Farewell Mrs Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly went home yesterday. Eagle Forum has an announcement on their page today.

Phyllis Schlafly was one of the first people I remember hearing that wasn’t pushing the same line as Walter Cronkite and his ilk back in the mid-1970s as I was gaining a political consciousness.  When I listened to her argue the conservative case, it made more sense than the case made by the opposition.

Thank God for folks like her, and for Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and so many others who successfully “Stood athwart history yelling ‘Stop!'” In reality, what they did was thwart retrogression cloaked under the false banner ‘Progress.’  That’ll be the topic of an essay another time. I wish I’d been able to be the first to explain but Roger L Simon of PJ Media beat me to the use of the term ‘Retrogressive’ before I could use it.  (Apologies for the lack of a link, as best I remember, Mr Simon used the term well over five years ago).

Goodbye for now, Mrs Schlafly, and rest in well-deserved peace.

(Hat tip to Ace).

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Career Retrospective – 1990

Operation DESERT SHIELD commenced after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait.

The U.S. suffered a relatively brief economic recession.

I earned my Private Pilot certificate.

My grades were substantially better throughout 1990; however I was still only managing average grades in engineering classes and I flirted with the idea of changing majors to business and aviation.

I remember helping teach a Sunday School class during the year and working a part-time job; but little else besides that, flying, and college classes.

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Scenery

IMG_1888

Neuschwanstein Castle from Hohenschwangau Village

Hohenschwangau Castle from Hohenschwangau Village

Hohenschwangau Castle from Hohenschwangau Village

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Career Retrospective – 1989

As 1989 began, George H.W. Bush took the presidency as the Reagans rode off into the sunset. Prior to the inauguration, U.S. Navy F-14s shot down Libyan fighters over the Gulf of Sidra. On the ninth of November, Germans began to “Tear down this wall” and began dismantling the Berlin Wall, which had long symbolized the Cold War.   Operation JUST CAUSE would oust Noriega from Panama late in the year.

While these awesome historical changes were taking place, I found myself hitting many of my own personal limits. I hit the limits of my self-discipline, my academic work ethic, and my intelligence; if not my ambition. I had been clever enough to do well in high school and in my first semester in college. However, my intelligence tended to feed a sense of academic complacency. I had tendered a habit of assuming I’d accumulate all of the knowledge I needed to pass tests during the courses of the academic lectures. In other words, I grew up getting by without having to do homework. Up until 1989, anyway.

Reality gave me a very significant check, and dismal grades sent me back to the career-planning drawing board. I very nearly gave up on becoming a military officer.

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Career Retrospective – 1988

I made my debut as a cadet, in both Army and Air Force commissioning programs.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (may eternal peace be upon him) was the President and Commander-in-Chief; George H.W. Bush was Vice-President; Frank Carlucci was the Secretary of Defense (but I remembered Caspar Weinberger much better). The Goldwater-Nichols Act had reorganized the military only somewhat recently and the military was still getting accustomed to the new way of doing business. The Soviet Union still existed, but the Cold War had begun to thaw.

Many of us were still dividing the world map into red (Communists) and blue (we unapologetically called it “The Free World”). Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Pope John Paul II was in the Vatican; Helmut Kohl was Prime Minister of West Germany while Erich Honecker was General Secretary of East Germany. Kim Il-Sung was still alive and running North Korea, Ayatollah Khomeini was still alive and running Iran, and Saddam Hussein was still alive and running Iraq (and had only just stopped fighting against Iran), and Muammar Ghaddafi was still alive and running Libya.

We in the U.S. generally knew who our friends were and who our enemies were, and if we didn’t know, we didn’t think it mattered at the time. The peacetime force was enormous. The Army had 28 Divisions (of about 17,000 soldiers each). The Navy had nearly 575 ships (including three battleships). The F-4 was still in the Air Force’s inventory, and the aircraft that became the F-22 was only in the prototype development phase; the Air Force unveiled the F-117 and rolled out the very first B-2. As I recall, the force was structured to be able to handle a major conflict in Central Europe and two smaller events. The wars we would have considered ‘Smaller events’ or ‘Minor conflicts’ would have been something the size of a renewed Korean conflict.

While major events were transpiring in the world and things were about to get much better, I was learning the essentials of military life; not in the immersive way my Air Force Academy and Officer Training School brethren did, but somewhat more evenly paced, two times per week in class and in “Leadership lab.” My fellow cadets and I were learning to follow the orders we were expected to start giving in (what seemed then to be an interminably long) two years. We learned just enough about marching, uniform wear, operations orders, military writing, and the “Big picture” current structure of the armed forces to enable us to learn the critical details later. It was the late 1980s, and uniform wear was in; although some of the older officers and sergeants who’d been in service during the Vietnam era remembered when they wore the uniforms only during classes.

It seemed to be a good time to be getting into military service. What we did not see at the time was the unsteady state the world was about to become, the uptick in deployments, and the eventual mass-casualty terror attacks against civilians that would beget a new kind of conflict.

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(Ret)

It’s official! I’ve retired from service.

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This Again?

We’re okay.
More to follow.

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Concluding a Career

This gallery contains 9 photos.

I was given a most amazing opportunity last month and the timing of the opportunity could not have been more perfect! I was offered the chance to give the keynote address at the Peoria County Memorial Day Observance on Monday, … Continue reading

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The Beginning of the End

I’ve recently learned that my request to retire from active service this summer has been approved.

Now I actually have to figure out once and for all what I want to be when I grow up! Valid (or at least humorous) suggestions are welcome in the comments section!

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Things I Enjoy Saying

As I was walking back from work today I tried to think of a few quips I like to offer others. I do not have a particularly good reason for thinking about this particular topic. It does follow along the line of thought into which I fell summer 2003 when I was deployed with some of my Panton compadres to Singapore; and I thought out of sheer random curiosity to ask my friends to please “Tell me the first sentence of your favorite story.” That tale is covered elsewhere; perhaps someday I’ll republish it here. Without further ado, here are the couple phrases I like to turn:

I’m probably smarter than you. But I doubt it.
– Normally I rehearse in my mind saying this to folks I whom I believe are condescending. In such situations I sometimes feel like I need to push them back onto their heels a little bit with a blunt assertion of superiority. With the same breath I offer them a sort of a philosophical “Face-saver.” I’ve used this phrase a couple times, but only with people I’m certain will understand the entire phrase.

Me: “I have good news, and I have bad news. Which do you want me to explain first?
Nearly Everyone: “What’s the bad news?
Me: “The bad news is that I’m a pessimist, and I don’t have any bad news. The good news is. . . .
– This is often good for a laugh.

If I’m approaching the right person I’ve also had some success with the sister of the above phrase:

Me: “I have good news, and I have bad news. Which do you want me to explain first?
Occasional Good-Natured Person: “I’d like to hear the good news first!”
Me: “The good news is that I’m a pessimist, and all I have is bad news!
– This was met with a grinning groan, as best I remember

I hope you enjoy my sense of humor as much as I do! On the other hand, when an audience clearly does not enjoy my sense of humor as much as I do, I like to say “I’m sorry, I thought that was going to be funny.” I probably say that a bit too often. Once upon a time that phrase was good for a chuckle at minimum, but it’s clearly gotten old.

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