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The True Story of Adam and Eve  And the Garden of Doom (Based on real events)

June 18, 2018

 

The Great and Powerful Gardener had a Great and Gorgeous Garden, beautiful beyond description because words had not yet been invented. In the Gorgeous Garden trees were heavy laden with fruit and nuts: walnuts, hickory nuts, coconuts, peanuts, and pecans. 

One non-24 hour day, the Great Fixer-Upper, tinkered with the Milky Way that was not lighting up the way the Great Tinkerer had intended.  Once it was just right the God of Corrections remembered the Gorgeous Garden and discovered what Gardens do when you’re not watching. The Gorgeous Garden had grown into a beautiful and gorgeous but tangled jungle. 

The Great Gardener had better things to do than prune and weed a jungle; therefore the Glorious  Creator created a poor but useful undocumented worker to square away the jungle until it was a gorgeous Garden shipshape Bristol fashion. And the Great Name Caller called the worker, “Man”, which was the Great God’s word for Adam. 

The gorgeous Garden became more beautiful every day, but Adam looked glum and glummer. The Wise and Powerful God wondered if Adam had the flu, but the Almighty One hadn’t created the flu yet. Or dyspepsia. There were fruits and nuts and berries; why did Adam have no appetite? 

The Great Omniscient God studied the other animals the Creator had formed. The cattle were lying in the shade chewing their cuds in contentment. The crocodiles greeted their Creator with a smile. The unicorns were so fat their Creator feared they would knock off their horns trying to get in the ark, but that was later. Adam had everything the other animals had but a companion. 

Adam hung out with the dogs and that’s why humans have flat nails rather than pointed nails. For flea disposal. Filing your nails to points is wrong and stop it.

The Great and Creator God had learned some things in creating so the Holy Maker created a mate that was better built than Adam. The woman was built like a 36-34-36 Abrams tank. With a personality to match.

 And the Creator looked at the woman and she was good. But she was a mistake. She opened her eyes and didn’t like what she saw. “I have to fix this place up,” she said. “Make it a decent place for a woman to live in. And no dogs in the house.” 

And the Ever Present God said, “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

A lot of things displeased the woman, starting with the hairy thing that said he was an Adam. The woman didn’t know how many Adams there were but she knew they all required fixing up to be presentable. This one didn’t even wear clothes. She didn’t wear clothes either but naked women looked better than naked Adams. Except King David. But that was Michelangelo’s David. God’s King David had feet of clay.

This Adam had invented language and with his first words said she was his servant. Well, that was heifer dust.

“I’m hungry,” Adam said. “Get me something to eat.”

“Get it your…”, she paused. 

Adam had picked up a club and he swung it at a round orange thing on the ground but he was thinking of her. 

”Try these,” the woman said, handing Adam a handful of peanuts. Peanuts gave Adam gas and Eve plucked peanuts, threw them on the ground and stomped on them. And that’s why today peanuts grow under the ground. 

The woman went to the river that flowed through the Garden to get a drink in a still pool and saw her reflection. She didn’t know what it was until she tried to touch it and saw the reflection of her hand. She examined her reflection in the pool. “I have to do something with this hair”, she said. 

She decided to explore the Garden to find a comb and maybe something that would surprise and please Adam. Maybe if she pleased him enough he would do something with himself to please her. Maybe he would pluck his own food from the trees. But no more peanuts.

In her exploration she found the prettiest tree in the Garden. The woman had an eye for beautiful things and hands for practical things. Beautiful blossoms, luscious looking fruit. She picked blossoms and stuck them in her hair to please Adam. She really should wash her hair but … later. 

She couldn’t reach the fruit because there was a serpent under the fruit. It was probably a Komodo dragon because if you see one today it will stick out its tongue and flap its mouth trying to talk, but the Great and Terrible God made it dumb for being so smart.

The dragon said, “Did the bad cop tell you that you can’t eat anything in the Garden because it’s His Garden?” 

The woman said, “God doesn’t speak to me. The Almighty only speaks to Adam.” It was a complaint.

 The woman plucked a fruit from the tree and gave it to the dragon. It was probably a pomegranate.

The dragon closed its eyes and tasted the pomegranate. Drool ran from the corners of its mouth. “When you taste it you’ll think you died and went to heaven,” the dragon said.

The woman tasted the fruit and she did think she had died and gone to heaven. She thought to herself, I know, I’ll take some to Adam. He’ll eat anything, even peanuts. I need to give him ambition, improve his taste, make him a person with feelings. 

She wished she had a skirt or a shirt so she could carry more fruit. She could only carry two, one in each hand. She tried to carry one between her throat and her chin but she sneezed and the dragon grabbed the pomegranate, closed its eyes and died.

The woman took the fruit to Adam hoping he would notice the blossoms in her hair. They were so pretty and smelled like chocolate. Adam noticed nothing but the pomegranates. “Where did you get those?” he asked.

“From the prettiest tree in the Garden. You never notice anything.”

“God told you that you could eat from any tree in the Garden except that tree,” Adam said.

“God doesn’t speak to me,” the woman said. It was a complaint. “The Almighty Name Caller hasn’t even given me a name.” That also was a complaint. Until he met a woman Adam had never heard a complaint. “Why didn’t you tell me?” the woman asked. “You never tell me anything.”

“I tried,”Adam said. “But you talk so much I never get a chance. God told me that if I ate the fruit of that tree I would die.”

“I gave the big lizard a pomegranate and he said he felt like he had died and gone to dragon heaven. Then I dropped one and he ate it and was speechless.”

“Since you went all that way and brought me one, I reckon we ought to eat them.”

It wasn’t a thank you but Adam did notice she had done something for him and she was speechless.

They ate their pomegranates and heard thunder like the  Great and Powerful God waking from a nap. They felt the shake of the earth as the Well Rested God went walk-about. What if the Great Explorer God looked for them? And they knew they needed a door. For the bathroom. And the bedroom, and maybe a front, and especially a back door. But there were no doors so they made aprons of leaves so they would have a way to carry more pomegranates. 

The God Who Knows Everything asked, “Why do you need a door? Have you eaten of the Tree of Doom?”

Adam didn’t have a mother he could blame. That left God and the woman. God was scarier but the woman was louder and in his face. Adam said, “The woman that You gave me made me do it.”

Soon-to-be Eve was miffed. Adam blamed her for everything and the first time God spoke to her it was to blame everything on her and put a curse on her and also all the female mammals in the Garden. And the Almighty of All Good Things didn’t give her a name but let Adam give her a name.

Adam. Adam couldn’t remember what he named the velociraptors and called them Evangelicalciraptors. And the transgender duck-billed platypus, Adam couldn’t remember whether to call it guy or gal, man or madam, dawg or the B word.

“It’s not fair,” Eve said. “You made the Tree of Doom the loveliest tree in the Garden where you knew I would notice it,” Eve said. “Adam never notices anything. A dragon could crawl up and kiss him on the ear and he wouldn’t notice it. You made it good for food when You knew I was the practical one who was most concerned with feeding the family. You made it desirable to anyone who wanted to be wise when you knew Adam spent his time dreaming of another wife or two and an air-conditioned tractor.”

Adam had asked for a handiwoman he could use around the house and God had given him a Marine drill instructor.

“You knew I was the one in the family who hated serpents. Why did you put one in the Garden? When you destroy the world with a flood don’t let serpents in the ark or it will be your fault.

“And besides,” Eve said slowly winding down. “I gave Adam a pomegranate because I’m the one who shares. Adam doesn’t even share his feelings.”

Adam put his hand on Eve’s shoulder that was draped in leaves and guided her away from the wrath of the Source of All Help lest it destroy them both. Adam knew he had to stand between Eve and the All-Loving Father, lest she persuade God that she was an Adam, too. Or deserved equal pay. 

Eve prayed more than he did, except in public. The Eternal Father loved all creation but Adam wanted to be loved most. Adam didn’t want to be shipshape Bristol fashion. Adam kind of liked his faults. If he had to give them up he would miss them. Adam wanted God to cut him some slack with Eve.

“Sometimes I wish I could choose my own husband, someone who wasn’t wrapped up in himself all the time or kicking or throwing or clubbing fruit because it was round. That would be nice,” Eve said.

Adam resolved to keep Eve busy washing children and tending dishes. Especially when Adams gathered to make rules, pass out leadership roles, and decide what Eves were good for and what they should wear. Adam would assume authority over Eve. In affirmation, Adam squeezed Eve’s shoulder.

“That hurt,” Eve said. 

“It’s for your own good,” Adam said.

God killed a couple of animals and made clothes for the naked: a donkey for Eve and an elephant for Adam because God hated clothes that were made of different kinds of leaves. 

And Adam and Eve left the Garden of Doom knowing they were going to die, which is the root of all knowledge.

Guns and Hard Candy

March 9, 2018

Guns and Hard Candy

My sister, brother and I made our Santa Claus lists from catalogs—Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, Bella Hess. We were a farm family in north West Texas and when Santa didn’t deliver our mail order presents in time for Christmas, our parents told us that Santa sometimes dropped by on New Year’s Eve on his way back to the North Pole and maybe he would leave our Christmas wish then. And he did. But it was another whole week after we had been waiting months for Christmas.

Stores in our town didn’t have Santas but sometimes he was driven down Main Street standing in the back of a pickup and the elves at his feet threw unwrapped hard candy. I never really looked at Santa. I went for the hard stuff.

Santa did come to our two-room school house once. Our two teachers passed out bags of hard candy and Santa, who looked a lot like Dude Byars in women’s makeup with a mess of cotton covering the rest of his face, said, “Ho ho ho,” as though those were the only words Santa knew. The spectacle scared us so that Santa was never invited back.

We got another bag of hard candy at our Church Christmas Eve celebration, and another bag of hard candy under our Christmas tree. Our dentist handed out hard candy with both hands. We racked up enough hard candy to rot our molars before our wisdom teeth arrived.

We didn’t have a chimney. We lined up our boots in front of the radiant gas heater that kept the house toasty for up to five feet in front of it. When Mother opened the oven door to baste the turkey, we basked in the blast of heat. We put our hands on the outside of the oven to warm them, then we emptied our boots of an orange in each boot followed by hardshell nuts and hard candy to put our cold feet in the fire-roasted but sticky boots.

We knelt before the tree to discover what Santa had brought us. And also to keep our sockless feet from pressing against the overheated leather. My brother and I always got cap pistols, until we graduated to BB guns, then a .22, then a shotgun. In Texas guns outnumber armadillos and Christmas blows in locked and loaded.

I spent one Christmas away from home in the Marines with 71 hours of liberty and no place to go. I hitchhiked to L.A. and spent one night in an all-night movie theater, one night in the bus station where I could sleep sitting up. If I stretched out I was awakened by a cop, who was respectful of my uniform, tapping on the sole of my shoes. I sat up and dozed until sunlight. I returned to the barrack where I could stretch out but had to get up at reveille, fall in outside for roll call, march to chow and return to duty. It was the longest liberty I ever had.

I spent one Christmas in Vietnam and handed out hard candy and toys to kids who had never tasted candy, seen picture puzzles or sidewalks on which to skate sent by people back in the world who wanted to help. The Marines had removed war toys—guns, tanks, helicopters, war planes with which the children were familiar and taught them how to throw footballs and frisbees, skip rope alone or with others, hopscotch, and of course, there were baby dolls, white babies, blonde babies, Barbie babies.

My wife, Jean, gave me a hunting rifle one Christmas and an automatic shotgun another Christmas. I always think of guns at Christmas.

When I was little I loved stuffed animals more than guns and I had asked Santa for a stuffed bear in a military uniform. America was at war. There was no bear of no kind under the tree. What had I done that was so bad? My thumb had been crushed when I was six-months-old and the nail was attached only to the first half of the nail bed. I could point my thumb at a girl and bend half the nail back to make her scream, but that wasn’t mean. That was using my potentials as Dad always told us.

I found a dead hawk that someone had shot and took it to Dad. He cut off one claw, tied a string to a tendon and I could pull the string and the claw would close in some girl’s hair or maybe the back of her neck, but that wasn’t bad. The other boys thought it was funny. One of the older boys gave me a nickel for it. He asked to see it and when I handed it to him to look at he walked away with it. I followed him asking for it back, my voice a little louder each time so that the teachers would notice and he gave me a nickel.

I still had another claw but I would have to tell Dad what happened to the first one.

And who told Santa? I had always been faithful to Santa and Santa had been faithful to me. I had heard older boys at school laughing about—No.

“Mom, Bob didn’t get a stuffed animal,” my sister said. I wasn’t really crying but my cheeks were wet and cold. Bettye was the oldest and she protected me from my brother who was older, bigger and didn’t like stuffed animals unless they were mine.

“Did Santa bring you a teddy bear?” Mother asked, while I waited for the dreaded another whole week speech.

“No, Ma’am,” I said and sniffed.

“Did you look everywhere?” she asked.

Why didn’t Mother say that Santa would bring it on his way back to the North Pole? I had been good and Santa—why couldn’t he stop by on New Year’s Eve?

“Jim, have you seen Bob’s teddy bear?” Mother asked

“No ma’am.”

My heart failed me. Santa Claus failed me. I was afraid to speak for fear I would cry.

“Maybe Santa dropped it outside,” Mother said. What kind of Santa was that? Spilling presents all over the world and breaking kid’s hearts?

Mother opened the door and the porch was covered with snow. There were boot prints in the snow. Then I saw the stuffed bear. It wasn’t in uniform but that didn’t matter. I picked it up to hug but it was cold and wet. Santa had dropped my bear in the snow and had ruined it. I knew I was going to cry and I was too big.

Mother said, “I’ll put it in the oven and when it’s dry you can play with it.”

I was still in my flannel drop-seat longhandles and my boots were wet and cold but I walked around the corner of the house to follow the tracks. The tracks went to the garage and the barn. Dad must have opened the barn doors so the reindeer could get inside where it was warmer and the toys wouldn’t get wet. I didn’t know why the tracks went to the garage. I could think about that later when it no longer mattered.

I went inside to stand by the stove to shiver and get warm and watch my bear dry. Anybody could drop a bear in the snow. It wasn’t Santa’s fault. I knew that. Probably one of the deer had knocked it out of Santa’s bag and Santa hadn’t noticed. Reindeer were like that.

Wait ‘til I told the kids at school. I had seen Santa’s boot prints in the snow. Dad had let the reindeer into the barn. I had almost seen Santa. And he wasn’t scary like he was when he came to school. He was a little scary but he loved everyone. How could I have ever doubted Santa?

Mother handed me the bear. It was almost too hot to hold and the oven had singed a bald spot on it. Santa almost ruined my present but I pressed it to my heart. I had a teddy bear. It wasn’t factory perfect with shiny buttons on its uniform but I loved it all the more for its imperfections.

Santa stopped by on New Year’s Eve and left me a bag of hard candy and a heavy-glass pistol filled with tiny pills of hard candy. I broke it almost before I ate all the candy inside it.

My favorite Christmas was one that Jean and I and Deirdre and Brigid had celebrated alone. Our special Christmas. Christmas trees had not arrived, no houses were decorated, no Santas had appeared in stores. It was our special Christmas because I was leaving for Vietnam. Brigid, who counted the long days until her twelfth birthday, had won a ribbon at her school’s bicycle contest and the opportunity to compete in the city-wide contest. Brigid wanted a racing bicycle with gears for Christmas. Deirdre, who was almost fourteen, wanted an Appaloosa filly. She and Brigid each had a horse but Deirdre wanted a filly she could train and later breed.

I don’t remember what I or Jean received. It didn’t matter. We would make our girls’ dream come true.

I woke up to our traditional breakfast tacos. Jean and the girls had been up for an hour, Jean preparing breakfast, the girls almost beside themselves trying to be quiet so as not to wake me. There was neither a bicycle nor a filly under the tree. After the first round of tacos, I put on my Santa cap and passed out presents. We each opened our presents, expressing thanks and admiring what the others had received. Yet, something seemed to be missing. We asked Brigid to go outside and see if Santa spilled a present on the way inside. Sure enough, a careless reindeer had knocked a racing bicycle with gears out of Santa’s sleigh.

Santa was bringing Deirdre’s filly from Pleasanton and they had not arrived. We told Deirdre her Christmas package was late but would be delivered. It was our Christmas but the mail still ran. Brigid asked if she could ride her bicycle until Deirdre’s present arrived. We whispered to her that Deirdre was getting her Christmas wish and let her take her bike for a spin. She returned and asked us to watch her run through the gears.

Deirdre waited outside for her package to arrive. Brigid rode her bicycle on short jaunts ready to race home when Deirdre’s gift arrived. Jean and I waited inside watching for a truck and horse trailer. When the truck stopped and began backing the trailer down the driveway, Brigid raced for home. Jean and I went outside and Deirdre watched, afraid to believe she was getting her Christmas wish. Then the rancher opened the tailgate and introduced us to Teresa Babe or Teresa B, as Deirdre called her, a registered Appaloosa with a Joker B bloodline. Deirdre waited years for Teresa B’s promised spots to appear. They never did but it didn’t matter.

Maybe there are no perfect Christmases free of broken dreams, old sorrows, fearful futures, ancient grievances, dark shadows of Christmases past. But this was ours. We sang our hymns, prayed our prayers. There were other Christmases with much of the world celebrating the same day, with grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and some little girl crying because she didn’t get the bicycle that she didn’t know she wanted until Brigid got one. But this was our special Christmas.

No need for Santa on his way back to the North Pole.

Our special Christmas was the last Christmas that the four of us were together. Shortly after I returned from Vietnam Brigid died still short of her twelfth birthday.

I had been faithful and Santa failed me. There’s no way to describe the hollowness of our family, the void, the silence, the extra plate, cup, spoon that no one wanted to see and no one wanted to remove. Laughter had vanished and might never reappear; photographs appeared documenting a missing person. The little dog that Brigid had rescued waited for her at the end of our road every day, although the bus didn’t stop anymore.

The death of every child is violent, regardless of the cause, blowing a huge hole in dreams of future birthdays, Christmases, Easters and hunts for plastic eggs until candy inside the eggs was replaced with hard cash, Thanksgivings with family, friends, food and football; Halloweens with scary masks and funny tricks, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, new births, reunions, trips to Mexico. The kind of violence no automatic weapons, extended clips or bump stocks can stop, no Pentagon budget can prevent.

We each were in our own private hell, missing a piece of ourselves, each of us knowing that two other people needed us to help them carry their unbearable burden when we were driven into the earth by our own unbearable load. I wanted to run someplace where I felt no one else’s pain so that I could endure my own. Jean held us together as best she could. Jean and I talked of a suicide pact but it couldn’t be murder/suicide. We had to go together but we couldn’t both desert Deirdre. Which of us was the stronger to stay behind and help Deidre with her grief and the confusion of teenage years?

Teresa B. was a companion when Deirdre needed to be alone but not by herself so that Deirdre could talk and cry. Deirdre’s friend, Pam, called us Mom and Dad, and brought laughter into the house.

What had we done that was so bad? Nothing. We were ordinary parents, giving our children what we believed they needed—love, time, vacations, vaccinations, braces, regular checkups with their doctors, education, Sunday School, piano lessons for Deirdre, guitar lessons for Brigid, riding lessons for both, although they believed they knew everything they needed to know. Some things spilled. Some things were singed or got wet. Most of all, we wanted to give them a safe home and a safe life that every parent wants to give and no parent can give. Not even God.

I endure Christmas with its joy as fake as the snow in store windows, as false as Rudolph’s red nose, as artificial as the lighted Christmas trees.

Santa will return on New Year’s Eve, but it’s the longest week of the year.

***

This story first appeared in the February 2018 issue of Voices de la Luna. http://www.voicesdelaluna.org

Restoring the Constitution

February 20, 2018

Forget gun control. We need to restore the parts of the Constitution that were nullified by the “felonious five,” as Vincent Bugliosi called them on another occasion.

If you graduated from a public high school you should know that the Continental Congress required every colony (state) to form a militia; that the reason the British were marching to Concord and Lexington was to seize the armories where militia weapons were kept, and that after the British surrendered ending the Revolutionary War Gen. George Washington disbanded the army.

There were British troops on the Canadian border and the British Navy ruled the sea. There were French settlements to the south, Spanish settlements in the southwest and Indians, some of them hostile, on every side but the seaside. When the Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution and forming the federal government, who protected them? The militia. When they wrote, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state”, what other militia provided security?

President George Washington signed two militia acts. The first required all eligible males between 18 and 45 to enroll in the militia and muster for training. The second act stated explicitly what weapons, ammunition and equipment they were to obtain at their own expense, keep at home rather than in the armory and bear to muster.

Let’s reinstate the first clause of the Second Amendment, and also, Article 2, Section 2, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several states, when called into the actual Service of the United States…”

Let’s reclaim Article 1, Section 8: “The Congress shall have power to provide for organizing, arming, and discipling, the Militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the services of the United states…” and, “The Congress shall have power to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and repel invasion.”

Does any high school graduate honestly believe that “calling forth the militia to suppress insurrection” means providing malcontents with access to assault rifles and unlimited ammunition to defeat the US military and overthrow the elected government?

Those who took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” voided part of the Constitution in order to render a new and unique interpretation of one clause. The effect is to give the Second Amendment priority over the First Amendment. When firearms are present there is less freedom of religion, less freedom of speech, of assembly, of the press or to petition. Let’s rescue the Constitution.

Hacking the Election

February 14, 2018

US Intelligence officials met separately with President Obama and President-Elect Trump, January 5-6, to inform them of the intelligence they had gathered regarding Russian hacking attacks on US agencies, officials and citizens during the presidential campaign. Previously the president-elect had tweeted his doubts that the Russian government interfered with the election. He continued to believe Vladimir Putin rather than the US Intelligence Agencies.

A very brave and patriotic young woman, Reality Leigh Winner 25, a six-year veteran of the US Military, answered a question that many asked but that no one had answered: Did the Russians hack into the active voting process, the voting machines and the machines that tabulated the results? Ms. Winner is accused of “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.” She could face 10 years in prison.

The classified documents (05/05/17) were published by The Intercept (06/05/17) with some parts redacted as requested by the the government. The Intercept reported, “Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election.”

In Esquire (01/13/18), Charles P. Pierce wrote, “The Russian hackers hit systems in 39 states”, and “Thirty-seven states reported finding traces of the hackers in various systems… In two others — Florida and California — those traces were found in systems run by a private contractor managing critical election systems.”

Mr. Pierce further reported, “The Department of Homeland Security tried to declare state election systems to be part of our critical national infrastructure…The Republicans in Congress shot that down… Some states declined to cooperate fully with DHS.”

The Russians appeared to have the capability to change the vote counts, so why didn’t they? An employee of the Russian Internet Research Agency told the Washington Spectator (01/01/18), “Our goal was…to make Americans hate their own government. To sow discord, dissatisfaction, to lower Obama’s approval.” If that’s true, they enjoyed spectacular success. It’s hard to find a citizen who doesn’t hate at least one branch of the government, at least one Republican or Democratic politician.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the Washington Post (01/30/18) that Russia hadn’t scaled back its election interference efforts. This is an election year. So who is protecting us from further and perhaps worse interference? The President is still in denial. Congressional Republicans are busy attempting to undermine the Department of Justice, The FBI, and Special Counsel Mueller.

Bruce Schneier, a cybersecurity expert at Harvard’s Berkman Center, said, “Elections do two things: one choose the winner, and two, they convince the loser.” Schneier also said, “The problem we have is that voting security doesn’t matter until something happens, and then after something happens, there’s a group of people who don’t want the security, because whatever happened, happened in their favor.”
(presidential expletive)

When America was Great

January 18, 2018

Remember when America was Great? January, 2001, “The outlook for the federal budget over the next decade continues to be bright,” the Congressional Budget Office reported. “Such large (Clinton) surpluses would be sufficient by 2006 to paying off all debt held by the public that will be available for redemption.”
Bush, Jr. threw a hissy fit. NO! Politicians would spend the surplus on things like education, health care and the infrastructure. That money belonged to the people. Defining “people” as Reagan did, he gave it to the richest so that his family, cronies and campaign funders could ensure that their children received a good education, had great health care and the infrastructure around their homes and corporate buildings was the world’s finest.

V.P. Cheney, waving the flag and beating the drum for war, aped Reagan that deficits were good. In 2006, Congress raised the debt limit to approximately six trillion, the 4th increase in five years. Job losses were so great that not even starting two wars could stop the hemorrhaging.

Deficits worked so well for Reagan and Bush that Trump and his psycophants are doing it again.

Trump & Putin vs. America

January 2, 2018

The Washington Post reported (12/14/17), “On Jan. 6, two weeks before Trump was sworn in as president, the nation’s top intelligence officials,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers, and FBI Director James Comey met in a conference room on the 14th floor of Trump Tower with Trump at one end of the table,VP-elect Mike Pence at the other. Also present were Trump’s choices, Reince Priebus for Chief of Staff, Mike Pompeo for CIA Director, and Michael Flynn, for National Security Adviser.

The intelligence officers were there to convince the president-elect, who had encouraged more hacking, that the Russian break-in to Democratic headquarters was worse than Watergate, was a threat to national security, and that once in office Mr. Trump must defend US cybersecurity and punish the Russians for their criminal attack. Accordingly, they briefed the president-elect and his chosen staff on “the most highly classified information US spy agencies had assembled…” That information included “an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation.” (Emphasis mine) The “operation” was interfering in the 2016 presidential election to undermine democracy in the eyes of the world, agitate citizens, increase political polarization and racial tensions and keep Hillary Clinton, whom Putin feared as much as Trump did, out of the White House.

That was a bombshell. However, it failed to explode. The news media that reported and commented on every Trump tweet ignored the fact that Trump’s friend Vladimir Putin had himself directed the attack.

The Post further reported, “Trump seemed, at least for the moment, to acquiesce.” The national intelligence leaders left a copy of their report with Trump’s intelligence briefer. Comey wrote a memo. “I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what happened, not just to defend myself but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution,” he later testified to Congress.

The Post also reported that Trump’s advisers, including Reince Priebus and Jared Kushner, met in Trump’s office in Trump Tower, and “sought to convince Trump that he could affirm the validity of the intelligence without diminishing his electoral win, according to three officials involved in the sessions. More important, they said that doing so was the only way to put the matter behind him politically and free him to pursue his goal of closer ties with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.”

According to the Post report, administration officials said that “Trump has never convened a Cabinet-level meeting on Russian interference or what to do about it. Although the issue has been discussed at lower levels at the National Security Council, one former high-ranking Trump administration official said there is an unspoken understanding within the NSC that to raise the matter is to acknowledge its validity, which the president would see as an affront.

Michael Hayden, CIA director under G. W. Bush, “described the Russian interference as the political equivalent of 9/11, an event that exposed a previously unimagined vulnerability and required a unified American response.” Nevertheless, Trump took the oath of office determined to protect Mr. Putin rather than defend America from Russian cyber and propaganda attacks. “The Russian investigation makes America look very bad,” Trump recently tweeted.

According to the Post, the four intelligence officers had given Obama and members of Congress the same briefing regarding Russian attacks on the US at Putin’s direction before they informed the president-elect. Some Republican members of Congress are beginning to back Trump and Putin against national intelligence and the citizens of America.

It is not a secret but it is largely unknown that Putin’s specific instructions on the cyber and propaganda operation against America is still in operation aided and abetted by the White House and some members of Congress..

 

 

 

advisers — including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus —

prodded the president-elect to accept the findings that the nation’s spy chiefs had personally presented to him on Jan. 6. They sought to convince Trump that he could affirm the validity of the intelligence without diminishing his electoral win, according to three officials involved in the sessions. More important, they said that doing so was the only way to put the matter behind him politically and free him to pursue his goal of closer ties with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

 

Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation.
Trump seemed, at least for the moment, to acquiesce.
“He was affable, courteous, complimentary,” Clapper said. “He didn’t bring up the 400-pound guy.”
A copy of the report was left with Trump’s designated intelligence briefer. But there was another, more sensitive matter left to cover.

WP 12/14/17 Holding impromptu interventions in Trump’s 26th-floor corner office at Trump Tower, advisers — including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus — prodded the president-elect to accept the findings that the nation’s spy chiefs had personally presented to him on Jan. 6.
They sought to convince Trump that he could affirm the validity of the intelligence without diminishing his electoral win, according to three officials involved in the sessions. More important, they said that doing so was the only way to put the matter behind him politically and free him to pursue his goal of closer ties with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

Camp Larry Baxter

September 12, 2017

Camp Baxter

While in Da Nang, I thought I saw Camp Baxter. I did not yet have press credentials and the area was sealed with concertina topped with razor wire but I could see nothing worth a visit. There was never much at Camp Baxter, just a truck turnaround and loading for a trip back to Phu Bai. Even the name of Camp Baxter was gone. Back in the world people never heard of it. Those who did had perhaps forgotten, but it was named for Pfc. Larry Baxter, of Pierce City, Missouri, who drove a tanker truck carrying several thousand gallons of petroleum. It wasn’t a glamorous job like flying an F-4 Phantom over Hanoi, not the kind that brought promotions or medals. It was a job someone had to do.
Pierce City didn’t seem like the kind of town from which Baxter would have come. It was best known for an incident in 1901. A white woman was murdered and reportedly raped, and you already know how this story ends. It was a black man or men. They not only took the life of a beautiful white woman, they defiled her body. One black man was hanged, two were burned to death in their homes and 300 black citizens were banished from the town at gunpoint. Their homes, their land, their livestock, everything they were unable to carry with them, even their land, mysteriously disappeared. There was nothing for their children or grandchildren to return to in Pierce City.
I don’t know Baxter’s race or religion. I don’t know whether he was drafted or volunteered. I don’t know how he felt about the war or his country. All I know is what he did. Baxter’s tanker was hit by an RPG and set ablaze. Baxter could have jumped out of the truck and saved his life but that would have trapped the trucks and drivers behind him. Disregarding his own safety, Baxter drove the truck through intense enemy fire and despite being wounded drove the blazing truck off the road and over an embankment ensuring his own death but saving the lives of his comrades.
Baxter was posthumously awarded a Silver Star, not much of an award for one’s life. If he had thrown himself on a grenade to save a couple of buddies he would probably have received a Medal of Honor. Baxter saved more lives than that and his sacrifice wasn’t an instantaneous reaction. It was a considered plan. A motor transport depot was named for him and now that was gone, having an even shorter life than Baxter.
I don’t have many heroes left. One by one they have crumbled on feet of clay, and I am too old or wise or eccentric to consider rock musicians, athletes or actors as heroes. Larry Baxter and the CUPP Marines remain my heroes although Camp Baxter is gone and few signs of the CUPP Marines remain.
There is a footnote. I wrote a story, “Up the Street of No Joy With the Wild Bunch” about Motor Transport from Camp Baxter to the DMZ. None of the “Wild Bunch” contacted me but Larry Baxter’s family did. They wanted to know everything I knew about Baxter but I had written everything I knew about Baxter except what I know about his home town. For me, Baxter not only saved the lives of his comrades, he redeemed the reputation of his home town.

Camp Larry Baxter

September 12, 2017

Camp Baxter

While in Da Nang, I thought I saw Camp Baxter. I did not yet have press credentials and the area was sealed with concertina topped with razor wire but I could see nothing worth a visit. There was never much at Camp Baxter, just a truck turnaround and loading for a trip back to Phu Bai. Even the name of Camp Baxter was gone. Back in the world people never heard of it. Those who did had perhaps forgotten, but it was named for Pfc. Larry Baxter, of Pierce City, Missouri, who drove a tanker truck carrying several thousand gallons of petroleum. It wasn’t a glamorous job like flying an F-4 Phantom over Hanoi, not the kind that brought promotions or medals. It was a job someone had to do.

Pierce City didn’t seem like the kind of town from which Baxter would have come. It was best known for an incident in 1901. A white woman was murdered and reportedly raped, and you already know how this story ends. It was a black man or men. They not only took the life of a beautiful white woman, they defiled her body. One black man was hanged, two were burned to death in their homes and 300 black citizens were banished from the town at gunpoint. Their homes, their land, their livestock, everything they were unable to carry with them, even their land, mysteriously disappeared. There was nothing for their children or grandchildren to return to in Pierce City.
I don’t know Baxter’s race or religion. I don’t know whether he was drafted or volunteered. I don’t know how he felt about the war or his country. All I know is what he did. Baxter’s tanker was hit by an RPG and set ablaze. Baxter could have jumped out of the truck and saved his life but that would have trapped the trucks and drivers behind him. Disregarding his own safety, Baxter drove the truck through intense enemy fire and despite being wounded drove the blazing truck off the road and over an embankment ensuring his own death but saving the lives of his comrades.
Baxter was posthumously awarded a Silver Star, not much of an award for one’s life. If he had thrown himself on a grenade to save a couple of buddies he would probably have received a Medal of Honor. Baxter saved more lives than that and his sacrifice wasn’t an instantaneous reaction. It was a considered plan. A motor transport depot was named for him and now that was gone, having an even shorter life than Baxter.
I don’t have many heroes left. One by one they have crumbled on feet of clay, and I am too old or wise or eccentric to consider rock musicians, athletes or actors as heroes. Larry Baxter and the CUPP Marines remain my heroes although Camp Baxter is gone and few signs of the CUPP Marines remain.
There is a footnote. I wrote a story, “Up the Street of No Joy With the Wild Bunch” about Motor Transport from Camp Baxter to the DMZ. None of the “Wild Bunch” contacted me but Larry Baxter’s family did. They wanted to know everything I knew about Larry but I had written everything I knew about Baxter except what I know about his home town. For me, Baxter not only saved the lives of his comrades, he redeemed the reputation of his home town.

A Snake Story Vietnam

May 31, 2017

This is a small part of a book I am writing. I am publishing it with the hope that someone else will remember it and send me their memory of it. This would have been December 1970. Col. Bernard Trainor was C.O. of Force Recon. He went on to become a General, a military correspondent for the New York Times, and a military expert for NBC. The corpsman may have been Doc Truhe.

Our last night harbor was selected while there was light to examine the area for likely paths of V.C. patrols, safest ways to escape if detected, a rally point if we separated, and to settle in a close circle in the best cover so that it would be harder for V.C. patrols to stumble upon us. Every Marine was in reach of the Marine on either side to silently alert him or to wake him if he snored.
“There’s a snake in here with us,” a Marine whispered our last night in the bush. “Pass it on.” That got everyone’s attention. What kind of snake? There are about a 140 species of snakes in Vietnam and 30 are venomous. King Cobra? Bamboo viper? Krait? Rhinoceros Viper? As the ground cooled, the snake would seek warmth and a Marine body on the ground was the ideal place to find warmth.
We got up cautiously and quietly and looked at the snake. It was bigger than any snake I had seen in a zoo or circus. Should we run far enough to escape it in our dreams and settle into another harbor with snake on our minds? The Team leader wanted to take the snake back for display in the Recon shack. That meant killing it but no one wanted to get close enough to kill it with a Ka-Bar. A shot meant running at least a mile because the shot would attract attention. It was hard to pinpoint the source of a shot in the mountains and the area was supposed to be relatively safe from V.C. other than couriers or unarmed bearers but once a shot was fired all illusions of safety evaporated faster than the sound that reverberated across the valleys.
The corpsman shot the snake in the head with his .45. That was the beginning of trouble. A sturdy Marine grabbed the snake to carry it over his shoulder but the dead snake had a mind of its own. Three Marines wrestled with the snake trying to stretch it out and carry it like a corpse. That also was unacceptable to the dead but lively snake.
I’m sure the leader was thinking about debriefing. “You jeopardized the mission and the team by killing a snake to mount in the Recon shack and then you ran off and left it when you had one night and a wakeup before extraction?”
The corpsman produced a large canvas bag and it took all hands to put and keep the snake in the bag with all hands and arms free of the coils. The sturdy Marine threw the bag over his shoulder and without a word or gesture we ran after the leader keeping our interval until the sturdy Marine signaled a stop. We were going to have to take turns carrying the heavy snake. And it had bitten him through the bag and his uniform.
The snake wasn’t venomous and didn’t have fangs but it had teeth that held prey until it could squeeze the life out of it. The corpsman looked at the bleeding bites, put some ointment on them and told the sturdy Marine to report to sickbay after debriefing. All hands stretched out, held down and calmed the dead snake with whispered curses and heavy breathing until the corpsman skinned it, rolled up the hide, stuffed it in the bag and handed the bag to the nearest Marine.
We moved quietly away from the remains two or three hundred yards and went into our night harbor knowing that the remains and the smell of blood from the skin that was still with us would attract carnivores. Possibly a tiger.
Later I was told that the snake was 17-feet-long and the skin was mounted in the Force Recon Shack. To put it in perspective in April, 2017, in Indonesia a 25-year-old man was swallowed by a 23 -foot python.

I’m not Transgender

January 5, 2017

In 1964, the Dallas Theater Center’s production of my adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying to the stage was selected as the United States’ entry at the Theater of Nations Competition in Paris. Almost immediately the U.S. Ambassador to France, Chip Bolton, called to say that the French loved President Kennedy and publicity combining Dallas and “As I Lay Dying” would be seen by the French as a play about the assassination of Kennedy. The name had to be changed, he insisted. On a transatlantic telephone call I changed the name to “Journey to Jefferson”.
Jean, my late wife, and I went to Europe with the cast. We knew all of them, including “Miss Iceland’, having worked with all of them in the Dallas production. Our first landing in Europe was Brussels. Most of us immediately headed for the rest rooms. The ladies’ room was first and the men’s room a short distance away. We separated by gender and immediately came face-to-face inside. It was a large rest room and most of us looked around for our place. What we saw were young and old, male and female citizens of many nations and colors in a unisex rest room, the first we Americans had ever seen.
We were apprehensive at first but laughed about it the next day with jokes about recognizing each other by our socks. The Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923, failed in 1982 because of scare ads declaring that if the amendment passed men and women would have to use the same rest rooms. Terrifying indeed. Today there are unisex rest rooms everywhere and sometimes they are the only rest rooms.
Last summer, in Houston I saw signs asking, should men and women use the same rest rooms?, reviving the old scares that females would lose protection, families would be destroyed, young women would be drafted, traditional America would be lost. All because of transgendered people that five years ago most Americans had never heard of and most citizens still do not understand.