Debt? What debt”

It was your money. You earned it. See how they spent it.

I know. I know.

You’re probably concerned about things like the state of the economy.

Get your mind off those little issues and focus on the important stuff in our lives.

Oh, sure, our country is $34 trillion in debt, the largest national debt in human history. The Congressional Budget Office said that if things don’t change, the national debt will ballon to about $141 trillion in 30 years.

So what?

Sure, some might think this is a problem, but what do they know?

Politicians are in charge, and our politicians wouldn’t let anything bad happen to us.

That’s why we elect them — to take care of us.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy how your politicians have decided to spend the money they have taken from you.

I thought today we should look at just one, very, very tiny expenditure.

A VERY TINY EXPENDITURE

Last year the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, awarded a grant1 for an important research project.

Just about any research project the government pays for is considered important, even if it’s not obvious that it is really, truly, honestly, for real important.

But our politicians wouldn’t spend money — your money — on things that weren’t important.

So let’s take a closer look at this study.

The purpose of the study is to “understand why minority children [black, indigenous, and people of color] read manga.”

For those of you not up to date on manga, they are comics or graphic novels with lots of pictures and not so many words, that originated in Japan.

I told you it was important.

I mean, seriously, who doesn’t want to know the answer to that question?

Image of child reading a manga comic book. The image was created by AI.

New York’s Queens College was given $313,318.00 to conduct a three-year study designed to help librarians who aren’t knowledgeable about manga2 “develop a diverse library and archival workforce” so libraries can be more DEI friendly.

Who doesn’t want to be their library to be more DEI friendly?

I told you it was important.

And it’s a great deal.

It’s not like $313,318.00 is a lot of money. It’s only a third of a million dollars. That wouldn’t even buy you a nice home in America today.

Three hundred million is just a pittance when you’re $34 trillion in debt.

No one will even notice the expense.

So, as our economy is on the verge of total collapse, you can reassure yourself that some librarians will learn the importance of including manga books for our children so they won’t have to learn to read books with lots of words in them.

See, I told you it was a great idea.

Have a fantastic day!

Before I go, I’d like to share a blessing with you from the Old Testament.

“May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 (The Living Bible)

Until next time … be the reason someone smiles today

1

GRANT to RESEARCH FOUNDATION OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK | USAspending

2

Manga are comics or graphic novels originating from Japan. The term manga is used in Japan to refer to both comics and cartooning. Outside of Japan, the word typically denotes comics originally published in Japan and translated into other languages. (Definition by Copilot)

May I Borrow Your Pee? Please.

Lessons from my days in olive drab.

Click on the player above to listen to the podcast.

Episode 3: May I borrow your pee? Please.

I had an image in my mind of what my first day in the Army would be like.

I imagined a drill instructor screaming at me and my fellow recruits as we got off the bus at some Army base. I’d seen that in the movies, so I was ready for my first day in the Army.

I could handle it.

There was only one problem.

That isn’t quite what happened.

MY LAST MORNING AS A CIVILIAN

I woke up early at home.

My grandmother fixed breakfast, and my brother came over to drive me to the Induction Center.

I knew it was hard on my grandmother. She had seen boys leave for World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. She had a nephew who went into the peacetime Army. My brother had gone into the Air Force, and now her youngest grandson — me — was going into the Army and probably to Vietnam.

She tried to make me feel good but I knew it had to concerning to her.

MY FIRST MORNING AS A SOLDIER

Now I could’ve taken the bus to the induction center in downtown LA but my brother came over and drove me.

That might seem like a little thing … giving someone a ride. But it meant a great deal to me.

It let me know that he cared about me and he wanted the best for me.

And I remember watching him drive away after dropping me off in front of the Induction Center and I was so appreciative of having a big brother like him.

But I also realized I was about to begin another stage in my life that would probably prove most interesting.

So, I walked into the building expecting my view of the first day in the Army.

As people arrived and filled up the area where we were supposed to wait, no one was yelling at us.

There were several people in uniform walking around and getting us lined up. They checked our names. And then they sent us into a room full of desks.

Still no one yelled at us.

They walked around with packets, set them in front of us and brought pencils and set them down on the table next to the packets and I remember the soldier in charge said, “Do not touch the pencils and do not touch the packets.”

I wanted to open my packet and fill it out quickly so I could get on to this Army life that I was going to enter. But I resisted the urge and I’m actually quite glad that I did.

Because that’s when the yelling started.

THE YELLING STARTED

The yelling was not directed at me or us as a group but was focused on individuals in that room.

Those who had somehow violated the fundamental rule and had picked up a pencil or had opened a packet and looked at what was inside.

“I told you not to open that packet,” screamed the soldier in charge.

“Did I give you permission to pick up that pencil?” another soldier screamed at an individual.

This continued for some time and I figured the men running this operation were on some kind of heavy duty power trip.

Then the man in charge told us to open our packets to page 1. It was a simple form — last name, first name, address … that kind of stuff.

And then the screaming started again.

“Did I say page two? I did not say page two. Get that back to page one right now.”

“Did I give you permission to pick up your pencil?” screamed another one.

I had almost picked up my pencil but I quickly withdrew my hand. Several other soldiers began yelling at individuals who had committed the dastardly deed.

Finally all the pencil picker uppers had been identified, corrected, and put in their place. Then our leader told us to look at block one on the form.

It said last name.

“When I tell you to pick up your pencil, you will write your last name in block one,” said the leader.

By now I had a good idea how the system worked, so I didn’t even reach for my pencil. I waited.

“Pick up your pencil and write your name in block one. Your last name in block one,” said the leader.

I wrote my last name and was tempted to fill out the rest of the form, but I knew better.

“Put your pencils down,” barked the leader.

I set my pencil on the table and waited while the soldiers running this event circulated through the room.

I was really thinking if this is what all of the soldiers in the Army were like, I was not going to like this.

“Is that block one?” screamed one of the soldiers.

“No one told you to write your first name!” screamed another.

“Who told you to touch your pencil?” screamed yet another of the soldiers.

The soldiers moved through the room stopping only to yell at anyone who had failed to follow directions … I mean orders.

It took over half an hour to fill out that simple form but as we worked through that process I realized it wasn’t just a power trip for the soldiers running this part of the induction process.

The fact is … several of the inductees were having a difficult time filling out the simple forms.

THE PEE

After the paperwork was completed we were ushered into a room for our physicals. We had needles stuck into us in order to suck out our blood. We had to cough while a someone placed their hands on our private parts.

And then it was time for the urine test. They gave each of us a container and told us to fill it with pee.

I headed into the bathroom and waited for an opening at a urinal so I could give my best shot at filling the container.

My turn came and things went well.

That’s when I heard it.

“May I borrow some of your pee?” a voice came from an inductee who approached me. “Please?”

Either he had difficulty calling up his pee on command or he knew the urine test would reveal chemicals in his body that he did not want the Army to find out about.

Even though I had plenty to share, I passed on the opportunity to share it.

Then they assembled us together in a room and we took the oath.

We were now officially in the Army.

Our first order … get on the bus.

THE TRIP TO FORT ORD

Now those on the bus were, I have to admit, a rather motley crew.

This was in the time of the draft so people from all walks of life ended up in the Army.

There were hippies, anti-war activists, military brats, people who intended to be lifers, people who were given the choice of going to jail or joining the Army, and people like me – nice, normal, everyday people.

What’s that smell?

Now I remember the ride on the bus up to Fort Ord and I have to admit I was a little naive but on that bus ride it was the very first time that I smelled marijuana. I even had to ask the person next to me what the sweet smell was.

He was a little unnerved when he told me. Like I should know this.

Apparently a whole bunch of people had decided to party the night before they went into the Army, figuring it might be their last time.

We had long haired scruffy people. We had people who looked like they were drunk. We had people who looked like they were members of the local motorcycle gang.

And we had skinny, good looking, clean cut, handsome people … you know, like me.

But the Army did something interesting.

When we got off the bus up in Fort Ord, they marched us to a place to give us our new clothes. We picked out pants, and shorts, and underwear, and shirts, and boots. They said be careful picking out the boots or we would regret it the rest of our service.

The clothes we got, well … everyone got the same thing.

We did not pick out the clothes on the basis of how they looked but just did we kind of, sort of, fit in them.

And after we had our clothes, we stuffed them into this bag called a duffle bag. And they made us carry that bag around all over the base until we reached this one building called a barber shop.

I really don’t know why they called it a barbershop. You didn’t go in and select a style. And I guess these people had been trained to be barbers, but based on their skills, their training could not have lasted more than about 30 minutes.

My barber turned on the clippers, put the clippers on my head, and ran the clippers right across the top of my head. It didn’t take him long to finish his job and I now had my first military haircut.

So, the clothes, the haircut, living together for the next two months really changed everything.

People who would never have interacted with one another over time became friends and I really enjoyed the experience.

Now I have to admit I don’t want the government choosing my clothes for me, but those first months of Army life let me see that so many of the divisions that we put up to separate ourselves from others are not all that good.

They keep us from getting to know one another.

After we got our haircuts, we were ready to start our Army experience.

Perhaps now we would get to hear the drill sergeants yelling at us.

But it was not to be.

Instead, we were told Fort Ord was full. There wasn’t any room for us.

Woah. That isn’t quite what I expected.

But I’ll tell you what happened after we were given that news in the next episode.

LESSONS

I have two lessons that I learned during this time.

(1) The first one has to do with hanging around with your own group. We hear a lot today about becoming part of a tribe, hanging around those who believe what we believe, and social media is such an example of that as we tend to only interact with those we agree with.

Well, I tell you what. If you really want to belong to a tribe, why don’t you choose to belong to the human tribe. Don’t let looks, language, different backgrounds, different races, different beliefs keep you from interacting with and seeking to understand other people.

(2) The second lesson I had during this time period was how important little things are. I still look back with great appreciation and even joy on the day my brother came to give me a ride and that little bit of time we had together.

And also I look back to the breakfast my grandmother cooked for me and how she went out of her way to try to make me feel good even when she could have been focused on her feelings. She did a nice job.

Those are my lessons for this period of my adventure in olive drab.

Until the next time, I’m Clint Morey, Specialist 4th Class, retired.

Doesn’t it count that we meant well?

It was your money. You earned it. See how they spent it.

Click the player above to listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.

Let’s admit it.

The American military has gotten a lot of bad press in recent years.

From fleeing Afghanistan and leaving behind billions of dollars in state-of-the-art military equipment, to abandoning a modern air base to the enemies of America, to failing to bring home American citizens from a war zone, to abandoning tens of thousands of our allies who we promised to take care of and leaving them behind to be tortured or killed … to hosting drag shows on military bases.

Most of those bad news items were the result of people making some very bad decisions.

Like I said, the American military has gotten a lot of bad press.

But don’t despair.

The American military has been given a chance for redemption.

And that means good news stories from the press will soon be coming their way again.

The change in fortune came back in October, when some very bad guys (Hamas) did some very bad things (murder, rape, cutting off heads, killing children, and stuff like that) to over a thousand people in Israel. Then Israel responded by attacking Hamas,

Because Hamas likes to hide among civilians, the Palestinian people in Gaza found themselves in a war zone and quickly ran into shortages of things like food, water, and medicine.

The international community tried to get those supplies to the Palestinian people by sending in truckloads of supplies. But there was a problem. Hamas stopped the trucks, sometimes killed the drivers, and stole the supplies.

That’s when the military decided to step in and help. It was a chance for redemption.

The military conducted airdrops of supplies to Palestinian civilians.

What a great idea! And if they managed to get some good press out of their efforts … well, that was just frosting on the cake.

But things didn’t work out as the military planned.

They did some airdrops but not enough. And then there was the problem with Hamas again. The Hamas guys took a bunch of the supplies. And on top of that, some of the airdrops killed people on the ground.

It was not the redemption the military needed.

More bad press.

Another Chance

But the military didn’t give up.

They decided to build the “Trident Pier”, a temporary floating pier off the coast of Gaza, that would allow large ships to offload food, water, medicine, and temporary shelters.

What a fantastic idea and what a great opportunity for some much-needed good press for the military.

The pier was officially opened on May 16, 2024, but there were just a few problems.

The truck shipments had to be shut down because crowds rushed the aid trucks. And then there were the strong winds and heavy seas that caused the pier to break apart after a little over a week.

What remained of the pier had to be towed to Israel so it could be repaired.

Okay, it wasn’t a great success.

But it’s not over. After the pier is repaired, the military plans to tow it back to Gaza where it can once again provide aid to the Palestinians.

So, there is the possibility this will be a story that finally brings some good press to the military, along with some supplies to the Palestinians.

What did it cost?

There’s no need to talk about all the bad news. Afghanistan, losing airbases, and paying for drag shows are all in the past.

Let’s focus on the aid to Palestinians.

The airdrops cost about $17 million.

The floating pier only cost the U.S. taxpayers about $320 million. Repairs and future operations might raise the price tag just a bit.

Now you can decide if was worth it.

Remember

It was your money. You earned it. See how they spent it.

Baby Boomers Wanted

Lessons from my days in olive drab

We were young and strong and there was this Vietnam war thing on the other side of the planet.

Our country needed soldiers, lots and lots of soldiers.

The politicians looked around and there we were — the baby boomers.

Click the player above to listen to the podcast