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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2009

Now, for those of you who think all this stuff is too heavy....  And check out the section on my web site entitled "A Bit of Whimsey".   GS

"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed." - U.S. Air Force Manual
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"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons." - General Macarthur
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”You, you, and you ... Panic.  The rest of you, come with me." - U.S. Marine Corp Gunnery Sgt.
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”Tracers work both ways." - U.S. Army Ordinance
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"Five second fuses only last three seconds" - Infantry Journal
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"Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once."
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"Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do." - Unknown Marine Recruit
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”If you see a bomb technician running, follow him." - USAF Ammo Troop
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”Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death , I Shall Fear No Evil. For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing." - At the entrance to the old SR-71 operating base Kadena , Japan
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"You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3." - Paul F. Crickmore (test pilot)
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"The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire."
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”If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter -- and therefore, unsafe."
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”When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash."
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"Without ammunition, the USAF would be just another expensive flying club."
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"What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots?   If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; if ATC screws up, the pilot dies."
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"Never trade luck for skill."
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The three most common expressions (or famous last words) in aviation are: "Why is it doing that?", "Where are we?" And "Oh S...!"
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"Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight."
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"Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up there!"
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"Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it."
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"The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you." - Attributed to Max Stanley (Northrop test pilot)
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"There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime." - Sign over squadron ops desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970
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"If something hasn't broken on your helicopter, it's about to."
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As the test pilot climbs out of the experimental aircraft, having torn off the wings and tail in the crash landing, the crash truck arrives, the rescuer sees a bloodied pilot and asks "What happened?”  The pilot's reply: "I don't know, I just got here myself!" - Attributed to Ray Crandall (Lockheed test pilot)


MONDAY through FRIDAY, JANUARY 25 through 30, 2009

I have just finished reading Jeff Benedict's new book, "Little Pink House", which purports to be an investigative documentation of the Kelo v City of New London saga.  Racalling his fine work in "Without Reservation", I am underwhelmed by this effort.  It is accurate but incomplete, and is definitely designed to be a pot-boiler instead of an objective exposition of a crucial flashpoint between the needs of urban society and existing Law.  As a result, it is disappointing.
 
And that's why the book is a disappointment.

GS

SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2009

There you go: now you know where your children's and grandchildren's billions and trillions are going.  THAT'S "CHANGE", RIGHT?  GS

AP IMPACT: Lobbyists skirt Obama's earmark ban
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn't mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won't be able to funnel money to pet projects.

They're just working around it — and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive.

The projects run the gamut: a Metrolink station that needs building in Placentia, Calif.; a stretch of beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., that could really use some more sand; a water park in Miami.

There are thousands of projects like those that once would have been gotten money upfront but now are left to scramble for dollars at the back end of the process as "ready to go" jobs eligible for the stimulus plan.

The result, as The Associated Press learned in interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers, lobbyists and state and local officials, is a shadowy lobbying effort that may make it difficult to discern how hundreds of billions in federal money will be parceled out.

"'No earmarks' isn't a game-ender," said Peter Buffa, former mayor of Costa Mesa, Calif. "It just means there's a different way of going about making sure the funding is there."

It won't be in legislative language that overtly sets aside money for them. That's the infamous practice known as earmarking, which Obama and Democratic congressional leaders have agreed to nix for the massive stimulus package, expected to come up for a House vote this week.

Instead, the money will be doled out according to arcane formulas spelled out in the bill and in some cases based on the decisions of Obama administration officials, governors and state and local agencies that will choose the projects.

"Somebody's going to earmark it somewhere," said Howard Marlowe, a consultant for a coalition working to preserve beaches.

Lobbyists are hard at work figuring out ways to grab a share of the money for their clients, but the new rules mean they're doing so indirectly — and sometimes in ways that are impossible to track.

Congressional earmarks have had a bad name since the 2004 scandal that sent superlobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison and earned the congressional spending committees a new nickname: "The Favor Factory."

Obama, who campaigned promising a more transparent and accountable government, is advocating a system that will eventually let the public track exactly where stimulus money goes through an Internet-powered search engine. In addition, Democratic lawmakers have devised an elaborate oversight system, including a new board to review how the money is spent.

But none of that will happen until after the bill becomes law. Even critics of the earmarks system acknowledge that specifying projects upfront offers some measure of transparency.

"We hate earmarks, but at least it's a way of tracking where influence is had," said Keith Ashdown of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. "There is a challenge now that projects will be added behind closed doors without a paper trail."

Indeed, some lawmakers hearing from local groups say they're doing their own lobbying of governors and state and local officials who could have say-so over the funds.

"I've talked to my governor and suggested some things I think are important in our area," said Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who represents St. Petersburg, Fla. "He knows what the needs are."

Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor of Arizona suggested it's not entirely accurate to say there will be no earmarks in the measure. "There are and there aren't," Pastor said. "A lot of it depends on what the formula looks like."

For instance, the House measure, which includes $358 billion for road, water and energy programs among others, gives priority to transportation projects in high-unemployment areas that could be begun and completed quickly and that state and metropolitan transportation authorities have included in their long-term plans.

In California, Buffa, now board chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority, said he's changed his strategy from asking for specific projects to pleading for more favorable general guidelines, including more money for infrastructure projects overall and a formula that lets cities — not states — decide how to spend it.

His organization has enlisted Potomac Partners, a large firm that specializes in lobbying for project spending, to help.

In most cases, lawmakers know exactly which projects in their districts can benefit from the money, even though the legislation won't spell them out. State and local officials have released lists of projects that could start quickly and be completed within a few years.

In Orange County, they include freeway improvements and the Placentia Metrolink station. The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, which is pushing for more water projects to be funded, wants repair and restoration of beaches from Sandy Hook, N.J., to Newport Beach, Calif.

Members of Congress are privately outlining their priorities, too.

"Everybody's making their list and checking it twice," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader. "You are inevitably going to have a lot of projects that are not going to pass the smell test."

Some groups are careful not to get too specific, fearing that public scrutiny could draw unwelcome attention to projects easily caricatured as special-interest goodies, such as a 2007 earmark for spinach growers that found its way into an Iraq war spending bill or the now-infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska.

The United States Conference of Mayors released a 300-plus-page list of some $150 billion in "ready-to-go" projects that quickly became fodder for criticism. It included money for the Miami water park, which McConnell has ridiculed publicly, and a skate park in Portland, Maine.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials was more guarded about its list of 5,000 projects totaling $64 billion. No specific projects were mentioned — just the number in each state and an overall dollar amount — making it impossible for lawmakers, advocacy groups or members of the public to criticize any one item.

Peter J. "Jack" Basso, an association executive, said it's up to states to decide what goes on their "ready-to-go" wish lists, but that the projects must meet rigorous tests including clearing environmental reviews.

"We really rely on them to pick things that, frankly, are not bridges to nowhere," Basso said.


THURSDAY through SATURDAY, JANUARY 22 through 24, 2009

Perrin, while I watched my total of five minutes of the coronation, a thought suddenly ran across my mind: "THIS IS CRAZY'.  Whether it's crazy-good or crazy-bad, I'm not sure yet.  But here you have a fourty year old (no offense intended) who just five years ago was a State Senator in Illinois who voted over 140 times "Present" instead of "Aye" or "Nay"...and who is now President of the United States of America.  Is this national hypnosis, or Divine Providence - or is it the absurd culmination of "affirmative action".  Don't get me wrong: I now wish him the very best, for the sake of all of us.  But now, LETS SEE SOMETHING, FOR A CHANGE! 
 
The only other observation that comes close to rivaling that vision was the reception about five years, in St. Patrick's Cathedral, of that bastard Cardinal Law, together with about 100 bishops from throughout the country in a High Mass and ceremony that harkened back to the coronation of Charlemagne in the 1300's.  That was just before he went on to his "reward" in Rome. 
 
All that good persons like you and me can do is to stay informed and involved, tell it like it is, and love and cherish our family - especially - and our friends.  Love, Dad

[Below emailed from Perrin]

4 Years Have Passed & Something Has Changed Already

Headlines On This Date 4 Years Ago:
 
  "Republicans spending $42 million on inauguration while troops Die in
   unarmored Humvees"
 
  "Bush extravagance exceeds any reason during tough economic times"
 
  "Fat cats get their $42 million inauguration party, Ordinary Americans
   get the shaft"
 
Headlines Today:
 
  "Historic Obama Inauguration will cost only $180 million"
 
  "Obama Spends $180 million on inauguration; America Needs A Big  Party"
 
  "Everyman Obama shows America how to celebrate"
 
  "Citibank executives contribute $8 million to Obama  Inauguration"


TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20 and 21, 2009

A GOOD LESSON, ESPECIALLY IN THESE HARD AND WORSENING TIMES.  GS

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, 'Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.'

The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in.

In the middle of the room was a large round table.  In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water.

The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly.  They appeared to be famished.

They were holding spoons with very long handles, that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful.

But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.

The Lord said, 'You have seen Hell.'

They went to the next room and opened the door.  It was exactly the same as the first one.

There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water.

The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.  The holy man said, 'I don't understand.'

It is simple,' said the Lord.  'It requires but one skill.

You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.'

When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of you.


MONDAY, JANUARY 19, 2009

This article sums it up about as well as it could be done.

The British can see this from 3,000 miles away and we can't when it's happening right under our noses??!!

The Daily Mail (UK) wrote this editorial about Obama on 1/6/2009. (confirmation, Google "London Daily Mail Obama's Victory")

Obama's Victory--A British view

A victory for the hysterical Oprah Winfrey, the mad racist preacher Jeremiah Wright, the US mainstream media who abandoned any sense of objectivity long ago, Europeans who despise America largely because they depend on her, comics who claim to be dangerous and fearless but would not dare attack genuinely powerful special interest groups. A victory for Obama-worshippers everywhere. A victory for the cult of the cult. A man who has done little with his life but has written about his achievements as if he had found the cure for cancer in between winning a marathon and building a nuclear reactor with his teeth. Victory for style over substance, hyperbole over history, rabble-raising over reality.

A victory for Hollywood , the most dysfunctional community in the world. Victory for Streisand, Spielberg, Soros, Moore, and Sarandon. Victory for those who prefer welfare to will and interference to independence.  For those who settle for group think and herd mentality rather than those who fight for individual initiative and the right to be out of step with meager political fashion.

Victory for a man who is no friend of freedom.  He and his people have already stated that media has to be controlled so as to be balanced, without realizing the extraordinary irony within that statement. Like most liberal zealots, the Obama worshippers constantly speak of Fox and Limbaugh, when the vast bulk of television stations and newspapers are drastically liberal and anti-conservative. Senior Democrat Chuck Schumer said that just as pornography should be censored, so should talk radio. In other words, one of the few free and open means of popular expression may well be cornered and beaten by bullies who even in triumph cannot tolerate any criticism and opposition. A victory for those who believe the state is better qualified to raise children than the family, for those who prefer teachers' unions to teaching and for those who are naively convinced that if the West is sufficiently weak towards its enemies, war and terror will dissolve as quickly as the tears on the face of a leftist celebrity. A victory for social democracy even after most of Europe has come to the painful conclusion that social democracy leads to mediocrity, failure, unemployment, inflation, higher taxes and economic stagnation. A victory for intrusive lawyers, banal sentimentalists, social extremists and urban snobs.

Congratulations America!


THURSDAY through SUNDAY, JANUARY 15 through 18, 2009
GS


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12 through 14
, 2009

President-Elect Obama.
  My only comment to date has been basically hopeful, since he wil soon be our "one President at a time".  But, given the number of gaffes his developing administration has made already, I'm starting to get nervous:
Are we back to the always - relevant political commentary of Jay Leno?  "When I think of joining the Republicans, they do siomething greedy; when I think of joining the Democrats, they do something stupid".  Are we back to "the gang that couldn't shoot straight"?  Are we back - Heaven forbid - to the days of clueless Carter? 
I'm getting nervous.  And so should the Democrats.  At this rate, Obama and the Democrats may be another one-term wonder.  But, not to worry too much...the Democrats always have the feckless Republicans to bail them out.

GS


MONDAY through SUNDAY, JANUARY 5 through 11, 2009

In keeping with a "Culture of Death" that modern society seems to be obsessed with, the current media rage has to do with the "End-Times", Armageddon, the Rapture, the dire predictions of Nostradamus and others, "The Seven Deadly Sins" and the 'seven ways" in which the world can meet its end.  It is now alleged that all of the predictors point to "2012" or around 2040 as the time when the curtain falls on humanity.  Much of this is of a piece with what I consider an oxymoron: Athiestic Scientists.  Based on all evidence available to humans regarding the existence of God...whether "more likely than not", or "clear and convincing evidence", or "beyond a reasonable doubt", and based on the total absence of evidence to the contrary, any scientist who remains an athiest after his or her studies should be considered delusional or in denial...and totally untrustworthy.  And therein lies the ultimate salvation of human beings. 
 
Among the usual mechanisms predicted for the End-Times, Fire, Flood, Pestilence, Famine, Black Holes, meteors, exploding or extinguished stars (like our Sun) etc., the only mechanism that is - so far - under our control is the exponential increase of  "artificial intelligence" in our computers and related inventions.  The alarm has already been sounded regarding this threat.  See Raymond Kurzweil's book entitled "The Singularity Is Near", as well as the many books and articles on the "Singularity": the precise time when our creation, artificial intelligence, achieves and then immediately exceeds our human intelligence.  At that time, estimated by Kurzweil's calculations to arrive in 2040, our machines will have the power to subjugate and even destroy humanity. 
 
Two points here.  First, and speaking personally, I have no fear or dread regarding any end-times, so long as my last words in life are not "You Stupid Ass".  We should not be the creators of our own demise...but we are certainly on that path, all in the name of "science", greed, and - for some - athiesm.  Secondly, if we do not prevent the arrival of the Singularity", assuming that God has not decided to end his experiment with Man and his free will beforehand, at the precise time that Man is deprived of his free will by Man's creation, God will implement His end-times.  And so, unless we act soon to make a critical course correction regarding "progress", 2040 sounds about right.   Folks, believe, pray, and don't be your own "stupid ass".

GS

SUNDAY, JANUARY 4, 2009

Today, I'll leave the State of the Union message for President Obama.  Meanwhile, here are some observatioins on the STATE OF THE WORLD. 
So, is there any hope for the planet?  Of course there is.  But we need some real leaders, real Statesmen...not the usual and currently applicable description of "persons held upright by equally opposing forces".  And don't expect them to appear from outer space.  If there do exist much more intelligent creatures who can navigate inter-planary space, they are intelligent enough to stay far away from us.    HAPPY NEW YEAR.

GS

SATURDAY, JANUARY 3, 2009

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE RUSHED TO JUDGMENT, NOW BEGINS THE HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT. DON'T BE SURPRISED IF YOU'RE SURPRISED.  GS

Analysis: Bush's personality shapes his legacy

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer Sat Jan 3, 3:23 pm ET

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush will be judged on what he did. He will also be remembered for what he's like: a fast-moving, phrase-mangling Texan who stays upbeat even though his country is not.

For eight years, the nation has been led by a guy who relaxes by clearing brush in scorching heat and taking breakneck bike rides through the woods. He dishes out nicknames to world leaders, and even gave the German chancellor an impromptu, perhaps unwelcome, neck rub. He's annoyed when kept waiting and sticks relentlessly to routine. He stays optimistic in even the most dire circumstances, but readily tears up in public. He has little use for looking within himself, and only lately has done much looking back.

Bush's style and temperament are as much his legacy as his decisions. Policy shapes lives, but personality creates indelible memories — positive and negative.

Call it distinctly Bush.

___

Don't be late.

Bush demands punctuality and disdains inefficiency. Every meeting better have a clear purpose. And it better not repeat what he already knows.

He is up early and in the Oval Office by 6:45 a.m. By 9:30 to 10 at night, it's lights out. He likes to be fresh and won't get cheated on his sleep.

In sessions with policy experts, Bush tends to ask questions that get right to the nub of a sticky issue. His top aides speak regretfully about how the country never got to see that side of him, even after all this time. They describe a man who is deeply inquisitive, not blithely incurious as much of the world thinks.

When Bush wants answers, guessing isn't advised.

"He can sniff it out a mile away if you don't have the goods," said White House communications director Kevin Sullivan.

Other people write Bush's speeches, but he'll kick out phrases that he thinks stray from a logical progression. It's about discipline.

You can tell the issues that really get Bush going, because he talks about them differently, more passionately: education, AIDS relief, freedom. They happen to be ones that can be viewed more clearly through a moral lens. That's how he sees the world.

Bush reads the Bible regularly. Another devotion: exercise. He makes time for a workout at least six days a week, wherever he is. And he goes at it hard, especially on his mountain bike on the weekends, when he pushes Secret Service agents to keep up with him. He is competitive and likes to stay in command.

Even eating is approached with sheer purpose.

Bush wants his lunch ready when he is, and wolfs it down. His tastes are clear: maybe a peanut butter and honey sandwich, a BLT, or a burger. Former White House executive chef Walter Scheib learned from Bush never to serve a grilled cheese sandwich unless it came with a side of French's yellow mustard.

The man from a land of cowboy boots orders proper dress in the White House. No jeans allowed in the West Wing. Coat and tie in the Oval Office.

"Orderliness in the process gave him confidence," said Peter Wehner, a former top Bush aide and now a senior fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center.

And if you're in Bush's presence, turn off your cell phone. Pity the person who gets the Bush stare when a Blackberry rings at the wrong time.

Then there are his stories. He repeats his favorites. Like the one about the cheery rug in the Oval Office. Or the spectacular rainbow that day in Romania.

Who's going to stop him?

____

Bush's words betray him sometimes.

"They misunderestimated the compassion of our country," Bush said of the Sept. 11 terrorists. "I talk to families who die," he said, meaning the loved ones of those who perish in war. "Childrens do learn when standards are high," he said in promoting his education plan.

Ivy League educated, Bush is good-natured about his verbal trip-ups. Yet he appears to have grown a bit more methodical in public, as if searching carefully for the right words.

His tangled moments have undoubtedly helped shape an unflattering public perception; there are entire books of his "Bushisms." Invariably, though, people who talk to him privately — historians, journalists, dissidents — come away with a very different impression of a meticulous thinker.

It is a paradox of his presidency.

Some of Bush's sillier times are of his own choosing. He doesn't take himself too seriously.

Like his herky-jerky dance moves in Liberia, or his odd little tap dance while waiting for John McCain to show up one day. He likes to back-slap people. And when he's ready to move on, there are telltale signs. To end an event with visitors, he'll say, "Let's get a picture," and that's that.

Bush generally calls people by the labels of his choosing, too. Reporters, Cabinet members, heads of state — anyone is fair game for a nickname. The practice tends to add a touch of familiarity between people and the president, and Bush likes that.

As for fun, Bush is far from the first president with a love for sports, but he may have advanced the cause.

In baseball season, he often has a game on TV, even for soothing background noise while he works. He quietly welcomes ball players to the executive mansion for tours or dinnertime conversation. And regardless of the sport, he loves it every time any championship team comes to the White House.

Their moment is his moment.

__

Bush can flash a temper and impatience. But if he takes criticism personally — and he gets lots of criticism — he tries not to show it.

When former press secretary Scott McClellan wrote a scathing book about Bush's leadership, the president told his senior aides to let it go.

"Find a way to forgive, because that's the way to lead your life," White House press secretary Dana Perino remembers Bush advising her.

Bush is insistently — some say unforgivably — optimistic, no matter how low his poll numbers get.

"Every day has been pretty joyous," he said recently, summing up one of the hardest presidencies ever known.

The toughest moments for him come when he meets the grieving families of the troops he sent to war. Or when he meets severely wounded troops in recovery. Many of the hurting tell Bush they want to get back out in active duty. He is moved by the sacrifice.

"I do a lot of crying in this job," Bush once acknowledged.

He shows consideration to people close to him in little ways. He sends birthday notes to staff members. He remembers little details about their families. When he visits an Army post to thank the troops, he's been known to wander into the kitchen, too, to praise whoever cooked him the french fries.

The president is a proud dad of two grown daughters, Jenna and Barbara. The public got a tiny glimpse of his softer side when Jenna married Henry Hager in May. Bush said afterward that his little girl married a really good guy. First lady Laura Bush says her husband now has a son.

___

Bush is not much for the social scene. He and his wife will go to friends' homes but stay away from restaurants and Washington's other delights. His aides say he doesn't like to cause a security hassle for the public.

That's also why they say he speeds through his foreign travel. Even in the world's more magnificent sites, Bush often skips touristy stuff to stick to business, contributing to that incurious reputation.

"I'm a nester," Bush said.

Nowhere is that more true than at his beloved, secluded ranch in Crawford, Texas. He has spent more than a year of his presidency there.

Bush chops cedar, clears brush and builds mountain bike trails there. The summer heat doesn't bother him so much as enthrall him. He even set up a little competition, true Bush: People who work for him get a coveted T-shirt and bragging rights if they run for three straight miles on days hitting 100 degrees.

He relaxes by reading quite a bit, mostly U.S. and world history. He likes the spy-spoofing "Austin Powers" movies. He chills out with his wife.

His time will soon be his own.

"I will leave the presidency with my head held high," Bush says.

And he will leave behind a lot to remember.

___

EDITOR'S NOTE — Ben Feller covers the White House for The Associated Press.


THURSDAY and FRIDAY, JANUARY 1 and 2, 2009

A HEALTHY NEW YEAR TO ALL.  Whether it's "happy" or not depends on each of us.  I that regard, I constantly advise my family, friends and patients to be "process oriented" and not "outcome oriented".  We have little control over most outcomes, in our lives or around us.  Too many variables.  What we do have control over is our part of the process, our variables.  We should knock ourselves out dealing with those...and then become a calm although interested observer of the outcome.  It's like taking an exam.  We don't control the areas of knowledge to be stressed, or the specific questions, or the examiner's state of mind.  What we can control is our physical, mental and intellectual preparation.  Then go into the exam with the attitude: "give me your best shot".  That's the way to approach and enjoy all of life's small and great challenges. 
And why is it that older persons like myself seem so wise (we are, you know)?  It's because we have had most of the experiences and have made most of the mistakes you younger folks still have to make - unless you listen. 
 
On this first day of the New Year, the most important lesson is to know and to learn from experience, the least painful and most valuable being the experience of others.  "PAST IS PROLOGUE".  And so it is that my readings are heavily into History and Biography, most recently including the biography of Andrew Jackson ("American Lion"), and Tom Brokaw's 2007 book "Boom - Voices of the Sixties".  This latter reading I have had to take in small doses: too painful to relive the social / political aspects of the last 40 years.  My wife were there together for 51 years as we worked to raise properly 5 children.  We succeeded; but so many did not: two generations including too many fourty year old adolescents and so many walking wounded, thanks to the lingering effects of the Sixties.  But Brokaw's book is both valuable and prescient, a good read to start the new year.  As an introduction, see pages 426-28.  Brokow anticipated the 2008 election results. 
But the rest is one gigantic question.  Will this country again become "E Pluribus Unum", united around core national beliefs?  Or will we continue to fracture along our many fault lines?  I have no answer to that question.  But I am certainly going to pursue my part of the Process.

GS


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