Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Having Problems Posting a Comment?

    I have gotten word through the grapevine that some of you are having problems posting comments.  The Blogger Interface is a bit touchy with some operating systems (Guess we’ll just work around that).  If you send a comment via e-mail I’ll add it to the posting.  I’m very interested in your views and opinions.  I have added a follow by e-mail box on the right-hand side of the screen, normal postings go out late Sunday or early Monday but I also sneak some out through the week now and again…

You can e-mail me direct at:  thetomcatblog@gmail.com

I’d also like to welcome readers from China, Netherlands and Panama. Outside the United States, Russia is still the most frequent visitor followed closely by Germany.   1,820 views so far (You Guy’s ROCK… Thanks).  

This is the view I woke up to this afternoon.  What could be wrong in the world...

Have a nice week

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Oath of Enlistment (Last Forever)

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

    I’ve repeated this oath four times in my life; I did it voluntarily and with pride.  I always felt the first part [support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic] was the meat of the oath, the part that spoke to me.  The part that explained why I was enlisting.  That being said I found the teeth of the oath in the next to the last sentence [according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice].  As an enlisted member you are not free to blindly follow orders, in fact just the opposite.  As an enlisted member you are duty bound to report to military or civil authorities any activity that could bring discredit upon or do harm to our nation. 
    Enter the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund. This group is one of a handful of groups of special operations veterans formed in the past few months that criticize the president.  Special Ops OPSEC's 22-minute video has been sited for selective editing (as if that never happens in political advertisements…).  "I directed." Spoken by President Obama is one of the key elements of the controversy but given the narcissistic view of himself he may have liked it more if it was longer than 25 seconds, President Obama should expect it to be repeated again and again (he loves to use “I, Me and Myself when he speaks).  But ultimately the group uses the remaining 21.5 minutes trying to report activities they perceive could bring discredit upon or do harm to our nation, the security leaks within the administration.  I had written a little bit on that in a previous Blog (Let me get that for you, May 11, 2012).  Being Mr. Obama is the President they only have one option on who to report their concerns to…

The American Public. 
    This brings me to General Dempsey (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and his resent comments about the activities of the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund.

General Dempsey (as reported on Aug. 22, 2012)

"One of the things that marks us as a profession in a democracy is it's most important we remain apolitical," he said. "That's how we maintain our trust with the American people. The American people don't want us to become another special interest group. In fact, I think that confuses them." Dempsey said he believes partisan groups made up of former service members cloud the issue as well. "If someone uses the uniform for partisan politics, I'm disappointed in that," he said. "I think it erodes that bond of trust we have with the American people."        
    I on the other hand view the groups’ activities as a clarifying and informative rebuttal to an otherwise compliant and equally partisan national media.  Precisely because of the military and intelligence background of the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund members, their input as civilians to the national leadership debate should be welcomed and considered.  I found the video very informative on the need for operational/Intel security and the consequences of failing to maintain operational/Intel security.  Remember there was a doctor in Pakistan that assisted us in locating OBL.  What did he get for his efforts?  A 33-year prison sentence…  A lack of operational/Intel security cost the liberty or even the lives of those involved.         

    I find this a bit confusing.  General Dempsey is making open comments about a civilian organization faithfully exercising it’s 1st amendment rights in a legal manner yet there was a complete absence of him speaking out against the wearing of the uniform by active duty members during the gay pride parade in San Diego in July 2012.  Or the DNC’s call for a gay soldier and fellow (straight) soldier who served together in Iraq or Afghanistan (ideally the straight soldier was helped by the gay soldier, i.e., medic, in fire fight) to stand as human props on stage at the up-coming Democratic National Convention (scheduled for Sep. 4, 2012).  Both activities are special interest and partisan political…  Normally active duty members would be barred from wearing the uniform while participation in either event.  Who is really eroding the bond of trust?  When an officer cherry picks what rules he will enforce and rules he will ignore, his subordinates will cherry pick what rules they will follow and what rules they won’t…  
Been there, Seen it, Have the T-shirt…

I saw this little line and thought it fit nicely.

Grumpy old vets can say and do things from the outside
that cranky old NCOs can't do from the inside.

The TOMCAT     

Visit Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund web site to see video.
22 minutes well spent

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Some tales are timeless and ring true for many situations.

    The other day my wife was listening to an audio CD by Mr. Matthew Kelly as she fiddled about in the kitchen.  I caught bits and pieces of his talk as I went in and out while working on another project but then he started into a story that that caught my attention.  The tale is called The Boy and the Snake.  I had heard it before (at least a version of it) many years ago.  It’s an old story and has many versions.  It has been told by Cherokee, Seneca, Hindu, and many other people all around the world.  As I sat and listened I thought of how it applied to me, the choices I’ve made and the choices I’ll face.  I’d like to share this little tale with you.

The Little Boy and The Rattlesnake

The little boy was walking down a path and he came across a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake was getting old. He asked, "Please little boy, can you take me to the top of the mountain? I hope to see the sunset one last time before I die." The little boy answered "No Mr. Rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you'll bite me and I'll die." The rattlesnake said, "No, I promise. I won't bite you. Just please take me up to the mountain." The little boy thought about it and finally picked up that rattlesnake and took it close to his chest and carried it up to the top of the mountain.

They sat there and watched the sunset together. It was so beautiful. Then after sunset the rattlesnake turned to the little boy and asked, "Can I go home now? I am tired, and I am old." The little boy picked up the rattlesnake and again took it to his chest and held it tightly and safely. He came all the way down the mountain holding the snake carefully and took it to his home to give him some food and a place to sleep. The next day the rattlesnake turned to the boy and asked, "Please little boy, will you take me back to my home now? It is time for me to leave this world, and I would like to be at my home now." The little boy felt he had been safe all this time and the snake had kept his word, so he would take it home as asked.

He carefully picked up the snake, took it close to his chest, and carried him back to the woods, to his home to die. Just before he laid the rattlesnake down, the rattlesnake turned and bit him in the chest. The little boy cried out and threw the snake upon the ground. "Mr. Snake, why did you do that? Now I will surely die!" The rattlesnake looked up at him and grinned, "You knew what I was when you picked me up."

    From time to time we all dare to pick-up the snake.  We do things we know deep inside we shouldn’t be doing, for me its cigarettes, for others it may be something else.  Even as a nation we’ve dared to pick up the snake.  As a nation we listened to the soft words, we fell for the hype and promises.  As a nation we heard and wanted to believe but the promises were hollow, the promise of Hope and Change has left many of us hoping for a change.  For three plus years we have been injected with the venom of division, envy, hate and animosity.  Again because of our choice as a nation for the next few months we will have to endure the venom of deceit, slander and innuendo

In his own words speaking to Professor Steven Rogers (form the book The Amateur)
“Come on, man, you should know better when politicians make promises”

"You knew what I was when you picked me up."

Come November 6th as a nation we can end the steady flow of venom we have endured over the previous four years.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Philly Criminal Element Sinks to a New Low

    Robbery, Extortion, Rape and Murder…  All an accepted part of life in Philadelphia PA. not that these crimes are acceptable or condoned but it’s accepted that they will occur.  Now there is a new criminal running free on the streets of Philly.

    I want you to meet the suspect Angela Prattis (she hasn’t been convicted of a crime… YET)

    As you look at her you may be thinking “She looks harmless, what could she be doing that’s so bad.”  Well, she’s been serving lunch to up to 60 children each day.  Yes LUNCH. During the summer months while the children are out of school she distributes meals provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (a known radical organization).  Can you imagine the harm she is doing to the poor children, they may get the idea that it’s O.K. to voluntarily step up and address a need within a community.  It’s alright to take a positive stand to make your community a better place.  THE HORROR!  This could undermine years of effort by the government that only they can meet these needs thus perpetuating future generations of dependents.

    The local township is not without means to fight such hennas criminal activity.  Initially they threatened Ms. Prattis with a $600 a day fine if she continued to distribute meals to the children. After public outcry they chose to delay issuing fines at this time but demanded that she obtain a variance permit at a cost of $1,000.  The township councils use of economic pressure may have been enough to closedown this dangerous activity if not for the interference of another vicious and heartless individual.  Mr. Eric Bolling (a right wing capitalist extremist, known for wanting dirty air and dirty water) while on-air during Fox News channels afternoon show The Five, Mr. Bolling pledged to pay the $1,000 permit fee.  How dare he undermine the council…

Ms. Prattis and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bless you and keep up the good work…

Mr. Bolling, you put a smile on my face so I followed your lead. 
Thank You, the Good Guys always shine.

Chester Township, how many sandwiches, pieces of fruit and pints of milk could have been purchased and given to those in need?  I hope you enjoy Mr. Bolling’s $1,000!   Don’t worry I’ll step-up like Mr. Bolling (not as much, but what I can).

Will you step up? Even if it’s just a letter of support…

       I sent a donation to:
        Ms. Prattis Lunch Program
        C/O Archdiocese of Philadelphia
        222 North 17th Street,
        Philadelphia, PA

Monday, August 13, 2012

One more step, One more leap

A question was posed to me this week.  I was asked my thoughts on the significance of the resent Mars probe landing, did I think the expense is worth it and would a manned flight to Mars ever happen.  I was slightly surprised by the question and wondered what brought it on.   Instead of reflecting on the question I placed myself into the shoes of the young man that asked it and compared his experience to mine at his age (I’m twice his age).  I realized he grew up surrounded by technology that I never imagined when I was his age. In comparison I have the luxury of looking back to my childhood in the late 1960’s and the changes in technology that have happened over the past five plus decades, in particular the changes brought about by the space program. 

    The early years of the space programs were built on a foundation of brilliance.  The smartest people of the world were drafted into service by the United States and the United Soviet Socialist Republic.  These scientists, technicians and others with little more than pencil, paper and slide rule figured out how to overcome the challenges of lifting massive vehicles into flight, then into orbit.  These same people overcame the challenges of sending manned vehicles into orbit and then on to the moon.  Each of the challenges that were conquered lead to a new technology.  A new understanding in the fields of metallurgy, electronics, composites, environment, medicine and many many other fields.  All these advancements created spin-off applications that benefits us in everyday life.

    Nations spend billions to explore space and other planets but the returns in spin-off applications of technology reaches into the trillions.  Look at something as critical to everyday life like weather, a tropical storm develops in the mid-Atlantic a satellite in orbit can give real time information on its development (a hurricane) and landfall potential.  Would it be advisable to evacuate a region? Could the storm be dying out and evacuation (along with the economic disruption) be unnecessary?  What else in your dally life has its roots in the space program?  Cell Phone, computer, transportation, you make the connections.  Could the exploration of Mars lead to new minerals, more advanced conductors, new medicines?  Only time will tell.

    One price that can’t be calculated is the price paid by cosmonauts and astronauts who have given their lives.  Was it worth it?  I can’t answer for them.    

  The USSR put the first satellite and first man into space.  The U.S. put man on the moon.  I think the first man/woman on Mars will be a joint effort of all nations (at least that’s how I would like it to happen).  One more leap for mankind.               

Kid-do, I hope this helps you to answer your own question.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Heart on my Sleeve, my History on my Back.

First things first, I apologize for the late posting this week. I worked overtime and had a family thing this weekend...

    As I start this little story the beginning slipped further and further back in time, all the way back to my childhood maybe 7 or 8 years-old.  Being an average boy I was fascinated with the military at least the glamorized version brought to me on the television.  Shows like 12-O’clock High and movies like the 1957 classic Jet Pilot could keep my attention episode after episode.  There were even more modern shows like Call to Glory, Top Gun and The Right Stuff that gave me the same thrill I had gotten watching the old shows as a child.  All of these shows followed the same script, a brave young pilot straps himself into a sleek machine and pushes it to its limit to overcome an adversary or a challenge.  The one thing that stuck with me was at the end of the conflict as the pilots climbed from their battle weary machines at the end of the show usually they all wore a flight jacket displaying patches of past missions, battles and accomplishments.  I always wanted to earn a jacket like that.

    Some years later while walking through the base exchange on Andrews AFB I saw a beautiful sheep skin bomber jacket, it looked just like the ones worn by the bomber crews in WWII.  The jacket was on sale for $389, well out of the price range of a young military family so I just kind of pushed the thought of having a jacket like that to the back of my mind and walked away.  As the years in the military passed I collected patches that were significant to me, an aircrew style name patch with my name, rank, maintenance badge and wings on it, a few different Desert Storm patches, U.S. Saudi and Kuwait flags, a Desert Fox patch and some others.  All of them just stacked up in a little box maybe to be put in a frame someday and hang on a wall as a reminder of challenges past…

    In August of 2001 I retired from the Air Force and moved to Southern Indiana.  My wife took most of our military memorabilia (plaques and certificates) and hung them on a wall in our home office but the patches I collected sat in a drawer.  Then one summer day walking through the shopping mall in Evansville IN. I walked past Wilsons Leather Shop, the smell of the leather pulled me in.  I walked through admiring the vest and other items but as I came to the back of the shop I saw a rack marked clearance, there on the rack was a black bomber jacket just like the one I had always dreamed of having, it was on sale for $25.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I had to ask the young lady behind the counter if the jacket was miss marked, when she said that was the price I bought it (I actually bought three and gave two away). 

    I found a little seamstress shop that sewed the patches on for me and it looked great.  Flags down one arm squadron patches down the other.  The name patch, command patch and operation patches on the front.  Everything I had imagined but one thing was missing; the back of the jacket was blank.  I had nothing to fill the space.  I remembered the old movies and how the aircrews would have the nose art from their aircraft painted on the backs of their jackets and there was an old nose art used by the 9th Bomb Squadron back in the day called Cloud Nine. I had a copy of it on a pullover shirt.  Over the years I had stopped into specialty shops with the jacket and shirt to see if they could make a patch to put on the jacket most of them either flat out said no or I was a bit leery of the quality after looking over their work.  Then one day while visiting my mom in Louisville Ky. She suggested we stop into a little shop she has seen.

    We took the shirt with the artwork in and talked with the owner, as he measured and looked it over I looked at his work that was laying around on the counters and hanging on the racks.  There was no question in my mind this was the man that could do what I wanted.  He said it would be difficult but he could do it and said it would be $90.  I asked him one question; Are You Proud of Your Work…  He replied “YES”.  That was all I needed to hear. 

    The jacket was finished several weeks ago but I haven’t been able to drive down to get it.  As a surprise my mom drove up this past Sunday and brought the jacket while I was out.  When I came home and saw the Cloud Nine on the back I was speechless.  I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect job, the colors are crisp, not a stitch out of place and dead center.  The dream of a 7 year-old boy and a 51 year-old man came to be…  Some cloth and some thread all in the hands of a true artist.  Thank You…

It may take some time but…
Never Forget Your Dream
The Tomcat

If you need something special stitched up you will never find anyone better

4761 Dixie Hwy., Suite 103
Louisville, KY 40216

(502) 773-6733