June 2005 Archives

Dateline: Home Study

So goes the title of Vernon Broyles III latest tirade in Presbyterians Today. At least he quotes scripture here but that does nothing to open his eyes or his mind. This man is so arrogant that if he were trying to convince me that the sky is blue I would probably disagree with him.

Vern, like so many these days, is convinced that the Republicans are taking over the world and “abusing power”. Vernon seems to have lost sight of what a democracy, or at least a Republic, is all about. The “Reds” as he calls them, are in power because the American people put them there. The American PEOPLE put the President in the White House, put a majority of Republicans in the Congress, and even put Republicans in the governor’s mansions across the nation. That is obviously a sin according to the great Vernon Broyles who, like the majority of the power elite in the Presbyterian National Office, know so much better than we about what we need.

Vern is not even original in his arguments which is what really frustrates me. If he had some new arguments at least it would be fun to read him but he merely repeats that which comes from the DNC—Republicans are rich, Republicans hate the poor, Republicans hate charity… He is, plain and simple, a bigot. Not a bigot in the racial sense but a bigot in the political sense. He obviously thinks he has some special status that allows him to stereotype people and then complain about the group he has defined—-erroneously defined.

This month, just like in previous months, the sky is falling. This month it is democracy itself that is in danger of collapse. “[W]hat was once a model for democratic process for the world has been turned into a war zone between the ‘Reds’ and the ‘Blues’” Vern, I think the United States is still a very good example of democracy for the world. You are not getting your way and your are entitled to whine all you want (although I’m tired of it), but democracy is perfectly safe. Perhaps, Vern, you’ve not noticed, but our government is functioning. The “Reds” and the “Blues” may be at odds over some issues but they are arguing about those issues in Congress and fighting with words. They are not arguing in the streets and fighting with guns. Sir that is what I call Democracy at work. Perhaps you should step down from your ivory tower and review some American Government. All is well, we are not Iraq, or Iran, or Cuba, or China, or (fill in the blank with your choice of third-world country or dictatorship).

Actually what is happening in Congress is rather novel to the PC(USA) leadership. What we are having in Congress now is debate, something sadly lacking in the PC(USA). The best the PC(USA) can do is say well we kind of sorta got some guidance at the last General Assembly but really we just know best and don't need to bother you with anything.

Vern is also a little confused about who has the power and how it is being used. He certainly has not been watching or reading the same news I have. According the all-knowing Vernon Broyles,

The near absolute power now in the hands of the “Reds” has caused even leaders who once claimed to be “unifiers” and “healers of the divisions” to forget those commitments in the euphoria of their advantage; an advantage which has, in fact, strengthened the proud in the imagination of their hearts, secured the powerful on their thrones, lifted up the elite, filled the rich with even more good things and sent the hungry away empty.

I can just hear his smirks in his use of quotation marks. But let’s look at the facts, something Vernon seldom does. If the “Reds” are so powerful, why have more judges not been confirmed? Heck, why haven’t they even at least voted on them? The “Blues” remain quite powerful themselves is why and they are denying the American people the exercise of the democracy we fight for. And what’s with this rich stuff again? I’ll believe it a little more as soon as John Kerry, Teddy Kennedy, and the other rich liberals in Congress give up some of their money. This is more of Vernon’s bigotry easing in his argument as he leads one to believe that it is the “Reds” who are rich and elite.

I do agree with the last part of Vernon’s diatribe however. He says “we who claim to be Christian citizens, must say ‘No more!’” I’m with you brother! No more Democratic stall tactics that prevent Congress from doing what they were elected to do! No more interference from the Presbyterian elites in Louisville and Washington pretending to speak for the church against the war and against the Israelis!

Of course there is also another explanation for what is happening, an explanation given by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams: “Men of energy of character must have enemies; because there are two sides to every question, and taking one with decision, and acting on it with effect, those who take the other will of course be hostile in proportion as they feel that effect.”

And now I await next month’s issue of Presbyterians Today to see what nonsense Vernon Broyles is able to contrive.

SELECTED FOR COMMANDER

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Dateline: Home Study

The selection list for Commander came out today and I was on it! Needless to say I was happy and relieved. There are other outstanding officers I know who were not on the list which tempered my joy somewhat but I am glad the wait is over.

I owe this one to a great many people. This is not something I did by myself, I had the helo of many people. From my family who took up the slack while I was gone doing what I do, to my civilian colleagues who worked extra hard while I was on AT on at drill or came in and atteneded a meeting for me, to the selection board who was kind enough to chose me. But I owe much of this to the Enlisted I have commanded over the years. They made me look good to the Board and I owe them for that. I'll have a cake at our next drill to thank them but I can never repay them for this.

HEADING HOME

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Dateline: T F Green Airport, Gate 18 Providence, RI

Waiting at the airport for Delta to arrive and take us home. It has been fun in Newport but it is time to go home, with reluctance. The weather today is very nice unlike the previous few days. I’m still disappointed that the weather prevented the Blue Angel fly-over yesterday, and of course today seems to be perfect for it.

Before coming to the airport today, we had breakfast at the Corner Café on Broadway in Newport. It was nice to have a leisurely breakfast, something I rarely have time for. Following breakfast we drove around for a while and then headed to the airport. There were a few more things we could have seen but one of us, not me, was tired of walking and she was not dressed in waling shoes. She has apparently forgotten what it is like following me in the Atlanta Airport.

Now I’m just waiting in the airport and noticing, yet again, how loud airports can be. Most people, by and large, are nice, calm, and considerate but there are always a few who a sense that they are the center of the universe, that everyone should yield to them and their outrageously large roller luggage, and that their conversations are so important that we all should listen to them. For example, right down from me is a woman trying to make flight reservations on her cell phone. Want her number; I could give it to you. How about her frequently flyer number? Got that too. I expect any minute to hear her credit card number and her home address. Perhaps it is time to invest in those expensive Bose noise reduction headphones. I wonder, do they have an obnoxiously loud person setting?

Dateline: Best Western Mainstay, Newport, RI

The day began early with graduation preparations. Maybe I was overly cautious but the fear of not being able to find parking had been drilled into me so hard that we decided to get there early so we left the hotel around 6:40. Got there in plenty of time to find good parking and went to check in. I showed Sara the library so she could sit and read while I went to the café which is where we going to receive instructions. I ran into some people we met last night and I had juice with them.

At about 8:40 we went to the Spruance Auditorium, where it was supposed to be cooler, and it was. We received instructions and started lining up in the proper order. Having been an usher at graduation at home for many years I had my reservations about how ell this was going to work. My fears were unfounded. We lined up in order, we were double and triple checked, and then we walked to the field under the tent. Once we got in the tent we found our names were indeed on the chairs just as we were told they should have been. The only upsetting part was when we were told that the Blue Angels would not be flying over due to poor weather.

The graduation speeches were quite good. The keynote speaker was Ambassador Richard Armitage. He delivered a very moving speech, told a Jerry Clower joke about the three bulls, and quoted Peacemaker by Joyce Kilmer. He said the poem meant something to him because years ago he had written a letter to the editor of the WASHPOST in response to an editorial complaining about the respect soldiers were getting when they came back form DESERT STORM. The editorial said they were, after all, just soldiers. After deleting some phrases, the editor published the letter. A short time after it was published, his neighbor came to visit. He said I’d like to give you this book I wrote about my father and hope it will tell you what my father thought about warriors. After the neighbor left, Armitage opened the book and found an inscription referring him to page 138, the Peacemaker.

We then received our degrees. Mine was actually handed to me by Ambassador Armitage and Sara thinks she got a picture of it, we’ll find out soon enough. I was very pleased with how graduation went. Names were called as we entered from both sides of the dais and exited from the center front. We did it exactly how I have been advocating we do it at Mississippi State but I’ve been over-ruled several times. About 1000 students went up on stage in about an hour. I think the real reason this ceremony went so well is because of who was there. I doubt anyone was under 30, we were all either military of government service, and had a level of maturity not to be found in most undergraduates. We were just as excited, we were just as happy, and our families were just as proud of us as the parents of undergraduates are, but there was no whooping and hollering. It was requested that applause be held until all had walked across the dais and it was for the most part. Again, part of this was due to the level of maturity, but I think the major part was we all, families included, through our service, know that there is more to this world than us.

Sara said I looked very happy to receive the degree; she said all of us were smiling when came off the stage and I had noticed that as well. Later, after we got back to the room, she said I seemed to be more proud of this degree than was of my other two, and I think she is right. I don’t know why but I do feel better about this one. Perhaps it is because of my age, perhaps it is because of the long term investment I’ve made in getting it, but I think it is really because of the changes that I gone through as a result of earning this degree. I no longer look at things the same way anymore. When I see the news, I don’t take it a face value, I always wonder what else there is that is not being said. I think of the implications it may have in the days to come.

As a combination graduation dinner/early anniversary dinner, we went to eat at the White Horse Tavern. We were under-dressed but had been walking around Newport most of the day and didn’t want to go back and change. We were not that under-dressed anyway. Sara had roasted chicken stuffed with all kinds of good things and I had a great swordfish dinner. It was a very good experience and I’m glad we able to do it.

BLUE ANGELS AT GRADUATION

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Dateline: Home Study

Today I not only got orders and travel arrangements for the Current Strategy Forum and graduation at the Naval War College, I also got the details of the graduation ceremony itself. The Blue Angels will have a fly over for the ceremony! Now that's pretty cool! Should be a fun trip.

Dateline: Fairfield Inn Airport, Greensboro, NC

I drove up yesterday for drill. I had planned to leave early but got tied up at work for a little while. Then I went back home to pick up the last few things I needed and say my goodbues and my wife was talking to my sister-inlaw on the phone. Well, it is always a pleasure to talk to her so I took about another half hour talking to her. Finally got away just in time to hit Atlanta rush hour traffic.

The trips are usually not too bad; I get a chance to catch up on the news and listen to some of the talk shows. Sirius is great for that and beats the heck out of the AM radio late-night talk radio I used to listen to coming back from Naval War College classes in Millington, TN. But last night was too much. All anyone was talking about was that freak Michael Jackson! I pray for a quick verdict so we can get rid of this stuff and get back to the real world vice the world of never-land.

Tonight I spent a little time in Banres and Noble. Not as much as usual but a little time nonetheless. I picked up a copy of The World is Flat by Friedman based mainly on this entry by Tom Barnett. Not sure what I'll think of it but I'll reall it anyway.

Drill was interesting today; tomorrow should be as well. There is always a lot of work to do in such a short amount of time, no matter how much you prepare beforehand. I'll hit the road tomorrow afternoon and get ready to start a new week at work.

QUEEN OF THE BALL

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Dateline: Home Study

My daughter has been selected as Queen of the Natchez Pilgrimage for the coming year. She is very excited about, I am less so. She will miss some class, not a good thing; I will have to make a lot of trips to Natchez while trying to keep the rest of my things going; it will cost money; and I can't really see any benefits. But, if it makes her happy.

We went out to eat to celebrate and she was wearing a tiara she got from a Mardi GRas parade some years ago.

DEEP THROAT

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Dateline: Home Study

Am I the only one that is a little sad that we know who Dep Throat is now? I kind of enjoyed that mystery and got a kick out of the speculation. Now we know that it was the second in command at the FBI. The problem is that he is now too old really tell us anything about why he did it. If I can't have the whole story I'd rather have the mystery remain. Maybe Woodward will have something interesting in the Thursday Washington Post.

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