Sequestration?

By Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

In the world of politics Sequestration refers to the process of automatically employing mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget if some stated event occurs.  The automatic triggering of mandatory budget cuts is usually related to the either the annual cost of running the government,  the amount of revenue produced by the government, or some other equally relevant event.

The scary thing about sequestration is that it usually involves an indiscriminate, across the board reduction in spending by some stated amount or percentage.  Not that it helps much, there are some exemptions and/or special rules applicable to the present sequestration.

When you think about it, the whole sequester concept smacks of a heavy handed method of controlling Congress.  Kind of like forcing someone to commit suicide if they fail to live a healthy life.  Rather drastic to say the least.  Sequestration also assumes facts not in evidence,  namely that Congress has some degree of desire to negotiate a meeting of the minds.  An assumption which doesn’t work with the current Congress in which the left and right are widely separated and there is no apparent middle ground.

So how did the current sequester come to be?  Whose brain child was it?  And, how did it get passed and who the devil is responsible?

It seems to have all started with the  Budget Control Act of 2011 under which a Congressional Debt Supercommittee was created.  That supercommittee was made up of an equal number of members from both parties of the House and the Senate.  Once formed,  this supercommittee was charged with the responsibility of cutting $1.5 Trillion from the federal budget (good luck there).

A failure to agree to at least $1.2 Trillion in cuts over the next 10 years would, under the Budget Control Act of 2011, trigger automatic budget cuts according to some defined rules (i.e. the sequestration).

Of course, the Supercommittee recessed permanently in November of 2011 without reaching an agreement.  What a surprise!  This predictable failure to reach an agreement triggered sequestration budget cuts of $1.2 Trillion  to be spread out between January 2013 and October 2021.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 was signed into law by President Barack Obama on August 2, 2011 who, at the time, didn’t seem to be too worried about it.  And, in all fairness, neither did the Republicans.  In fact Speaker of the House, John Boehner, didn’t seem to be bothered by the sequestration until after the fact when he began to voice concerns about its affect on the defense budget.  A day late and a dollar short wouldn’t you say?

To make matters even stranger, President Obama, would later call the sequester a “meat cleaver” approach to the deficit which would jeopardize military readiness.  And, at the same time President Obama denied responsibility for the sequestration, the Republicans claimed that it was the President’s idea!

Really?  Is this the twilight zone?  Are we supposed to think sequester just crept into the Budget Control Act of 2011 like an undocumented immigrant?  Maybe it’s the fault of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) Nevada?  Could be!  After all he’s the guy who, back in the summer of 2011, listened to President Obama’s top aids who brought him the idea.

Wait a second!  If it was White House aids who suggested the sequestration to Speaker Reid, where did they get the idea?  They’re not supposed to sua sponte make up ideas on their own, are they?  Well we know one thing for certain (I think), these mysterious unnamed aids don’t work for the Republicans.

Maybe the answer is simple.  Bob Woodward’s book was just wrong about who met with Speaker Reid and what they said.  You’ll just have to buy your own copy of “The Price of Politics” and decide for yourself.

Lest I forget, here’s a thought for all of you conspiracy theorists.  Maybe the sequester actually was the Administration’s idea.  An idea quietly proffered with the knowledge of two things.  (1.) Sequestration would be immensely unpopular; and (2.) The Supercommittee didn’t have a bat’s chance of coming to a consensus.  Then at the 12th hour, when there would be no practical way to avoid the cuts, the Administration would launch it’s “meat clever” attack and blame the upcoming disaster on the recalcitrant ideologues in the right wing of the Republican party.

Result?  Much needed budget cuts actually happen and all of the voter displeasure falls upon the  Republicans for not agreeing to a less painful haircut.  Could it be possible?  Bob Woodward sure believes his version of the story is the correct one.  But no it all sounds like something that could only happen in Chicago or some other such rough and tumble place.  Too bad, we’ll probably never know all of the facts.

Ok, enough terpsichore.  Let’s back out of the weeds and take a look at the big picture.  This isn’t rocket science!  We spend more than we have and even 100% taxation of the wealthy won’t get us out of the problem.  Given the simplicity of the problem I think we can conclude that Congress is filled with overpaid elected officials who don’t seem to have enough sense to come in out of the rain.

So what’s the take away from all of this?  How does one explain the current fiasco?  I’m afraid I can’t.  No matter whose idea sequestration originally was, both parties ultimately agreed to it.  To put a fine point on it – Congress is  broken and I personally doubt it can be fixed.

It might actually be time to vote them all out and start over again.  Too bad we have to wait until the midterm elections.

I’d like to make some suggestions.  Maybe we should have some minimum educational requirements for admission to the federal congress.  The same goes for the Presidency.  For example, we should require a college degree in some relevant subject matter – like maybe Business or Finance?  Law degrees shouldn’t count.  I’ve got one of those degrees and it’s worthless when it comes to the nuts and bolts of management, finance, banking, and/or economics.  For purposes of understanding the economy, a B.A. degree in Business Administration is far more valuable than a Juris Doctorate.  Shouldn’t these guys at least know the difference between Keynesian and supply-side economics, as well as the history of what has and hasn’t worked.  Otherwise, aren’t we going to make the same stupid mistakes over and over again.

In addition to a minimum relevant education shouldn’t there be some some minimum real life job experience requirements related to the desired position?  Maybe state legislative experience should be required before someone runs for a seat in the federal Congress.  As for the Presidency, it’s a management position and we should require actual management experience.  Possibly Mid Cap or larger corporate management experience and/or experience as a state governor.

If you owned a business grossing a billion dollars a year, would you hire a person to run it who had no previous management experience whatsoever?  If you had the opportunity to establish the rules of the environment in which your business would operate, would you hire a rule maker who didn’t have a working knowledge of finance and macro economics.  How do you think Bill Gates, Oprah, Warren Buffett, Larry Page or Sergey Brin would answer these questions?  When placed in its proper perspective it makes you wonder what we’re doing.

Common Sense

by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

I was heartily disappointed when, in the shadow of the evil that visited Sandy Hook, we were suddenly and aggressively bombarded by the gun control ideologues.  Shame.  This was a time when we should have been giving space to those grieving for their loved ones, so that they might have a measure of peace within which to heal their souls.  Instead, the politics began immediately and we heard the hue and cry for gun control.

Frankly, the timing of the gun control onslaught smacked of a patent attempt to capitalize on the nation’s grief.  It was as if the advocates of gun control had been waiting for an atrocity of sufficient magnitude which might get the better of our judgement, and cause us to act precipitously out of emotion, as opposed to intellect.

As I listened to the growing cacophony, I began to worry that we might actually allow ourselves to become the tools of those who would promote gun control as a panacea for all firearm related  crimes.

It didn’t help when Mr. Biden, a long standing and relentless gun control advocate, was flipped the task of making recommendations to the President.  The bias involved was only thinly disguised as the news outlets leaked, drop by drop, some of Mr. Biden’s thoughts.  Little things, like using Executive Orders instead of laws which must be debated and voted upon by our legislature.

Some of the intelligencia in our foremost law schools even began murmuring about getting rid of the Constitution, which they opined was antiquated and “evil.”  So much for the Second Amendment.

Then, in a speech perfectly timed much like a surfer who waits for a wave until he is actually lifted by the swell, President Obama finally shared his thoughts.

Now even though I didn’t vote for this man, and in all honesty don’t “get” his politics, I was encouraged – at least for a moment.  Why?  Because I heard him say three simple words, “reasonable” and “common sense.”  To my way of thinking the President had put his finger on the exact problem.  Reasonableness and common sense are good things.  And so, for a couple of days I thought to myself I was probably wrong about what was going on, that is, until I realized that the words “reasonable” and “common sense” are subject to many and varied interpretations.  In other words, they are vague and ambiguous.

After all, ambiguity is the camouflage of those who obfuscate.  Ambiguity is that shadowy grey world where anything can be anything, and nothing has objective substance.  Do I sound bitter?  I hope not because I’m not bitter, I’m just stunned by the open manipulation of our political system and our populace, by an anointed few.

Without becoming completely lost in the weeds let’s examine the ideologue’s use of “reasonable common sense” measures to control gun related homicides.  Consider the following.

We are told it is quite reasonable for a few select Mayors to take it upon themselves to demand that banks refuse to do business with law abiding gun manufacturers.  We are also told it’s reasonable for our President to use Executive Orders instead of legislation to further his agenda.

We are told that it is just common sense to ban the sale of “assault” weapons even though there is no intelligible definition of the word “assualt”.  These same people seem to believe that anything which looks “military” needs to be banned.  And that the capacity of clips must be restricted to some magic number (5, 7 or 10 bullets depending on where you might live.) thereby insuring that the bad guys will have more bullets than the good guys.

Never mind that these “assault” weapons are long guns and that the majority of gun crimes involve hand (short) guns.  Never mind that none of these guns are “automatic”, indeed, it is unclear whether or not the ideologues even understand the difference between automatic and semi-automatic actions. Never mind that such laws will only affect the honest, sane, law abiding citzens.  Never mind that the Second Amendment does not require a justification for the posession of a weapon.  It’s gun control and it’s all good.

We are also told, with great authority, that the statisics mandate these gun controls.  The only problem is the statistics we now gather only serve to cloud the important issues.  For example, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), in 2009 there were approximately 31,347 deaths attributed to firearms, or about 10.2 per 100,000 in population.  In the same time period there were 34,485 motor vehicle traffic deaths and 41,592 deaths by poisoning.  Taken by themselves these numbers tell us almost nothing.  For example, of the firearm related deaths, the CDC reports that 18,735 of the deaths were suicides and 11,493 were homicides.  Without drowning in the details, suffice it to say that homicides by firearm in the United States in 2009 were a fraction of the deaths resulting from other instrumentalities such as vehicle accidents and poisoning.  This fact has not changed in any significant way over time.

Why point this out?  Because it shows us how misleading the statistics can be.  Not only are we being mislead as to the true relative size of the problem we have learned absolutely nothing about causation.  If we use these stats to contruct an instrumentality-based logic, which supports gun control, we will also be constructing a narrative which would support the outlawing of vehicles, poisonous chemicals, knives, bows and arrows, gasoline, fertilizer, fuel oil, glass bottles, etc., etc., ad nauseam.  It’s a failure to recognize the difference between correlation and causation and, it flies in the face of common sense.

You disagree?  Maybe you shouldn’t.  By the logic of the argument, aren’t all of these items responsible for deaths just like guns?  Think about it.  If we remove all vehicles we’ll save 35,000 or more lives a year.

Of course this suggestion is nonsense.  Why?  Because mere instrumentalities don’t have a mind of their own.  Steak knives, unless possessed by poltergeists, simply don’t kill people.  And neither do guns.  Yes, I know you’ve heard this before, however, think for a moment – what is the one common factor in the CDC statistics for knife deaths, traffic deaths and gun deaths?  It’s people!  Not vehicles, not knives and not guns!

Common sense dictates that instead of continuing the useless, unceasing arguments we should be constructing a data suite designed to disclose the causative factors of these homicides and their respective rates of occurrence.

I submit to you that it doesn’t occur to us to remove vehicles, or knives, or gasoline from society.  Instead we address the issue of causation.  For example, in the case of vehicles, research and common sense observation have suggested that maturity, training and lack of impairment etc. are accident causing factors in vehicle use.  As a result, our approach to the use of vehicles seeks to address the causative factors instead of the instrumentality.  In other words, we don’t outlaw Lamborghini’s (a very fast car) instead we pass laws to make sure the driver is properly trained, tested and licensed.  We handle airplanes, trains and large boats the same way.

Why don’t we apply this same rational approach to weapons?  The answer is simple.   There is a sizable number of people who see no value whatsoever in the constitutionally protected right to bear arms.  In fact, some of these ideologues don’t even find value in the Constitution itself.  And, whether well intended or not, this group of people seeks to impose its will on everyone else.  Because of this political agenda we are becoming lost in the weeds.  Instead of addressing the causative factors of gun murders we waste our time arguing about the size of a clip, or the presence of a tripod.

The intensity of the argument has surpassed the irrational.  Within a few days of this writing an east coast newpaper known as the Journal News went so far as to publish the addresses of local gun owners.  This short sighted attempt at intimidation accomplished nothing, and only served to provide a road map to unprotected homes for those who might be planning robberies.  It’s a marvel to behold the extremes of dedicated zealots.

The hallmark argument of this pro-control group is, “Why do you need a semi-automatic weapon?”  The question is totally irrelevant to the issue!  The right to bear arms is just that, a right!   And, this right is not conditioned upon needNeed is simply not in issue.  To engage in this type of constitutional erosion is the mother of all slippery slopes.  Ultimately it will lead to questions like, “Why do we need people over 65 years of age?” or “Why do you need a 24 ounce coke?”  Oh, I forgot.  It’s already been decided for us that we can’t drink 24 ounce cokes.

“Why do you need … ?” could be the subject of an entire book and absolutely none of it would, in a productive way, address the relevant causative factors of crimes involving guns.

I submit to you that a man who is not inclined to commit murder will not be persuaded to do so just because he’s holding a fully automatic weapon.  Nor does the absence of a fully automatic weapon make it substantially harder to kill a room full of people all at once.  Timothy McVeigh is a case in point.  Think about it.  It’s common sense.  Let’s try to find the guys who are inclined to commit murder before they find us, because its damn sure that disarming the good guys isn’t going to help any of us.

Where are the statistics pulling out the factors of emotional maturity, training and mental impairment?  Why aren’t we breaking down the causative factors on an incident-by-incident basis so that we can address the situation intelligently?

Shouldn’t our objective be the reduction of homicides, as opposed to a witch hunt for the instrumentality used?  Can’t one instrumentality be easily replaced by another?  If you take away the bow and arrow can’t it be quickly replaced with a bottle of gasoline and a burning rag?  Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the causation of the violence?  Isn’t the instrumentality used merely coincidental to the act of murder?  Just a thought.

Stiffer penalties for the violation of gun control laws are a demonstrably failed approach.   Once a person has decided to commit a homicide, ostensibly that person has also decided to commit the violence and has accepted the punishment of death.  Given that fact, what in God’s creation causes us to think that super strict gun control laws will be a deterrent?  If the bad actor is already willing to die, why would a few more laws prohibiting the possession of a gun be a deterrent?  Obviously it wouldn’t.

Can you think of some of the unintended consequences of completely outlawing guns?  How about this?  We can reasonably assume that law abiding citizens wouldn’t break the law.  But as we’ve just realized, the bad actors will have no reason not to.  Result: The bad actors have weapons and the good guys don’t.  Does that work for you?

This might be a good place to remind you that the police are a responding force whose job is to show up  after the crime has been committed.  For those who are still confused, that would be many minutes after you needed to defend yourself and your family.

The problem with genuine tragedy is that it screams for immediate action.  The more heinous the act, the greater the sorrow, and the more ferocious the hysteria to immediately take steps to prevent a reoccurrence.

As a father and grandfather I cannot conceive of a greater sorrow than that of the recent massacre of innocence at Sandy Hook, Connecticut.  But as I listen to the news and I hear the pundits ask, “Why do we need semi-automatic weapons?” and “Why do we need rifles like the Bushmaster?”  I get sick to my stomach.  Off we go on another meaningless treasure hunt!  The ideologues are once again seizing the opportunity to impose their will on everyone else.

Why can’t we set aside the private agendas and stop focusing on the instrumentalities?  Let’s concentrate on the causative factors of gun murders, and within that focus we might find the bits and pieces, and beginnings of a rational and reasonable solution.  Let’s go back to basics such as maturity, training, mental impairment and/or any other factor we can reasonably identify, quantify, and control.

What are the forms of mental impairment (chemical or otherwise) which might cause an occurrence like Sandy Hook?  Can those conditions or propensities be recognized in advance?  If so how?  How prevalent are these conditions in our population?  Can we reliably test for them?  Are there behavioral traits we should be looking for?  And, why aren’t we gathering the information which might help us prioritize the causative factors?

What are the behavioral warning signs that presage this type of violence?  What requirements/responsibilities can reasonably be placed upon parents vis a vis the mental condition of their children/dependents?  What reasonable requirements/standards can be placed on the storage and safekeeping of weapons.  Can weapons be so personalized as to be rendered unusable to anyone but the authorized owner?  What liability might be assessed for the failure to comply with those requirements/standards?  The questions to be answered are endless and to make matters worse, no one appears to be looking for the answers.

Shame on us for the disingenuous politics!  Take a close look at our elected officials.  Do you see how they scramble for the bragging rights of being the first to propose some nonsensical gun law?  I respectfully suggest that they breath through their noses, sit down, and read the recent blog by Lisa Long entitled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother: A Mom’s Perspective The Mental Illness Conversation In America.”  It’s an important read.

Let’s take this dialog to a place that actually addresses the problem.  Lisa Long said it best when she wrote, “… it’s easy to talk about guns.  But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”

GORILLA REVIEW – Introduction to Connect The Dots

Rather than put together a traditional synopsis we like to introduce novels by quoting their prologue. What follows is the prologue to the novel, Connect The Dots. If you like politics mixed with world history watch for Connect The Dots, A Glimpse Into The Middle East.

CONNECT THE DOTS, A GLIMPSE INTO THE MIDDLE EAST

Note:  This work was originally intended to be published as both an ebook and a print on demand trade paperback, but for his own reasons Mr. Pennyworth has decided to serialize this work and publish it on Mercurys Pen.  The following Prologue is published by Permission of Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or conveyed via the internet or a Web site without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

PROLOGUE

When I began this project it was my intention to simply report on events in Lebanon so as to highlight certain facts about the organization known as Hezbollah.  My  thought was to bring some unbiased clarity to a muddy and often misrepresented situation. However, it soon became obvious that even a limited discussion of Hezbollah in the absence of some discussion of Iran and Syria would be grossly incomplete. Of course a discussion of those two countries (as well as the major non-state actors) had to be placed within the greater context of the religion of Islam. To complete the picture it was also necessary to place the whole of the Middle East into at least a minimal historical focus. Although I have attempted to do all of this in the simplest, most straightforward way possible, a project initially intended to be nothing more than a pamphlet has grown to the size of a small novel. Of course, anything but the most cursory discussion would fill a small library.

In the process of streamlining the facts a large number of important issues have been bypassed. For example, the vulnerability of the Muslim masses and their reasons for discontent has not been addressed. Not because I view that issue as unimportant, but because it muddies the waters in this narrow discussion of identifying the real agenda of the various state and non-state actors. Where necessary, detail has been sacrificed in favor of clarity and simplicity.  My apologies.

So.  Why am I writing this?  Well, the entire effort has been based upon the simple premise that submerged within the miasma of information which bombards us on a daily basis are the bits and pieces of a much greater mosaic. These telltales are the tracks left by those who would control our world and shape our futures. Usually this information is so fleeting, so innocuous, or so disconnected it barely represents a dot on our personal radar screens. But, if we go to the effort of pulling together the seeming trivia of the international scene we will see an alarming reflection of the past being played out in the present.

Are today’s events repeating history? I believe they are. In fact, I’m convinced we are watching a replay of events analogous to those which presaged World War II. I am also convinced that our intellectual conceit has blinded us to the basic realities of the world and, in the end, made us vulnerable to those who simply do not play by our rules. While we focus on the superfluous, and argue the irrelevant, others lay down their lives as evidence of their sincerity.

Our failure to come to grips with the reality of millions of undocumented illegal aliens within our borders has literally invited our enemies to go wherever they want in our heartland. Why do we allow this? Because we like to believe in higher principles.  Unfortunately, those principles also make us vulnerable.

At the same time we tolerate, indeed encourage, the rampant idiocy of our politicians (all political parties included), an army of very focused, very dedicated, true believers practice assembling roadside bombs.  And we don’t have a clue.

Are we worried when a young man with his whole life ahead of him decides to walk into a crowd of innocent women and children and set off a couple pounds of explosives laced with ball bearings? Not really. It didn’t happen here, and after all we’re too busy insulting the office of our own President and appointing independent prosecutors to investigate unimportant trivia.

I sometimes wonder if our legislatures have enough sense to come in out of the rain. But then these people didn’t elect themselves. We, you and I, elected them. And, by so doing we have approved and continue to approve their self-interested behavior.

There are no clear national priorities because we the voters haven’t insisted on them. Our leaders favor form over substance because we have allowed it. And truth is consistently the first victim because our national myopia is ubiquitous, inexplicable, and truly breathtaking.

Most frightening of all is the fact that very little is hidden from us, which I believe this work will prove.  I have taken a slice of time up thru 2006 and written down some of the important things all of us should have noticed.  These data points were public knowledge;  stuff which was available to each of us, if we had just paid attention.  My hope is that you will be surprised by what you missed.  So surprised, in fact, that you’ll argee with me that we better open our eyes and Connect The Dots before it’s too late.

Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

 

“The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic World… “ [Emphasis Added.]

“The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land…” [Emphasis Added.]

“As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map…”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Wednesday 26 October 2005)

 

“Those who can’t learn from History are doomed to repeat it.”

George Santayana (16 December 1863 – 26 September 1952)

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, aka Abu Ali, aka Muhammed Haidar

(1889 – 1945)

Return To The Table of Contents

GORILLA REVIEW – Table of Contents

“The imagination is limitless”

I. PREFACE

Created in 2005, the Gorilla Review was originally intended to provide a forum for our book reviews, but since that time the work has expanded to include Introductions and Interviews.

This Table of Contents is hyperlinked into “Posts” which are stored somewhere on the internet as individual chapters, creating a virtual work which can be viewed from anywhere in the world as if its parts were all located on a single website.  If you see something you want to read just click on the hyperlink and you will be transported to the item.

Since nothing is ever completely finished this Table of Contents will change without notice to reflect additions and deletions to the body of work.  So check it periodically to see if anything has changed.

II.  eBOOKS – iBOOKS

eBooks/iBooks have definitely arrived and are rapidly gaining popularity.  While they won’t be putting the printed word completely out of business any time soon, the handwritting is on the wall.

This section contains a couple of Posts on the subject of eReaders and eBooks which will hopefully help you understand this exciting variation on the printed word.

1. eReaders and eBooks/iBooks – An Introduction

2. eBooks/iBooks – Useful References

III. BOOK INTRODUCTIONS

Rather than putting together a traditional synopsis, for some works where we have obtained permission of the author we like to introduce the novel by quoting the entirety of the Prologue. Gorilla Review Introductions should provide an interesting change of pace from the standard Book Review format.  We believe this type of approach was first adopted by Google books.

1. Introduction to Connect The Dots, A Glimpse Into The Middle East

2. Introduction to Kokoro

3. Introduction to The Diva Incident

4. Introduction to The Armageddon

5. Introduction to Shu

IV. BOOK REVIEWS

An eclectic collection of standard and/or not-so-standard book reviews. Usually book reviews amount to nothing more than teasors designed to either pan the work or to spark interest in it. Some of the Gorilla reviews fall within this description and others are closer to being a synopsis than a typical review. When we give you more than the standard amount of detail we will also give you a warning so we don’t ruin the story for you.  We personally hate it when someone tells us how the story ends.

1. Gorilla Review – BLOOD PRICE by Tanya Huff (very brief review)

2. Gorilla Review – THE BOOK OF THE DEAD by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

3. Gorilla Review – RENFIELD slave of dracula by Barbara Hambly

4. Gorilla Review – Preface To The Horus Heresy

5. Gorilla Review – Horus Rising – (Book One Of The Horus Heresy)

6. Gorilla Review – False Gods – (Book Two Of The Horus Heresy)

7. Gorilla Review – GENGHIS (Birth of an Empire) by Conn Iggulden

V. THE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

A. The backgrounds of selected authors with reference sites, if any, as well as descriptions of their body of work:

Wilbur Smith

B. Interviews with various authors and individuals of interest:

Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

1. Gorilla Review – Part 1, Francis Pennyworth, Jr. Interview

2. Gorilla Review – Part 2, Francis Pennyworth, Jr. Interview

3. Gorilla Review – Part 3, Francis Pennyworth, Jr. Interview

VI.  WEBSITES

1. ElectricRead  A site where various novels by Steven A. Hall (both eBook and trade print formats) can be purchased.  The eBooks or iBooks are presented in ePub formats compatible with iPhone, iPads, Tablets, Computer and Android operating systems.

2. Lulu A site where where authors can self publish books, calendars, photo albums etc.  Works can be ordered as printed books and/or eBooks in either ePub or PDF format.

3. Goodreads  A website for book readers and authors alike.  Goodreads claims a massive audience of 11 million users.

VII. BLOGS

1. MercurysPen

2. Digital Book Today

3. Jack Durish

4. The Masquerade Crew

5. Michael Rivers

6. The True Book Addict

7. Your Book Authors

8. Venture Galleries

VIII. SERIALIZED NOVELS

Connect The Dots, A Glimpse Into The Middle East

Chapter 1, A Darkness Of The Soul

Chapter 2, The Darkness Spreads

Chapter 3, Islam

Chapter 4, Iran – The Land Of The Aryans

Chapter 5, The Revolutionary Guard Corps  (Pasdaran), Iran’s Thought Police

Chapter 6, The Party Of God

Chapter 7, Syria

Chapter 8, Hamas

Chapter 9, The Ba’th Party

Chapter 10, The Fifth Republic Movement – The Darkness Continues To Spread

Chapter 11, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Mahdaviat

Chapter 12, Lebanon 2006 – 2007

Chapter 13, Two Frightening Concepts

Chapter 14, Trailing Dots

Chapter 15, Connecting The Dots

Glossary

Persons of Interest

Bibliography

Exhibit 1

End Notes

IX. OPINION ARTICLES

1.  Common Sense by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

Gun control and how we are failing to address the important issues.

2.  I Stole It – Now It’s Mine by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

A discussion of the issues surrounding gun control and how, in a number of ways, the current approach the current approach defies common sense.

3.  Other People’s Money by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

An opinion piece taking a cold hard look at the national debt and the government’s failue to deal with it.

4. Sequestration? by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

A discussion of the sequestration mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

5.  The Sarah Palin Incident – Political Ends and Personal Destruction by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

A brief history of Governor Palin’s notoriety and the associated emergence of a meaner, counter-productive politics of personal destruction.

X.  REFERENCE

1.  Twitter Hashtags for authors.

A collection of useful twitter hastags for authors and readers.

2. Author Blogs

This is a collection of author blogs, some of them serve to promote only the author’s works, while others are part of an overall author “platform” and serve wider functions related to writing in general.  At a minimum this post should be an interesting if not useful reference.

If you have anyone to add let us know by Comment or email us at ElectricRead@gmail.com  Prior to writing this post we used #AuthorBlogs.  If you don’t see what you’re looking for here you might find it in Twitter under that hashtag.

 

♦   ♦   ♦

Additions to the Gorilla Review body of work will be reflected in this Table of Contents as they are published.

The works of Steven A. Hall are available at

ElectricRead

 

The Silent Years

Prologue

In the opening days of WWII my father’s B-17 bomber was strafed on the ground at Clark AFB in the Philippines. In the chaos that followed he and a few of his friends managed to get their hands on a Thompson submachine gun and a 45 cal. semi-automatic, and escape into the bush.

The abrupt transition from the corn fields of Iowa to the jungles of Mindanao almost killed him. But in the end, he survived to join up with a band of American guerillas under the command of Col. Fertig.

In the years after the war my father wrote a short story entitled, “The Silent Years” which was intended to be the precursor to a book. The short story was never published (Readers Digest came close) and unfortunately the full book was never written. Somehow it seemed appropriate that the short story finally see the light of day. I hope you find it interesting. Who knows, maybe one of your own parents, or grandparents, were also hiding in the jungle somewhere near my father.

THE SILENT YEARS

by Major Geo. O. Hall, USAF (Ret.)

The thunder rumbling in the hills made good its promise of rain, and coconuts loosened by the first gusts of wind thumped the turf. My khaki trousers, with the legs cut off above the knees to patch the seat and my khaki shirt with the sleeves shortened to reinforce the back were quickly soaked. Black mud squished up between my toes as I slithered along the carabao trail. My .45 automatic in its service holster slapped my right hip as if to spur me on.

And then I saw it. Perched on mahogany pilings was the radio station, capped with kugan grass thatch. The antenna feeder line lead from a shuttered window up to an antenna strung between fifty foot bamboo poles.

BOEING’S 17-E, FIRST MASS PRODUCED FORTRESS

 

This was January, 1943, nine long months after General Wainright’s surrender on The Rock. The jungle had swallowed the vestiges of our defeat on Bataan and the shattered aluminum bodies of B-17 Flying Fortresses lay dully among the debris of Clark Field.

For most American survivors there had been no alternative but enemy prison camps. A very few had been more fortunate. They had a choice.

Though much has been said about the heroic siege of Corregidor and equally heroic regaining of the Philippines, very little has been released concerning the long silent years in between. How did new Thompson submachine guns suddenly appear in these islands? How did American prisoners, last seen behind the barbed wire at Davao, suddenly appear in Australia more than two thousand miles to the south? How was enemy shipping so consistently torpedoed in Philippine waterways?

I was one of those who had a choice when our world collapsed about us, one of the fortunate few who could surrender or side-step into the jungle and fight on. Once committed to fighting on there was no turning back. To be caught meant cold steel in the guts. A guerilla is not out for medals, he has a will to win born of desperation.

The main might of the Nipponese military machine rumbled southward through Java, the Celebes, and into New Guinea. As evadees scattered throughout the Philippines, we were aware only of the happenings under our small saucer of sky. We were isolated.

As guerillas we were free, but ours was the freedom of the hunted. We had only the clothes we stood in and the guns that were in our hands when our flag fell. We needed supplies from friendly forces now remote by thousands of miles, if our freedom was to be more than that of foxes running before the hounds.

Food was scarce, a diet of sun dried fish, carabao jerky, coarse ground corn and sweet potato leaves was unfamiliar to Americans. Some became enured to this new existence. Others lost strength, contracted dysentery or malaria and died.

I was cured of deadly dysentery by drinking a concoction of herbs brewed by a Filipino friend. The jungle was old Zoilo’s drugstore. He cured the growing, gangrenous tropical ulcers on my feet without the synthetic miracle of wonder drugs.

After months of looking at great, red sausages for feet, I thought these extremities were wasting away, atrophying , when they dwindled to their normal size. What a pleasure it was to walk again.

During this convalescent period, I stayed with Zoilo and his sizable family in their remote hideout on the headwaters of the Bubunawan river far above Cagayan City on Mindanao, the southernmost island of the Philippines. We trapped small, fresh water shrimp and eels in the river which seemed to have no fish. Camote leaves and “puko,” a tender jungle fern, were our vegetables.

Many Filipino families made it possible for Americans to live to fight again though they knew the price they might pay for harboring us was death.

When I could travel again, I located a battery powered radio receiver belonging to a school teacher of Cagayan. He now taught school under The Conqueror’s flag. The schools books were censored but this schoolteacher’s mind was not. “Who needs such books?” he said. On weekends this teacher retreated to his few hectares of land in the hills. Here he had buried his receiver in defiance of the edict that all radios be turned in.

A Syrian merchant operated a small rice mill in this area. It was powered by a single cylinder diesel that now ran quite well on coconut oil. The Syrian had surrendered his radio but had retained his generator and rectifier. “They just ask for radio,” he said with merchant cunning.

Now we had news of the war. I published news bulletins but it was difficult to make them sound encouraging. It had become obvious that the deliverance of the Philippines was to take years rather than months.

While tuning the receiver dial late in 1942, I chanced upon a faint, new station calling. “Australia, calling Australia. This is a group of Americans in the Philippines. We have valuable information for you. We need ammunition and medicine…”.

Intercepting this call gave me a thrilling surge of hope. I had long dreamed of what could be done with a transmitter.

I finally learned that the station I had heard might be at Col. Fertig’s headquarters near Misamis on the far side of Iligan Bay. I heard from a guerilla courier that Col. Fertig was creating an army of resistance from the debris of defeat.

Barefoot, I set out for Misamis. On Christmas eve I attended a torch lit midnight mass in an ancient Spanish cathedral in guerilla held coastal barrio of Aloran. From the church steps a guerilla sentry watched a Nipponese patrol launch chugging in the moonlight along the outer reef. It was low tide and an expanse of water, too shallow for the launch, lay between the reef and the beach. Father Theodore Daigler of New York intoned the mass in cadence, it seemed, with the chugging launch. He gave the Gospel in the local Visayan dialect.

The patrol launch cruised the coast line daily after Christmas but by New Year’s eve I had located a Filipino fisherman who would chance the eighty kilometer crossing of Iligan Bay in his small banca when the weather outlook was better. I was impatient. The weather looked fine to me so I taunted the fisherman with, “Ikao hadluk, tingali?” (You are afraid, perhaps?). It was an unfair accusation which I fortunately lived to regret. The skipper cast a sharp glance at his crew of two and brusquely motioned me into his slender craft.

The evening breeze filled our patched, triangular mainsail and jib and the narrow dugout hull knifed out into the darkening waters leaning first on one bamboo outrigger and then on the other. The sun quickly slipped below the wave scalloped horizon. Unseen clouds shrouded the moon and stars. It was dark.

Sudden winds blasting in from the Mindanao Sea whipped mere waves into black mountains. With only the small jib flying the banca scudded down steep, watery slopes, buried half its length in the boiling trough and staggered up to the next crest only to roller coaster sickeningly down again. It was useless to bail, only the all wood construction kept us afloat. I have never ridden in a faster bath tub.

Beyond the outriggers, the ebony sky merged indistinguishably with black water. The skipper, who never relaxed at the steering oar, could divine direction only by the wind on his cheek. My concern that I would never see new year’s day, 1943, slowly turned to conjecture on where we might land. Under what flag would the beach sentries be?

In early morning darkness we shot over the boiling phosphoresence of the far side reef and dragged the banca onto wave packed sand. Then we became uneasily aware of the silent, shadowy form squatting beside the bole of a coconut palm. In the darkness we sensed rather than saw the rifle leveled at us. Sea water was still draining from my holster. What a ridiculous situation.

“Mayon Gabii” (Good evening), I said and the gun barrel raised. It was a guerilla sentry.

Before saying good-bye to the skipper and his crew I offered them my last few pesos. They refused the wet money with a shrug. They would have refused gold. “Teniente, we fight for the same cause. No need to pay,” was the skipper’s reply.

I found Col. Fertig to be a “doer”. Under his guidance the unusual became the commonplace. However, his widespread and rapidly growing underground movement had to be coordinated within and had to have the cooperation of “outside forces” if this guerilla venture was to be fully effective. A radio net was needed.

After assigning me to his transmitter station some thirty kilometers distant, Col. Fertig’s parting words were, “We must get out to Australia on that radio.”

I remembered this final statement as I slithered barefooted in the rain up the muddy carabao trail to the station.

KZOM’s young crew gave me a warm welcome and dry clothes. We were all in our early twenties. There was Konko and Johnson formerly with Cmdr. Bulkely’s “They Were Expendable” Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron.

Konko and Johnson had crewed the speedy, little PT boats which slipped Gen. Mac Arthur from Corregidor through the Nipponese Fleet to Mindanao, from whence the General flew to assume his Pacific Command in Australia. There was Bob Ball an Air Corps radio operator like myself. Lt. Almendras was KZOM’s Chief Radio Technician. Almendras, working with electronic scrap and bamboo, accomplished weird, technical things that finally made our mission possible.

And there was Mr. Opendo who had been a Philippine Bureau of Postes radio operator in peacetime. Opendo ignored the Conqueror’s edict and buried his station’s equipment. Later he reported in to Col. Fertig and offered his radio and himself to the cause.

KZOM was now off the air. A transformer had burned out and Almendras was struggling to repair it with the junk on had.

I became engrossed in a old volume of “The Amateur’s Radio Handbook” and formed an operational plan to use should we ever get the old rat’s nest of wires, tubes and bamboo fired up again. The gang accepted the plan. Everything else had been tried so why not?

On our next attempt we would use Morse Code which carries further than voice transmission. We would use a directional, long wire antenna. We would answer a specific station on its receiving frequency.

I was particularly intrigued by KFS, San Francisco, which could be heard nightly calling, “CQ, answer on 36 or 48 meters”. We received KFS best on 36 meters so that would be the frequency of our replay. Of course, KFS was using powerful equipment in contrast with our puny gear.

By the latter part of January 1943, Almendras had the radio ready to go, I still had not found the wire I needed and my simple end fed antenna hung out the window like a clothesline.

“KFS, KFS,” the tubes winked at me as I tapped out the lengthy call and repeated our own call sign. Then we listened to our receiver, as we had so many times before, and heard nothing but crackles of static. Then came “_ZOM, KZOM!”. Our call! “KZOM DE KFS,” the signal repeated. We had been heard! Suddenly the light of distant Frisco illuminated our dingy hut. The refrain, “San Francisco, open your Golden Gates…” sang through my mind. We arranged for a schedule at the same time the following night.

News gets around by rattan vines as well as grape vines and a large coil of copper wire, with which the Moros like to decorate the handles of their bolos, mysteriously appeared the next day. An eager throng of volunteer guards helped set up my directional antenna.

That night we transmitted a coded message addressed boldly to the War Department. (This was in pre-Pentagon days.) Our message stated that we were a group of Americans holding out in the Philippines, that we had valuable information and that we wanted to establish a regular schedule and secure codes. We attempted to transmit a furtive hint regarding the simple code we were using.

We never knew if our code hint was recognized but within twenty four hours the War Department received our message, deciphered it, drafted an answer in the same code and sent it to KFS for relay to us.

Col. Fertig was exuberant when he read the War Department’s reply. Recognition and material support, without which our venture was doomed, was now forthcoming. Volumes of strategic data were transmitted. Our traffic was shifted to KAZ, Gen. Mac Arthur’s station in Australia.

A U.S. submarine sneaked through to us in February, ‘43, with a small cargo of clothing, medicine and essential equipment. Large freight subs later delivered more than one hundred tons of key material each trip. They did not return empty. Non-combatants, including women and children trapped abroad by the suddenness of war, were carried out to safety. Many Americans who escaped from enemy prison camps were evacuated. Two of these were Capt. Dyess, USAAF and Capt. S. M. Mellink, U.S. Army. Bill Dyess was saved only to perish later crash landing a fighter plane. Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, proudly bares his name. Brig. Gen. Mellink would later head Air Defense training at Ft. Bliss, Texas.

A submarine ambush destroyed a Nipponese convoy northbound out of Davao, there is no victory without sorrow. Unknown to us one unmarked transport carried an estimated eight hundred American prisoners below sealed hatches. The enemy, sticking by their sinking ships, machine gunned these prisoners in the water. Little more than seventy reached the beach. We moved these emaciated survivors to a sub rendezvous area and they were soon in stateside hospitals.

I took new radio equipment to enemy occupied Zamboanga City to cover the Basilan Straits shipping lanes. Our intelligence network mushroomed. Through the collective reporting of our coastal radios, hundreds of thousands of tons of enemy shipping was war materials went to the bottom instead of to the front lines in New Guinea.

When our navy hit Truk, the Nipponese naval strength in these areas fell back through Basilan Straits. Admiral Nimitz radioed back the Navy’s “Well Done” in answer to my detailed report.

Guerilla radios pin pointed prime targets to our bombers and provided advance information regarding the weather on-target.

Our intelligence data aided in the selection of Tacloban, Leyte for the initial Philippine beachhead. The landing began early on October 20th, 1944.

When an all out Nipponese Navy pincer action imperiled this landing, guerilla coastal units assisted in setting up, in Surigao Straits, one of naval history’s most famous and economical ambushes. Little U.S. PT boats had a field day torpedoing capital ships as they crossed the “T”.

The jaws of the pincer action were shattered, Tacloban was secured and island by island the flag of “The Land of The Morning” replaced “The Rising Sun.”

Ragged and gaunt Filamerican Guerillas had done their share in turning initial defeat into final victory. But it should never be forgotten that with the Filamerican Guerillas stood the equally ragged and gaunt Filipino civilians. Without their support we could never have been more than foxes running before the hounds.

THE END