Thursday, July 31, 2008


Back on May 21st I wrote about losing two wonderful friends, Jim Baumgartner and Michael J. Kiley. Their passing was a blow to the Commander and now just a few months later I have again lost two more very close personal friends.

For several years five old retired local broadcasters have met for lunch every three weeks. Each time one of the gang would be responsible for selecting the site and we have enjoyed eating at a variety of different spots. We often referred to our group as The Old Farts. One member was the General Manager of the local ABC television station, two were General Manager or Station Manager at the NBC TV Station, and two were the top Executives from the local CBS TV Station and its owner.

While we were fierce competitors during our active days, we grew to become close personal friends over the years in retirement. The luncheons were lively and friendly and on occasion we even joined with our wives for dinner at the now shuttered University Club. The only thing that disrupted attendance was vacations, Doctor appointments, or advancing health issues.

Lately, our two buddies from the CBS Station were absent due to dramatically increasing health issues. E. Berry Smith suffered for a long time with ever-advancing Emphysema, but he continued to live alone and would always be the first arriving at the designated luncheon restaurant. Berry’s keen wit and intellect was strong and he always added humor to our gatherings.

Jim Freeman was the quiet member of our group, but his warmth and depth always added greatly to the meetings. Over the past several years, Jim fought valiantly through two different forms of cancer, the resulting chemotherapy treatments, dialysis, and increasing heart issues. He never complained and always felt he was going to beat the health issue of the day.

Over forty plus years, I was directly involved and got to know personally hundreds of people in the broadcasting business, both locally and nationally. Of all those individuals, I have never been privileged to know and work with two better broadcasters than Berry and Jim. They loved the business, their stations and the people under their direction. Both men truly believed that broadcasters had a significant obligation to their listeners and viewers and their daily leadership never deviated from that mission. No one ever met these fine men without knowing quickly their total dedication, honesty, and integrity, along with their devotion to faith, their families and employer.

In the space of barely a week, these two fine men passed and their long battle with illness was peacefully brought to an end. The remainder of our group will surely continue with our lunches and lively conversations, but it will never be the same.

I have lost two wonderful, close friends, but I am a better human being having known and shared a friendship with these two loving husbands, fathers, grandfathers, leaders, community servants, believers and the best friends anyone could ever cherish. Anyone of us would be well served living our lives with the integrity, humor and civility as these two fine gentlemen did. Both are in a better place now free of suffering, but I am certain they are lunching together and scouting out a good place for when we next meet. Those remaining here may rejoin Jim and Berry at different times, but we will look forward to our next luncheon with them. We will all arrive eventually, and I for one am truly looking forward to seeing them again. I am so glad that I had time to tell both of them that I loved them and would miss them until we meet again.


Thursday, July 10, 2008


For the past week I have been trying to select a new more positive topic for my blog and frankly it has been very difficult. All the news I’ve seen in my daily review of the internet, numerous newspapers, radio, cable channels and national network television is most depressing and it has placed me in a blue funk.

Yesterday, I drew your attention to Ted Koppel’s Discovery Channel program on China and I hope many of you had an opportunity to view the show. I did and felt it was excellent. I plan to tivo the next three shows at 1000 PM this Thursday, Friday and, I believe, Saturday. As they say…check your local listings. The program was vintage Koppel and I, for one, am looking forward to viewing the entire series. This is what we all experienced in quality programs in the early days of television broadcasting and it is nothing like the current mindless reality crap.

As you know from by post back on April 23rd…I LOVE TO READ…and I make it a point to devote some portion of each day with my close personal friends …BOOKS.

On July 1st Brad Thor released his latest book titled THE LAST PATRIOT and I highly recommend it to your reading list. Thor is quickly becoming one of our great action adventure authors and this product is his very best. I won’t spoil your read, but it is a real page turner, exciting and reinforces one’s respect for our law enforcement personnel who sacrifice significantly for our daily safety.

This is Thor’s seventh book and if you have not read his work I suggest you might want to start with THE LIONS OF LUCERNE, then move on to PATH OF THE ASSASSIN, STATE OF THE UNION, BLOWBACK, TAKEDOWN, THE FIRST COMMANDMENT and finish with THE LAST PATRIOT.

Recently too, I have read and suggest Dale Brown’s SHADOW COMMAND and ever popular David Baldacci’s THE WHOLE TRUTH.

Frequently I have two or three different books sitting on my table at various stages of reading. One of them is Patrick Buchanan’s CHURCHILL, HITLER, and the UNNECESSARY WAR. This is a very interesting work that is well researched and revealing of many factual historical events. The conclusions are very shocking and point a rather unflattering finger at Churchill and the British Empire that still influences world events today. This is not light reading, but very enlightening.

Currently, I am also reading Dick Morris and Eileen McGann’s new book FLEECED and I am so frustrated by all the disgusting events in Washington that I may require medication. Their work is well sourced and documented, but it scares the hell out of me to see what our elected leaders are doing and not doing.

Lastly and maybe most importantly is Tim Weiner’s LEGACY OF ASHES, which is a 601 page paperback tome covering The History of the CIA. While Weiner is obviously a very liberal New York Times reporter he has covered the intelligence world for over twenty years and this work is very well researched and sourced. I am always impressed by the amount of time and work some authors spend on interviews and research sourcing. This is a somewhat ponderous read; I recommend it and feel you will be astounded by the many revelations covering every President from Harry Truman (the founder of the CIA) through current President Bush. Without spoiling the books conclusions, every single President since Truman has misused the CIA and each one has failed to lead the CIA on its proper mission and course. Shocking, but true, it renews my longstanding suspicions as to who really was responsible for the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby Kennedy.

I hope you find as much satisfaction and joy from reading as I do. One of the greatest gifts we all have is our public libraries many of which were built by the generous gifts from steel baron Andrew Carnegie. I encourage you to visit your local library and explore its vast sources of information, education, and fun reads. You will widen your horizons.


Thursday, July 3, 2008


As July 4th approaches it is an appropriate time to give some serious thought to the state of our great country…THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

I do not know about you, but I am very concerned and nightly I find myself tossing and turning trying to figure out just how we are going to survive and sustain the American Way of Life. Where do we start in approaching our problems is a good question that requires action.

Let’s start with the current economic disaster facing every citizen with the artificially inflated price of oil at $143.00 per barrel. No matter where you live in the USA the price of gasoline is negatively influencing every segment of our daily lives. This problem has not just developed, but has been building for several years. Our Congressional leaders have long neglected their obligation to their constituents and have repeatedly failed to act responsibility to begin solving the energy crisis.

Prior to my retirement after more than forty years in the broadcasting industry, I was required to go to work every day in order to receive my pay check. That same requirement clearly does not apply to our elected officials in Congress because they only work about 2 ½ days per week when Congress is in session. Clinton, Obama and McCain have rarely appeared in the Senate for months, because they have been campaigning and raising money for their possible election. However, they still collect their full salary and benefits. Consider the other early candidates who also are elected officials in the House or Senate and did not work for months at their “jobs” while they ran unsuccessful campaigns. What did that cost the taxpayers and what could have been accomplished had they been working?

Consider all the lost days you and I paid these elected officials for work they never did and subtract that from the only 2 ½ days a week Congress was in session when not out on Easter break, December break, August (summer) break among other smaller breaks. Are we the American taxpayers total fools or do we just not care anymore about the future of our country. I am beginning to think the latter is true, because only a small percentage of the electorate even goes to the polls.

It is The Commander’s opinion that the media shares in responsibly for many of our current problems, and when you add voter apathy you have an equation that spells disaster. I know the media from the inside and it has changed significantly since the mid 1950’s when single family ownership held the licenses in their hometown markets and dominant individual corporate leadership existed at the three major networks. Then explosive expansion of video channels, radio frequencies, cable outlets, satellite radio, I-pods, cell phones, music videos, etc. all came forward when big financial institutions and investment bankers became involved and forced unrealistic financial goals upon each business. Individual families and strong authoritative network leaders frequently acted in favor of quality and what was good for the public opposed to gouging the public for every possible penny of profit. That is what drives media today and what has brought media pressures to influence the election process.

Within the past week the price of gasoline in my community jumped 12 cents per gallon over the weekend and what did our all-knowing Congress do? They went home on recess for the 4th of July. They flew home dumping a huge carbon imprint on our skies, so they could take more earmark money to the home towns and raise more dollars for their reelection campaigns. Just consider how many gallons of jet fuel were consumed for their flights out of Washington to their local districts? What they failed to do again is address our immediate need to start coming to terms with the energy crisis.

I really believe that our Congressional leaders are so desperate to make President George Bush look bad that they are willingly to bring economic hardships upon the entire country. Unfortunately, President Bush does not need Congress to make him look any worse than he already does, but Congress is waiting till there is an election and then they will take the credit for a solution at that time.

There is no easy answer to our current energy problems, but we cannot permit the Middle Eastern dictatorships to ruin the USA, and we are permitting this to occur by inaction and pure political spite. Drilling for oil in ANWR, off shore, shale in our western states, wind farms, geothermal, solar, clean coal, hydrogen and nuclear must all be considered and developed. We all must sacrifice and get off the “Not in by back yard” mentality. Remember, we are the country that within a few years developed for good or bad the atomic bomb that saved hundreds of thousands of lives in World War ll, and we are the same country that sent a man to the moon, so we are certainly capable of solving our energy problem.

Why is our State Department still sending huge sums of financial aid to many of these oil producing countries who are trying to destroy our economy? When we attain energy independence, and we will, I predict, as I have in earlier essays, portions of the Middle East and countries like Nigeria and/or Venezuela could and should collapse economically, because of their corrupt leadership.

There is still time to act, but you have to get off your back side; write, call or email your Senators and Representatives and go to the polls in November. It is time to vote the do nothing political individuals out of Congress and be especially careful who you elect as our next President. You and I are going to have to live with the consequences of the next election and the impact it will have on the Supreme Court’s rulings in the future. You owe your children and the veterans who gave their lives for your freedom to act responsibly. It is time the electorate stands up and demands accountability and action like our Founding Fathers did in 1776. You and I will probably survive our short term hardships, but will our children?