Thursday, May 31, 2012

Concentration Camps

I think Poland needs to be a little less sensitive.

The other day President Obama referred in a speech to a World War Two tragedy using the phrase “polish death camps” referring to concentrations camps in Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Gross-Rosen, Majdanek, Sobibor, Stutthof and Treblinka.

The Polish Prime Minster Donald Tusk was offended and demanded an apology.

He said:
"When someone says 'Polish death camps,' it is as if there were no Nazis, no German responsibility, as if there were no Hitler. That is why our Polish sensitivity in these situations is so much more than just simply a feeling of national pride."
Mr. Task has a point, but only that. Poland was occupied by the Nazi regime of Germany and since there was no Polish government in authority it was under German control and therefore it was not Polish.
To make an incident out of Mr. Obama’s choice of words is a bit much. It was a comment on geography not politics.
America will always honor the great patriots of freedom and democracy from Poland who fought in our war of Independence. Thaddeus Kosciusko comes to mind and there were many more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


A personal post today.

My wife and I were riding home after dinner with new and old friends last night. It was a nice time.
I asked if she read my blog today?

She said “No.” and added, “I have a routine, sometimes your blog interrupts it and today was laundry. I could read your post or make sure you had clean underwear.”

I was delighted in her choice.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Ah America…

I had the opportunity to speak at a local Memorial Day Celebration yesterday. It was wonderful.

It was America at its purist. It was a small town celebration complete with the local high school marching band, village and regional fire trucks, kids ball team members marching, all coordinated by an active American Legion post.

Patriotism and appreciation of American values as personified in liberty, freedom, the flag and ceremony were prominent, not only in the event itself, but in the personal enthusiasm of the participants and watchers.

There were old people, young people and all other ages in between.

Former members of the military and now the Legion post were in full uniform. Two world war two combat veterans were there.

One was honored as the parade grand marshal and the other played patriotic songs on his harmonica during a short ceremony.

A color guard stood at attention in the heat and humidity and local kids sat on the grass near the color guard ready to pick up the shell casings from the gun-salute to the combat dead.

I remember doing that when I was a kid, only in those days we were still calling it Decoration Day. We would festoon our bicycles with multi colored crape paper between the spokes and ride circles around the parade columns in my small town.

There is one thing that has never changed since I first heard it as a child, never fails to silence, never fails to tug at the heart.

It is Taps.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial and Tribute

This must be an emotionally raw and sad Memorial Day for the new families who have lost loved ones in war.

The red of our flag is a little redder this year for so many new young ones have crossed the battle threshold in service to country and too humanity.

The Blue of our flag is little bluer this year for each death in combat spreads a painful ache across the communities of America as family and friends mourn their warriors and bury the dead with bugle calls and salutes.

The White of our flag is a little brighter this year for these deaths were not in pursuit of tribute or territory, but bathed in the purity of securing liberty and sharing the brightness of expanding freedom.

And on this day of honor and remembrance, we add new stars to the millions of others who have gone before in old wars and ancient battles. Their great sacrifice, individually and collectively, will eternally rest with honor among the fifty visible stars on our flag as it waves proudly and solemnly to acknowledge the greatest sacrifice of all.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I was on the train yesterday heading in and out of New York City. I took Amtrak into Penn Station and Metro North out of Grand Central. Both terminals are big and busy.

I got to thinking about the railroad in America and how It has changed us and then how we abandoned it for faster technology and smooth highways.

It was on May tenth in 1869 that the two coasts of the United States became connected by rail.

At that time, the state of Utah was still a territory and a spot called "Promontory" was about to received the attention of the world and mark its place in American history.

It was there where the final rail was to be laid, linking the Union Pacific tracks out of Omaha, with the Central Pacific tracks out of San Francisco.

Five years of labor had gone before to bring the two to Promontory, Utah. Leland Stanford, President of the Central Pacific, took a silver plated sledge hammer in his burly hands and took aim at the gold spike in the final rail.

America was listening for that clank. Two engines were puffing in anticipation. The Railroad's future was bright.. The Union Pacific’s number 199 and the Central's Jupiter waited to touch iron noses. All was set as Sanford swung the silver hammer at the bright golden spike and he missed.

Somehow, now that seems appropriate. The railroads future was never perfect. Progress took a different route and a new track eventually bypassed Promontory. Then as irony would have it, the old rails were needed for steel during the 2nd world war and they were removed.

Promontory today has no tracks, only a memory in May.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Academy Graduations

This is the week of the service academies graduations. I was there years ago to see the pomp and celebration of four years of accomplishment for the young men and women at West Point.

I have lectured at the Air Force Academy and was impressed with the collective as well as the individual dedication of the cadets and instructors.

All of the service academies graduations this week engender a spectacular ceremony that wells with emotion and precipitates a deep patriotic pride and a foreboding bellicose prognostication.

Pride because these new spirits of the American dream have spent hard physical and mental hours over that last four years to honor their dream of an education and of service and commitment to the everlasting ideals of America.

The bellicose possibilities exist because many of these men and women  will be heading into hams way.

Many of the men and women in all the ranks that we designate as warriors and send to battle have families and all the needs that go with that responsibility.

Many of them cannot afford to care for their families on what pay they take home even with allowances that vary depending on rank, duty, and dependents.

It is not uncommon for young military families, in all the services, to need food stamps to exist. We ask them for sacrifice, not only of their lives if need be, but the sacrifice of extended time away from family and the closeness at seasonal and personal celebrations, yet we seem to forget them at budget time. Let’s change it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Foreign Aid Bravo!

If I am willing to criticize then I must be willing to compliment when it is appropriate.

I’ve dumped on congress for doing nothing but partisan bickering for the last few years. This week a Senate panel did something that needs to be applauded.

As you know we have had strained relations with Pakistan over the past several months. Pakistan closed an overland route for allied forces to get needed supplies to troops in Afghanistan. They were upset that American drones killed Pakistani civilians as well as Al Qaeda members and leaders

Pakistan claims to be a friend of the United States and a participant in the fight to keep Afghanistan free of a coercive Taliban and Al Qaeda influence.

Friends do not close supply routes. Friends do not provide a safe haven for now deceased Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden. Friends to not extort millions of tax payer dollars. Friends do not publically state they would support America’s enemy if it came to a war with Afghanistan.

A Senate panel, in approving a foreign aid budget for next year, cut appropriations to Pakistan by 1.2 billion dollars below current spending. I wish they had cut the entire aid package to Pakistan, but it’s a start.

Remember a few months ago when the new government of Egypt refused to let America aid workers leave the country unless a ransom was paid. It cost our government about 5-million dollars totally. The Senate Appropriations subcommittee also cut five million out of the economic assistance money we give to Egypt. Bravo!

Quid Pro Quo is a bitch.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fukushima Daiichi Radiation

My friend Akio Matsumura continues his quest to alert the world of a potential nuclear disaster and to his surprise governmental authorities in both the United States and Japan appear reluctant to act.

A year ago a tsunami and earthquake killed tens of thousands in Japan and destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant exposing numerous radioactive elements.

This is a very dangerous situation. We ignore a potential global catastrophe at our own peril. If you want to do something write your Congressman and Senators. Maybe they can finally do something useful for humanity and for America instead of bickering, adding pork to bills and worrying about elections.

Here, in red, is the beginning of Akio's latest post on the situation. You can read more of this post and earlier ones at

"The highly radioactive spent fuel assemblies at the Fukushima-Daiichi power plants present a clear threat to the people of Japan and the world. Reactor 4 and the nearby common spent fuel pool contain over 11,000 highly radioactive spent fuel assemblies, many of which are exposed to the open air. The cesium-137, the radioactive component contained in these assemblies, present at the site is 85 times larger than the amount released during the Chernobyl accident. Another magnitude 7.0 earthquake would jar them from their pool or stop the cooling water, which would lead to a nuclear fire and meltdown. The nuclear disaster that would result is beyond anything science has ever seen.  Calling it a global catastrophe is no exaggeration.
If political leaders understand the situation and the potential catastrophe, I find it difficult to understand why they remain silent.
The following leaves little to question:
  1. Many scientists believe that it will be impossible to remove the 1,535 fuel assemblies in the pool of Reactor 4 within two or three years.
  2. Japanese scientists give a greater than 90 percent  probability that an earthquake of at least 7.0 magnitude will occur in the next three years in the close vicinity of Fukushia-Daiichi.
  3. The crippled building of Reactor 4 will not stand through another strong earthquake.
  4. Japan and the TEPCO do not have adequate nuclear technology and experience to handle a disaster of such proportions alone."

The United States Government is spending more time and fear on preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon than acknowledging the extreme nuclear danger that nature could cause when there is another earthquake in Japan. Japan is in a very active earthquake zone. Scientists say it is not a case of if an earthquake occurs, it is a case of when and predictions are within the next few years.

If the Fukushima Daiichi plant is further exposed and cesium-137 is massively released into the air and sea we won't care that unemployment is high, we won't care about elections or jobs or the economy or Iran and Israel and Afghanistan. Much of the world will be trying to keep from dying of radiation poisoning.

I do not understand why this is not a top priority of all governments and every citizen of the world.
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