The people's voice of reason

Bits and Pieces

After my short hiatus (1 month) from Robservations, a lot has happened. We’ve had a Russian invasion, a missing Boeing 777, a pretty boring Olympics, a Jay Leno departure, idiotic lawmakers saying some pretty idiotic stuff and of course the return of the Walking Dead. As is sometimes customary with my Robservations, instead of writing about just one issue, I like to cover several topics in one column. So here is Bits and Pieces.

Malaysian Flight 370

You know, I don’t even know where to begin with this thing. As an airline pilot, I get a lot of questions about this and to be honest, I really do not mind fielding these questions and although I can guess with the “best of them,” I admittedly have absolutely no idea what happened. I can offer answers about aircraft systems, pilot procedures and what I think may have happened, but that is about it. I can tell you what I do know 100% and am prepared to go on the record right now with what I know to be true. A Boeing 777 took off from the airport in Kuala Lumpur flying to Beijing. It didn’t make it. There you go.

Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee: Wh – What?

I know for a fact that I am not always the sharpest tool in the shed, but what the?? Democrat Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is continuing her march into the world of classic buffoonery. Remember, back in 2003 when she complained that hurricane names were too “lily white” and said that “All racial groups should be represented.” She suggested Hurricanes “Keisha, Jamal and Deshawn”

I guess somehow giving a hurricane an ethnic name should make all of us feel better about ourselves. And who can forget the unforgettable quote asking about whether the Mars Rover would be able to show us, “the flag the astronauts planted there before?” You can’t make this stuff up. Yes sports fans, Ms. Lee either thought we walked on Mars or the Mars Rover landed on the moon.

Well I guess a week ago or so, she actually said, “. . . how well it is that we have lasted some 400 years operating under a Constitution that clearly defines what is constitutional and what is not. . .” Really, after the “400 years” statement my head melted. Who really cares what she said before or after that? Just for grins, the Constitution was ratified almost 225 years ago. I guess she was only 175 years off. Considering the universe is an estimated 13.8 billion years old, she really wasn’t that far off. The question sadly becomes, “Where do we find such leaders?”

Do you remember Georgia Democrat Representative Hank Johnson’s gaff back in 2010 ...when in a discussion with Admiral Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific fleet about the planned military build-up on the island of Guam? Pulling out his most intellectual voice he actually said, “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.” So apparently Mr. Johnson believes islands simply float around the world and are prone to capsizing if we aren’t careful. That is pretty sad. In his defense, maybe he missed that day in school.

And what is up with our own Alvin Holmes? When I heard his mental meltdown earlier this month I nearly puked. In the debates about abortion in this state and some of the new regulations he obviously doesn’t like, he reached into his hip pocket and pulled out his well-worn and tattered race card. This is what, in part, he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the all of the white people in here are going to raise their hand that they are against abortion. On the other hand, 99 percent of the whites who are sitting in here now, if their daughter got pregnant by a black man, they are going to make their daughter have an abortion. You know, the truth sometimes hurts. “All this stuff about abortion and this and that -- that’s just a con game. That’s for whites, it ain’t for blacks."

Wow, where do you go from there?

I guess he and I are living on different planets but my reality is certainly not his reality. For sure, many white people do get disgusted and upset when their daughter dates, let alone gets pregnant by a black guy. But here is a news flash for Mr. Holmes. The hatred and vitriol also comes from black families in the same situation. My wife and I almost adopted a little biracial girl about 15 years ago. We were told that both families were pretty much mean as heck to this beautiful little girl and wanted nothing to do with her. As if she had anything to do with her circumstance. I hate to be the one to bring bad news but it goes both ways. Besides, as I stroll through airport after airport in the course of my job, the sheer number of white families I see with black children of every age only grows every day. And sorry Mr. Holmes, it does bring a smile to my face. This is 2014 and not 1914 nor even 1964. Drop the racist race baiting and do us all a favor.

I guess my point to all this is how in the heck do we, as a country, continue to elect people who are clearly not up to the job? It is both fascinating and depressing.


Okay, I am not a movie critic or at least I generally do not write about the movies I see. I do, however, have to write about Stalingrad. In 1942-43, the Germans and Russians fought one of the bloodiest battles in human history. At the end of the five month battle, just short of 2,000,000 men were killed, wounded or missing. I think as Americans, we tend to discount the war on the Russian Front and ignore the Russian contribution to the war effort. Most of us do not realize that fully 80% of all German casualties came at the hands of the Russians. For example, I carry a fold out sheet of paper when I fly that is covered with tiny stars – 88,000 to be exact. I will sometimes show it to the guy I am flying with and ask what the stars represent. Most have no idea nor would I expect them to. Are you ready for the answer? It is the number of combat aircraft the Russians admit to losing in WWII. Yup, I said it right. 88,000! Can you even begin to imagine? If one were to take just the deaths of soldiers from both sides (Germany to include Romania, Hungary, Italy and Russians who fought with Germany and on the other side the Russians to include Poland, Romania and Bulgaria) we get approximately 15,829,000 soldiers killed. Divide that by 1397 days and we get some 11,330 soldiers killed every day from 22 June 1941 to 7 May 1945 (Operation Barbarossa to the German surrender). Let’s not even talk about the millions of civilians killed there. Yeah, the conflict on the Russian Front was without a doubt the war of the century.

Stalingrad, a Russian made movie, was by far one of the best war movies I have ever seen. Imagine, Russians speaking Russian and Germans speaking German and no English speaking Germans with British accents. Sadly, this movie received absolutely no advertising and even the movie theater entrance didn’t have a Stalingrad poster showing the movie. But I just happened to look online one day because my brother mentioned the movie was playing up in New Jersey. I am glad I saw it – twice, actually.

The movie starts off, of all places, in Japan following the 2011 Tsunami that destroyed much of the country. There, Russian rescuers work to pull five young Germans from a fallen building. As one of the German girls starts to panic and cry, the lead Russian calms her by telling her about his “five fathers.” At first I had to ask myself if I was in the right theater but this was a brilliant lead into the telling of the Stalingrad story. From there, it is fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.

Filmed in perhaps the best and not-over-the-top 3-D I’ve seen, this movie was brutal, violent and bloody yet masterful in its telling and building of characters. Very few movies successfully capture the hatred between the Germans and Russians which I am sure still exists today. In this movie, there is no doubt about the way the combatants felt about one another. No mercy asked, no quarter given. In my opinion, this movie clearly rivals and in many ways surpasses Saving Private Ryan in its storytelling and unforgiving ferocity. Clearly there is a lot of Russian ethnocentricity and fanfare but still the combat scenes are riveting. Whether it is the Russian soldiers engulfed in flames charging a German trench or the intense hand to hand fighting, you will like Stalingrad if you enjoy war movies. If, however, you don’t enjoy onscreen carnage, Frozen is likely playing in another theater.

The movie unfortunately only stayed here two weeks and has moved on but luckily is for sale on Amazon. Be sure to buy the 2013 movie although the 1993 German produced movie of the same name is also good. This Russian version, however, is truly

exceptional. [WARNING: GRATUITOUS, ANTI-POLITICAL CORRECTNESS DIATRIBE] One current take-away from this movie is realizing the way in which all the combatants fought WWII. If our government allowed our fighting men and women to fight to win, regardless of any worthless politically correct notions, we would have been out of Afghanistan years ago. As a student of military history, Sun Tzu 101 tells us that we are to fight to win, not fight to fight. When you see the Germans and Russians fighting and one guy takes a shovel and cleaves another guy’s head in half, it is beautiful that no lawyers come streaming out of the buildings like cockroaches counting the number of bullet holes in the bad guy or screaming, “Hey, you can’t do that! That’s not nice. I’m going to send you to jail.” (Sadly this has happened.)

Political correctness, I am not talking about obeying Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC), has no place in combat and the savage, yet simple beauty of this reality sets Stalingrad above most other similar movies and should be mandatory viewing for all of our lawmakers who have no idea of how to properly prosecute war. Oooops, I digress. Let me get off my soapbox. Cheers.


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