Saturday, July 05, 2008

Common Decency Is Not Lost

There's so much bad stuff happening in the world we don't see the simple kindness of the majority of folks. I was thinking on that this afternoon as I was driving to the supermarket. I've seen several simple acts and a few came to mind easily. While waiting at a stop light, I saw one of those simple, decent acts.

A man had pulled a U-Haul truck into a gas station. Apparently he had moved and was returning the truck as the U-Haul business was next door to the station. The man was tall, young, and Asian. It is the practice here to pay for gas before pumping and walking back to the pumps from the cashier, he dropped a twenty dollar bill.

Leaning against the wall was another young man dressed in baggy, droopy pants, over sized shirt, and untied athletic shoes. He was black with cornrowed hair and a ponytail. As soon as he saw the bill fly off in the wind, he chased after it. In a few strides, he stomped the bill to the ground, leaned over, and picked it up.

Without even looking at that twenty longer than to make sure he had it firm, this young man called out to the Asian man and trotted over and gave the him his money. A thank you was given and a wave was returned. Both men went back to what they were doing and will probably never think on this again.

A few years ago, I was travelling to Auburn, California to visit my family. The day was past noon, almost 1 o'clock, so I stopped at a Denny's Restaurant in Turlock. As I pulled into the parking lot, there was a pick-up truck with a vehicle carrier hitched on. In the bed of the pick-up was a new refrigerator and the owner was trying to load another pick-up onto the trailer, but he couldn't get it over the small chocks welded on to keep the vehicle from rolling backward. He didn't gun the engine for fear it would overshoot the mark and smash into the carrier truck and refrigerator.

A group of men came out of the Jack-in-the-Box, saw the predicament and quickly walked over to help. About that time, a man in a Mercedes pulled up, got out, and in his pin stripped suit pitched his shoulder to the task. Another man ran over from the bus stop to help, too. There were about a dozen men there, mostly strangers to one another, helping the Mexican driver (Mexico plates) get the truck up on the trailer. In the group were Whites, Hispanics, and a Black man (from the Mercedes.) It was amazing to see this crew come together, accomplish the task, and disband with backslaps and handshakes all around in the space of about thirty seconds as if it had all been planned and choreographed.

A few days after arriving in Auburn, I drove into town and wondered the sidewalk of Lincoln Way that is the main business street in town. The day was wonderfully warm and I had just finished my ice cream at the Auburn Drug Company soda fountain. The fountain is an antique from the late 1890s with marble countertop and matching marble soda jerks and a mirror that runs the length of the bar. There's a brass rail to rest your feet on.

As I walked, I came to a store I once knew as Rankin's. I bought my first pair of pants there with my own money I'd earned working at the City Hall one summer. It's now some other name. It's had two or three different names since then.

Across the street is an athletic supply store, Auburn Running Company. Out from the Running Company a man sprinted down the sidewalk. I thought I was witnessing a robbery. A moment or two after, a salesman ran from the store and turned in the direction of the fleeing man. Damn! I was witnessing a robbery!

The salesman cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted to the thief, "HOW DO THEY FEEL?" The running man, fifty yards down the street, turned and hollered, "THEY FEEL FINE. I'LL TAKE 'EM." He trotted back and they both went in to complete the transaction.

I cocked my head to the left just once, gave a quite 'Hmm!' to myself, chuckled, and continued my stroll down the streets of my childhood content in knowing that some things just don't change. It doesn't take much to restore my faith in the decency of most folks.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Small Town Independence in America

Pinedale, Wyoming, 1905. The town's first 4th of July celebration was held that night. As we see here, the townsfolk hung out Old Glory, bunting, and had a grand time.

Charles A. Peterson moved his family to Pine Creek Flat on September 7, 1895. A rude cabin, probably constructed and abandoned by a hunter-trapper, became their new home. Tex Pierce and the Hoff brothers, Harry and Henry, were the nearest neighbors a few miles away. Shortly came Robert Graham and Carl Lauritsen from Council Bluffs, Iowa who made camp on the Fremont Lake shore. Later, Mr. Graham moved to his own 160 acre spread adjoining the Peterson place.

In the following years, more families arrived to make the Pine Creek area their home. There were William Shanley, J. Hill, the Hansen family, J. Sweeny, Verne Sill, and Albert Bayer. In a letter remembering those beginning days, Charlie Peterson wrote "we considered ourselves a community, and we applied for a local post office."

They got their Post Office establishing constant contact with the outside world. Mr. Bayer contracted to dig the first ditch in Pine Creek. It ran along the higher flats and brought much needed fresh water to the lower flats of Pinedale and Pole Creek.

The small, ad hoc community grew. A saw mill was brought up from Saratoga and cut the lumber used to build the homes and businesses that were popping up throughout the area. Charlie Peterson and his wife increased the population when George B. Petersen was born October 17, 1898 making him the first white child born there. Mr. Peterson bought the sawmill and lost an arm to the blade.

The town grew and prospered. Using the plans Peterson and Graham had laid out, the town of Pinedale took shape on land donated by the two, five acres each. A large general store was built and the owner donated four lots to build a schoolhouse. The town then gave two lots to a newspaper man with a printing press. Education and communication had arrived.

Peterson established the first saloon, building it next to his own house, the original cabin had already been replaced by a proper home for Mrs. Peterson. Charlie says, "a roaring success-with accent on roaring. In spite of all the shooting and drinking there never was a man hurt in the whole time I ran the saloon. So far as I know it was the same with the Falers Brothers who were my successors."

Others came and the town continued to grow. A church was built to save the souls of those in the saloon. A doctor came and so did a pharmacy. That Post Office that was built at the beginning had been moved and the frontiersman, Kit Carson served as Post Master for several years.

The Sprague Hotel was built in 1904. The hotel provided a warm place for visitors, some of whom stayed. The town was now exploding. The good folk of Pinedale got electricity in 1904, telegraph in January 1905 and telephone the following March. At year's end, a bridge straddled Pine Creek bringing the automobile which didn't actually get to town until August 14, 1907. It was a 27HP Gale that weighed 1900 pounds and had been driven in from Rock Springs in the unheard of time of seven hours, less than a work day. Town Father, Mr. Peterson, didn't see the arrival of the automobile in Pinedale; he left his town in 1905 after having lived the American Dream of creating something lasting and important to others.

"Boosterism" they called it. That practice of advertising to lure people to come and start a new life. Many came from parts unknown and they sometimes changed their names to make a clean break from the past. Pinedale incorporated in 1912 and at the end of World War I, saw a population explosion as soldiers returned from the trenches and killing fields - the Flanders Fields - of Europe.

Pinedale has had a short, but event filled history. Dreams achieved and dreams dashed. Lives created and lives lost. In the early days, saloons were frequented more than churches, and I'd suspect that's still true today. Kat's Steakhouse now stands where a man once could drink and gamble at Jack Mudd's place. Over at the Fremont saloon, the barkeep was murdered with an icepick. That's the town's cold case; still don't know the who or the why of the killing.

The problems and promise of Pinedale are the same for every community of our nation. The history is the same, too. It is all in the way we meet the challenges that has made all the difference. America gives a first chance, one must earn the second, and America will even give a third chance if one works hard enough.

Today Pinedale and America are confronted with problems, dangers, and challenges from within and without. On the whole, we are doing pretty well. We've not been attacked by terrorists since 9/11 2001, we held elections and nomination primaries without mishap. We've toppled two terrorist governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, have split North Korea and Iraq from the Axis of Evil leaving Iran to stand alone against the world.

Osama bin Laden thought he could destroy America's economy by damaging the World Trade Towers. He brought them down, but the economy recovered in two years. Another of his stated goals was $140 barrels of oil. He didn't do that either, but the rest of us sure did. In spite of the oil cost, the mortgage and stock market crises, Americans are still plugging along accepting the problems as they come, knowing the promise of America, like our flag at Ft. McHenry, is still there.

Happy Independence Day. Remember how it came to be and those men and women who forged their dream from the giving soil of America. Remember those who are, at this very moment, working, fighting, bleeding, and dying so that that promise and those dreams can live.

There is more to be found about Pinedale at "Early Pinedale History", Ann Noble, May 2, 2002. My thanks to the town and people of Pinedale for doing what American do best, and especially to Miss. Noble for telling their story.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Declaration of Independence Debate

... if Barack Obama had been there.

IBD, Mike Ramirez

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Iraq Report Card - Baghdad Plays Well with Others

A sense of urgency may be as foreign to Iraqis as holding hands during a dinner and movie date, but progress is still being made. The disAssociated Press got a copy of the Iraq report card that says Iraq has made satisfactory progress in 15 of 18 areas of concern.

In the past 12 months, since the White House released its first formal assessment of Iraq's military and political progress, Baghdad politicians have reached several new agreements seen as critical to easing sectarian tensions.

They have passed, for example, legislation that grants amnesty for some prisoners and allows former members of Saddam Hussein's political party to recover lost jobs or pensions. They also determined that provincial elections would be held by Oct. 1.

In the May progress report, one benchmark was deemed to have brought mixed results. The Iraqi army has made satisfactory progress on the goal of fairly enforcing the law, while the nation's police force remains plagued by sectarianism, according to the administration assessment.

Overall, militia control has declined and Baghdad's security forces have "demonstrated its willingness and effectiveness to use these authorities to pursue extremists in all provinces, regardless of population or extremist demographics," as illustrated by recent operations, the White House concludes.

"Iraq has the potential to develop into a stable, secure multiethnic, multi-sectarian democracy under the rule of law," Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq said in April when he last testified before Congress. "Whether it realizes that potential is ultimately up to the Iraqi people."
One question remains - who signs the report card?

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ice Freezes, Ice Melts, That's What Ice Does

The North Pole is expected to be ice free this summer for the first time in history. "We're actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history]," University of Manitoba smart guy, David Barber, told National Geographic News aboard the Canadian research icebreaker C.C.G.S. Amundsen.

The August 2000 National Review said, "Santa and his elves don't have to panic after all, according to today's New York Times. This is a switch from two Saturdays ago, when the Times breathlessly warned readers on its front page that the North Pole was ice-free for the first time in 50 million years."

Human caused Global Warming is destroying the North Sea ice cover. Again. Or so Al Gore's Fried Earth groupies would have us believe. But could the warming sea water and melting ice have another cause? Like, maybe, undersea volcanoes? Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, WHOI (not pronounced 'whooie') discovered far below the Arctic ice sheet, "evidence of explosive volcanic eruptions... Explosive volatile discharge has clearly been a widespread, and ongoing, process."

According to ScienceDaily, June 26, 2008, "These are the first pyroclastic deposits we've ever found in such deep water, at oppressive pressures that inhibit the formation of steam, and many people thought this was not possible," said WHOI geophysicist Rob Reves-Sohn, lead author and chief scientist for the Arctic Gakkel Vents Expedition (AGAVE) of July 2007. "This means that a tremendous blast of CO2 was released into the water column during the explosive eruption."

Deep sea volcanic eruptions under multi-tons of water "usually emit lobes and sheets of lava during an eruption, rather than explosive plumes of gas, steam, and rock that are ejected from land-based volcanoes. Because of the hydrostatic pressure of seawater, ocean eruptions are more likely to resemble those of Kilauea than Mount Saint Helens or Mount Pinatubo."

Investors Business Daily asks, "Is it possible that these eruptions, part of an "ongoing process," have played a part in whatever melting there has been of the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets?"

Other smart guys at NOAA have drawn this chart that shows the Arctic ice was stable until 1999 when there was a dramatic stability drop-off. That was the very year the deep sea Arctic volcanoes started erupting.

A science expedition, the Science Ice Exercises (SCICEX) program, aboard the nuclear submarine USS Hawkbill in 1999, found evidence on the Arctic seabed of ancient floating ice sheets. These ice sheets are possibly the largest known ice sheets to have existed to date (Science Daily, Mar 27, 2001.)

In separate Arctic Ocean seafloor regions, Lomonosov Ridge near the North Pole and the Chukchi Borderland near Alaska, SCICEX images revealed several distinct features gouged into the seabed, "including matching sets of parallel grooves and ridges. Sometime in the past...the bottom of a very massive floating ice sheet scraped across the seafloor in both areas -- almost 1 km below the water surface at the Lomonosov Ridge and more than 700 meters below the water surface at the Chukchi Borderland...The sonar images clearly showed objects resembling rocks and other debris that may have once been dragged along the seafloor beneath the grounded ice...Such amazingly coherent sets of streamlined grooves and ridges could only be made by one thing - sliding ice. And only a large ice sheet could carve such a broad sets of parallel features."

Random pattens are carved into the seafloor by free floating icebergs, according to the SCICEX researchers. This lends weight to a theory that, at one time, some 10,000 to 1.5 million years ago, one humongous ice sheet may have covered the entire Arctic right down to the sea floor.

The findings bolster a theory held by some scientists that one giant ice sheet covered the entire Arctic. Indeed, one theory says the entire planet was one big snowball from pole to shining pole. Then the snow and ice melted in an early pique of global warming millions of years before the Industrial Revolution, the discovery of fire and oil, and the appearance of planet devouring human beings.

So, what happened that ginormous sheet of ice? Well, since it's no longer here it must have, wait for it...melted. That's right ice melts into liquid water and liquid water refreezes because that's what it does. It's done that many times over millions of years and guess what? It's doing it again!
Actually, this is about the 62nd time the ice has melted. So get over it.

Cue the global warming sheriff: Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along, go on home now. Ignore the man behind the curtain; it's only Al Gore.

h/t Todd

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Monday, June 30, 2008

NY Times and Not So Secret Operation Cannonball

The New York Times has printed a story today that reportedly has infuriated the Bush Administration. Many have relabelled the NYT as traitors for publishing the story, but I have read the story and find little, if anything, that is new and isn't already known on the Internet.

In a story entitled "Follow Bin Laden and Destroy Him", I published much of the same information on Sept. 17, 2006. In an earlier post, June 9, 2006, "The Secret Operation to Kill Zarqawi" , I reported on the Special Operations group led by Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, that killed Zarqawi which is also briefly mentioned in the NYT story.

Many blogs and independent news sites report the on-going war in the smallest detail everyday. One of the finest is The Long War Journal published by Bill Roggio. Two years ago, he posted The Fall of Northwestern Pakistan: An Online History , detailing AQs growing involvement in Pakistan and their cross-border reach into Afghanistan.

The New York Times story begins:

June 30, 2008
Amid Policy Disputes, Qaeda Grows in Pakistan


WASHINGTON — Late last year, top Bush administration officials decided to take a step they had long resisted. They drafted a secret plan to make it easer for the Pentagon’s Special Operations forces to launch missions into the snow-capped mountains of Pakistan to capture or kill top leaders of Al Qaeda.

Intelligence reports for more than a year had been streaming in about Osama bin Laden’s terrorism network rebuilding in the Pakistani tribal areas, a problem that had been exacerbated by years of missteps in Washington and the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, sharp policy disagreements, and turf battles between American counterterrorism agencies.

The new plan, outlined in a highly classified Pentagon order, was intended to eliminate some of those battles. And it was meant to pave a smoother path into the tribal areas for American commandos, who for years have bristled at what they see as Washington’s risk-averse attitude toward Special Operations missions inside Pakistan. They also argue that catching Mr. bin Laden will come only by capturing some of his senior lieutenants alive.

But more than six months later, the Special Operations forces are still waiting for the green light. The plan has been held up in Washington by the very disagreements it was meant to eliminate. A senior Defense Department official said there was “mounting frustration” in the Pentagon at the continued delay.


Read the rest of the lengthy story in the NY Times or the International Herald Tribune.

Be as angry as you want with the New York Times, but the information in the piece is neither new nor unknown. And in this case, the Times was just doing its job. It is history and well known at that.

All too often our own biases about the War on Terror get in the way of remembering there is a war going on. We should all do better to keep up with the news the MSM is not reporting. Whether or not Barack Obama's birth certificate is real is a fun little story, but in the grand scheme of the real world struggle such stories are just stupid, a distraction, and they don't mean nothin'.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wesley Clark: McCain Untried, Untested, Unqualified

John McCain has always been reticent about using his military record and POW experience in his political campaigns. It's never really been much of an issue because most of his opponents have had some kind of uniformed experience.

Until now.

Barack Obama has no military experience whatsoever and he wants to be President and Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces of the United States. That should not be any impediment to becoming President; many Presidents have had no military service. But, in these dangerous times, even Obama seems to think military service important enough to have his proxies attack the military record of John McCain.

US Army General Wesley Clark, retired, was a guest on Face The Nation this morning attacking McCain as untried, untested, and unqualified to be president. Bob Schieffer didn't let the comments slide.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ...I think being President is, is about having good judgment. It's about the ability to communicate. As one of the great Presidential historians Richard Newsted said, "The greatest power of the Presidency is the power to persuade." And what Barack Obama brings is incredible communication skills, proven judgment. You look at his meteoric rise in politics, and you see a guy who deals with people well, who understands issues, who brings people together and who has good judgment in moving forward. And I think what we need to do, Bob, is we need to stop talking about the old politics of left and right, and we need to pull together and move the country forward. And I think that's what Barack Obama will do for America.

Bob Schieffer: Well you, you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote, and these are your words, "untested and untried," And I must say I, I had to read that twice, because you're talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war. He was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy. He's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years. How can you say that John McCain is un- untested and untried? General?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk. It's a matter of gauging your opponents, and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in Air- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, 'I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it-'

Bob Schieffer: Well-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ' -it publicly.' He hasn't made those calls, Bob.

Bob Schieffer: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.

Bob Schieffer: Really?!

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But Barack is not, he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements. He's running on his other strengths. He's running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment. And those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.
Okay, there we have it. McCain's military experience before and after Vietnam and his leadership while in captivity and afterwards in the Navy don't count for spit. Being the son and grandson of US Navy Admirals who served their country with distinction and honor and having them as life mentors are nothing but smoke.

McCain's character and judgement has been tested. He could have emerged from the Hanoi Hilton with nothing but hate in his heart for all Vietnamese. He didn't though. Granted he's not so fond of the guys that tortured him, but he holds no animosity toward the entire nation. That's character and judgement. Is he perfect, no. But we have seen that he tries to live his life by principles that are not conveniently flexable. John McCain has always been a Christian proud of his country.

But, according to Clark (who has been criticized for many of his decisions in the Balkans War that probably led to his early retirement,) Obama has his character, his communication skills, and his judgement. And it's open season on being shot down as a character and judgement building experience.

And what has built the character and judgement of Barack Obama? Having a communist activist as a childhood mentor; accepting Christ from a Black supremacist racist and holding him as a spiritual mentor; having a Weather Underground domestic terrorist university professor as his educational mentor; holding near and dear a shady real estate investor as a financial mentor? To Wesley Clark and many Democrats, these all qualify Barack Obama, who's middle name cannot be uttered, to be President.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.