Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Today the race gets pruned down to the precious few. The Republican primary for senator of Florida has really heated up between McCollum and Martinez. Dead heat. Well see. The paper is saying that lots of folks are too worried about the coming hurricane to even think about voting. We'll see.

Interesting -- The donks have a storefront meeting place across the street from my Colonialtown office. It's an ex- bike store and is a big room with a bunch of those cheap folding chairs that you see in church on Easter Sunday for the overflow crowd. I've been watching the activity for the last 2 weeks. Or I should say, lack of activity.

Actually, I feel sorry for them. There they are with this huge room and all those folding chairs and two anxious college kids wandering around staring out at the street. Now, the Democrats have spent millions of dollars advertising in this market. You would think that they would be drawing big big crowds to their meeting places. Nope. I've never seen more than a smattering of folks in that place. I've got a feelng that this Kerry bubble will turn out to be nothing more than a manufactured hype.

I probably shouldn't jinx things by saying junk like that. Shut up Bob.


Sunday, August 29, 2004


Well, Jim of Smoke on the Water was in Orlando for a few days because his dad had to get some patches on his pump up at Shands UF. The plan was that we would go do some shooting up in Apopka at Shoot Straight gun shop if he had time. Well, of course, things began go into the ceramic holding facility at my job and I found myself putting out fires for the last week. I've got one of those jobs (JPO for the Dept. of Juvenile Justice) commonly called a double dipping deal: ex-teacher, ex-bondsman, ex-business owner. I'm afraid to retire because those kind of guys seem to drop dead two months after the get their first retirement check. I do Intake processing at the assessment center in Orlando... and we are coming back post-Charley at about half-staff so the remaining soldiers in the unit have had doubled work loads with no relief in sight. Whee. Retire? In my dreams!

Anyhow, Jim and I were gonna get together and bust some caps at the same indoor range that his Dad and I go to up in Apopka. Rumor has it that things have gone well up in Gainesville (my alma mommy) and his dad will get to his next rotation of the gyre. That leaves the connect betwen bloggers.

I never realized what an accomplishment these big shot bloggers manage. GutDaddy and VelociHoncho and DaxDude seem to always be hooking up and networking and I'll admit that I've been envious of their capacity for communing. I didn't realize how hard it is for someone to meet up in real time. I guess because it is so easy to link up on the Net that you'd think that the same kind of link up could be accomplished without the benefit of Intel technology.

Obviously, not so. I think that Jim is scheduled to return to the wilds of Texas tomorrow morning so if I can't get away from the naughty children of Orlando this afternoon we'll just have to plan ahead again. Maybe by that time I can get some of my staffing problems solved down at the JAC.

Anyhow, give my best to your Dad and tell him to keep pumping. I have a black powder pistol made for target shooting that he might like to play with. You too, for that matter.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004


In retrospect, I wish we had never heard of SwiftBoaties. It was amusing to me to see those boneheaded amateurs bungle the Kerry campaign. The Democrats have always been so profoundly narcissistic and self-involved that they don't realize the harm and pain they inflict. Of course, I'm sure we could say the same thing about the Red states. Republicans make it so easy to turn our whole experience into a replaying of old Pink Floyd albums... You! Yes, you! How can you get any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

Perhaps it's a sign of a sort of maturing: we are acting more and more like Whigs and Torys in that old ancient 18th century English way. So what's next? Should we expect to find a Cromwell in our Christmas basket soon?

What spoils the fun for me is to see so many old agonies revisted. The Vietnam debacle was the most destructive entity in my youth. And I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone in feeling that way. Friends died, often for no good reason. Families destroyed. And we all wanted it to mean something. It didn't. President Johnson was there to preside over our exit from the 19th century ... the politics of a prior paradigm. Then there was Nixon. He was so easy to hate, wasn't he? And ever since then we have seen little else but a decline in the Pax Americanus. Ford was a bandaid sellout. Carter was a good man but weak. Or at least, he failed in that damned sand storm. Reagan was a flowering of hope for those of us who didn't see the inexorable, or didn't understand the forces of change that ended all of the old solutions. The death of Marxism and all the intellectual marginalization of the left. I mean... who actually reads Chomsky? It's like trying to learn about macro-molecular physics by reading Boyle. Give me a break!

After that, politics seemed to become a game show. Professional politicians that didn't see the need to be symbolic leaders. Little men such as Clinton who figured that it was good enough to at least not be Nixon.

It's not.

Mr. Kerry is dangerous because he has managed to come so close to the brass ring without being a "good" man. A political opportunist who represents the preceeding decades of moral relativism... a man who looks up to the politics of the past. He wants so badly to be another John Kennedy that he even trys to parrot John Kennedy's children. That John-John salute was so vulgar that it was obscene. Doesn't the man's handlers realize that they are rubbing a whole generation's nose in it? I suppose not.

Mr. Kerry has succeeded in opening up all those old wounds that most of my generation wanted to heal. Wanted to find quietus from the chasms that had opened between us. Dan is right. We can't "get over it". We can only find a way to live with it. My father never did "get over" Korea. But he was a life long China Marine, and proud of it.

Dan Gilmartin is and always will be my friend. He is a good and decent man. A veteran who served his country when he was called, a scholar, a teacher, an intellectual leader in a venue that has terribly few decent scholars. And I see him twisting and turning, determined to find an alternative to the current version of Republicanism. The epitome of the loyal opposition. We have agreed to disagree on so many things that I often have to revisit the underlying idea that you can love your country without loving George Bush. I'm not a real Republican Dan. I'm one of those Democrats who can't vote for another Clintonesque plunge into a reenactment of the last century's failure. I want Miller to run. How about a Draft Miller movement? You with me?

Dan... I can't find a way to even like John Kerry. He has bungled this election so badly that he has become a threat to the very system that created him. He says... look at my military record. Then his enemies do and his "record" becomes the Damoclesian sword that guts him. And the only defense he can post is to say... but my opponent is crappier than I am. Maybe so. Mr. Bush does not become "good" just because Kerry is so bad. He just becomes the lesser of two evils.

Dan... that sucks.

What really concerns me is not John Kerry's self-destruction. We can survive that. He just represents the cleansing of the body politic. Although it's a shame that he is making it so easy for Bush. W is getting a walk from this guy. It shouldn't be this easy to become President, but the Democrats are looking so incompetent that guys like me are afraid to even give them a chance to right any wrongs. What a herd of maroons.

What concerns me is the fact that this "strategy" of theirs is opening old wounds and reminding us of the sorrows of the 70s. Vietnam was an emotional watershed that is sacred and personal for most of us... and it just frys my ass to see the experience become the foundation of a political endgame for failure.

Where is this moody outburst of angst coming from? Well, I can hear the anger and frustration in my friend Dan Gilmartin's voice. He is a guy that I turn to for balance and clarity. It's easy to dismiss the liberal left because they so often are singing to their own choir. But then that's not different from conservatives refusing to hear anything but right wing screeds.

From Dan Gilmartin ---

Bob: I'm sorry to say this, but your blog rants are frankly way out of line on this issue ofKerry and the boats -- also, may I add, I actually HAVE been to boot camp, and actually served four years in the Navy -- I also was very fortunate to have missed what 2/3rds of my radioman graduation class got... a ticket to Nam, either being on River Boats or being in theCountry ... I know at least 20 guys who didn'tcome back from there. My brother, Gene, was a corpsman in Country and got hit 3 times, fortunately not critically. May I say that you've bought into something that doesn't stand the test of logic. Your process seems tied to the idea of manhood as a sine' qua non that anyone who opposed the Vietnam War is, by definition, a wimp/loser/un - patriotic.... etc,.etc. May I say that myself, a volunteer for both the military and Vietnam in 1965 and my brother, a volunteer for both in 1966, as well as many good buddies I sweated with and drank with in those days, would not buy into the simplistic idea of your stated position that Kerry is somehow a less courageous person than that fucking empty suit W Bush. Please -- you are pressing the bounds of fantasy. You're a smart guy -- you know where this shit is coming from. The Vets who are dissing Kerry are the guys who came home and never bought into the idea that the war was wrong. Therefore, for them, anyone who said the war was wrong was a traitor. Kerry prosletyzed for the Vietnam Vets Against the War. I also worked for that group in 1970 and 1971. The real problem for these guys isn't whether or not Kerry really did what he DID-- its invalidating ANYTHING he did -- because of his actions AFTER his service. I would fully understand if they came at Kerry for his statements AFTER the war. I myself would admit to terrible, and intemperate statements about Vietnam -- but that doesn't take away from my service or the service of my brother. I would point out what the Republicannasties are forgetting -- the CONTEXT. RichardFreakin Nixon ended the war over a 5-year period, in which 25,000 U.S. soldiers DIED. Sorry -- I'mNOT over it. Most of the Neo-Con Republicans are over it, because they never were IN IT. The below article by Lt. Brood says it all, in my humble opinion. ...Danno

FEB. 28, 1969: ON THE DONG CUNG RIVERJewel-Osco
`This is what I saw that day'By William B. RoodChicago TribunePublished August 22, 2004

There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago--three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969.One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happenedon that date. I am the other.For years, no one asked about those events. But now they are the focus of skirmishing in a presidential election with a group of swift boat veterans and others contending that Kerry didn't deserve the Silver Star for what he did on that day, or the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts he was awarded for other actions.Many of us wanted to put it all behind us--the rivers, the ambushes, the killing. Ever since that time, I have refused all requests for interviews about Kerry's service--even those from reporters at the Chicago Tribune, where I work.But Kerry's critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown. The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us. It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue,especially when they come from people who were not there.Even though Kerry's own crew members have backed him, the attacks have continued, and in recent days Kerry has called me and others who were with him in those days, asking that we go public with our accounts.I can't pretend those calls had no effect on me,but that is not why I am writing this. What matters most to me is that this is hurting crewmen who are not public figures and who deserved to be honored for what they did. My intent is to tell the story here and to never again talk publicly about it.I was part of the operation that led to Kerry's Silver Star. I have no first hand knowledge of the events that resulted in his winning the Purple Hearts or the Bronze Star.But on Feb. 28, 1969, I was officer in charge of PCF-23, one of three swift boats--including Kerry's PCF-94 and Lt. j.g. Donald Droz's PCF-43--that carried Vietnamese regional and Popular Force troops and a Navy demolition team up the Dong Cung, a narrow tributary of the Bay Hap River, to conduct a sweep in the area.The approach of the noisy 50-foot aluminum boats, each driven by two huge 12-cylinder diesels and loaded down with six crew members, troops and gear, was no secret.Ambushes were a virtual certainty, and that day was no exception.Instructions from Kerry The difference was that Kerry, who had tactical command of that particular operation, had talkedto Droz and me beforehand about not responding the way the boats usually did to an ambush.We agreed that if we were not crippled by the initial volley and had a clear fix on the location of the ambush, we would turn directly into it, focusing the boats' twin .50-caliber machine guns on the attackers and beaching the boats. We told our crews about the plan.The Viet Cong in the area had come to expect that the heavily loaded boats would lumber on past an ambush, firing at the entrenched attackers,beaching upstream and putting troops ashore to sweep back down on the ambush site. Often, they were long gone by the time the troops got there.The first time we took fire--the usual rockets and automatic weapons--Kerry ordered a "turn 90"and the three boats roared in on the ambush. It worked. We routed the ambush, killing three of the attackers. The troops, led by an Army adviser, jumped off the boats and began a sweep,which killed another half dozen VC, wounded or captured others and found weapons, blast masks and other supplies used to stage ambushes.Meanwhile, Kerry ordered our boat to head upstream with his, leaving Droz's boat at the first site.It happened again, another ambush. And again,Kerry ordered the turn maneuver, and again it worked. As we headed for the riverbank, I remember seeing a loaded B-40 launcher pointed at the boats. It wasn't fired as two men jumped up from their spider holes.We called Droz's boat up to assist us, and Kerry, followed by one member of his crew, jumped ashore and chased a VC behind a hooch--a thatched hut--maybe 15 yards inland from the ambush site.Some who were there that day recall the man being wounded as he ran. Neither I nor Jerry Leeds, our boat's leading petty officer with whom I've checked my recollection of all these events,recalls that, which is no surprise. Recollections of those who go through experiences like that frequently differ.With our troops involved in the sweep of the first ambush site, Richard Lamberson, a member of my crew, and I also went ashore to search the area. I was checking out the inside of the hooch when I heard gunfire nearby.Not long after that, Kerry returned, reporting that he had killed the man he chased behind the hooch. He also had picked up a loaded B-40 rocket launcher, which we took back to our base in AnThoi after the operation.John O'Neill, author of a highly critical account of Kerry's Vietnam service, describes the man Kerry chased as a "teenager" in a "loincloth." I have no idea how old the gunner Kerry chased that day was, but both Leeds and I recall that he was a grown man, dressed in the kind of garb the VC usually wore.The man Kerry chased was not the "lone" attacker at that site, as O'Neill suggests. There were others who fled. There was also firing from the tree line well behind the spider holes and at one point, from the opposite riverbank as well. It was not the work of just one attacker.Our initial reports of the day's action caused an immediate response from our task force headquarters in Cam Ranh Bay.Congratulatory message Known over radio circuits by the call sign"Latch," then-Capt. and now retired Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, the task force commander, fired off a message congratulating the three swift boats,saying at one point that the tactic of charging the ambushes was a "shining example of completely overwhelming the enemy" and that it "may be the most efficacious method of dealing with small numbers of ambushers."Hoffmann has become a leading critic of Kerry's and now says that what the boats did on that day demonstrated Kerry's inclination to be impulsive to a fault.Our decision to use that tactic under the right circumstances was not impulsive but was the result of discussions well before hand and a mutual agreement of all three boat officers.It was also well within the aggressive tradition that was embraced by the late Adm. Elmo Zumwalt,then commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam.Months before that day in February, a fellow boat officer, Michael Bernique, was summoned to Saigon to explain to top Navy commanders why he had made an unauthorized run up the Giang Thanh River,which runs along the Vietnam-Cambodia border.Bernique, who speaks French fluently, had been told by a source in Ha Tien at the mouth of the river that a VC tax collector was operating upstream.Ignoring the prohibition against it, Bernique and his crew went upstream and routed the VC,pursuing and killing several.Instead of facing disciplinary action as he had expected, Bernique was given the Silver Star, and Zumwalt ordered other swifts, which had largely patrolled coastal waters, into the rivers.The decision sent a clear message, underscored repeatedly by Hoffmann's congratulatory messages,that aggressive patrolling was expected and that well-timed, if unconventional, tactics likeBernique's were encouraged.What we did on Feb. 28, 1969, was well in line with the tone set by our top commanders.Zumwalt made that clear when he flew down to our base at An Thoi off the southern tip of Vietnam to pin the Silver Star on Kerry and assorted Bronze Stars and commendation medals on the rest of us.Error in citation My Bronze Star citation, signed by Zumwalt,praised the charge tactic we used that day,saying the VC were "caught completely off guard."There's at least one mistake in that citation. It incorrectly identifies the river where the main action occurred, a reminder that such documents were often done in haste and sometimes authored for their signers by staffers. It's a cautionary note for those trying to piece it all together.There's no final authority on something that happened so long ago--not the documents and not even the strained recollections of those of uswho were there.But I know that what some people are saying now is wrong. While they mean to hurt Kerry, what they're saying impugns others who are not in the public eye.Men like Larry Lee, who was on our bow with an M-60 machine gun as we charged the riverbank,Kenneth Martin, who was in the .50-caliber guntub atop our boat, and Benjamin Cueva, our engineman, who was at our aft gun mount suppressing the fire from the opposite bank.Wayne Langhoffer and the other crewmen on Droz's boat went through even worse on April 12, 1969,when they saw Droz killed in a brutal ambush that left PCF-43 an abandoned pile of wreckage on of the Duong Keo River. That was just a few months after the birth of his only child, Tracy.The survivors of all these events are scattered across the country now.Jerry Leeds lives in a tiny Kansas town where he built and sold a successful printing business. He owns a beautiful home with a lawn that sweeps to the edge of a small lake, which he also owns.Every year, flights of purple martins return to the stately birdhouses on the tall poles in his back yard.Cueva, recently retired, has raised three daughters and is beloved by his neighbors for all the years he spent keeping their cars running.Lee is a senior computer programmer in Kentucky,and Lamberson finished a second military career in the Army.With the debate over that long-ago day in February, they're all living that war another time.Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune


Dan, thanks. We'll live through this.


Thursday, August 19, 2004


Here's a picture that will make any sailor's or pilot's blood run cold.



This business about the Swifties just keeps getting fustier and fustier. And.. it reminds me that there are some very basic core values that work in most guy's heads that always lie there like quiet filters, constantly testing the craposphere to make sure that nothing dangerous or false slips by that might prove to be important later.

When I was a kid I heard my Dad say that it was always easier to just tell the truth, that way you wouldn't have to constantly remember what you said last time. That bit of advice has cost me more than one girlfriend. There are lots of times that the literal truth is not such a great notion as far as strategy is concerned. And when you are as homely as I am you tend to carefully count the terribly finite number of chances that you have with the fair sex. But damn:

"Bob, do you think that I'm pretty?"

"Oh, yes. Very much."

"Am I prettier than Melissa?"

"Uh... well...."

See? Now that kind of dilemma is harmless but it is a flag in the quiet filter in my head that sets off an alarm that says -- Look out guy. You're gonna get bit here if you're not careful. And that flag tells me that this is a lady who may very well undertake to judge every word as a test of my fidelity so I have to constantly be on guard against the smallest and most trivial thing because it may very well be held against me. What I mean is, it's better to just settle for the bald and literal truth even if the lady leaves in a huff because if she was that kind of controlling nut masher and I could take comfort in the weary knowledge that she would eventually make me dread being around her.

I may be homely, but I'm not stupid. In my dotage I have learned a painful truth... that life is simpler without that kind of girl. And the pleasent truth is that there are plenty of women who actually prefer hearing the literal truth. At least there have been enough for me to cultivate a reputation as a whore dog without leaving too many corpses behind. Certainly not the findable ones.

And here comes Mr. Kerry. Like most guys these days, he knows that being a anti-Vietnam hippie war hating... should I go ahead and use the line about French surrender monkey?... has become terrribly passe' in the last few years. Those old core values of manhood and honor and honesty and John Wayne and True Grit have been quiety lurking back there whispering that when Mr. Kerry protested the evil war in SE Asia he was actually giving in to his own fear of failure and fear of having to eat one of the big ones and he was just scared shitless and very very glad to get back home so that he could protest and try to pretend that he was part of something nobler than just being a coward and crapping his britches at the possibility of having to put down his life for his country. The thing is he was never really a Marine. Those Brown Water Navy guys were pretty hard corp but when you get right down to it he was never really part of that Discipline of Honor that they beat into you at Parris Island or 29 Palms. Real men don't fight for God and Country. The fight for the Corp. It's a matter of discipline and the pride of discipline. Nothing more.

If you fail in that true course then you spend the rest of your life trying to conceal that failure. You make up lies to tell the girls about your "service" and if you tell them often enough you might actually begin to believe them yourself.

This crap doesn't matter usually. I used to work in a biker bar back in the olden days and I would swear that all 20 million guys who were in Viet Nam came into that dump (Stormy Norman's in Casselberry... the cops finally closed the rathole down) and told me that they were Force Recon or they were in the 82nd Airborne or were Green Beret. And when I did the math after checking their IDs I would realize that they had to be InCountry when they were about 4 years old. Assholes. But they wanted to be part of that manly John Wayne myth that they would sit right there and argue about special exceptions and time warps if I tried to encourage them to get over it.

The bullshit just gets so high sometimes that you need a rocket to leap over it.

And that's where John Kerry is now. He has bullshitted his way into a mind trap and his harmless lies have turned into something else. He wants to be President of the United States, and I would much prefer a guy who says that he didn't serve at all in an ancient war than be saddled with one who is so tangled up with his own fabrications that he can't keep his fibs straight.

David Limbaugh wrote a good elaboration on just that which appeared in the trusty blogosphere today. Go read it. Then think about Mr. Kerry as POTUS. Should give you the shivers.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Well, it's been a slow but steady return to normal around here. Yesterday we went over the hump and most of Orlando began to come back to life. Little things that we take for granted until they aren't there began to reemerge. Traffic lights. You don't even think about how important the damned things are until you find yourself sitting in the middle of an intersection like Colonial Drive and Mills Ave. (Hwy 50 & 17-92) waiting for a gap in the traffic so that you can make the leap. Scarey. I especially got a dose of that kind of frustration down in Kissimme last night. I had gone down to luxuriate in a hot shower compliments of the Leete contingent. The cops had 192 arranged so you could only turn right once you get off the Turnpike. That makes it easy for the cops but I had to turn rignt, then immediately do a turnaround to go in the opposite direction. And that doesn't work because of 0ncoming traffic. Scarey. But it makes it easy for the cops to control the intersection. Well...

And the trusty workplace is returning to normal. Everybody who has been sitting around the house in the dark is creeping back in to see if their computer will work and if the air conditioning is turned back on... these guys are all standing around slurping DJJ coffee and comparing war stories and commenting and complaining about how Mayor Crotty got his power turned back on first in town and... bla bla bla. Ah... cops and free coffee. What a life.

OK... Ive had a shower. Thank God! I didn't need a hint. I KNEW that I needed a shower bad. Got it. Now what I want is Krispy Kreme! And hurry up about it. We are back. Tell the weather gnomes to sent their messages to the home office.


Monday, August 16, 2004


As Friday dawned I didn't think that there would be much of a storm. The sun was shining and I went in to the office and flogged paper as usual. As the day progressed I got more interested in what the guys on the radio and TV were saying about the storm path. It started to look as if Charley was going to actually affect us. But we have been missed so many times that I couldn't hear the cry of wolf like I should.

Then things got serious. I had checked on the plane and the boat like a dutiful Floridian, but I hadn't really allowed the possibility to settle on me yet. You go get the batteries and make sure that you have enough food to avoid starvation in the post storm, but for the last... ten years?... fifteen?... it has always been the same thing. Another near miss.

Not this time.

Charley settled in and when he hit Punta Gorda the lights went out from Ft. Myers all the way to Jacksonville. I watched the storm decide to come ashore down in South Florida and from that time on it beat a straight line to Orlando. And there I was, waiting. There's really nothing else a person can do. Wait and hope for the best.

I rode the storm out in my Orlando office. The wind got up for real a little after 9 and then howled like a banshee for about 4 straight hours. At the end of that I went out and looked around. Trees every where, lines down, no lights. But the phone was working.

I went in to the DJJ office and checked it out, no problems there but the lights were on emergency up and we had about a dozen ARF kids left. The secure defendants had been moved to the adult jail for safe keeping but there were a few ARF kids left over... no parents, or parents to addled to realize that their kid was not in the house (perhaps for the last week!). No damage, just rain and more rain and more rain. Probably about 6-7 inches in 3 hours.

Checked again on the boat (OK), plane (OK)... but I didn't drive all the way over to Ti-Co, just talked to Mel on the phone. He was sitting in his office at the airport nursing a bottle of Black Jack. Tried Katie... picked right up.. she was worried about ME. That's a hoot. Isn't it great when your kids are grown and they begin to sweat it for their parents? Hehehe.

Now I'm back in the office and we are dealing with the aftermath. Orlando has taken a serious licking but things are holding together and there have been a few very bad moments -- 2 people found in upside down cars in ditches. One lady barefoot found with one foot placed on a live wire. Curiosity killed that cat.

But things could have been a hell of a lot worse. I have to say it... our local guys did a damned good job of informing the population and the folks who live here did a damned good job of following through. Very few fatalities. Amazing, considering the fact that the last hurricane that came through here was in my childhood (Donna) and there are 2 million more people living here than then. And all of them are from some rathole up north and nobody even had a clue how scarey things can get.

The big hassle now is getting some juice. It's Monday afternoon and they are saying that some of the OUC customers may not get their service working for a week. I don't know about anyone else, but I need a shower NOW. I had made some assumptions that proved to be unsupportable: first, I hadn't banked on lightening hitting the pump at the marina because I figured that I could get a shower... not so; second, I hadn't thought it all the way through about groceries. I have slowly become amazingly dependent on restaurant food. I finally got into Golden Corral last night. Some of the folks are still out there driving in circles looking for something to eat. I saw two middle aged women actually come to blows yesterday over a loaf of bread at Publix. I was smug but didn't want another peanut butter sandwich. Ick... Third, you can't assume that things will go smoothely. Mike SanFilippo had a tree come crashing down on his pool enclosure and came within a foot of mushing his house. I went over there yesterday and took pictures. Man oh man.

But mostly what we need is some electricity. It's been thirty years since a hurricane has come through and cleaned out the old oaks in downtown Orlando. the Thornton Park area looks like deepest darkest Africa, still. And all of the local power grid is hidden in that tangle of broken limbs.

I'm gonna go to the YMCA this afternoon and see if they have any hot water. At this point I might drive to Atlanta and check into a motel.... then drive back to get to work tomorrow.

But things could have been a whole hell of a lot worse.


Friday, August 13, 2004


My friend Stevie is back with her daughters from the mountains and is safely ensconsed in her library over in Tavares. One of her neighbors, a vet, shared a letter with her that she sends on for the blog. ---

An open letter to Senator John F. Kerry: My wife had rotator cuff surgery earlier this year and the recovery is terribly painful. Then she developed staph-epi infection, and they had to cut the same scar open and operate on her again. Just thinking about the pain and anxiety of facing that painful surgery a second time in the same scar makes me cringe. That experience, however pales in comparison to what I am going through right now in my heart. The old hurts are surfacing and the feelings of betrayal by fellow citizens, and their leader stirring them up, are breaking my heart again. I am being cut in the same scar. How did we who served in Vietnam suddenly become cold blooded killers, torturers and rapists of the like of the Nazi SS or the Taliban? Most of us were American soldiers who grew up idolizing John Wayne, Roy Rogers and all the other heroes. That was why we volunteered. But for political expediency, you, John Kerry, have rewritten history again. After spending only four months in the country of Vietnam, you testified before Congress in 1971 in these exact words about incidents you supposedly witnessed or heard about from other vets: "They personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals, turned up the power, cut off limbs, blowed up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam." I was a green beret officer who volunteered for duty in Vietnam and fought in the thick of it in 1968 and 1969 on a Special Forces A-team on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, just for starters. We were the elite. We saw the most action. Everybody in the world knows that. But we did not just kill people. We built a church, a school, treated illnesses, passed out soap, food and clothing and had fun and loving interaction with the indigenous people of Vietnam, just like our boys did in Normandy, Baghdad, Saigon and everywhere American soldiers ever served. We all gave away our candy bars and rations to kids; our hearts to oppressed people all over the globe. My children and grandchildren could read your words, and think those horrendous things about me, Mr. Kerry. You are a bold-faced unprincipled liar and a disgrace. You have dishonored me and all my fellow Vietnam veterans. Sure, there were a couple of bad-apples, but I saw none and I saw it all. And if I did, as an army officer, it was my obligation to stop it, or at the very least, report it. Why is there not a single record anywhere of you ever reporting any incidents like this or having the perpetrators arrested? The answer is simple. You are a liar. Your medals and mine are not a free pass for lifetime, Senator Kerry, to bypass charactar, integrity, and morality. I earn my green beret over and over, daily, in all aspects of my life. Eight National Guard green berets, and other National Guard soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and you totally dishonored their widows and families by lumping National Guard service in with being a draft-dodger, conscientious objector, and deserter, just so you can try to sabotage the patriotism of our President, who proudly served as an Air National Guard jet pilot. I have a son earning his green beret at Fort Bragg right now and his wife serves honorably in the Air National Guard (just as did our President) and I am as proud of her as I am of my own son. I volunteered for Vietnam and have no problem whatsoever with President Bush being our Commander-In-Chief. In fact, I am proud of him as our leader. Senator Kerry, you personally derailed the Vietnam Human Rights Bill, HR2883 in 2001 after it passed the House by a 411 to 1 vote and thousands of pro-American Montagnard tribes people in Vietnam died since then who could otherwise have been saved. Earlier, as Chair of the Senate Select Committee on MIA/Pow Affairs, you personally quashed the efforts of any and all veterans to report sightings of living POW's, when you held those reins in Congress. You have fought tooth and nail to push for the United States to normalize relations with Vietnam for years. Why, Mr. Kerry? Simple, your first cousin, C. Steward Forbes, CEO of Colliers, International recently signed a contract with Hanoi that is worth billions of dollars for Colliers International to become the exclusive real estate representative for the country of Vietnam. "Hanoi John" now that it works for you, you beat your chest about your Vietnam service. But to me, you are a phony, opportunistic hypocrite. You are one of those politicians that is like a fertilizer machine, all that's coming out is horse manure and you are spreading it everywhere. Medals do not make a man. Morals do. Don Bendell - Cannon City, Colorado......


Welcome home Stephanie. Thanks for sharing.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004


From Dan Gilmartin --

Bob: First of all, there's no way this shit affects our friendship. Hell, Tremel is also one of my best friends, and he's been a Republican for years. And anyway, we tried to go to New Orleans once, until the highway turned into a bouncing rubber carpet. That said, this White House is worse thanNixon's. The secrecy factor alone is enough to make me puke. The OMB had to sue the Shrub and Darth Cheney to even SEE the records of their dealings with the Oil kings. No checks and balances with this group. Their tax policy is upsided beyond belief(Can't you hear them? "Fuck the arithmetically impaired" -- the National Debt is eye-crossing

Dan... Don't hold back. Tell me how you feel.


Monday, August 09, 2004


Well, Sen. McCain is a live and let live kind of guy these days, but there was a time when he was less forgiving of some of our returning Viet vet protesters. Like his fellow Senator John Kerry. Here's the legend.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Things that make me go Hmmm...

I have been Dan Gilmartin's friend for the last 25 years. He's a Democrat, I'm... well, I guess that I'm a Republican these days. But since I passed around that Drudge article about the SwiftBoat guys I am afraid that I've finally pushed his buttons one time too many. I hope not. But I don't mind saying that it concerns me to realize that the "silly season" of a political campaign might actually become a genuine source of divison.

Come on guys. I'd like to think that we can disagree without being disagreeable. The first rule of discourse must be civility. But before that, we all have to agree of several things. Fair play, honesty, common goals. If we settle for civility and not require honesty then there is no meaningful debate. We are left with the application of force. That's not healthy. At least, not for me.

If these folks at FastBoatersForTruth or whatever they are called aren't actually living up to their names then they should be deposed and have to face the consequences. And by the same token if any candidate of POTUS is found to have committed anything that is less than honorable, then he should face the same music. There are laws against slander and libel. Let's get the parties into an arena where they have to tell the truth or deal with a visit to a grand jury and see who blinks first.

What I am for sure is... I'm sick and tired of the "business as usual" bullshit that our selection processes have become. I'm sick and tired of having to sift the lies and the sickness that degrades the whole process and makes my kid believe that our political institutions have become something that she doesn't want to dirty her hands with.

Here's the e-mail exchange of 8/8/2004:

Dan -

Hopefully I'm not singing in anyone's choir. With my voice that would probably be seen as cruelty to churchmen. But I will admit that the SwiftBoat guys have definitely got my attention.

One of the things that I certainly do believe in is the rule of law. If there is "truth" available from these guys then I say that it might be a good idea to get some of them under oath and see if they are willing to bring these charges with someone willing to pursue perjury charges. Of course, that libel and slander accusation and the threat of litigation is a sword that cuts both ways. Why not put the opposing spin masters under oath and see which one lands in Raiford? For me, I wouldn't mind stifling some free speech if I could lower the threshold of vicious lying and hate speech a bit. I've got a feeling that a little chill in the air during this silly season would be a welcome change. Like I said, this may be serious stuff. I'm especially concerned about the implication that the "war hero" stuff could be so easily manufactured. Is it really possible to shovel this kind of crap? I thought not, but then I have been accused of being naive in the past.

My Kathryn (hopefully not yours) is so disgusted with the whole process that she is threatening to chuck it all and move to the Sudan. Unlikely, but I agree with her distaste.

In the meanwhile, lets both please agree to be friends no matter what. Truth is that the guy I really want back in office is Lawton Chiles. Who gave him permission to die anyhow?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Gilmartin" <>
To: "Bob Baird" <BBaird@raindogsurety.com>
Sent: Saturday, August 07, 2004 8:57 AM
Subject: Swifties tell the TRUTH ??? Please!!
> Bob:> Saw some of your 'Drudge' attack stuff on> Kerry.> I think you might want to check out the following> site before singing with the RNC choir -- in> newsroom terms, you don't have the story.> McCain has denounced this and has asked Prez> Skippy to renounce this Swift Boats for Truth> group -- but Bush won't do that -- all you have> to do is look at what Rove and him did to McCain> in the 2000 South Carolina primary. Nasty stuff> and nothing to do with the truth. Not that I'm> shocked -- you also might want to see the book> "Worse Than Watergate" by John Dean. I think the> former President's First Weasel got it right. > ...Danno> > http://mediamatters.org/items/200408050007> >

If I have to lose my oldest friends over this crap then I may join Kathryn and move to Sudan. Well, maybe not, but Costa Rica sounds pretty nice according to the Acidman.


Thursday, August 05, 2004


I just got a look at this from Drudge. It amazes me to realize that the Donks would believe that this wouldn't come out. Don't they understand that when you go before that kind of spotlight that every crease in your ass will be put under intense scrutiny? Did they actually believe that they could pass off someone like this on the American people?

Excuse me while I go puke. Damn! This is what we've come to? Grrrr.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Things that make me go Hmmm

My lovely daughter and I went to Golden Corral yesterday for some daughter/dad bonding. As usual, things are going along famously. She's still determined to vote Democrat and gave her old dad another serious try at conversion.

I took the opportunity to try to figure out why she is so willing to hang with the Donks. When I asked, she said that she was "for the people" and that Republicans are "just in it for the money." I guess that that's what you'd call a trained response. What it made me think of was what Mike Broussard (another life long Dem) hit me with a week or so ago. He said that people always vote like their folks.

If that is true, that people always vote like their parents voted, then I suppose that it makes sense for my kid to be a Democrat. Both of her parents were Democrats, and her grandparents were sort of Democrats. I switched to R because I couldn't stand Bill Clinton. Before then I basically didn't give a flying crap. What he was... and still is... he was an embarrassment. But truthfully, most of the folks in my family tree were non-voting redneck crackers. Mostly my grandfather was closer to Lester Maddox than to Bill Clinton. Closer to Lawton Chiles than anything else. He didn't care for Franklin Rosevelt and he didn't care for the Great Society. What he was was a "He Coon". I recall that Chiles was once characterized the same way. An agrarian conservative with no interest in the sort of socialist agendas offered by both parties these days. A guy who wanted mostly to be left alone so that he could work for himelf and his family. A guy who would not approve of regressive taxation or paying for "the greater good". A Dixiecrat.

And when I think about it, I'm actually closer to Walkin Lawton than to any other policitian's imago these days. What is missing for me is a Democrat that actually is a conservative in the old "Cracker Dixiecrat" tradition. What I want is an old time Lawton Chiles brand of Southern Democrat without all of the negative "commie" leanings of the modern Donks. They no longer exist, I'm afraid. So I've settled for a close substitute with the Bush family. Actually, it was President Reagan who seemed like a close substitute for Lawton Chiles... a Chiles with a big dose of John Wayne... Reagan with True Grit... or Reagan as the Shootist... Chiles/Wayne/Reagan. Anyhow, I switched away from Clinton. Anything but him. I would have voted for George Grosz before I'd have voted for Hillary's evil twin. Anything but that wicked witch of the west. May a house fall on them both. Right, Pilgrim?

I do know that when I try to pin my daughter down on specifics we still seem to be talking the same language... we both seem to sound like libertarians and Randian elitists that don't approve of any elitist agendas. We don't like governmental interference, we don't want to have to eat any crap from outsiders like France or Germany, we expect the government to stay away from us and ours... sound familiar?

Yet... she has a vision of the future that seems to exclude Bush. Too pro business, too prone to trusting the system, too willing to allow Ashcroft to run out of control.

What we finally agreed on (as usual) is that none of them are good enough for much more than a luke warm "hoo-rah". I just seem to be more comfortable with the fabrications offered by the modern Republicans and she seems to want the other guys, with the same kind of luke warm indifference.

What occurs to me is that in spite of the fact that this year the separation of the parties is such that we actually seem to have recognizable differences between the oppposing groups we have been worn down by the process until everything seems to be blunted into opposite ends of the same bad bullshit. In other words, the politics seem to be shaped into another one of the endless examples of culture war that has turned nearly every other societial artifact into something phony and tiresome.

And that's a damned shame. My kid represents the future, and she seems to despair of ever finding anyone that she can vote FOR. Instead she seems to be voting AGAINST things and eventually that attitude will generalize itself into voting against everything. And ultimately opting out of the system completely. You can only shovel manure for so long before you get the idea that the only thing available for shoveling is manure.

And that is the quiet sound that represents the death of our hopeful experiment in Democracy. But then, the surrogate mom has accused me more than once of being, at heart, a gloomy guy. I like to deny it but sometimes I know that she's right. I just hope that my kid doesn't lose hope too.

At least she's still looking for something to believe in.

As for me....