Do you know enough to live in the “promised land?”

It seems as if our great folk here in the “Promised Land” that is America would just take those little brown children illegally crossing our borders and throw them out of the US of A onto their little asses.

Well, that is the way it seems if you watch the national news on TV. Those pictures, every picture, tells a story don’t it? Loved Rod Stewart’s song by that name, by the way. But sometimes the pictures don’t tell the whole story. Such is true when it comes to complex stories such as the current border problem.

A poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute shows the juxtaposition of thought when it comes to the so-called “border problem.”

The poll finds that more than three-quarters of those interviewed believe immigrant children should be allowed to stay as refugees if it can be proved that their lives are in peril upon being returned home.

One has to wonder why the media, especially the electronic variety, take their time showing the opposite view? Their view from the camera makes it seem like hordes of people — children and young thugs — are virtually breaking down the walls of the borders only to be faced with angry sign-carrying opponents.

It could be that the electronic media has found itself an issue that can keep emotions rolling and viewers watching. Oh that Anderson Cooper wouldn’t do that. Yeah, tell me another lie.

Here is something else to ponder while we are talking about the immigration issue. There are a lot of those tough-talking Americans out there who would otherwise cry to see their favorite flower cut down or the sight of a fictitious doe deer die. But still with the signs! The damned signs!

I came across something I wish these sign-carrying bunches denouncing immigration of little children could sit down with and spend a little time. It’s a list of sample questions that immigrants are asked before becoming U.S. citizens. One needs 58 percent correct to pass. I must say I was a little shocked and somewhat ashamed that I scored only 94 percent rather than 100. I am, after all, someone who has made his living writing over time. I minored in political science in college. So what? I still missed six questions.

But what about you? Let’s see what you make, smart boy. Take the test and see if you make an ample score that ensures your citizenship, if you had to vie for it. If you don’t do so good and are honest about it. Maybe you should take down your anti-immigrant signs and posters, and put them somewhere the sun does not shine. That would seem appropriate.

 

 

The telecom boom doesn’t solve all of society’s woes

We are closing in on the 120th year of flight. That is rather amazing in its own right. Flying made the world closer, in certain respects. One needs to look at the good with the bad and flying has had plenty of both in those century-plus years.

The tele-communication boom will be the “turn of the century” bookmark of social history. One only has to go on social media to find more than enough of the good and the bad.

I keep a semi-running commentary on politics and society with my college friend, Paul, who lives in Tokyo. It is rather amazing that we both can communicate with one another at such speed and such a distance. It’s easy. Just look at your phone and view the clock you set for Tokyo. Then, if you are super bored, take a picture of yourself — known in today’s lingo as a “selfie”– and just for the hell of it you can take a look at the compass on your phone to find what direction is Tokyo. Or what direction your life is taking. All of this with a phone and more.

My iPhone is probably the best digital camera I have had to date. I’ve used some professional digital cameras, the big suckers real “shooters” for the media use. Or at least used to use. It’s been some 10 years since I have used one. The iPhone is better than my Fujifilm XP. It is time to upgrade to a better digital camera, if I can find one that is better than my iPhone and is as affordable.

I didn’t come here to talk about cameras, you might be surprised to hear. I just wanted to make a notation about life before cell phones. It wasn’t all that long ago, if you don’t call 30 years or so long ago. Maybe a 30-year-old does.

My pick of three decades is arbitrary. That dates back to the year I graduated from college, which was 10 years after I graduated from high school, joined the Navy, was discharged honorably and became a professional firefighter. Actually, I want to pick the days I worked as a firefighter and just afterwards when for two whole semesters I was nothing but a bearded college student. Then as well include that time right after I graduated and moved to a new town. That is when I dated Liz. More on her later.

The first apartment I rented in college was adjoined by two and then later about four other apartments. I had two different neighbors living — one after another — in the apartment in the back of the building. Both were girls. Both were very cute girls. I dated one later on, during the time I worked at my first job out of college. I imagine I should have dated the other one instead.

I had my first very own landline phone in my apartment. So did Liz, the girl who was literally, as the Cars song went, “my best friend’s girl.” The late, great Waldo and Liz been long split by the time she and I dated.

But awhile before that short “bliss,” I remember Liz calling me one morning after I came home from my shift at the fire station. She asked me if I could turn my music down.

“Sure. Happy to.”

The girl who moved in after Liz moved out worked with my sometimes girlfriend back then, Karen. I can’t remember if Debbie, my neighbor had a phone. If she did, she never called me. That’s because she could just walk next door. If my car was home Debbie would knock. We didn’t really need a phone to communicate. For instance, Debbie came outside one morning as I was about to go for a jog. She asked how far I was going. I said about two miles. So she asked if she could go.

“Sure. Damn straight!”

In ran Debbie who quickly pulled on a pair of sweats. Man, if only more women could wear a set of sweats like Debbie! I wouldn’t call running enjoyable but along with some weights and jumping rope, and racquetball, it helped keep me in shape for fighting fires. I would call it enjoyable running with Debbie.

I remember Debbie telling me after I moved to the shotgun shack, that Karen said she would have to work somewhere else if Debbie and I went out, or whatever one would call it back then. I don’t think it would have bothered Debbie. Or Karen either. Things could get complicated.

My friends rarely bothered calling to tell me they were coming to visit back then. When I moved out to the farm, some might call just to make sure I was there. But even if I wasn’t there, some would still park at the locked gate and hang out. Others who knew the location of the spare gate key would “come on in!” It was a nice place, the country.

Now it seems one has to let others know when you have to take a crap. Not that I tell anyone, that’s a metaphor, or a simile or personification or whatever the hell it is.

Perhaps the communication revolution doesn’t answer the big social questions, like why  did I date Liz and not Debbie? I guess it just wasn’t to be, damn it to hell! It is an outcome that can’t be solved with an iPhone and a You Tube video of a dancing monkey.

Boomtown SE Texas: Let it rain

We had a hell of a rain on Friday. The thunder started booming about 4 a.m. and didn’t seem to stop until nearly 8 a.m. Normally, I can sleep and sleep well through thunder and a heavy rain, but this stuff just kept on rolling. The rain did likewise, falling and falling some more. Some areas in Jefferson County were hit with 4 inches to 6 inches from only several hours of rain. Consequently, some of the same old underpasses went under water.

The city of Beaumont has spent millions to install better conduits for flood water to flow off into the Neches River. The river, which is the Beaumont-Mid Jefferson County-Northern Orange County portion of the Sabine-Neches Waterway, is located on the eastern side of Beaumont. Still the area floods when we get a lot of water in a short period of time. And people still drive their cars into the flooded underpasses. I think I saw a figure of like 36 cars had to be pulled from underwater. Fortunately, no one was killed. Such is the price you pay when you live in an area that is at most about 20 feet above sea level. But, I guess the river can always use some refreshing.

I see different figures but the Port of Beaumont — on the Neches end of the waterway — usually runs from about the 4th largest port in the country to the 7th. I used to like to go down to the port and take a look at the big ships in port. Now they have a more restricted are around the port due to maritime security, a.k.a. MARSEC.

 “The Coast Guard employs a three-tiered system of Maritime Security (MARSEC) Levels designed to easily communicate to the Coast Guard and our maritime industry partners pre-planned scalable responses for credible threats,” says the Coasties.

A liquid natural gas tanker is assisted by tugs on the Sabine-Neches Waterway on the Upper Texas  Coast.

A liquid natural gas tanker is assisted by tugs on the Sabine-Neches Waterway on the Upper Texas Coast.

President Obama signed a bill last month that is meant to boost water projects across the country. Southeast Texas is to get the largest bucks from that legislation, the Sabine-Neches Navigation District said last week. The district said there are 71,000 vessel transits — meaning in and out  each year — in the entire Sabine-Neches complex. Those group of ports are located in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange and Sabine Pass. And since the modern petroleum industry began “right cheer,” as our Cajun Texans say, I suppose it is only logical that most of the cargo sailing around the area’s ports consist of crude oil and it’s byproducts.

 “We produce about 13% of the nation’s gasoline daily,” said Clayton Henderson, assistant general manager of the Sabine-Neches Navigation District 

Oh, and I forgot to mention there are big ol’ liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals at either side of where the Sabine-Neches and its bay, Sabine Lake, empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

If the remainder of the Keystone Pipeline gets allowed and built, it will end up right cheer in Jefferson County. And for something kind of completely different, some of the stockpiles of chemical weapons being taken from Syria for destruction — where do they go? Want to take a guess? Those nasty “weapons of mass destruction” are being sent to Port Arthur.

Now one may ask, why did he start with heavy thunder and rain, and end up with tons of petroleum products and weapons of mass destruction?

To look at it one way there is certainly a lot of stuff to go boom were the wrong people to get hold of all those dangerous product made and transported to and from our area. We would probably need a lot of foam if something caught fire, but we have plenty of water or so it seems.

Texas is a huge state and not even the biggest in the U.S. It is second in size to Alaska. But one gets a feel for its size when it looks at average rainfall from the nearly 60 inches per year we average here in Jefferson County to the 9-something inches received some 800 miles away in El Paso County.

I have to say that the LP terminals at the terminus of Sabine Lake bother me the most. But what can one do? Boosters of the project to deepen the Sabine-Neches channel by 8 feet say this will “promise” 78,000 new jobs in the area. It’s all about the jobs isn’t it? Or at the very least, the promise of jobs.

It seems as if someone needs to use the existing channel to transport to us a big ol’ “paradigm shifter.” Get that sucker rigged up like snappy, and working. Then, we should ask our Native-American friends who live about an hour away to the north on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation if they might be so nice to come down here somewhere and do some rain dancing. Because even with all the rain we already receive if things get rough we might need even more liquid gold.

Too many deaths too close to home

Too many of my favorite people have died lately. Two of them were brothers. Yesterday, the great bluesman Johnny Winter from right here in Beaumont, Texas, died in Zurich at the age of 70.

My brothers passed away within two months of each other, one in May the other two weeks ago. Another fabulous R & B favorite of mine and contemporary of Winter likewise died in May. Jerry LaCroix had been popular in this region for years before he joined with Edgar Winter’s White Trash. As a matter of fact, I imagine both of my now deceased brothers had heard LaCroix in southwestern Louisiana nightclubs when he played with the regional favorite, the Boogie Kings. I also remember one of those brothers saying he saw Winter play back in the early 60s in one of those Louisiana clubs.

LaCroix — whom I interviewed for a newspaper article about the Boogie Kings in the mid-90s — would go on to replace vocalist David Clayton Thomas in Blood, Sweat and Tears. After a short solo stint, LaCroix toured as vocalist for Rare Earth.

I want to write about my brothers. They were interesting people. They may not have been as rich and famous as rock stars but their lives were rich in other ways. I’m sure they had enough fame to suit them as well. But I find it a difficult task to write a fitting tribute to them. Maybe I should start with an unfitting tribute. Nonetheless, I don’t feel up to writing about mo’ dead folks right now. I don’t feel the need to explain to anyone, except myself. I hope I will understand.

The keys to the kingdom and its burdens

This afternoon I was thinking about this old man from my childhood. Harry was the courthouse janitor and he bore a striking resemblance to the Straw Man in The Wizard of Oz.

I suppose it was for the posture as well as the hat that Harry reminded me of Straw Man. Harry was neither cheerful nor was he particularly grumpy. Perhaps weather-beaten or even life-beaten would fit as a better description of this janitor. It wouldn’t have been hard to fault Harry, in retrospect, for appearing either pissed-off or worse-for-wear. After all, he had who knows how many rooms and spaces were his to clean, including the clock tower on top of the old three-story structure as well as the courtrooms, offices and jail cells that were there during that time. Consequently, Harry had a bunch of keys.

Keys are what made me think of this old fellow. He had keys to every thing, every record, every matter and, yes, every miscreant in our county.

Our family was poor back in those days, but we were like the Rockefellers compared to old Harry. A child with less social instinct might have thought  Harry was rich from seeing all the hardware one might find in the shack which housed Harry and his family.

Why in his yard one might find washing machines, and old refrigerators, tires, probably a propeller off a B-29 from World War II, the hood from a Chevrolet that was of an indeterminate age, old transmissions, batteries and assorted odds, ends and dirt. Harry also reminded me a little of the Pigpen character in Peanuts who was always drawn in the cartoon with dirt swirling about him, kind of an opposite of a white tornado.

But no matter how filthy Harry was, and how much crap was in his yard, I was nonetheless envious of those keys. Having been all up and down the stairs of every floor of that courthouse, I knew there must have been tons of secrets that the doors and cabinets and safes held in that place.

Today I drove to Houston and back to switch to a new work car. I had a 2010 Chevy Impala exchanged for a 2014 Cruze. Of course, it had a fancier key fob than I previously possessed. Why I can even start the car remotely. But I have to surround my Cruze keys with my Toyota Tacoma keys as well as the key to my office, key to the office building/elevator, my postal box key, the keys to my storage unit, bicycle lock and a P-32 military can opener that I’ve never been able to shake from my time in the service.

I have spares, of course, so I had to  pair those off with my spare Cruze key. It has developed into quite the ordeal.

Looking back, I thought Harry the janitor must have had some wealth albeit less material than abstract. I should have recognized old Harry probably wasn’t old at all. He may have been my age or even less, though he had surely been burdened down from the life of poor white trash not to mention holder of the keys to the county castle and all it entailed.

Well, I guess thinking in such dimensions, that makes me wealthy. Guess I’ll go jingle my keys and dream of an island with some tanned bathing beauties.

 

Scientists: Don’t let your cows drink coffee in Australia

Weather getting you down? “Pig’s arse,” an Australian medical study reveals.

Well, the story about these finding doesn’t use such an Aussie expression to disagree. But stories about health and science seem to pop up every day. Such subjects can also easily confound readers. There seems no shortage of the modern news media publishing the “Researchers say … ” type of medical story. You are no doubt familiar with the type of article. Usually some medical journal, the likes of Prostate Quarterly, announces to the media some study was published in said journal that is the definitive word on some bodily function or condition.

When I see these type stories I always think of that George Carlin bit — permit me to plagiarize myself and the late Mr. Carlin — “Researchers have found that saliva causes stomach cancer. But only when swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time.”

Findings by scientists seem forever questioning the  usefulness or safety of common items like coffee or red meat, or maybe both. I can see my lead now:

Scientists have discovered that cows which drink more than two cups of coffee daily produce meat that is more likely to keep consumers up late at night.”

Now comes a study published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research which shatters perceptions that the pain noted in numerous old wives tails is caused by something other than the weather. The experiment conducted on some 1,000 patients with low back pain in Sydney during 2011-2012 “compared  the weather at the time patients first felt lower back pain with weather conditions one week and one month before the start of pain,” said an article published in Daily Digest News about the study.

No correlation was found between the weather and lower back pain.

Now I have lower back pain pretty much around the clock. The same goes for neck pain, the latter which is likely caused by bone spurs and a blown disc in my cervical spine. Since I have had surgery twice on my C-spine, including fusion, the doctors say they can only operate on it again in case of an emergency threatening life or limbs. So, I take methadone for that pain. But that doesn’t prevent my neck from having spikes in pain. And, I have found these instances of increased pain in times during nearby low pressure weather systems. For instance, I noticed the pain increased considerably during two of the hurricanes I went through.

The doctor who authored the study makes it clear in the news story that more investigation is needed with weather conditions in concert with certain pain caused by problems including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

I might suggest that the researchers also find places outside Sydney for such studies. It seems rather presumptuous, if not foolish, to expect the weather in one part of the world to represent the entire planet. Various conditions control the weather systems of coastal Texas where I live. I would imagine the same could be said for southeastern Australia, although I do remember quite pleasant weather when I visited there some 35 years ago.

I can’t remember weather systems causing pain in Australia but I do remember a bit of a hangover after drinking the local Ouzo and pints of beer one night. Oh, that was Christmas Eve and as I recall, it was a very mild evening.

Texas: Dreaming beats actions of nutty governor

Gov. Good Hair is back in the news. Or should I say Republican Texas Gov. Rick “Good Hair” Perry has made the news once more with one of his stupid utterances.

This time the former and perhaps future 2016 candidate for the GOP presidential nomination has a conspiracy theory blaming President Obama for the massive influx of Central American children who have been creating a refugee crisis at the U.S. border. Perry repeated the ridiculous theory he made last week on Fox News to ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on “This Week” Sunday.

 “I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept, or you have some ulterior motive of which you are functioning from,” Perry said.

Of course Perry didn’t elaborate on his theory. I suppose some cockamamie illegal entry conspiracy hatched by the president is about as possible as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un getting signed along with his pal Dennis Rodman to a NBA contract. Because that would be the likelihood of such a theory as fact.

It is also no big surprise Good Hair wants permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to put drones on the border. I’m sure Perry also wants those drone armed with Hellfire missiles, or at the very least Vulcan 20-mm cannons. That way he can now operate a fully functioning Texas Department of Public Safety Air Force as well as Navy. Hell, DPS probably has more armament than some Third World nations.

All of this Perry bluster is something he is aiming — sorry for the pun — toward his ultra Tea Party klan. I suppose he failed to look at some of the recent primary election races in which the Teas were beat like rented mules.

I don’t really expect Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis to win the race for Texas governor although stranger things have happened. Under the “stranger things” department perhaps GOP hopeful Attorney General Greg Abbott may tone down his rhetoric and actions should he win that race for guv. We need a highway patrol again and not a Texas Armed Forces. Not to mention the state will go broke if Abbott files anymore of his ridiculous lawsuits. But then, I’m just dreaming. Dream on little dreamer dream on …

From Brazil, the end to the U.S. World Cup ambitions

The real, real end A United States World Cup campaign ends after 121-something minutes of play with Belgium in a 2-1 win over the U.S. or as someone insists it be displayed 1-2. The U.S. guys did really well in this game, obviously not as good as Belgium. Where is Belgium anyway? France? OMG!!!! No, I know where it is. It is in Louisiana. No seriously, I’m just playing … with Louisiana. More seriously, Belgium did well. The U.S. did well. The U.S. of A. played a great World Cup. Perhaps this will elevate soccer even more in our nation. It seems as if this U.S. team has already produced a lot of excitement just during these past few games. And why not? It’s an exciting game, and especially when it is played with exciting players. So for all those little ones who want to grow up to be big players like Clint Dempsey or Tim Howard, be exciting! Oh, I don’t know what happened to my formatting below. I would cut it, except it would require more explaining and I am tired of explaining. …. So good night from Brazil. Uh, goodnight from Beaumont, Texas.

This was from “live blogging” the game. It’s kind of anti-climatic now. Believe me.

But maybe not The U.S. has scored a goal after 106 minutes of play. It’s still a game until it’s not. If the US is some how able to pull off a win, or a shoot out, Goalie Tim Howard will be the real hero with 16 saves so far. Heading toward the real end Belgium has scored two goals here in the 30 minutes of the extra time. 0-2 Belgium. No wonder zipper lady likes to pounce upon soccer. I shouldn’t call her names just because I think she is a lunatic. Technically the End Now we have ended a 90-plus minute period. It’s still 0-0, but this time we’ll have more time, some 30 more minutes more or less. AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH. I HATE THIS GAME!!!! Just kidding. Not like that human zipper with the blond hair hates this game. I will not mention her name because even on a barely read blog such as mine, it would still give her publicity. That won’t happen. I really like watching the World Cup. So, go U.S. …….. The Beginning World Cup from Brazil. No I’m not there. I’m here. Wherever here might be. But the U.S. and Belgium teams are tied 0-0 at halftime. Or if you wish, 0-0. ………

A low-budget jury?

This morning I got up got shaven got dressed went downtown and sat through jury enpanelment for almost an hour. Myself and maybe more than 150 citizens of my county will get the grand total of $6 for our trouble. Some 40 prospective jurors were selected for the county’s criminal court. They will receive $40 for at least one day of service if they are picked for an actual jury. The same amount goes for any additional day of service.

The district clerk said this was an unusual occurrence. Originally the clerk was tasked with selecting four different jury panels of 40 people. Her problem is usually having a sufficient number of citizens to fill the panels. Jefferson County District Clerk Jane Birge was appointed to the post after the death of longtime clerk Lolita Ramos in October 2013.

The selection process this morning proceeded much faster than I had originally imagined after the clerk told us how we were file our of our seats in order that our jury number might be scanned. At the same time we picked up a sheet which we could sign in order to donate our $6, or more, to a statewide victims fund and a countywide foster care fund.

Most likely there are ways that the process might flow even faster. I don’t expect Ms. Birge to tackle changes to hasten and perhaps even save money in jury enpanelment. The district clerk said she had no intent of running for the office after her unexpired term expires in January 2015. I can’t blame her for that. Who needs the headache?

I hope that whomever the people elect to this office will take a look at how this jury selection process can be streamlined. I don’t know what rules govern this process, but it doesn’t hurt to at least attempt constructing a better mousetrap. Our lives are full and busy these days. I’d say that even the least paid of us is worth more than $6 an hour.

Likewise we must feed our jury pool. When we think of voting we most likely consider the higher offices such as our lawmakers our district attorneys the sheriffs the judges. But down ballot races are the so-called meat and potatoes of our local democracy.

I’m done preaching and writing with as little punctuation possible just to see what the latter feels like for writers employing such styles the likes of Cormac McCarthy. In the meantime I will sit and imagine what all that $6 for my service today might buy me.

Rainy day tales from a pissed-off semi-retired journalist

Ann Coulter, the attention-seeking missile, has managed to finagle her way into the American conversation once again with her rant against soccer and the World Cup. Pttttewwwie. That is my spelling of a spit that comes from me. I know that spit is not good for my computer so I will just spell it, and not spit it. What I will not do is give that, well, I can’t use the word I would like, but I will not give her any more of my attention.

So it’s a rainy Friday afternoon. CNN is on my screen but the volume is not engaged. Wolf Blitzer is on TV talking to a Republican House Ways and Means Committee member about some missing IRS emails. “GOP outrage at missing e-mails,” is the “Developing Story” headline. This, in these days where every little happenstance is a “Breaking News” story.  Boy, they set the bar so low.

I once received a corporation-wide monetary award that I shared with another reporter. Both of us are gone from the paper and in the government sector. Well, I’m just part-time. Here is what happened:

I wasn’t Cops reporter anymore but I got to the paper an hour early so I could, usually, leave an hour early. I was the only one in the newsroom. I heard a call on the police scanner, a sheriff’s department dispatcher said there had been a helicopter crash. I called the sheriff’s department and got what information I could. An Army Black Hawk, on a foggy morning, crashed into a TV tower out in the countryside. It turned out bad, all seven on board including a brigadier general were killed.

The editor came in pretty soon and I told him what was going on. Best I can recall, he sent the other reporter at the scene and told me to “rewrite.” The latter term is now sort of a dinosaur. In the olden days — before I was even a reporter — a newspaper would have reporters in the field calling in their stories or pieces of story by land-line phones and the rewrite men (and women) would craft the story together. I only did it a couple of times and both times I just saw what was happening and took off from there, figuratively speaking, after a few seconds of direction from the editor. The other story was about a fatal charter bus crash out on the interstate. We had three or four reporters on that.

This rewriting of breaking news, or deadline reporting as it is called in the business, was not something I really trained for but rather something I seemed to take on instinctively. I knew about the award before I left the paper — I don’t know if my confidential agreement is still in effect, maybe some day I may tell the story, there isn’t much to tell anyway — I collected my share after I began freelancing. I think maybe it was only $50. That is more than the average newspaper award.

You’ve no doubt heard the term “award-winning journalists.” Well, in some ways, journalism awards can be a dime a dozen. There is something really wrong with you if you haven’t won awards. I had collected, jeez, I don’t know how many awards from regional and one state press association in my first two years as a journalist. And I pretty much learned about running a small weekly on my own.

Awards are nice to have. I won a couple of Texas Associated Press Managing Editors Assn. awards, first places for my size of daily newspaper, which was below a major metro. I won environmental writer of the year from the statewide Sierra Club. I did okay in my job, in other words. The latter and the company award meant more to me personally. Regional and state press clubs are, while nice to have personally (like on a resume), more a bigger deal to the newspapers and its managers.

Back to Vulfenzblitzer, as I like to call him, I detest CNN making every other story “Breaking News.” Technically, they are correct but it cheapens the really big stories that reporters write or broadcast every day in different cities around the world. A Facebook friend of mine, a network radio reporter, is traveling around the East with Secretary of State John Kerry.  She and I met covering the court-martial of former Army Spc. Charles Graner, the alleged “ringleader” of the Abu Ghraib saga. Those are real stories and, of course, I have my Gee Dubya stories from interviewing him alone by ourselves when he was campaigning for his “Poppy” to I don’t know how many press conferences as governor and a few as president.

Really, I am not bragging as there really isn’t much to brag about. I just spent some incredible years as a journalist who was just doing his job, and then some as a freelancer. CNN’s repeated versions of “Breaking News” kind of cheapens my personal history. And I don’t like it very much, see?

Oh, “Breaking News” now about the VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs? I’ve written about it for years. I’ll save that for another day.

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