General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com

Thursday, July 17, 2003
In reading this string of comments over at SGT Stryker, I noticed that at least one commenter couldn't resist saying that GWB didn't really serve in the military, the allegation being that he dodged the draft like the commenter's hero, Mr. Clinton. There is a pervasive idea about today that during Vietnam, the Reserves and National Guard were filled with the children of the rich and famous. Pardon my French but bullshit. Half my high school class joined the National Guard and I don't remember a single one whose family had any political pull, money or fame. One classmate was a two time All-State baskertball player, which was as close as we got to fame, but he joined the Marine Corps and went to Vietnam. Oh, we all knew the County Commissioner, but he was in charge of the roads and I am not sure that our Congressman knew him by sight. Not a lot of help getting into the "exclusive" NG from him. One of my friends wound up serving over thirty years in the NG and he never went to war. His youngest brother-in-law joined the NG in 1989 and was in Iraq two years later. You pay your nickel and you take your chances.

Bush joined the Air Guard. His unit was not sent to Vietnam, but some guard units were. Like all of us who joined the military in the 60's, he took his chances and I guess he won.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Well, that was certainly fun. I just spent 8 hours doing a line by line comparison of a two government documents and have another 8 hour's work tomorrow. This is so much fun that if I didn't get paid to do it, I might not. Blogging will be lighter than usual for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
I see that people can't let go of the "uranium from Africa" made statement by the President during the State of the Union. A key to building and maintaining an intelligence collection system is you do not reveal your sources. If they are electronic or other non-human means, then you want to keep knowledge of the capability secret as long as possible. If the opponent learns of the capability, you neither confirm not deny. If it is a human source, revelation can lead to the death of the source. You do not reveal sources.

The Democrat's leadership knows that rule and that Mr. Bush cannot reveal the source of the information even if he knew it. The British will not reveal their source even if it is their own and if it was a third countries source, that country will have to reveal it.

The leadership knows the rule. They also understand that their "base" neither understands nor cares about the rule. Members of the media understand the rule, but apparently are so hell bent on being the next Woodard/Bernstein that they don't care for the truth.

As far as I can remember, no member of the UN Security Council disputed the notion that Saddam had WMD. Hans Blix didn't say Saddam didn't have them. He said he needed more time to find WMD.

Hatred of Bush and Republicans is not a political strategy.

One of the most irritating things about the military is the insistent paternalism which it imposes on every aspects of a member's life. Want to ride a motorcycle? Then you must attend an Army (AF, Navy, Marine) sanctioned safety course. When you get permission to ride your bike, you must wear an orange safety vest over your leathers even off base. The military rules apply wherever you are. It's almost flu season? You will line up and get your flu shots. The paternalism has a logical base. Uncle Sam has invested money in you and your training and doesn't want you wasting it by killing or injuring yourself or getting sick and missing a deployment or costing more money for treatment.

The attitude can take some strange turns. A Commander at White Sands MIssile Range in New Mexico once announced that he wanted the MPs to start patrolling US 70 since there had been several wrecks in which Army civilian employees had been hurt or killed. A Commanding General at Falcon AFB in Colorado Springs had his Security Police patrolling Colorado 94 to keep military people from speeding. Of course, neither had any authority over the highways.

The paternalistic attitude is always present. The service will take care of you.

I had a problem with that attitude. I don't need anyone to take care of me. Since I retired from the Army a couple of years ago, I am noticing that politicians think they have to take care of people. People have a problem. Government has to solve it.

I would like to opt out and not have government solve my problems. I know a lot of the people doing the solving and they haven't been able to solve their own problems, why would I think they could do better with mine?

I couldn't resist posting this:

Once upon a time in the kingdom of Heaven, God was missing for six days.
Eventually, Michael the archangel found him, resting on the seventh day.
He inquired of God. "Where have you been?"

God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards
through the clouds, "Look, Michael. Look what I've made."

Archangel Michael looked puzzled and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put Life on it. I'm going to
call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance."

"Balance?" Inquired Michael, still confused.

God explained, pointing to different parts of earth. "For example,
northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth but
cold and harsh while southern Europe is going to be poor but sunny and
pleasant. "I have made some lands abundant in water and other lands
parched deserts. "This one will be extremely hot and while this one will
be very cold and covered in ice."

The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land mass and
said, "What's that one?"

"Ah," said God. "That's Alabama the most glorious place on earth.
There are beautiful beaches, streams, hills, and forests. The people from
Alabama are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent and humorous and
they are going to be found traveling the world. They will be extremely
sociable, hardworking and high achieving, and they will be known
throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace."

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration but then proclaimed, "What about
balance, God? You said there would be balance!"

God replied wisely, "Wait until you see the idiots I put in Montgomery

Monday, July 14, 2003
Well, that was fun. Looked like rain so I went out and changed the brake pads on my pickup. Took me thirty minutes instead of the estimated twenty since I forgot the first principle of parts replacement: "Look at the new parts before removing the old". There turned out to be three different pads for four possible positions. Unfortunately, I removed the old pads from one wheel before opening the new parts. Had to put the wheel back and jack up the other side to see which pad went where. The only real damage was I almost removed one finger on the edge of the back plate. Back when I was a working mechanic, I never skinned a knuckle, but now when I work on one of the family cars, I usually remove at least two square inches of skin.

The bottom line is we now have brakes.

I was shocked to discover that I did not have a link to Janis Gore at Gone South. I have rectified that shortcoming.

I must point out that Janis hurt my feelings (not really) with her comment about Presbyterians. Although I admit that it is getting hard to describe many mainline Presbyterian ministers as Christian since even they say they do not believe in the divinity of Christ, (that seems to me to be key to being a Christian) there are millions of Presbyterians out here in Blog Land who don't agree with them. In fact, just as Christopher Johnson writes about the Episcopal Church, there are a lot of us Presbyterians out here who think the main Presbyterian denomination in the USA is close to breaking up as its clergy moves farther afield of the congregants.

I attended my M-in-Law's church the week after their General Assembly a couple of years ago. The GA had discussed ordination of Gays, a subject a bit controversial in a small Alabama town. The sermon was centered on how we had to make allowances for people who might not agree with our beliefs and do all we could to keep the Church together. I wondered if every PCUSA Preacher was doing the same sermon that morning.

There are several Presbyterian denominations in the US. The Presbyterian Church in America has been taking congregations from the PCUSA for thirty years now and it is a conservative denomination. Around Huntsville, there are Presbyterian denominations that make the PCA look left wing.

I think the next few years will be interesting for several mainline denominations.

My M-in-law is a devout Democrat. Anyone less enthusiatic than she about all things Democrat, she considers to be a Republican. Inadvertent suggestions that a Republican may have done something good or a Democrat something bad, are enough to set her off for days. My S-in-law made the mistake several years ago of saying she had voted for Goldwater in '64 and the MIL went nuts and still refuses to forgive her. The fact that my late F-in-law favored Goldwater is irrelevant. Last week there was an article in the local paper about the retirement of the manager of the telephone coop. The article said the Coop was planning to have him work as a consultant while his successor was selected and learned the ropes. The gentleman is a friend of one of my retired buddies and they and their wives are headed off on a several week's long tour of the US with their RV buddies. I doubt that there will be a lot of consulting going on with the Coop for a while. MIL is about crazy over the consultant agreement and is mad about all the taxes that she has to pay on her phone bill. For some reason she thinks all the taxes are Governor Riley's children and if we only had a Democrat as Governor, she would be so much better off. I refuse to remind her that we had a Democrat until January and the taxes she is complaining about were in effect then.

From what I know about her finances, Governor Riley's tax proposal will save MIL some money. She can claim all her farm land under the homestead exemption and raising the level at which the Alabama Income Tax kicks in means she will pay no income tax. Yet she will go to the polls and vote against the proposal. Why? Because it was proposed by a Republican.

That in a nutshell is why political partisans lose me on most issues. They appear to be unable to look at anything except through their party glasses. The tax plan will cost me money. I don't know how much, but I figure a few hundred on income tax alone since the deduction of Federal Income Tax goes away. My property taxes will go up, but since I plan to sell this house eventually, I prefer to have its value remain high. I figure that lower quality schools means fewer jobs coming to Alabama and fewer jobs means declining real estate prices. I am willing to pay a few hundred dollars in taxes to save thousands in real estate value.

How can Governor Riley appeal to people like my MIL. I don't think he can. They won't listen because he is a Republican. If the tax proposal is to pass, then the Democrats must get out and work to pass it. I do not see that happening. When I see the state's Democrat Party leaders out leading the drive for passage, then I will believe that they are serious about improving the lot of Alabama's citizens.

Well, that was a pretty good four days. It started on Thursday when I tried to fix a problem with the blog. Nate McCord emailed that I had extra Holoscan buttons. On my screen I had none. I noticed that I also did not have the Blogger button so after searching for the cause, I discovered that the most recent upgrade of my firewall works really well blocking such things. If it would only block the pop ups I get everytime I change pages, it would be darn near perfect. I guess you can't have everything. I made the changes Nate suggested and in doing so lost all previous comments, my only proof that more than two people read this. I did did get the fixes in place by Friday afternoon and decided to take the rest of the day off and visit my brother who has been in the hospital for some tests on his seizure problem. I found him at home smoking although he says he has cut back about 50%. A good thing about being the eldest is that you can yell at your siblings for being stupid. Both my parents died young and I get to be the advisor when my brothers have problems. They never take any of my advise, but at least I get to give it.

My brother just younger than me is building a sun porch on his house. I suggested an approach that would save him time and money and he is using it. I don't know if that qualifies as taking my advise, but if it does, it is a first. I stopped by to see my great Aunt who is 86 and for the past thirty years has been barely making it. I ask how she is doing and her answer is "Oh Lord, I ain't doing good atall". That's how hse says it "atall" not "at all". Her main complaint on Friday was that her daughter had borrowed he lawnmower and had not returned it. If she were doing better, she would walk the half mile down to her daughter's and get the lawnmower. Her daughter also had the interior walls of my Aunt's house painted and for the first time in 40 years, you can see something. The walls are pine paneling which was all the rage when my Uncle redid the house 40 years ago, but it had turned almost black with age. My Aunt is frugal (cheap) and told her daughter that she could just pay for the painting herself if she wanted it. Cathy says she will just deduct it from her inheritance since she is the only heir, but in the meantime, you can see in the house. Oh, I forgot. The room is lit by a single 100 watt bulb that is seldom turned on.
and by a "butane" heater that she turns up to the second notch when she has visitors. The gas heater is the only heat in the house.

Saturday I got up early and drove the 70 miles over to my M-in-law's farm to burn the "burnpile". The burnpile is a where we put the limbs that fall from her 300 pine trees. It has grown fairly large since we have had rain at least once a week for several months and I didn't get to do my January burning. Burning in January is okay. The fire is hot enough to keep you warm and it is nice to stand close to it. Sort of like a large fireplace. You are cold on one side and roasting on the other. Burning in July has no redeeming virtues. It is just plain hot. Plus Saturday was the hottest day we have had so far this year. I think it hit 90 in mid-afternoon. I drove my pisckup near the burnpile and left the motor running with the AC turned on high and recirculate. When I could stand the heat no more (couldn't see for the sweat in my eyes), I would sit in the truck until I cooled down enough to face the fire again.

After I got the last few logs piled up and burning good, I climbed into the grain bin and got the tires out for my "classic" Mercedes. After scrounging around and finding some hydraulic fluid to fill my floor jack's reservoir, I got the tires installed and the car chained to my pickup and.... it didn't move. Too little oomph from the pickup I guess. There was a great spinning of the tires but no movement. Oh well, next time I'll get a tractor and drag it out,

Driving back to the house, I notice a grinding sound from the front of the pickup. Worn out brake pads. Life time warranty ones from Autozone at that. This morning I went to Autozone to get the new pads where I was told the warranty information is stored by telephone number. I lived in New Mexico when I bought the old pads and can't remember the telephone number. They said that they would reimburse me what I paid today if I bring the telephone number in. Tonight I have to install the pads. Fortunately, Mazda has the easiest method of pad installation I have seen so the job will take about 20 minutes. I have to say the Autozone pads weren't as good as the factory originals. I got 103,000 miles from the originals and only 69,000 from these. Both are exceptional numbers that I attribute to the fantastic primary driver.

That was the play I went to Saturday night by the way. The Fantastics. Good music, but I can't understand why it played for so long. 42 years! Try to remember, a day in September. I bet it will be hot then.

Terry Oglesby blogged on Saturday. Seems some of his regular readers were in withdrawal from the week he missed blogging while on vacation. Hope everyone enjoyed their fix. Soon it will be that some bloggers will not be able to take vacations because of their popularity. Won't affect me at all.