the budget increases are reducing to a point where a majority will accept them.

I realize that it sounds as if we have the situation under control, but each year the cost of government increases and we end up paying more. All we can do short of firing the whole damn lot of politicians from all parties that are party to this assault on the public is hold the level of increases to something more or less manageable.

Success in life sometimes is measured in little victories.

So today, just like so many other days in so many communities across the nation, things will go on as they always do. I will continue to be myself, you will continue to be yourselves, the world will turn, the sun will shine and the sky will stay right where it is supposed to be, doing what it is supposed to do.

Happy Sequestration Day. I propose we make this a federal holiday, and in the future celebrate by jamming all the politicians and media into a place where the sun doesn't shine so they can bray and each other and contemplate their navels.

I understand there is just such a place, just east of the Washington Monument, attached to and beneath the White House. The Media says it is a special bunker built by and for Barack Hussein Obama, but exactly why he needs it is unclear. Now it has a purpose, thank you very much.


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