Another Write-wing Conspirator

Commentary, observations, musing, and ranting from the middle of the road (or just to the right of center. Usually.) featuring The Curmudgeon

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  • Welcome to The Curmudgeon’s lair

    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

    If you see a posting you like and wish to share it with others, by all means feel free to do so. I'd prefer that you send the link to your friends, but you're also welcome to reproduce anything here—as long as you retain my identity on the document. If you have a web site of your own and wish to post a link to this blog (or to a specific post), again, feel free to do so.

    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

    Some of the postings you'll encounter may seem familiar—especially to those who know me personally. By way of explanation… I once had an ongoing relationship with a local newspaper, and had a number of published opinion pieces—some of which may be posted here. My arrangement was for a feature entitled An Opposing View; given that the editorial staff had a generally liberal, left-of-center view, it stands to reason that my "opposing" view would generally be perceived as coming from the right (in more ways than one, in my own humble opinion). These posts will be annotated as having been previously published.

    Comments, of course, are always welcome. You may agree or disagree with me. Doesn’t matter. Of course, I reserve the right to completely ignore you — but, feel free to let your feelings be known, anyway. And if you don't want to comment directly here, my e-mail address is: jimseeber@gmail.com .

    Oh, and…yes, I can spell. That "Write-wing" is only a play on words. So, there. Again.

    Welcome, once again. Strap in and hang on.

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  • About this “curmudgeon” guy…

    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

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Archive for the ‘patriotism’ Category

Veterans Day

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 11, 2011

A note to my brothers-in-arms…

Note: This started as a simple email to friends and fellow veterans. Owing to the response I received, I decided to spruce it up a little and include it here. —Jim

To my fellow veterans:

Perhaps it’s because of the times we live in, with troops in harm’s way. Or it might be the still-fresh memory of the massacre at Ft. Hood. Or it could be owing to recent communications with former brothers- (and sisters-) in-arms. Whatever the source, I’m feeling particularly sentimental about Veterans Day—our day—this time around. It always happens, but…for some reason, it’s a stronger feeling today.

Some of you I served with. Some, I didn’t. No matter. I’ve always felt that—regardless of our respective histories—we share something very special. I suspect many of you feel the same.

Some time ago, I was seated at a blackjack table in Tunica, MS. I’d been engaged in sporadic conversation with the young man seated alongside me, and learned that he’d recently returned from his second tour in Iraq. I asked the usual questions (we all know them—right?) : Where are you from? What’s your MOS? How long’ve you been in?

This, of course, revealed to him (we all recognize the signs and subtle signals) that I’d spent time in the military, as well—and in fact we had Army service in common (like I said: We all recognize the telltale signs of a brother-in-arms).

He then surprised me by extending his hand and saying: “Thanks for your service.”

This simple gesture has become common in recent years—and I kinda like it. However, no one had ever said it to me before; frankly, it caught me a little off-guard. Yes, I’d served. My military career was, however, decidedly unremarkable. No hero. Just did my job—like most of us. To be honest, I felt a tinge of humility hearing a “Thank-you” from someone so recently returned from the jaws of Hell.

Almost sheepishly, I grasped the proffered hand and shook it firmly. “No,” I said. “Thank-you. My time was long ago and a helluva lot easier.”

And then he said it.

“You served,” he said evenly, still gripping my hand. “That’s all that matters.”

And the steady, certain look in his eyes confirmed that he’d meant what he’d said.

He was right.

It doesn’t matter whether we were cooks, grunts, supply clerks, swabbies, wrench-turners, jarheads, or cannon-cockers.

We served—and that is all that matters. Many…most…didn’t. We did.

I’m reminded of a Marine Corps recruiting billboard from a few years ago showing a split-view of a young man’s face. One-half was the boyish look he’d borne before he enlisted; the other half was the steel-jawed look that Uncle Sam put on him. The caption was simple: “The change is forever.”

And it is. It changed us. All of us. And we’ll always be different for it. Regardless of which branch each of us served in or what we did.

How many times have you sat around swapping lies with other vets when you suddenly became aware of the rapt attention being paid by one of them, those who never took our oath?

We share a common bond—one that will never be broken. It’s a special fraternity. It’s something that they will never have, nor even completely understand.

I pity them.

They’ll never know what it feels like.

They don’t know our friendships spawned amid shared adversity, our camaraderie forged by experiences they can’t even imagine. They’ll never know those memories that we won’t—or can’t—speak of except amongst ourselves, our brothers. They don’t understand the particular annoyance we feel when the entertainment superstar of the moment butchers the national anthem at a football game, or why we feel compelled to throttle those in the stands who fail to remove their hats or place their hands over their hearts or at least shut the hell up while it’s being played. They puzzle over why we rail against a giveaway to someone who’s earned nothing, but we’ll give anything—anything—to one of our brothers in need. They’ll never know that bittersweet tug on our heart-strings whenever we hear the mournful strains of Taps being played.

They can’t imagine a wintertime patrol of the DMZ in Korea when you’ve given-up on the idea of ever actually being warm again, settling instead for merely being able to once again feel your toes. They can’t picture an exhausted airman trying desperately to avoid dripping sweat on sensitive avionics components while struggling in desert heat to repair an aircraft for a ground-support mission. They’ll never know the lonely vigil of a sailor standing watch at night, peering into the inky blackness of the North Atlantic. They can’t begin to know fear so deep that you’re no longer certain of having control of your breathing or your bladder as you suddenly realize that there are a lot of people trying to kill you. They can’t imagine your feverish attempts to apply a field dressing, or holding a wounded buddy as his life slips away. They’ll never be able to laugh, years later, as friends reminisce about an over-exuberant celebration in an exotic port after months at sea—that might’ve resulted in a night or two spent in the local jail. They don’t grasp the significance to us of George Orwell’s familiar observation about people being able to sleep soundly in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf—nor do they have any idea that we now and then silently remind ourselves with pride: I was one of those rough men.

Whether you did a two-year stint courtesy of your draft board…or had nothing better to do for a few years after surviving high school…or felt a call to duty…or made a twenty- or thirty-year career out of it…

You served. We served. And whether we like it or not, we retain feelings that get stirred-up from time to time.

We know what it feels like, and sometimes have to choke down some pretty strong emotions. They haven’t a clue as to what that’s all about.

Some might recall that I’ve been waging a years-long battle to try to get people—them—to grasp the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. It sends me into a slow boil every Memorial Day when I see television and newspaper ads proclaiming: “Thanks to all our veterans!”

I appreciate the sentiment, but…that’s not our day; that day is set aside for those who didn’t return—and blurring the line between the two occasions cheapens their sacrifice.

I’ve probably aggravated a lot of people in attempting to correct that misconception.

This is our day. This is the one we earned when we raised our hands and swore our oaths—when we entered that special fraternity…when we underwent that change that we’ll all take to our graves…when we were bound to one another forever.

Thank-you all for your service. Enjoy your day; you earned it. Go grab the free chow at Applebee’s and Golden Corral and Chili’s, and be appreciative that some, at least, acknowledge your service and sacrifice. Muster-up a dash of humility if a kid comes up to you today and says “Thanks” because a parent or teacher instilled that sense of values. Choke back your tears when the bugler plays Taps during the ceremony at The Tomb (or let them flow; you earned that right, too). Call an old Army buddy (or Navy; you get the idea). Shake hands with fellow vets you know; they’re your brothers-in-arms—and it’s their day, too.

Having now gotten all maudlin, I’ll leave you with one final thought expressed by Rudyard Kipling:

I’ve eaten your bread and salt,
I’ve drunk your water and wine.
The deaths ye died I watched beside,
and the lives ye led were mine.

 

Jim

“A veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.'”author unknown

Note: This is a re-posting of an entry from two years ago. I first posted it in my old blog; however, when I transferred everything to this site, some of the formatting was corrupted. In addition, I received several requests from friends asking that it be re-posted for Veterans Day last year. So, I spruced it up again and made a few changes. Apparently, a lot of people liked it; I received several requests to re-post it again this year. —Jim

__________

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Veterans Day

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 11, 2010

A note to my brothers-in-arms…

 Note: This started as a simple email to friends and fellow veterans. Owing to the response I received, I decided to spruce it up a little and include it here. —Jim

To my fellow veterans:

Perhaps it’s because of the times we live in, with troops in harm’s way. Or it might be the still-fresh memory of the massacre at Ft. Hood. Or it could be owing to recent communications with former brothers- (and sisters-) in-arms. Whatever the source, I’m feeling particularly sentimental about Veterans Day—our day—this time around. It always happens, but…for some reason, it’s a stronger feeling today.

Some of you I served with. Some, I didn’t. No matter. I’ve always felt that—regardless of our respective histories—we share something very special. I suspect many of you feel the same.

Some time ago, I was seated at a blackjack table in Tunica, MS. I’d been engaged in sporadic conversation with the young man seated alongside me, and learned that he’d recently returned from his second tour in Iraq. I asked the usual questions (we all know them—right?) : Where are you from? What’s your MOS? How long’ve you been in?

This, of course, revealed to him (we all recognize the signs and subtle signals) that I’d spent time in the military, as well—and in fact we had Army service in common (like I said: We all recognize the telltale signs of a brother-in-arms).

He then surprised me by extending his hand and saying: “Thanks for your service.”

This simple gesture has become common in recent years—and I kinda like it. However, no one had ever said it to me before; frankly, it caught me a little off-guard. Yes, I’d served. My military career was, however, decidedly unremarkable. No hero. Just did my job—like most of us. To be honest, I felt a tinge of humility hearing a “Thank-you” from someone so recently returned from the jaws of Hell.

Almost sheepishly, I grasped the proffered hand and shook it firmly. “No,” I said. “Thank-you. My time was long ago and a helluva lot easier.”

And then he said it.

“You served,” he said evenly, still gripping my hand. “That’s all that matters.”

And the steady, certain look in his eyes confirmed that he’d meant what he’d said.

He was right.

 It doesn’t matter whether we were cooks, grunts, supply clerks, swabbies, wrench-turners, jarheads, or cannon-cockers.

 We served—and that is all that matters. Many…most…didn’t. We did.

 I’m reminded of a Marine Corps recruiting billboard from a few years ago showing a split-view of a young man’s face. One-half was the boyish look he’d borne before he enlisted; the other half was the steel-jawed look that Uncle Sam put on him. The caption was simple: “The change is forever.”

 And it is. It changed us. All of us. And we’ll always be different for it. Regardless of which branch each of us served in or what we did.

 How many times have you sat around swapping lies with other vets when you suddenly became aware of the rapt attention being paid by one of them, those who never took our oath?

 We share a common bond—one that will never be broken. It’s a special fraternity. It’s something that they will never have, nor even completely understand.

 I pity them.

They’ll never know what it feels like.

They don’t know our friendships spawned amid shared adversity, our camaraderie forged by experiences they can’t even imagine. They’ll never know those memories that we won’t—or can’t—speak of except amongst ourselves, our brothers. They don’t understand the particular annoyance we feel when the entertainment superstar of the moment butchers the national anthem at a football game, or why we feel compelled to throttle those in the stands who fail to remove their hats or place their hands over their hearts or at least shut the hell up while it’s being played. They puzzle over why we rail against a giveaway to someone who’s earned nothing, but we’ll give anything—anything—to one of our brothers in need. They’ll never know that bittersweet tug on our heart-strings whenever we hear the mournful strains of Taps being played.

They can’t imagine a wintertime patrol of the DMZ in Korea when you’ve given-up on the idea of ever actually being warm again, settling instead for merely being able to once again feel your toes. They can’t picture an exhausted airman trying desperately to avoid dripping sweat on sensitive avionics components while struggling in desert heat to repair an aircraft for a ground-support mission. They’ll never know the lonely vigil of a sailor standing watch at night, peering into the inky blackness of the North Atlantic. They can’t begin to know fear so deep that you’re no longer certain of having control of your breathing or your bladder as you suddenly realize that there are a lot of people trying to kill you. They can’t imagine your feverish attempts to apply a field dressing, or holding a wounded buddy as his life slips away. They’ll never be able to laugh, years later, as friends reminisce about an over-exuberant celebration in an exotic port after months at sea—that might’ve resulted in a night or two spent in the local jail. They don’t grasp the significance to us of George Orwell’s familiar observation about people being able to sleep soundly in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf—nor do they have any idea that we now and then silently remind ourselves with pride: I was one of those rough men.

Whether you did a two-year stint courtesy of your draft board…or had nothing better to do for a few years after surviving high school…or felt a call to duty…or made a twenty- or thirty-year career out of it…

You served. We served. And whether we like it or not, we retain feelings that get stirred-up from time to time.

We know what it feels like, and sometimes have to choke down some pretty strong emotions. They haven’t a clue as to what that’s all about.

Some might recall that I’ve been waging a years-long battle to try to get people—them—to grasp the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. It sends me into a slow boil every Memorial Day when I see television and newspaper ads proclaiming: “Thanks to all our veterans!”

I appreciate the sentiment, but…that’s not our day; that day is set aside for those who didn’t return—and blurring the line between the two occasions cheapens their sacrifice.

I’ve probably aggravated a lot of people in attempting to correct that misconception.

This is our day. This is the one we earned when we raised our hands and swore our oaths—when we entered that special fraternity…when we underwent that change that we’ll all take to our graves…when we were bound to one another forever.

Thank-you all for your service. Enjoy your day; you earned it. Go grab the free chow at Applebee’s and Golden Corral and Chili’s, and be appreciative that some, at least, acknowledge your service and sacrifice. Muster-up a dash of humility if a kid comes up to you today and says “Thanks” because a parent or teacher instilled that sense of values. Choke back your tears when the bugler plays Taps during the ceremony at The Tomb (or let them flow; you earned that right, too). Call an old Army buddy (or Navy; you get the idea). Shake hands with fellow vets you know; they’re your brothers-in-arms—and it’s their day, too.

Having now gotten all maudlin, I’ll leave you with one final thought expressed by Rudyard Kipling:

I’ve eaten your bread and salt,
I’ve drunk your water and wine.
The deaths ye died I watched beside,
and the lives ye led were mine.

  

  

 

Jim 

“A veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.'”author unknown 

Note: This is a re-posting of an entry from a year ago. I first posted it in my old blog; however, when I transferred everything to this site, some of the formatting was corrupted. In addition, I received several requests from friends asking that it be re-posted for Veterans Day this year. So, I spruced it up again and made a few changes. I hope you all liked it. —Jim 

__________

 

Posted in national defense, national security, patriotism, veteran, veterans day, war | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Not One of THOSE Days

Posted by The Curmudgeon on July 3, 2010

It’s the Fourth; celebrate it as such—and don’t spare the noise

 

We have certain occasions set aside for somber commemoration.

This ain’t one of ’em.

Memorial Day? Yes. By all means, solemn and somber. Veteran’s Day? Decidedly less so.

But…the Fourth of July?

Uh-uh.

John Adams wrote that Independence Day “…ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

Not quite my idea of a party.

But then, he wrote “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”

Now, that‘s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

This isn’t a time for somber reflection; it’s a CELEBRATION. Break out the fireworks, shoot-off a miniature cannon (if you have one), make some noise, and have a ball; that’s what the day is for. Crank-up the backyard grill. Fly the flag. The whole bit.

And lots of firecrackers.

I’ll freely admit that some of my fondest boyhood memories are of growing-up in a small town in central Ohio where The Fourth was a very big deal. The one day out of the year when simple, unbridled patriotism was welcome pretty much everywhere, when everyone pulled-out all the stops and had a good time. Every charcoal grill at every house for miles around worked overtime, assaulting the palate with that amalgam of smoke, barbecue sauce, roasted chicken, ribs, burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and marshmallows. We’d ride our bicycles gaudily festooned with red, white, and blue crepe paper, flags flew from everything that would support one, we were awash in the aroma of hundreds of pies baking, and delighted in our little one-horse town parade. Corn-on-the-cob dripping gobs of butter. Homemade ice cream. Watermelon.

The town’s leaders always did a good job of things, and various civic organizations pulled together to make the occasion memorable. There was a festival set up at the local high school football field, with sack races, three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, a greased-pig contest (does PETA even allow that, anymore?), a greased-pole climb, and stuff I can’t even remember now. We’d throw the baseball and try to dunk the chick in the swimsuit, chase the pig, and earnestly shinny-up the pole for that cherished $10 prize at the top. And food everywhere, with each food booth smelling as good as the one before and the one after, and it was impossible to get in trouble. Pie-eating contests. Watermelon-eating contests (and seed-spitting, of course).

And always the sporadic firecracker activity to punctuate the occasion.

It was a great day to be a kid. Or even a grown-up, for that matter.

After a hard day at play, it was back home to the real supper (after running the gauntlet of everyone else’s grills) in anticipation of the one fireworks display we’d see all year—which was always spectacular. As luck would have it, there’d always be ample opportunity for toasting marshmallows and a round of homemade ice cream (and cranking that monster was actually a labor of love—with the promise of its own near-instant gratification to provide the impetus to keep going) in the fading light before the feature presentation began.

It’s been said that part of the idea of having fireworks and other noise-makers for the Fourth was to re-create the sounds of guns, explosions, and cannon-fire, reminding us that we are a republic born of the fire of revolution. That works for me. (So, when some modern-day self-proclaimed do-gooder tries to get rid of the fireworks, bluntly direct him/her to someone else’s party to screw-up; this one’s supposed to be loud.)

I also recall reading many years ago a treatise by some music guru (using whatever criteria he’d determined; I don’t remember all the details) who explained that John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever was the most perfectly-conceived musical composition in history. That works for me, too. By all means, strike-up the band, fire-up those grills, and get those fuzes lit.

For this one day out of the year, we get corny, rousing music, fun, Sousa, and a helluva lot of Ka-BOOM‘s—all without having to listen to some egghead latter-day social genius or politician apologizing for all the things that he thinks we aren’t; rather, we simply celebrate who and what we are. And gobs of butter dripping from our corn-on-the-cob. And barbecue.

What could be more perfect?

________

Posted in fireworks, fourth of july, Independence Day, patriotism | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »