Spring is coming?

I’ve been seeing honey bees for about a week now and friends inform me the Pecan trees are putting off shoots.  My day-lilies have popped up as have other perennials and the Forsythia is in full bloom.  Some people swear Spring is here when Robins show themselves.  Europeans believe the cuckoo call is their first sign.  I’ve seen a Robin or two already.

Every year around this time I get fooled into thinking Spring is actually here only to encounter a couple more cold days at the end of March. I have no reason to believe this year will be any different although within me lies this little streak of optimism which says this year will be different and we have seen the last of the cold.

Early warm weather?  Late Spring?  Rainy Spring?  I am extremely interested in hearing from long time coastal residents of the signs you look for each year at this time.

Henry Ford (The saga continues)

The Bryan County News has apparently jumped into the breech in support of Col Kent and his quest to remove “A Henry Ford City” from Richmond Hill signage.

I have written on this subject before; as a matter of fact, it was exactly one year ago.  Instead of reprinting what I said then, readers can find the story at “A Henry Ford City” dated February 15, 209.
My focus this time is the editorials and news content of the Bryan County Times covering this story.  It is obvious they are fully in support of Col Kent.  This is reflected in their editorials and the slant of various stories covering Henry Ford, and in particular – his antisemitism as well as various reactions around town.

Ms Potter wrote an editorial, “Here we go again” in which she made it quite clear, through her selection of words and phrases to reflect Henry Ford in the worse possible light, she would like nothing better than to see this “offending” phrase removed.  This is acceptable as she was writing an editorial, not a news item.  What is not acceptable are blatant falsehoods.  She states, “He even traveled to Germany to personally accept an award from Hitler...”.  She goes on in the next paragraph and states, “..there are pictures that prove that meeting took place.“.

I would be delighted to know the source of Ms Potters information.  All of my research indicates the award ceremony took place in his (Henry Fords) own office.  The award was presented by the Consul stationed in Cleveland.  And the award ceremony took place in March of 1938. The date is important as it was a full 18 months before Germany invaded Poland. The award was given due to the work the Ford Motor Company German factories had done in making cars and trucks for Germany.  And the photos of the award ceremony (the real one) can easily be found by Googling it.

A prudent and reasonable person reading the two different sentences would easily draw different and opposing conclusions.   A short survey of friends and neighbors reveal seven of ten queried believe Mr Ford made that trip having heard the story before (three hadn’t heard anything of the sort).  This belief, although lamentable regarding the shortcomings of a knowledge of history are not surprising as far as it goes.  But; a newspaper editor (and part owner) of the towns local newspaper who is reporting on a local issue has a very real responsibility to “get it right”, not print Internet rumors.  A few minutes spent fact checking would have revealed the facts.

It is very easy and convenient to judge past historical figures and events based on our moral and ethical standards of 2010. If we are to strip any favorable recognition from historical figures because of some character or moral flaws found within that person, we will find ourselves shortlisted indeed.  Ideally, we can learn from their character flaws as well as their scientific, military, political, or artistic abilities.

As an additional note, if the “offending” phrase were removed from the towns signage, would that be the end of it?  According to Col Kent?  Sure, although his new supporters may not be so amiable to the solution.  Call me a skeptic , but I find it highly doubtful this would be the end of this matter, as these matters rarely come to an easy close.  We have a statue of Henry Ford in City Hall, a street named for him,  a plaza named for him, and a housing development named for Henry Ford.  They would be targeted very quickly I am sure.

Some late corrections:

Although I started this blog to make a correction, it turns out I had to make three corrections of my own when Jeff Whitten of Bryan County News responded to an E-mail.

1.  The paper is the Bryan County News; not the Bryan County Times.

2.  The medal was awarded in July of 1938 not March.  Now my sources all said July.  My notes said July.  I have absolutely no idea why I typed March.  But, I thank Mr Whitten for catching my error.

3.  Ms Potter is the “editorial director and part owner” not the “editor and part owner” as I stated.

It should also be clarified at this time, the slant I referred to as found in the news stories is actually the slant found in the columns which are found on the editorial page, but are not editorials.  There is a distinction between the two that I did not fully appreciate.

I appreciate Mr Whitten taking the time and patience to point out these errors.


Gallbladder: One mans brief journey into the Army Medical system (part 1 of 2)

Years ago, Tony Bennett sang of leaving his heart in San Francisco.  Well, My tale of leaving my gallbladder at Winn Army Hospital in Fort Stewart, Georgia isn’t romantic but it is of importance to me and its passing wasn’t one of sorrow, sweet or otherwise.  As the surgeon had stated after the surgery it was totally blocked and “rotten”.   I’m frankly glad it is gone.  Good riddance in my opinion.

This tale started towards the end of July when I was awakened from a sound sleep by stomach cramps.  I’m not talking about your “ate a couple of green apples” kind of cramps, I’m referring to the doubling over, “shove your arm down your throat, grab an organ of choice and toss it on the fire to exorcise the demons within” type of  abdominal cramps.  As it lasted only half an hour or so, it was relatively easy to pass it off as an occurrence of some kind; nothing dramatic.  After a couple more of these episodes it was starting to concern me, but no other symptoms were being displayed so I chalked it up to the recent purchase and consuming of those round chips in a can which coincidently had proceeded each of these events.  I quit eating them.  Then I had another incident followed a couple days later by the granddaddy of them.  By the time the cramping had gone on for six hours, I got cleaned up, dressed and went into the emergency room with my wife.

I checked in and was promptly shown to the triage desk where my vital signs were taken.   A few minutes later I was in a cubicle and the show started.  Within four hours I had blood samples taken, a urine sample taken, a CT scan performed, an ultrasound performed, had an EKG taken, been put on an IV with various drugs within, been issued drugs to take home, and tentatively diagnosed with gallbladder disease. In each of these steps I was treated with courtesy, respect and caring by a various member of the ER or radiology staff.  Each of these persons explained what they were doing and why and performed their duties in a professional manner while still giving me every impression they cared what they were doing and cared about me. In addition, there was a shift change shortly after my arrival.  Frankly I was impressed.

I was seen the next morning by my Primary Care Provider.  I arrived at the clinic 15 minutes earlier and was promptly escorted to the station where my vital signs were taken.  At the time of my appointment I was called and escorted to another cubicle where I soon met my Doctor for the first time.  She went over everything, performed an exam of her own and apparently agreeing with the diagnosis made an appointment with the surgeon for me.  Again, everyone was super polite, efficient, professional, and friendly.  I was given an appointment for the following week with my surgeon to discuss options and procedures.

During the time spent waiting for this appointment I did as much research as I could on this puny little organ with the capability to wreck such havoc and just what my options were.  The subject came up among my friends and on-line friends to which the general consensus was to “go civilian”.  Most of these friends had never served in the military instead relying on horror stories passed on quite apparently.  Now, I have had military medical care my entire life; growing up in the military and spending a career in the Army myself and had always been rather pleased with the care I or my family had received.

The day of my appointment arrived and again I showed up 15 minutes early only to be told shortly thereafter the surgeon had been called away to an emergency surgery.  The staff was up front with us and asked if anyone wanted to be rescheduled or if we would prefer to wait.  They kept us informed every few minutes as to the surgeons status.  When I was finally called into the surgeons office, he advised me of the findings, his conclusions and his recommendations as well as the options available.  He ensured I understood everything and answered all the questions I had as well as apologizing for being called away.  His staff set me up with a pre-op appointment and the surgery date. Everyone in this department also, was super polite, efficient, professional, and friendly. I had a warm and fuzzy feeling about everything when I left.

Over the next few days, the situation deteriorated.  The pain became constant from the time I was awake to the time I went to sleep.  The only way I was even able to sleep was due to the medications the ER had prescribed.  However, I was running out of them and no way would the meds last until my surgery.  So, with ten days to go before my surgery I called my surgeons staff and asked to speak to the surgeon about renewing the prescription.  He called back rather surprised I was taking the medicine or even needed to.  When I explained the situation he stated he would call me right back.  Within minutes he called back stating I was to fast after midnight and be in the next morning for my pre-op and surgery was scheduled for the following morning after the pre-op.

I reported to the pre-op desk the next morning to be greeted by a very friendly staff who started by having me fill out a minimum number of forms after which I was placed in a waiting room for a few minutes until I was called by the first of my appointments.  She briefed me was to what was going to occur and had me sign a few more papers.  My next appointment was with a pretty, young private who took some blood samples and performed an EKG about as smoothly and painlessly as I have ever had done.  That was followed by an interview with an incredibly friendly and outgoing anesthesiologist who asked me a gang of questions, briefed me as to the procedures which were to be used and checked me out for suitability for the laryngoscope.   She also asked if I had allergies.  The next step was to get a chest X-ray which was obtained in a matter of minutes.  I was frankly amazed at the speed and efficiency in which the x-ray was taken.  The last step was to check in with the inpatient section, I believe (although the name may be wrong). I read a few documents and signed signifying my understanding.  I read the sign on the wall stating the charges regarding various medical plans.  Contrary to popular belief, I as a military retiree do not have free medical care, which is in fact what I had been promised my entire career, particularly around re-enlistment time.  I have medical and dental premiums that I need to pay if I want any medical care; again, contrary to all promises made to me and other retirees in the past.  Again; everyone was friendly, polite, professional and caring.   I was reminded during the course of this pre-op that I was to consume no food, drink, nor tobacco after midnight.

I could see the next morning was not going to get started on the right foot at all as far as my comfort went.  But, after the dealings I had with each and every member of the staff I dealt with, I was left with no doubt in my retired military mind that I would receive excellent care while I was there.

(end of part 1)

2009 Sales Tax Holiday

As a reminder for parents and newcomers to the area who may not be familiar with Georgia’s school tax holiday, I am posting notice of the event:

Georgia provides for a sales tax exemption from both state and local sales taxes for certain items purchased July 30 – August 2, 2009.

During the sales tax holiday period, a sales tax exemption applies to purchases of tangible personal property in the following categories:

Articles of Clothing. The exemption applies to articles of clothing and footwear with a sales price of $100 or less per item.

Personal Computers. The single purchase of $1,500.00 or less of personal computers and personal computer related accessories for noncommercial home or personal use is exempt during the exemption period. Computer related accessories include keyboards, monitors, other peripheral devices, personal digital assistant, modems for Internet and network access and non-recreational software. Computer and computer related accessories do not include furniture, cellular telephones, any systems, devices, software, or peripherals designed or intended primarily for recreational use, purchases for a trade or business, or items leased or rented.

General School Supplies: Purchases of of general school supplies for use in a classroom or classroom related activity with a sales price of $20.00 or less per item are exempt during the exemption period. Purchases for use in a trade or business are not eligible for the exemption.  The exemptions are intended for an individual’s personal use. The exemptions exclude items rented, leased, purchased by businesses, or purchased for resale. The exemptions do not apply to items sold at theme parks, entertainment complexes, hotels, restaurants, and airports.

The following are a list of items on which normal tax rules still apply:

LIST OF TAXABLE GENERAL SCHOOL SUPPLIES:

Books (except children’s books, dictionaries and thesauruses)

Briefcases

Envelopes

Janitorial Supplies

Medical Supplies

Supplies used in a Trade or Business

LIST OF TAXABLE CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR ITEMS:

Accessories (generally)

Barrettes and bobby pins

Cuff Links

Hair bows, clips, nets and bands

Handbags and Purses

Handkerchiefs

Jewelry

Key Cases

Ponytail Holders

Wallets

Watchbands

Watches

Aprons

Backpacks

Bibs

Briefcases

Cloth and Lace, Knitting Yarns and Other Fabric

Clothing and Footwear (rented or leased)

Clothing or Footwear Repair Items, such as thread, buttons, patches, heels, and soles

Coin Purses

Corsages and Boutonnieres

Cosmetic Bags

Costumes

Crib Blankets

Diaper Bags

Eyewear

Fanny Packs

Garment Bags

Goggles

Hard Hats

Insoles

Key Chains

Life Jackets and Vests

Linens (sheets, blankets, etc.)

Luggage

Makeup Bags

Paint and Dust Masks

Patterns (sewing)

Personal Flotation Devices

Protective Masks and Goggles

Receiving Blankets

Rented Clothing or Footwear

Repair of Clothing or Footwear

Safety Glasses

Shaving Kits and Bags

Shoe Inserts

Suitcases

Sunglasses

Swimming Masks

Umbrellas

Wallets

Watchbands

Water Vests (life and ski)

Wigs, Hair Extensions, Toupees and Chignons

LIST OF TAXABLE COMPUTER AND COMPUTER ACCESSORIES:

Action Games

Adventure Games

Batteries (regular)

CD/DVD (music, voice or pre-recorded)

Cellular Telephones or any other devices, including PDAs, allowing for voice communication

Computer Bags

Computer Games

Computers for Recreation (games and toys)

Controllers

Copy Machines

Digital Cameras

Game Systems and Consoles

Games

Gaming Software

Joy Sticks

LCD/Plasma Televisions

MP3 Players or accessories

Music Download Software

Notebook Backpack

Personal Digital Assistant Carrying Case

Projectors and Cases

Rented Computers or Computer Accessories

Repair of Computers or Computer Accessories

Role Playing Games

Software (games and entertainment)

Sports Games

Strategy Games

Surge Protectors

Videogames

Videogame Devices

Frequently asked questions and answers can be located at the Georgia Department of Revenue site.

Happy Fourth of July

Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?

Here are two reasons:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records,for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise;the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations,which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America,in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War,conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

courtesy of US History.org

and:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The remainder of the US Constitution can be read at US Constitution.net along with the amendments.  It is well worth reading in these trying political times.

How is our Constitutional Republic safeguarded?

and


Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

The Cable Company

My next door neighbor and I were sitting around talking last night when the subject of “The Cable Company” came up.  He was relating some of his experiences dealing with “The Cable Company” at his last duty assignment on the West Coast and they seemed to mirror most experiences I have had when dealing with them; no matter where I have been.  It seems when you are the only company in town offering a given product, you seem to have a license to conduct business pretty much however you like.

Last year I wrote a column for my blog concerning some of my experiences with The Cable Company.

I’ve just received a visit from a representative of the local cable company asking if I was interested in their services. Having “fired” them years ago, I told him no thank you, and sent him on his way.  As I stood out on the front porch burning a quick one before heading back inside I got to thinking about the reasons I threw them out of my house to start with and decided I would write about it.

When I returned from Germany back in 1992 and moved into a new house, I did what most people did at that time predating satellite services and subscribed to cable TV.  Right off the bat, they had to start off on the wrong foot by giving me a date almost two weeks out to come out and “turn on” the services.  It was an all day affair.  No, just the waiting-not the actual turn-on, that took mere minutes.

Now, I am a TV fan.  Unlike many people who deny even owning a TV set, or when pushed will admit to owning one, but only watch PBS, National Geographic, and CNN, I watch TV.  It is almost always on.  I watch cartoons, History Channel, Food Network, HGTV, etc.  But, this isn’t the point.

We had problems almost immediately with The Cable Company.  When it rained, the service would disappear for hours.  One time it was off for a full week.  Of course I went in and complained and was told the weather created problems and I would have to live with it.  Ah well, ok, then I shouldn’t have to pay for that particular week or those days when I couldn’t access the service.  The nice lady told me they billed by the month, not the day.  When asked why I payed more in March or April then in February, I was told it was because there were more days in those months.  The nice lady failed to note the incongruity of her statement.

Later on, I saw advertisements on the TV about channels that were available, but I did not have.  The ads said to contact your cable company.  Excellent.  I dropped by their office and asked about a couple of channels I was interested in.  The nice lady said, “You can’t have them”.  They were not being offered in our area.  I asked why and was informed the FCC would only license The Cable Company for so many channels.  OK.  The government gets involved in our lives in strange ways sometimes so it was possible, so  I called the number listed in the Yellow Pages and was told by the gentleman at the other end that was basically patent nonsense.  I make another trip to see the nice lady and she brings me in to see the manager who spends about 15 minutes explaining something about channel banks and subscriptions to the various independent channels.  The upshot was that I wasn’t going to see the channels I wanted.  I decided I would live with it as they were the only game in town short of no TV and watching only VHS movies.

Fast forward again to an advertising campaign run by The Cable Company introducing a new product line; subscription radio.  Armed with the brochure placed in my mail box and addressed to me personally, I went back to see the nice lady to tell her the service sounded great.  Commercial free music that I actually enjoyed listening to. She said, “You can’t have it”.  The town West of us (Hinesille) was getting it as was the city to the North (Savannah) of us, but our town wasn’t.  Why send me the ad?  Because I was a good customer.

Now, satellite service has come to town in the way of Primestar.  Excellent.  I subscribed and tossed the cable company out.  I was real happy with Primestar and I wasn’t even put out when they were bought by Direct TV.  We lived well together with the occasional outage if a storm got between my dish and the Western facing satellite.  Of course here in Coastal Georgia, virtually all storms come in from the West, so certain times of the year we will have sporadic outages of a few minutes to 15 minutes.

Sometime, years later The Cable Company offers a deal; cable broadcasting of our local channels.  The monthly price was very reasonable, so against my better judgment I subscribe.  We actually got along quite well with this modified relationship for a few years until Direct TV received approval to broadcast local channels themselves.  Eliminating duplicate service, I again canceled The Cable Company.

Fast forward to last year (2007).  I open my mail one day and read a letter from an attorney working for a collection company in Tennessee informing me this company is taking me to court, on behalf of The Cable Company, for 70 odd dollars.  Allegedly this is due to the non-return of some kind of equipment when I canceled my account a few years back.  I call the nice lady at The Cable Company, which by now is a totally different company that I had ever dealt with and ask her if she can explain the details of the problem.  She dutifully looks it up and states I failed to return some equipment.  I, of course, inform her I never had said equipment only subscribing to the very basic package of the five local channels and could she please look into it.  She checks with the warehouse-no records.  She checks with shipping/delivery/installation-no records.  As a matter of fact there are no records of this transaction anywhere except one computer entry stating “it” was never returned.  She states she will look further into it, but everything would sure be easier if I would just submit a check for the stated amount.  I allowed as it probably would-for them.

The following two weeks see two more letters and a couple of phone calls from the collection agency wanting to settle before the court date.  I finally decided to run a bluff, knowing I never had the equipment in question.  I called the collection agency and informed the gentleman at the other end of the conversations held by the nice lady and what we had come up with; ie, no records of anything.  I informed him my attorney stated if they wanted to take me to court on that basis, then by all means proceed.  He asked me to hold for a few minutes, then came back on the line and stated they were washing their hands of the matter and I would receive a letter in a few days stating so.  I did.  I then called the nice lady at The Cable Company and told her the same thing as well as telling her the collection company had dropped the issue.  She asked me to hold for a few minutes and put me on with a manager (different one then before).  He stated they were also dropping the “case”.  I told him there was no “case”, I wanted a letter of apology and exoneration for even putting me through this, much less tossing me to the collection wolves.  They did send a letter stating my invoice was clear.  Thats all.  No apology.  No mention of the fact I never had a freaking invoice with The Cable Company.  So being my normal cantankerous self with a low tolerance when dealing with stupid people and inert companies,  I filed a written complaint with everyone remotely concerned with his affair; starting with The Cable Company, The City of Hinesville (The Cable Company’ location), Better Business Bureau, FCC, etc…

As an aside, I don’t even have service through The Cable Company and I still have to put up with ugly green boxes belonging to The Cable Company on my front lawn.

I hope your dealings with your local cable company are somewhat better.  And I hope The Cable Company representative has better luck with the rest of this street as it really isn’t his fault he works for evil incarnate.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

The Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2009

“Cracker” ;  a pejorative (term of abuse or ethnic slur) term for a white person, mainly used in the Southern United States,  according to Wikipedia “Cracker” has been used among African Americans like Malcolm X and Black Panther Party during the Civil rights movement and is considered an anti-white ethnic slur among African Americans.  This is the term applied to supporters of Governor Sonny Perdue by columnist Bill Shipp in his column “Sonny snaps out of it” found in the Bryan County News (May 20 2009), when he referred to  the Governors “disgruntled cracker followers”.  (I was quoting the paper copy.  The link goes to The Monticello News which carried the same column as I can’t find the column on line from the Bryan County News.)

I had stated in a previous column I did not particularly care to respond to individual columnists.  In the case of Mr. Shipp I am making an exception.  Every time he writes a racial slur, a cultural stereotype, or other assorted terms of abuse, I will write about it.  I find it inappropriate for a syndicated columnist being carried by the Bryan County News-or any newspaper to use these stereotypes or slurs.

After six paragraphs slapping the Governor around a bit, Mr. Shipp apparently gets to the subject of the column; The Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2009.  As the bill was favorable to business and would actually leave some tax dollars in business and consumers hands, Mr. Shipp was of course against passage of this legislation.

The six provisions in the JOBS Act are contained in two bills, HB 481 and HB 482.

1.       $500 credit on unemployment tax to any business who hires someone currently on unemployment compensation for at least 60 days prior.

2.       Income tax credit for any business who keeps a previously unemployed employee for 24 months.

3.       Business start up holiday, exempting new startups from all state government fees to stimulate entrepreneurship.

4.       Eliminate inventory tax on businesses. This requires a referendum, thus the separate bill.

5.       Eliminate sales tax deposits, which are prepayments on projected sales.

6.       Gradual elimination of corporate tax, beginning in 2012, complete in 2023.

In the present time of 8.5% unemployment rate and a slowly recovering economy, allowing businesses to keep some of their money and use it to hire workers and increase inventory seems like a no brainer.

Encouraging the hiring of new workers through tax credits is a super idea which would permit businesses to grow while eliminating some of the 400,000 Georgians from the unemployment rolls. Same with the new ss4 online program.  Encouraging new businesses to start up and grow through the use of a tax holiday again seems like an idea which would work creating wealth and a growing business class.   The inventory tax is a tax that should have disappeared a long time ago.  Georgia is one of 14 states which consider a business’s inventory of goods as property and taxes it as such.  A tax is again paid on this merchandise when it is sold.  Item six calls for the gradual elimination of the corporate tax, which in Georgia is a flat 6% based on the corporation’s net income.

When it comes to the elimination of taxes or fees paid by any corporation or business, a point that must be considered is they pay no taxes or fees; the consumer pays them in the form of higher costs at the register.  This is a hidden cost of government.  The consumer is paying a large amount of taxes and is not consciously aware of it.  When citizens want to increase taxes and fees on businesses and corporation; they are in effect asking to be taxed at a higher rate themselves.

H.R. 481 and 482 both passed legislation, but Governor Perdue vetoed the bills when they hit his desk.  This is the cause of Mr. Shipps gloating.  Mr. Shipp however fails to mention Governor Perdue said May 11 he vetoed the bill because Georgia constitutionally is required to maintain a balanced budget.

“For every dollar in decreased revenue, we must correspondingly cut expenditures,” Perdue said. “We cannot deficit spend as the federal government does, even if those deficits generate economic growth in the long term.”

He did, however, call the bill “well-meaning” in intent.  If I were the Governor, I would send the bill back to be rewritten to take effect in 2010 when the budget is not halfway through a fiscal year.

Again, Mr. Shipp plays on class warfare and envy to make this bill sound as if it were written for the intent of making all the “rich people” richer.  Somehow, he comes up with the figure, “richest one percent of the state’s taxpayers would receive 75% of the benefits”.

What is this one percent and how much do they pay in taxes?  This latest IRS data is shown in Table 1.  It shows that the top 1% of income earners now pay 40% of federal income taxes, while earning 22% of income. The top 5% pay 60% of income taxes while earning 37% of income. The bottom 50% of income earners pays only 3% of federal income taxes.

Internal Revenue Service data, 2006

Share of federal Income taxes         Adjusted Gross Income

Top 1%                            40%                                         22%

Top 5%                            60%                                         37%

Top 10%                          71%                                         47%

Top 25%                          86%                                         68%

Top 50%                          97%                                        87.5%

Bottom 50%                      3%                                       12.5%

Furthermore, the bottom 40% of income earners pays nothing.

Why this major thrust to redistribute the wealth?  To create an artificial playing field?  The business owner is the person taking the risk; taking out loans, saving their money, borrowing off of relatives and credit cards to open a business and keep it running by working 12-16 hour days until it is operating reasonably smooth.  The business owner is the one putting up the costs of licenses, fees, insurance, and goods.  They are the ones paying the unemployment insurance, workman comp, matching social security, security bonds, etc.  When a business folds, the owner is the one who loses; the employee can (sometimes with difficulty) find another job.  Why does our government continue to “punish” those who succeed?  The “progressive” tax code we now have which is confiscatory in nature does just that.  It rewards failure and punishes success.

When elements of this tax system are questioned or an attempt is made to change the code, the Bill Shipps of this country will always be in the forefront of the fight to “sock it to the rich and business”, all the while apparently never realizing the taxes he is applauding right now are actually a regressive tax which hits the poor harder when the costs of doing business are passed on to the consumer by business.

Memorial Day

 

Memorial Day-the holiday observed by Americans to remember….. and honor those who have given their lives in military service to their country.

As we traditionally use this day to unofficially celebrate the start of Summer by grilling and going to the beach, let us take a few minutes at 3 pm and remember why we have this day of observance and remember the sacrifices these young men and women have made.

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

Canadian Army

 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

courtesy of  Arlington Cemetery    

 

President Obama has made his Memorial Day speech.  I am including the link to it as he is the Commander in Chief, but I wish he cared enough to actually learn just what the purpose of Memorial Day was and he had addressed the actual holiday.

Obama: Honor Veterans This Memorial Day

A response to Mr. Shipp “editorialist”

I don’t normally respond to individual columnists, but the last column by Mr Shipp in the Bryan County News (Keep America First; 6 May-Bryan County News) has to be responded to.

The entire gist of the column seems to be “those traiterous Republicans want to jump ship now a Democrat is in office”.  He first trots out as evidence a speech given by Texas Governor Rick Perry preaching secession and follows it up with our own Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine “having a team of researchers working on schemes to declare our independence and bid adios to old D.C.”.  Where did he come up with this information?  The first came from a speech given by the Texas Governor to a “Tea Party” rally in which he stated, “… There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”  Governor Perry had in recent days asserted states’ rights under the 10th Amendment and denounced Washington for overstepping authority. He had said earlier in the speech, “Washington needs to hear us loud and clear,” said Perry, who wore a khaki jacket and a hunting cap. “Cut the spending, cut the taxes, shrink the government.  And reread the Constitution.”  Dangerous talk? No and it was hardly treasonous.  And what were the remarks Oxendine had made saying he favored secession?  “If Governor, I would support legislation which puts Georgia on record as affirming our sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States and which would serve as notice and demand the federal government, as our agent, cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers. Additionally, I would support legislation which states all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.”  

Again, nothing dangerous to the American way of thinking; Oxendine merely wants the Federal government to follow the constitution as does Perry.

Does he offer any further proof of his allegations?  Yes.  He offers as the final proof a poll conducted for a “progressive” blog called the Daily Kos which apparently stated a third of Georgians want to leave the union while 38% of Texans say the same.  

QUESTION: Would you approve or disapprove of Georgia leaving the United States?

                             APPROVE DISAPPROVE NOT:SURE

ALL                            18           76                6

MEN                           21           74                5

WOMEN                     15           78                7

DEMOCRATS                5           89                6

REPUBLICANS            32            63                5

INDEPENDENTS          14           79                7

QUESTION: Do you think Georgia would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America.

                          US     IND     NOT:SURE

ALL                    68       27         5

MEN                   54      32          4

WOMEN              72      22          6

DEMOCRATS      88        8          4

REPUBLICANS     52       43         5

INDEPENDENTS  61       33          6

Demographic

MEN                               287    48%

WOMEN                         313    52%

DEMOCRATS                  246    41%

REPUBLICANS                 258    43%

INDEPENDENTS/OTHE     96    16%

18-29                             78    13%

30-44                           174    29%

45-59                           210    35%

60+                               138    23%

WHITE                            419    69%

BLACK                           168    28%

HISPANIC                        12     2%

OTHER                             6     1%

QUESTION: Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Rick Perry’s suggestion that Texas may need to leave the United States? 

                                 APPROVE  DISAPPROVE NOT SURE

ALL                             37                  58            5

MEN                            42                  54            4

WOMEN                      32                   62            6

DEMOCRATS               16                  80            4

REPUBLICANS              51                  44            5

INDEPENDENTS           43                  50            7

QUESTION: Do you think Texas would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America?

                                US      IND    NOT SURE

ALL                          61        35        4

MEN                         57        39        4

WOMEN                   65        31        4

DEMOCRATS           82        15         3

REPUBLICANS          48        48         4

INDEPENDENTS       55        40         5

(I’m not sure where Mr Shipps statistic of 38% of Texans comes from, the printed number is 48%.)

Demographics

MEN                                   288    48%

WOMEN                             312    52%

DEMOCRATS                     199    33%

REPUBLICANS                    234    39%

INDEPENDENTS/OTHER    167    28%

18-29                              102    17%

30-44                             204    34%

45-59                               96    16%

WHITE                             390    65%

BLACK                              77    13%

HISPANIC                        115    19%

OTHER                             18     3%

Source: dKos

Of interest:

The Research 2000 Georgia Poll was conducted from April 27 through April 29, 2009. A total of 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections were interviewed statewide by telephone.  Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was utilized in order to ensure an accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect the voter registration of distribution by county.

The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus 4% percentage points. This means that there is a 95 percent probability that the “true” figure would fall within that range if the entire population were sampled. The margin for error is higher for any subgroup, such as for gender or party affiliation.

For those who may think Research 2000 actually lives up to their claim of being non-partisan a reader would have only to look at the company web page in which the lead story is a “hit piece” on Rush Limbaugh.  In fact, their major listed client is Daily Kos.  The remaining articles on their site consists mostly of Obama success polls and dismal Republican polls.  So, I’m not sure they are quite as non-partisan as they claim.

For the last eight years I have listened and read far worse than this, all the while being told “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” which Sen Kerry falsly attributed to Thomas Jefferson.  I have seen this on bumper stickers, blogs and even heard Democrat politicians spout it off when slamming President Bush and his administration.  During both presidential campaigns when President Bush was running, I heard far too many entertainers threaten to move away from the country if Bush won.  To my knowledge, none did.  Daily, I read some of the most appalling criticism of the Bush administration.  Some writers were even wishing Bush, Cheney, et al dead on a rather alarming basis.  Mr Shipp has conveniently forgotten this seeming to believe for the last eight years there was absolutely no partisanship being played by the Democrats or their electorate.

Mr Shipp then plays a great finishing act with the quote “as soon as I finish this column, I think I’ll look up a Federal judge to advise me on how to round up these America haters.  We ought to send most of them back where they or their forebears came from, but Ireland and Scotland probably don’t want them either.”  Nice.  Not even a thought of re-education camps first-just immediate expulsion?  And an assumption all of the above respondents were of Irish and Scottish descent?  This isn’t his first slip with bigotry and stereotyping.  His last column (In wake of shooting; 29 April, Bryan County News) alluded to Southerners having AK-47s under their beds, then goes on to snidely state, “Guns are us. In the South, you’re not a man if you don’t own a gun or two or three”.  

His contempt for the constitution was already apparent when he stated in the same article he didn’t expect any action to come from the Athens shooting, “…just more hot air about Second Amendment rights…”.  From my readings of Mr Shipp, I get the impression that is his take on the entire constitution-just more hot air.

PFC James Champion

Thirty eight years ago a young Army Ranger Private First Class was reported missing in action while on a long range Reconnaissance mission in the A Shau Valley, Republic of South Vietnam.  This is his story:

On 8 February 1971, South Vietnamese President Thieu announced Lam Son 719, a large-scale offensive against enemy communications and supply lines in that part of Laos adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The mission was to interdict the flow of supplies from North Vietnam. The South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) would provide and command ground forces, while US forces would provide airlift and supporting fire. Phase I, renamed Operation Dewey Canyon II, involved an armored attack by the US from Vandegrift Base Camp toward Khe Sanh, while the ARVN moved into position for the attack across the Laotian border. Phase II began with an ARVN helicopter assault and armored brigade thrust along Route 9 into Laos. ARVN ground troops were transported by American helicopters, as the US Air Force provided cover strikes around the landing zones.

After Lam Son, the ARVN all but abandoned western I Corps and the demilitarized zone (DMZ), thereby yielding immense areas to the communists. Ominously, in April Special Operations teams discovered a new road coming out of Laos just north of the A Shau Valley, pointed dangerously toward the populated coastal plain north of Hue. They uncovered the NVA making massive improvements to an existing road pointed directly at the DaNang area. Heavy NVA forces made penetrations all but impossible, and it was as if a curtain were being lowered to conceal their activities.

On 23 April 1971, then PFC James A. Champion and PFC Isaako F. Malo were riflemen assigned to a six-man radio relay team on a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) being inserted into the infamous A Shau Valley to report on NVA activity. After receiving intense enemy ground fire at their primary landing zone (LZ) on the west side of the valley, the team was inserted into their alternate LZ near the village of A Luoi on the east side of it.

The LZ was located in the west side of the mountain range that overlooked the east side of the valley. It was also situated between two peaks in what is commonly referred to as a “saddle” approximately 1 mile southeast of the NVA’s new road and 2 miles northwest of a river that flowed along the east side of the jungle covered A Shau Valley. This new road ran east-west where it entered South Vietnam north of the A Shau Valley, then ran from the northwest to the southeast along the east side of the valley where it ran next a river that flowed through it. Roughly two-thirds of the way through the valley, the road turned sharply to the northeast where it headed directly toward Hue. The LZ was also located approximately 6 miles northwest of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, 22 miles southwest of Hue, 44 miles southeast of Khe Sanh and 58 miles west-northwest of DaNang, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.

The NVA’s new road was a major addition to the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

After disembarking from the helicopters at 1500 hours, the radio relay team leader, Marvin Duren, took the point position. Shortly after the team began to move away from the LZ, he was severely wounded by enemy automatic weapons fire, grenade and rifle fire. The team’s alternate team leader, John Sly, took command of the patrol. He was hit by enemy fire and killed in a heroic attempt made by the team medic and himself to drag Marvin Duren out of the line of fire.

CWO Fred Behrens, an experienced Medevac helicopter pilot, volunteered to fly the emergency extraction mission to rescue the wounded soldiers, as well as the rest of the team. CWO Behrens volunteered for this mission because he felt his chance of success to extract the team from this hot LZ were better than other less experienced pilots. During his second attempt to extract John Sly his helicopter was shot down. The 4-man aircrew found themselves on the ground with the LRRP team fighting for their lives. Shortly thereafter in the continuing attempts to rescue the embattled Americans, a second helicopter was shot down by the vicious enemy ground fire. The Aero Rifle Platoon, which was being brought in as reinforcements, was forced to withdraw under intense ground fire and regroup. Over the next three days the intense battle around the downed aircraft continued.

At the same time the battle was raging on the ground, a search and rescue (SAR) operation was in full swing to recover both downed aircrews and the radio relay LRRP team. The SAR effort employed both a wide range of ground and air assets.

On 24 April, the Americans on the ground were widely dispersed around their defensive position on the LZ and were engaged in vicious combat with NVA forces. US airstrikes were called in nearly upon themselves in order to force enemy troops away from the American’s perimeter. During one of these airstrikes, PFC Malo was wounded by shrapnel from a close-in air strike made by a US Cobra gunship. At approximately 1600 hours on 24 April, Issako Malo disappeared. When the others realized he was gone, they searched the immediate area as best they could while notifying SAR personnel of the situation.

.At approximately 1500 hours on 25 April, PFC James Champion was armed with an M-16 rifle and in good shape when he left the team’s defensive perimeter next to one of the downed helicopters to look for water.  After being rescued, Fred Behrens reported he heard shots coming from the direction PFC Champion headed, but could not provide any additional information as to PFC Champion’s fate.

A reaction force from Company L, 75 Infantry was finally inserted into the area and successfully drove the NVA elements away from the embattled American position. The survivors and the dead were evacuated. No one ever told the survivors the size of the enemy force they came up against; however, it was a large enough force to warrant an Arclight strike by B-52 bombers.

From the time both Rangers failed to return to the landing zone through 30 April, an intense and protracted series of ground and aerial searches were made for them. On 25-28 April, a psychological warfare operations aircraft was used to make broadcasts calling for the two soldiers to return to the landing zone for pickup. Unfortunately, neither one came to the LZ. At the time the formal search was terminated, James Champion and Issako Malo were listed Missing in Action.

Later information was received by US intelligence confirming that Issako Malo had been captured and his status was changed from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War. After his release from captivity on 27 March 1973 during Operation Homecoming, PFC Malo stated to his debriefers that he became separated from the other Americans and managed to evade capture until the morning of 25 April. After capture, the NVA moved him north and he was eventually imprisoned in North Vietnam. Further, he reported that at no time during his imprisonment did he see or have any contact with PFC Champion.

If James Champion died during this loss incident, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. Likewise, there is no doubt the enemy could return his remains any time they had the desire to do so. However, if he survived, there is no question he would have been captured by the same NVA troops who captured Issako Malo, and his fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served. 
If you ever have a chance to see the Vietnam Memorial Wall or if the Moving Wall comes to your town, you will find SSG Champions name on Panel 03W Line 008.  Think of him and remember him and all the other young men and women who went off to serve their country and never returned.

1SG David Bowman, US Army, retired.