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BARACK OBAMA / 35 YEARS AGO

BARACK OBAMA / 35 YEARS AGOBARACK OBAMA / 35 YEARS AGO **
(** See note at end of post.)

“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” President Obama July 19, 2013

Mr. President … Kelton Rena Turner could have been you – 40 years ago.

Marine Private First Class Turner was with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division.
He is among the last Americans to be killed during the Vietnam War.

In early 1975, when U.S. troops were pulled out of Southeast Asia … Vietnamese communist troops began capturing one city after another, Hue, Da Nang and finally Saigon. In Cambodia, the communist Khmer Rouge had captured the capital city of Phnom Penh.
May 12, the Khmer Rouge seized the U.S. merchant ship MAYAGUEZ and took the 39 seamen on board prisoner.
President Ford ordered U.S forces to rescue the men.

On May 15, PFC Turner was on board a CH53A chopper along with the 2 Air Force pilots, 23 other Marines and 2 Navy Corpsmen.
As they approached the landing zone, the chopper was hit by a rocket, crashed into the sea and exploded. The survivors had to swim farther out into the ocean to avoid enemy fire from the island. 12 on board were rescued; the others were listed as Killed in Action.

Among the KIA: PFC Turner. He died exactly two months from his July 15 birthday.
In 1995, his remains and others were returned to the U.S.
In 2000, PFC Turner was positively identified.
He never got to see his 19th birthday.
He never got to marry and raise a family.
He never got to see a black man elected to the White House.
With PFC Turner … like so many others … of all colors … killed or lost in war, we will never know what he could have contributed to our country.
We do know that he paid the highest price possible for our nation.

So, Mr. President when you talk about Trayvon Martin … keep in mind that if you had been born 5 years earlier and had enlisted in the Marines, PFC Kelton Rena Turner … could have been you.

(** I waited this long to post any remarks on what President Obama said as he again linked himself to the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case. That’s because I wanted those words to have more time to sink into the public consciousness and be debated, countered, accepted or even praised … depending on your viewpoint. Now, you have my perspective on the President’s statement, and I am planning on taking a closer look at some of his other remarks from that same news conference.)

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THE BOSTON BOMBER … BLOODIED, NOT SO CUTE

THE BOSTON BOMBER … BLOODIED, NOT SO CUTEI want to call your attention to Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer with the Massachusetts State Police – though now he is now reportedly, relieved of duty, not yet fired, but ordered to not talk to reporters.

Sgt. Murphy was so upset with how Rolling Stone magazine glamorized Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev … that he released never before public pictures of Tsarnaev’s arrest.

In providing Boston Magazine with the pictures, Sgt. Murphy is quoted as saying: As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty.

Amen! Amen! Amen!

So, now this officer who like other Americans was so angry with Rolling Stone … could now be punished for his bravery and exercising his First Amendment Rights.

True, his pictures are police property and could be used in a trial, but the pictures show the coward that took part in the bombing as he crawled from under a boat cover.

Tsarnaev … not so macho looking … not so “cover page” model as we saw on Rolling Stone.

I praise Sgt. Murphy and know many of you will … and we will closely monitor what happens to him for his courageous act.

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SOLID PROOF: NO NEED FOR VOTER I.D.

That headline is correct … if you are trying to commit voter fraud.

A 58 year old Cincinnati poll worker is sentenced to 5 years in prison for voter fraud; she faced 12 years after pleading no contest to four counts.

Melowese Richardson boasted that she voted twice in last November’s presidential election … but she claims that she has a good defense. I’ll get to that later.

Originally, Richardson was charged with repeatedly voting illegal over 3 elections using the names of others … including her sister who has been in a coma for a decade.

She also used the name of her granddaughter; when the granddaughter was asked what she thought of the fraud, she replied, “It wasn’t a big deal.”

WASN’T A BIG DEAL?

That statement burns me up. No, using my voter ID is no different than using my car to go to the store, or using my hairbrush. That’s such a careless attitude about a basic privilege — and creates a “culture” of such indifference … unless you try to force Voter ID. Then you are accused of trying to take away “my voting rights”.
Voter ID is absolutely necessary to help prevent this kind of cheating at the polls … but too many start crying they would be disenfranchised, and it’s too hard to get a Voter ID — even if provided free and at multiple locations.

Those against Voter ID will always find some complaint, and most often, it hinges on claims of racism.

I would think African-American, Hispanic or other minorities who have legal rights to vote would welcome protections to make sure that their vote was safe from others “stealing” elections and voiding votes …especially in local elections.

During the Jim Crow era, illiteracy tests and poll taxes were used to deny citizens the vote, but the 24th Amendment ended those unfair burdens in January 1964.

This is 2013, and if Voter IDs are free and easily available, then you should have to have one to vote.

There are many other cases where you have to show an ID … to check out a library book, to get a fishing license, to get a job, to buy liquor, to collect on a big lottery ticket and numerous other instances. So, there is no reason to say that Voter ID is an unfair burden.

Judge Robert Ruehlman told Richardson, “You were the lifeguard, to make sure the system was conducted fairly, the greatest system on earth, the free election system. — Your job was to make sure it was conducted fairly, but what did you do? You used this position of lifeguard, this position of trust to vote illegally.”

But as I said in the beginning, Richardson had a defense.

To begin with, she cited her 25 years as a poll worker. (Now that fact scares me; how many times did she get away with fraud in the past?)

And if that’s not enough, she basically said, that what she did … didn’t change anything.

She said, “ I knew way before November 7 that Obama would win.”

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DRONE DOWN … AGAIN

DRONE DOWN … AGAINThis is not good news.

No, let me correct that statement, this is fearful news.

A U.S. military drone from Tyndall AFB believed to be a QF-4 exploded in flames and a black cloud of smoke.

The incident shut down Highway 98 west of Panama City in the Florida Panhandle.

Eyewitnesses say the drone “came in hard and fast” before it crashed.
Reportedly, the drone was carrying a small, self-destruct charge and “had to be destroyed for safety considerations during its return to base following a routine operation.”

Just last week, the military had to push a “destroy” button on another drone over the Gulf of Mexico.

So, what is going on?

Previously, a drone has gone down while monitoring piracy off the East Africa; Iran claims it shot down an RQ-170 drone, but the U.S. says Iran was not responsible for the drone’s destruction.

There’s been speculation that a computer virus is infecting drones and/or drone control systems.

A source supposedly familiar with the infection has been quoted as saying, “We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back. — We think it’s benign, but we just don’t know.”

So, is someone (or country) infecting the drones only to destroy them, or at least get them to deviate from course, so protocol mandates destruction?
Is someone (or country) actually trying to control the drones and use them against targets of choice or capture drones, land them and load them with warheads?

The Air Force declined to comment directly on the virus.
Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis is a spokesman for Air Combat Command which oversees drones and other AF tactical aircraft. He said, “We generally do not discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats, or responses to our computer networks, since that helps people looking to exploit or attack our systems to refine their approach …We invest a lot in protecting and monitoring our systems to counter threats and ensure security, which includes a comprehensive response to viruses, worms, and other malware we discover.

On top of all this, a recent report claims that a significant number of operators controlling drones in war zones are suffering, “clinical distress … anxiety, depression or stress severe enough to affect an operator’s job performance.”

There’s no doubt that drones can be effective in war, not risking pilots when unmanned craft can do the job.
Drones have been used to monitor our borders, and the FBI has admitted using drones in some surveillance programs over U.S. soil.
In some cases, state and local police want drones to spot drug traffic, search for missing children, provide intel to SWAT teams; environmentalists want them to count endangered species; oil companies want them to survey pipelines.

It’s estimated government and commercial use of drones could be in the 89 billion dollar range in the next decade.
Congress has directed the FAA to come up with safety regulations clearing the way for routine domestic use of unmanned aircraft within the next three years.

Based on all these interests, our skies could be filled with drones … like a swarm of mosquitoes.

Maybe the drones will perform as intended.
Maybe the drones will be violating civil rights. A recent survey found 1/3 of Americans questioned fear the drones will be unconstitutionally invading their privacy.
Maybe the drones will be out of control or under villainous control … crashing into planes, office buildings, schools.

Look! In the sky! It’s a bird, a plane … a drone!

Do you smile and say, good?
Do you run and hide?
Do you … run for cover?

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BOSTON BOMBER 

BOSTON BOMBER Rolling Stone magazine has Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover … appearing like a teenage heart throb – a rock star, a movie star, a nice guy.

The fact is … he is a deadly killer.

As I’ve said before — after the bombings, the execution of a police officer sitting in his car, throwing bombs at pursuing police … in my opinion Tsarnaev is NOT a suspect … he IS A KILLER.

So, now comes Rolling Stone with a full feature article titled: The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.

Wow, that just makes me feel so bad that I’ve been so hard on him. Let me apologize for my insensitive remarks and condemnation.

I’ll put an apology — the end of this post, but first, let me say, clearly, there are factors in all our lives which shape our actions.

Family or lack of family is one of the biggest influences as we develop.

For those of us who had loving, instructive and corrective parents, we can have a hard time understanding what it would be like to be denied that relationship.

I don’t doubt that Tsarnaev The Bomber might have been “created” by his parental, sibling and religious influences.

But here’s the break in that theory.

I know many loving, caring, successful men and women and teens who have come from a traumatic upbringing. By the Grace of God, support of others or their own determination they were not going to be forever shackled by harmful acts of their parents, siblings and others.

A pastor once told me: There are cases where bad kids come out of good families and there are cases where good kids come out of bad families, but those are exceptions.

Maybe there was a time when Tsarnaev could have saved himself, but he was too weak, too indecisive, too willing to please despite the cost or maybe at a time when he was just … too little to do anything but follow.

There’s no way to truly know the dynamics behind closed doors at his house or behind his eyes.

There are things to “explain” what he became, but there’s nothing to “excuse” what he did.

There certainly is no excuse for what Rolling Stone did with the cover photo … making Tsarnaev look like such a “nice boy” … someone you might like if your daughter brought him home for dinner.

When I look at the picture, I see … bloodied bodies torn apart by Tsarnaev bombs. I see dead and walking wounded. I see first responders rushing in to help, despite the possibility of another explosion.

So, here is my apology for what I’ve said about Tsarnaev before he was so glamorized by Rolling Stone.

First, to my followers, I apologize … for showing the Rolling Stone picture, but I did it only to illustrate why I’m so angry.

Then, for Tsarnaev, I apologize … for nothing I said in the past or present about you.

I will say that I am sorry … that your bombs did not blow up in your faces before you and your twisted brother put them at the feet of innocent victims.

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THE DEATH OF DARIUS SIMMONS

“Justice can not be for one side alone, but must be for both.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

In Milwaukee, another trial is underway where a black teen is shot and killed by a white man.

In this case, the victim is 13, and the 76 year old shooter is charged with First Degree Intentional Homicide.

Unlike the Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman case … evidence in this case includes video.

May 2012, John Henry Spooner shot his neighbor, Darius Simmons. Spooner says the teen had been breaking into his home to steal guns.
Spooner had a surveillance camera and it shows him walking out of his house to confront Simmons.

The boy’s mother was standing on her porch next door, and she claims that Spooner accused her son of burglary and said he would teach him not to steal, then fired into his chest. Spooner also fired a second shot, but missed.

Wounded, Simmons fled from the view of the camera and collapsed as his mother rushed to him and says that she held her child as he took his last breath.

One of the Milwaukee officers responding testified that as he was handcuffing Spooner, the man said, “Yeah, I shot him.” Later in the squad car, officers say Spooner commented that he had reached his breaking point and his house had been burglarized two days earlier

Spooner said he knew Simmons was a member of the black family that moved in next door and had caused nothing but trouble.
Previously, police had responded to a burglary report and found two windows broken and Spooner claimed four shotguns were missing.

In that instance, police did view surveillance footage from Spooner’s home, and the video showed two different black teenage males coming from the area of Simmons’ home and moving toward Spooner’s house. The images were not clear, and they did not appear to be holding any guns.

The defense conceded that Spooner fired the fatal bullet, but is asking the jury to decide whether Spooner intended to kill Simmons and whether Spooner was suffering from mental illness which prevented him from knowing right from wrong at the time.
Many will say the “mental illness” defect is a bogus defense, but it is somewhat stronger by the fact that the shooter is 76. That argument that can get the charges reduced which may be the only thing the defense can hope for in this case.

So, again, we have a case of a white man shooting to death a black teen … and this shooting was captured on video.

The shooting is not defensible under the Castle Doctrine as it took place outside Spooner’s home, and Stand Your Ground Defense is not applicable as video showed Spooner was not under direct threat.

In my opinion, Spooner had no reason to shoot Darius Simmons.

I don’t make that statement based on the fact that Simmons was black or that Spooner is white.

My opinion is based on the facts as I know them.

“I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”
Malcolm X

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AN AMERICAN STORY: COWBOY HEROES

AN AMERICAN STORY: COWBOY HEROES“My heroes have always been cowboys.” Recorded by Waylon Jennings (1976) and later by Willie Nelson

I’m not a movie critic. I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t like.

In other words, I’m pretty shallow.

Recently, I saw the new Lone Ranger movie.

Westerns have always been a favorite so if you are expecting me to echo the opinions of “experts” that this latest Johnny Depp movie was a bust … well, you can go kiss the south end of a north bound horse.

Granted, the film took a lot of liberties with my historical image of the Lone Ranger, but it was a fun ride. And when the “William Tell Overture” starts playing (late in the movie), I challenge you to sit still.

I grew up on tv and movie cowboys: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the cowboy shows: Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Rifleman, Have Gun – Will Travel, and of course, the Lone Ranger.

Two of my favorite actors to ever play cowboys: Clint Eastwood and the one and only, John Wayne.

Once I met Eastwood, just briefly, but I never had a chance to meet John Wayne.

There was the time that I flew into John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, and did something I’ve never done before or since. I asked someone to take a picture of me in front of a statue.

It was the 9 foot bronze of The Duke.

There he is … captured in mid-stride, his left arm bent with his hand near his belt buckle, and his right hand just inches from a six-shooter strapped low on his waist.

That’s an iconic image of John Wayne and for any cowboy.

When I was maybe 5 or so, my favorite cowboy was Hopalong Cassidy.

My mother would tell the story of how she would call me in for dinner (that would be the noon meal for those of you not raised in the South), and she would have to hold the door open for me and Hopalong.

He was always right behind me, and when I put my stick horse (Dusty) in the corner, Hopalong tied up Topper to the doorknob.

Mom had to put out an extra plate because I insisted that Hopalong was eating with us.

I can see some of you muttering, I knew something was wrong with that Conners boy; that explains why he always appeared a little “teched” in the head.

Yeah, in those days, I created my own little world of me and Hopalong … fighting the bad guys, stopping train robberies and saving women and children.

But it was a world where good always won and evil was always defeated.

I miss Hopalong and those days.

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US FIGHTER JETS FOR EGYPT

US FIGHTER JETS FOR EGYPT‘The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” Albert Einstein

Most of us know that you don’t throw gasoline on a fire.

Why that would be as stupid as sending U.S. F-16 jets to Egypt which is in turmoil … after the army ousted the president and the Muslim Brotherhood is fighting back.

Yet, we are continuing to honor a foreign aid package signed in 2010 when Hosni Mubark was Egypt’s president.

Next month, 4 more F-16s will be delivered and 8 more are scheduled for December.
The aid package includes 20 jets and 300 Abrams tanks.

This is not the time to be adding to the arsenal when we have no idea who is going to be in control.

Haven’t we learned from past cases where our weapons have been turned on U.S. forces?

We can block this delivery until we have a better picture of Egypt’s future … or we can show up at the next fire with our gas cans.

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CNN / POSTS ZIMMERMAN SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

I’m still waiting to see how CNN will explain this.

Yesterday, CNN posted a document presented to the jury hearing the case where George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.
It contained Zimmerman’s social, his birth date, address and phone number.
The first response from CNN … well, the court clerk was supposed to have redacted sensitive information.
Ok, so the clerk failed and someone at CNN saw nothing wrong with broadcasting the details?

I still haven’t heard CNN admit contributing to the “mistake”.

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US MARINE & SECURITY CHECKPOINTS

US MARINE & SECURITY CHECKPOINTS“At some places I’m treated like royalty and at some like a terrorist. There’s got to be something in the middle.” — Retired Marine Cpl Nathan Kemnitz

In 2004, Kemnitz was severely injured in a 2004 roadside bomb attack in Fallujah; for his actions and service to our country he has several medals which he wears on his “dress blues”. He also limited use of his right arm and cannot lift it above his head.

Recently, Kemnitz was going through airport security on a trip to the California state capitol building in Sacramento.

Before we continue, any veteran knows the value of good security and will be the first to admit that when you start making “exceptions” you breach security protocol. Certainly, a highly decorated veteran realizes this point —- BUT, once again, let’s exercise some “common sense and respect” in how we treat citizens and especially our nation’s heroes.

Here is what happened as reported by The Military Times:
Kemnitz shows up at the airport in his dress blues wearing medals which few will ever wear or have or desire to pay the price to wear — and at one security point he was told: you are wearing “too much metal”.
At the airport, a TSA screener looked under the medals, ran his hands under the Marine’s waistband and swabbed his shoes for explosives.
Later, TSA asked Kemnitz to raise his arms for the body scanner, and he said, “My right arm doesn’t work; it’s a lot of hassle for me to do that.”
Kemnitz was annoyed, but didn’t complain.

Then at the capitol building, security guards asked him to remove his dress blue blouse “because he was wearing too much metal”.

Take off his uniform because he had too many medals!?!?

That’s when the retired Marine did get upset as he said the guard was rude and unapologetic.

His escort, Patricia Martin, took pictures and wrote to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki: “What does a uniform and heroism represent if our own citizens — in this case employees of the TSA and security personnel — have no regard for them? — I feel so strongly that you need to know just how shamefully even a Purple Heart recipient/disabled veteran can be treated by some TSA and security employees.”

The Military Times posted: In March, bystanders notified Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., about what they perceived to be maltreatment of a double amputee by TSA screeners at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.
Concurrent with that incident, TSA announced it had changed its rules to eliminate a requirement that injured troops remove their shoes, jackets or hats. But to receive the expedited service, TSA asks affected personnel to call the agency’s Military Severely Injured Joint Service Operations Center before traveling.
TSA also offers escorted “curb-to-gate service” for injured or ill personnel who request it as well as the TSA Pre program to service members with a military common access card at four airports: Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and Washington Dulles International Airport.

Now, here’s a kicker to this story: Retired Marine Cpl Nathan Kemnitz made the flight to go to the state capitol … because he was being honored as his legislative district’s veteran of the year.

Cpl Kemnitz, thank you for your service and Semper Fi.