Friday, November 2, 2007


He was one of them. One among the millions who answered their country’s call during a time of great need. He had lived through the Great Depression with them and, when war came to America, he and his brethren brought the fight to our enemies. Behind their military efforts millions of others labored on the “home front” unleashing unparalleled industrial productivity, engineering ingenuity, scientific development well beyond its time thereby forever altering the course of history and all that was to follow. In four short years they prevailed on numerous military fronts, ultimately victorious in a world wide war, they showed their greatness as beneficent victors. They returned home igniting the growth of this nation allowing it to emerge, as they aged, as a pre-eminent global leader, standing alone by 1989, triumphant, as the” Lone Superpower.”

He was of that generation that, almost posthumously, became celebrated as “The Greatest Generation”. And that they were. They put one foot in front of the other and carried on. They did what needed to be done without question, complaint or conflict. They did not seek recognition or reward. Most never spoke of their experiences during those years. It was this quiet strength and humility that finally brought them their due as we looked inward at what we had become.

He was one of those millions who did not seek the moment yet gracefully allowed the moment to find him. Indeed, many were called, few chosen. History found these men and women, they sought it not.

We learn about some of these people, we are somewhat vaguely familiar with their names. Today, they are probably alien to students in high school and college. Students, media and our culture as a whole, are more interested in celebrity and sports, scandals and crime than in our not-so-distant-history.

Putting aside all the subsequent controversy surrounding his most historic act, for the moment putting on hold the debate that has raged for the last 60 years, we should take a moment to look simply at the man. Yesterday, November 1, 2007, 92 years after his birth in Quincy, Illinois on February 23, 1915, Paul Tibbets died.

Paul Tibbets, who was hand-picked in September 1944 to lead the ultra secret 509th Composite Group of the Army Air Corps, will live on in history more for what he was part of than for who he was. But, he was one of them. He was given a task, a task so new and novel that many involved feared they could ignite the atmosphere and destroy the earth.

While the famous and not yet famous scientists, physicists and engineers labored under the tutelage of Robert Oppenheimer at Los Alamos, while General Leslie Groves oversaw a vast, unprecedented industrial effort with facilities from coast to coast, Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets had to devise the safest, most effective method by which to deliver the first atomic bomb. He carefully chose his crews and staff, stripped down the huge B-29 “Flying Fortress” to accommodate the weight of his unique payload and trained for precise delivery for many months in secrecy near Wendover, Nevada before relocating his operations to the theater of combat in the South Pacific. The 509th set up shop on Tinian Island and prepared for the day President Truman would send word to make the 1700 mile flight to Japan. That call came and his famously “infamous” mission began in the predawn hours of August 6th, 1945.

The utilization of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima that day and on Nagasaki, three days later, was the course chosen by Mr. Truman as an alternative to a land invasion of main land Japan. Estimates of American casualties from such an assault ran as high as one million dead. General Douglas MacArthur speculated it could take up to “ten years” top wipe out pockets of Japanese resistance.

Paul Tibbets memorialized his mother by painting her name, Enola Gay, on the B-29 he piloted that day. He knew not, could not have possibly ever imagined, the ramifications, repercussions and perpetual consequences his mission would produce.

Before his death Retired general Paul W. Tibbets requested that his ashes be scattered over the English Channel where he had flown so many missions prior to his command of the 509th. Also, at his request, there will be no tombstone or marker signifying his final resting place. He feared such a site would attract his detractors, protestors and that it would become not a place of rest but a scene of conflict. This humble, decent man had endured enough back lash in life, he sought true rest for his eternal soul.

Paul Tibbets said as late as 2005 that he never regretted dropping the bomb, never lost sleep over it. Such comments have been used by his many detractors to caste him as cold, monstrous, unfeeling. He was none of those. He was much more than he ever let on or anyone ever knew.

In my life I have been blessed to know some of them. Men, whose names are never to be written in history books, yet none less heroic for their efforts during World War II. I have sat besides them on the subway, passed them on the street, and have seen them in church. I have drank with them in bars from the South Bronx to Hoboken. Some remained strangers; nothing more than familiar faces here and there. Others I came to know well, very well, some well enough to mourn their passings to this day.

Men like my uncles Joe and Steve. Men like Sante Cantonese from South Philly and Sergeant Major Larry Massino who turned 18 as a Marine on Tarawa. Men like John Avallone, Bill Boss, and Bill Collins. Men who were on Normandy, and in North Africa. Men, who as boys served on ships, make shift bases and in the infantry. Men (boys) who knew, as they stood on a wooden landing craft riding the waves into some anonymous out-cropping of rock in the South Pacific, that they would most likely die that very day. They were my mentors and teachers, coaches and disciplinarians.

Of course, there is my father; a man possessed of such quiet dignity and strength. He lived through it all from the depression and into today always teaching, always speaking quietly, telling me the stories of those men. It was he who sat on the edge of my bed in the Murphy room when I was a child and told me things like, “With the help of God and a few Marines, MacArthur returned to the Philippines”, and “Uncommon valor was a common virtue”.

I am proud to have known such things from such an early age; it has some how allowed me to have, to feel a connection with that time. It has provided me a respect for history and those who made it even though they did not realize it at the time.

Today, as I approach deeper middle-age, I appreciate it all the more. Reading of Paul Tibbets death yesterday stirred me. It hit me subtlety and overtly, it brought back some memories I’d not pawed in some time. I thank my father for the memories, lessons and appreciations he gave me. I prayed for Paul Tibbets soul last night. May he find eternal peace. And that is the prayer I will offer for my father when his time comes which, I believe, remains a long way off. After all, those guys are survivors.

Copyright © 2007 TBC All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2007 BronxWest Consulting

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Rice useless in Foggy Bottom

(Alexandria, VA., Nov. 1, 2007, TBC) Things are going so well for the United States in Iraq that foreign service officers, career State Department personnel, would rather quit their jobs than do a tour of duty in Iraq. That’s right. Those poor, over paid, federal flunkies accustomed to biding their time, building their pensions and having nice duty stations are refusing to go to Iraq. Despite the fact that they would be safely ensconced in what is, arguably, the most secure embassy compound on the planet, well within the ultra-fortified “Green Zone” in central Baghdad, the State Department has had to resort to threatening termination of those refusing to go. The present vacancies and staffing needs for our efforts in Iraq are significant. If those ordered to serve their would rather quit, what possible chance is there that a political -diplomatic apparatus will ever be functional there?

For years the world has known there is no military solution for the nightmare that is Iraq today. Every commission and committee, military and civilian expert has loudly proclaimed that a “political” effort is THE only way to somehow extricate our troops from the mess they are in. That has not happened, nor will it any time soon. No one is willing to go there and do the job.

The initial civilian staff that took over such efforts after our occupation began, under the direction of the loose canon and world class imbecile, Paul Bremmer, were all young, inexperienced Republican political appointees. They were there, on a government salary, because their daddy had given to the big George W political machine or they knew someone that knows someone. It was a nice field trip for well bred, wealthy Christian conservatives. Special training or skills were not requisites. There was nary an Arabic speaker in the lot of them. This went largely unnoticed by the press and public at the time simply because it was just another blunder in an ocean of blunders. Amid the mass of tragic errors and fatal flagrant failures of George W., Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and all their hapless, arrogant minions, the foreign service situation was just another mistake. Oh, but what a mistake it was and now, five years into this morass, it remains an enormous problem.

Condolezza Rice and her State Department have failed as miserably and completely as did George Tenet and his “Slam Dunkin’” CIA, Rumsfeld and his Pentagon, Cheney and his neo-con staffed “Shadow white House”, and the Bush Administration as a whole.

It seems that our foreign service members have grown far too accustomed to the easy duty stations. Probably no one refuses to serve in a Consulate in Tahiti or the US Embassy in Rome. Nope; just imagine all the beautiful cities in the world where they can serve, enjoy life, collect their bloated salaries and basically do nothing. Now, at a critical time for our country, this State department and our present diplomatic / foreign service corps, they are refusing to serve as assigned if that assignment means Baghdad.

Strangely, our military personnel have no such trump card to pull. They serve as assigned or else. That’s it. They are truly the best of us, the bravest of us and the most noble. They are largely young enlisted personnel who do what they are told with valor, dignity, skill, resolve and character. Perhaps the State department should recruit some veteran NCO’s and junior officers to fill the rash of vacancies in the foreign service. At least they would have experience and characteristics that would serve them well. They would have a practical, invaluable knowledge of the reality of the situations throughout that war torn, tumultuous failing nation.

There is not an agency within our federal intelligence, defense, diplomatic, executive, judicial or legislative branches that has not been exposed over the last six years. Their individual and collective incompetence, ineptitude and negligence have been laid bare for all the world to see. This entire travesty has been presided over by the worst president in our history.

So, our diplomats want to walk out instead of serve. Fine. let them all go. Let’s clean house, every inch of ingrained, entrenched idiocy, pettiness and dereliction of duty throughout our federal government. Afterwards, let’s hire some vets; we can use their proven traits, experience, character and allow real brains to be in positions of civilian authority.

Copyright © 2007 TBC All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Obama’s True Weight is Determined

(Philadelphia, PA Oct.31, 2007) In the Democratic Presidential candidates debate hosted by MSNBC last night, we saw the reappearance of a person we had come to know well in the 1990’s. The shrill Hillary Clinton showed herself, albeit briefly, last night at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Thus far her presidential candidacy has functioned very close to a well oiled machine and, as a candidate, Mrs. Clinton has exhibited the results of months of coaching, prepping and discipline. She had been, since the beginning of her presidential bid robotic, smooth and almost pathologically “on message”. When the media began to question her woodenness in recent weeks, suddenly she countered with self-depreciating humor, smiling and a donkey-like guffaw intended to “soften” her up.

Well, despite all the preparations and polling, the practices and focus group verbiage, the real Hillary, the one we remember so well from her days as our nation’s First Lady, remains just beneath the surface veneer of decorum, poise and unflappability. It took a few pointed questions and comments flung in her direction by her competitors to draw out Shrillary. That says a great deal.

Her competitors, to a man, are all basically political lightweights. Even those of them who have some intelligence, experience and political acumen of their own, as presidential candidates pitted against Shrillary and her financial, advisory, consultancy, polling and spin machinery, they are all sadly outmatched. It is sad, but true.

While in some respects a man like Senator Joe Biden may be well versed in foreign and domestic issues, pragmatic, realistic and capable of being our next president, he finds himself in a fight that is rigged; has been rigged even before the opening bell.

The seeming air of inevitability that now ensconces the Clinton campaign has left the process destroyed, mocked, and in the dust.

After a weekend of media coverage of Barak Obama’s campaign issuing statements that they were coming out strong against Hillary this week, that they were ready to engage in the fight, we witnessed the beginning of the end for the Wonder Boy Obama after he whiffed a soft ball lobbed at him by NBC News Anchor, Brian Williams. Williams opened the debate putting up a big juicy Hillary question for Barak to smack out of the park: and he blew it - miserably. He allowed that golden opportunity to cross home plate without so much as a solid swing. That televised strike out may in fact be famous for being the last gasp of his presidential run this time around. He has proven to be a lightweight of epic proportions on the national stage as a presidential candidate.

The rest of the pack was as grossly unremarkable as ever. Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, former political hack to President Bill Clinton, inexplicably came to the defense of Shrillary just as the others were beginning to make her sweat. Perhaps even an incompetent flack like Chubby Bill cannot change his ways. Obviously, he is praying that Hillary is victorious and she can use him as did her husband as a jack-of-all-trades, because he is clearly master of none.

John Edwards appeared decidedly more suited for a run at some local school board instead of US President. His petulance is becoming apparent, his true temperament increasingly on display. His spoiled child with a cute haircut routine is tired. He is practiced and polished too, but again, even his country lawyer act as champion of the downtrodden looks as amateurish as it is compared to Shrillary’s locomotive-like juggernaut.

So, the rest of these idiotic “debates” should come to a halt. Let the games begin in earnest. Iowans will kick off the real show on January 3, 2008, when they caucus. Having that charade over and done with will be cause enough to celebrate. Thankfully, the country will not have to hear another word from Iowa or Iowans until the next presidential cycle begins. They will fade back into their proper place in the nation psyche as obese, greedy, heavily subsidized simpletons who have the notion that their caucus actually has some importance. (How’s the ethanol business working out?)

Soon thereafter New Hampshire will play their version of the same moronic game. Subsequent to that exercise, the real primary season will commence but, as it appears at this point, it will be but an exercise in futility. Shrillary has been anointed, appointed, ordained and canonized by the democratic party elites, fundraisers, powerbrokers and shrewd political professionals who know how to play this sordid, corrupt game.

We can only hope that the reemergence of Shrillary last night was just the first glimpse. Perhaps now that her cover has been broken, she will be unable to continue pretending she is anything other, anyone different, than the Hillary we met in 1991, were familiar with until she bought and carpet-bagged her way into the open Senate seat from New York in 2000.

Copyright © 2007 TBC All Rights Reserved