Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bush Going to Colorado Springs to Track Rita

President George Bush is expected to arrive soon in Colorado Springs to track Hurricane Rita as it heads toward the Gulf Coast. Perterson AFB, in Colorado Springs, is home to Northern Command, responsible for keeping track of events on the North American Continent. Nearby Cheyenne Mountain AFB is home to NORAD, and data links to all military and many civilian locations throughout North America. Colorado Springs makes an ideal place to keep track of the movement of Rita, and to assess the damage caused by the hurricane as it tracks across the Gulf Coast.

This is not the first time President Bush has journeyed to Colorado Springs. He visited nearby Fort Carson, the new home of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, to welcome the troops back from Iraq. Several thousand Fort Carson soldiers are still deployed to Iraq, and others to Afghanistan. Several hundred Army and Air Force troops are also deployed to Louisiana to help with disaster response to Hurricane Katrina.

More information here.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Killing the Sacred Ox

It's time for Congress to get its act together. Millions of Americans have decided they can put off some discretionary spending to aid those who have lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Congress is having a hard time understanding that we expect them to do some trimming as well. It's a message most need very much to get. Failing to do so may very well cost them their jobs.

Our government is inherently wasteful. Congresscritters and Senasnorters have used the national treasury as their personal piggybank to buy re-election back home. Right now, we're in a serious financial crunch, and these learned gentlemen need to step forward and do what's necessary to ease us through it. I'm not holding my breath.

There are thousands of ways the government could save money. The areas of waste are everywhere. Here are a few things that need to be done short-term, and some follow-up things that need to be done in the long term:

  1. Cut most of the pork in the current Transportation bill.

  2. There are literally billions of dollars in funding going toward projects that are NOT essential in the current transportation bill, in every state in the Union. We need to cut as many new projects as possible, and still avoid unneeded delay in finishing ongoing projects.

  3. Foreign Aid

  4. We need to reduce, cut back, or eliminate billions of dollars going to various nations throughout the world. Some foreign aid is worthwhile. Foreign aid to most European nations is a folly: all of those in the West can fend for themselves, and most of those in the East are recovering nicely. Help where it's necessary, but stop trying to bribe countries to like us. Also cut aid to most Middle East nations, and carefully evaluate foreign aid elsewhere. Make sure we're getting something for our money, and not just pouring it down a rathole.

  5. Tell the United Nations we're taking a two-year hiatus in paying our support for the United Nations, because we need the money to take care of our own needs.

  6. The United Nations is the most wasteful political bureaucracy in the world. It's time they experienced the NEED to reduce their corruption by not having the money to continue it.

  7. Reduce agricultural subsidies, with the goal of eliminating them entirely.

  8. Continue crop insurance, but gradually reduce the amount of coverage from its current level to half that amount. Encourage private firms to pick up the slack. We produce not only more than we can consume, we produce more than we can consume, export, or otherwise use. Let's get back to reality, and get the US Government out of the agriculture business.

  9. Reduce the regulatory compliance burden on our nation.

  10. Our businesses and industries have a hard time operating and meeting all the tons of government regulations imposed upon them. Most of these regulations make little sense, and a large percentage of them could be disposed of without harming individuals or the environment. Get out the red pen, and start lining through them.

  11. Reduce the number of government agencies.

  12. Not only are there far too many people involved in "overseeing" every aspect of life in this nation, there is excessive duplication of effort, agencies working at cross-purposes, and constant regulatory in-fighting. Reduce the amount of government the American people need to support to the bare minimum, and keep that minimum hungry. That way, the people will have more money to invest in their own recovery, and the recovery of their neighbors. This includes reducing the number of Cabinet-Level positions from the current absurd number to no more than eight or nine. It's not only possible, it's essential.

I'd be very surprised that any of these recommendations were considered by Washington. The purpose of the current bureaucracy is to increase, in order to increase the power and prestige of those within it. No one wants to see a reduction in their own personal feifdom, or their own power. Yet that's exactly what needs to be done to free up money for what's truly essential in this nation. The only way these changes will take place is when we, the PEOPLE, insist upon it, and back up our insistence by "firing" our current elected officials and replacing them with those who understand their continued employment will depend upon doing OUR will, not theirs.

After Katrina

The National Guard, regular military troops, and thousands of volunteers are cleaning up and restoring New Orleans and other areas of the Gulf Coast eastward to Mobile, Alabama, using both public and private funds. The death toll will still be large - probably over a thousand, possibly as many as 2000. That's a significantly smaller number than the 10,000 first suggested by Mayor Nagin and others in Louisiana, but still a huge number. The economic impact is staggering - in the billions at least, in the tens of billions probably, and perhaps even more.

New Orleans was a major shipping center, where materials barged down from the middle of the country along the Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers were transloaded onto oceangoing vessels bound for virtually every port in the world. The rebuilding of the Port of New Orleans will be expensive and slow. Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile also require extensive reconstruction before economic life can return to the area.

New Orleans was also a major oil and gas center, with eight refineries and untold pumping stations for natural gas and petroleum products. There are hosts of chemical plants and major transportation arteries that require repair, and in some instances, complete replacement. It's going to take a long time, it's going to be hard work, and it's going to be expensive.

Most important of all, however, are families and individuals whose lives have been totally disrupted by the devastation visited upon them by Hurricane Katrina. Structures can be rebuilt - it just takes money. People's lives are different. Sometimes, they can't be rebuilt at all. Others have gaps where loved ones, friends, even pets have been gouged out of their existence. Rebuilding lives may not be as expensive dollar-wise as rebuilding structures, but it usually takes longer, and it's not easy or cheap.

Now the Gulf Coast is being threatened with another storm - Hurricane Rita. This time, those under the most severe threat are remembering what happened in New Orleans, and acting prudently. Yet will it be enough? Only time will tell.

I've been to both New Orleans and Galveston. I have friends and family throughout both Louisiana and Texas. I will be praying for their safety. When the time comes, and what their individual needs become apparent, I will once again dig into my wallet and help out with whatever I can. I am proud to live in a nation where people do those things, not only for friends and family, but even for total strangers. May it always be so!

Monday, September 19, 2005

UnCivil War

I've come to the conclusion the United States is in the midst of an uncivil, undeclared, yet very real war. It's a war of ideas, a war of ideologies, a war of emotions (especially hate), and in far too many instances, a war of guns and bullets as well. The redstate/bluestate (or more precisely, red counties/blue counties) divide isn't just political. I can't speak for all red-staters, but I believe in self-regulation and personal freedom. Far too many blue-staters apparently feel the need to impose limitations upon everyone, regardless of whether those limitations are reasonable, necessary, or whether they infringe (or flat-out contradict) the personal rights and freedoms our Constitution is supposed to guarantee.

The evidence is the very words those on both sides of the dividing line utter. Even more, the evidence presented by the actions of those in positions of leadership versus the common people of this nation, (those "We the People" who are supposedly the final arbiter of what this nation is) shows that the divisions aren't just red/blue, but power/people, individual freedoms/regulation, and personal liberty/imposed behavior as well.

I'm currently reading "1776", the new book by David McCullough about the American revolution. Much of what I'm reading could be very easily rewritten to be contemporary, merely by substituting the US government (more the Democrats than the Republicans, but many of the latter are hypocrites and control freaks, too) as King George and the English nobility, and center-right blogs (both their authors and the majority of those commenting on them) as the American people. The MSM is on the side of the King, along with unions, many non-government organizations, and the entire left side of the political spectrum. Religion appears to be the new "Stamp Act".

Of course, not everything is identical. There's no precedent for the boorish, antagonistic, moronic and haughty behavior of people like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer, or people like Cindy Sheehan, Ray Nagin, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan. The total absurdity of the continued debate about whether we should be fighting a war against people who have attacked us is just one bit of the evidence that we're engaged in an internal war as well. Newspapers and television used to have pretty much a lock on what Americans learned. That's no longer true, but they continue to act as if it is. Their lies, distortions, and exaggerations are continually exposed for what they are, yet their behavior doesn't change. They don't care to be truthful, just to be "effective" in molding public opinion about the subject at hand.

As with the American Revolution, the "King" may be currently in control, but the end is in serious doubt. Between blogs, world events, the rebirth of American individualism (the tsunami response effort, the Minutemen border patrol, the response to Katrina), greater access to information by more and more Americans, the difference between what the MSM reports and what Americans can see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears, and the greater and greater disparity between what the Left says they believe in and what they do, the American people are once more deciding they'll govern themselves. There are still many battles to be fought, but I'm beginning to be encouraged by the response of ordinary people, and the differences between what PEOPLE do and what governments and "agencies" do.

New Orleans, I think, has become the "Bunker Hill" of the new revolution. It's highlighted the inability of "government" to do everything, and that the best, most efficient means of responding is for people to help people - one-on-one, in small groups, and in voluntary alliances such as the Blogswarm for relief. Barriers are breaking down - not the breach of the levees in New Orleans, but the barriers between north and south, east and west, even red/blue, as well as haves/have-nots, Republicans/Democrats, and even black/Hispanic/white/red/brown/yellow.

People appreciate a helping hand in times of trouble, regardless of its color, race, religion, culture, or ethnicity. We see it in New Orleans, we see it in Afghanistan, and we see it in Iraq. Now we need to see it in the rest of the United States. What we don't need to see any more of is the language of divisiveness, of racism, of elitism, or power politics.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Weeping for New Orleans

Jean and I both have family and friends in Louisiana, but not in New Orleans. Maybe that's a good thing - if any of them had voted for Ray Nagin for mayor, I'd have to seriously contemplate their sanity. I'd have to rate Jesse "jackass" Jackson higher in the food chain than Nagin, and my opinion of Jackson isn't fit for a family-oriented website. Bianco is such an obvious failure she doesn't appear at all. How the people of Louisiana could have elected such an intellectual light-weight as their governor is only explainable by politics - the gutter kind.

I'm glad things are becoming better, albeit slowly. The cavalry has arrived - literally - and law and order are being reintroduced, evacuations are ongoing, people are being fed and housed, and bodies being recovered. Having worked a couple of previous disasters, I know how difficult that is for the people involved. Nonetheless, it will be done, because that's what military people do - whatever it takes to accomplish the mission, even when it literally kills them.

There's been one online resource I haven't seen any links to, so I thought I'd add it: the Alexandria Daily Town Talk ( This is the newspaper I grew up with. It's disappointed me many times in the past, but it's doing a very good job of covering Katrina and its aftermath. Also check out the New Orleans Louisiana website - - and the Times-Picayune coverage. Both papers deserve a Pulitzer, and the attention they're currently getting.

Now the HARD work begins - thinking about how to do things better in the future. I fear, however, it will be Louisiana politics as usual, and the city and state will be set up for another devastating blow in order to line some politician's and their buddies' pockets.

We've been on the low-to-bottom side of financial security ourselves for the last six years, so we know how it is to have to do without. While that's changed, we're still so far behind on essential things it's going to be several years before we're able to recover fully. We needed to paint the outside of our house five years ago - hopefully it'll be done this fall, before we suffer permanent (and expensive!) damage. Both of us have had to hold our spending to absolute minimum for so long, and had to respond to disaster by in-kind donations (or less) for so long, that's our primary means of responding these days.

Luckily, we have more and highly diverse skills and background than most, and we can offer a multitude of in-kind donations. Our choice for Katrina aid is to once again open our home to traumatized children: children who have lost their parents, who don't know where their parents are or even if they're alive, or who have been temporarily or even permanently separated from them. We've been therepeutic foster-parents before, and we can do it again, even with both of us being much older and less physically able now than at any time in our lives. We've contacted about a dozen agencies about this. So far, we haven't gotten much response. I'll update this entry with whatever we hear.

God has been VERY good to us, and we feel the need to extend our hand to others. We've offered to take up to two children indefinitely, at our own expense. That seems to be the least we can do at this time. We only hope that "indefinitely" won't equal "forever", as much for the children's sake as our own, and that we don't have to make such an offer again for many, many years.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

To Louisiana and Back

I just returned from a six-day grind to what used to be called Paradise Community, now a part of the town of Ball, in central Louisiana, just a few miles north of Alexandria and the Red River. I went down there for a wedding and a family reunion, not as part of a relief operation or anything heroic. I spent two days in Ball (it's a two-day drive down and back - just a little over 1000 miles), mostly with my family - doing a lot of catching up, doing a lot of just plain talking and remembering, and watching the news when we could.

Virtually all of us had a friend, a family member, or someone we once knew in New Orleans. We all agreed that the mayor of the city - and most of the mayors of surrounding areas - waited too late to order the evacuation that eventually began Sunday. We were also in pretty close agreement that an evacuation shouldn't have even been necessary for most level-headed, intelligent people. A category-4, possibly even category-5, was barreling up the Gulf, with the city squarely in its sights. I'm not a coward, but I'm also prudent: Mother Nature is far more violent, deadly, and capable of destroying huge areas much more efficiently than even the most deadly weapon mankind has come up with.

The storm tracked east, and Alexandria didn't get even a few drops of rain. There was no damage to help repair, no clean-up that required our assistance. The wedding went off well, and the reunion was a joy. All our family members are accounted for and well, although a couple of them did sustain some loss.

The news drove us crazy. FOX had the best coverage of what was going on, although several times we saw what was obviously a canned shot displayed and referred to as "live coverage". CNN had some twit named "Nancy", or something (Nancy Grace?) who was the poster-child for "dumb blond".

I've been to New Orleans several times. It's a mess in the best of times, with narrow, twisting streets and gross overcrowding. There are places in that city I wouldn't walk with an escort of half a brigade of 82nd Airborne troops. But I know it floods. I've been there when they've had a couple of days of rain, and the water starts standing in the streets. Hurricanes produce HUGE rainfalls - 30 inches or more - much more. There were a lot of things done politically (i.e., stupidly) in New Orleans, rather than intelligently. New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. Katrina was just the catalyst, not the disaster.

The military, especially the National Guard, will get things under control, and the politicians will take over the rebuilding. In thirty, fourty years, there will be another disaster, just as this disaster followed Camille, the disaster de jour of 1969. Most of the lessons learned form Camille were either forgotten or ignored, and 10,000 or more people died in Katrina.

Returning from Louisiana, we saw dozens of convoys of National Guard troops, possibly even a few Regular Army units, moving down I-20 toward Shreveport, then down I-49 to Opelousas and I-10. I-10 will lead them to New Orleans, and the work they're on their way to do. God bless them and keep them safe, and let them do the job they've come to do.