Welcome to any new readers we might have today. NN.C got a little old-media pub Thursday, in Ben Burns’ column in the Grosse Pointe News. He did not let slip our secret that we’re really Not the Right Sort to be Pointers, but did get a quip in:
Nancy Nall Derringer, who has a last name that sounds like a 1930’s bank robber, freelances for a variety of local magazines and publications both on the Internet and beyond. And her lance is always sharp.
When I leave my name with secretaries and receptionists, I sometimes say “Derringer, like the gun.” As tiny two-round pistols that can be tucked into a lady’s garter have ceded their popularity to MAC-10 machine pistols, only a few pick up on the reference. The rest say, “OK, Miss Dillinger,” and leave it at that. Nice to know my married name is still ringing the old bells.
I’d link to the story, but you have to be a subscriber to the dead-tree paper to read the website. And I suspect hardly anyone here is. But welcome to any newbies it scared up. Feel free to join our raucous discussions in the comments. First-time commenters go to a holding pen, but once I’m satisfied you’re not a spammer, you’re approved forever after.
Anyway, that story wasn’t the most interesting thing in the paper yesterday. This was, a display ad in the classified section:
I am requesting your assistance in recovering a GOLD FABERGE EGG ENCRUSTED WITH JEWELS approximately 8 inches tall, attached to a wooden base, valued at over $6,000. The aforementioned egg was taken from a home on Lake Shore Drive, during an underage house party. The subjects that stole the egg along with other jewelry, stated that the ‘egg was thrown from a car window,’ while at a stop sign at southbound Wedgewood at Roslyn, November 12, 2007.
If you have any information, please call…
If I were the editor, I’d hand this ad to my best reporter and tell him or her to go fetch me a story, but I’ve given up expecting such initiative from the local press. Nevertheless, I appreciate their publicity.
In case you’re wondering, we got a few inches of snow overnight, making a search of the Wedgewood/Roslyn intersection problematic today. Anyway, I’m sure it’s long gone. What a thing to find on your dog-walking route. Life imitates “Risky Business.”
(It goes without saying that this was a Faberge-style egg, but that’s just a quibble. There are only about 60 authentic Faberge eggs extant in the world today, and their individual value is in the millions, not six grand.)
It’s still snowing, but no day off for Grosse Pointe schoolchildren, who, like the mayor of Detroit, generally get to school in chauffeured late-model SUVs. It’s a good day for shooting some video, as was yesterday, when the storm was coming. Early afternoon, it was very cold and very clear, so I went for a walk down by the lake and found the ice at our city park as solid as my kitchen floor, making wonderful groaning noises farther out. I had my video camera, so I crept out as far as I dared and tried to capture it. The crews cutting limbs at the Ford estate took a short break, so there was no chain saw noise to ruin the effect. I was thinking of shooting something like the last five minutes on “CBS Sunday Morning,” but once I got out far enough, the groaning stopped. Dammit. So I looked at some swans, trespassed a little on the Ford grounds, and turned back.
The bad news: The water level in the lake is as low as it was in the fall. Maybe lower. We could get three feet of snow today, and it wouldn’t be enough.
So what’s going on out in the big world? It seems the wind is changing. Isn’t it funny, how one day you just wake up in August and realize that fall is nearly here? Today…well, let’s call it Strange New Respect Day. Republicans are reconciling themselves to McCain. Hillary and Obama are making nice to one another. The next phase has begun, and it’s only Feb. 1. The race for the nomination will be effectively over after Tuesday (I suspect), and then we can start focusing on November.
By the way, if there was any doubt Stephen Colbert was a comic genius, it was gone when he pegged Mitt Romney to Guy Smiley:
I mean: Perfect.
(“Sesame Street” is so far past its peak it’s not even worth discussing, but it’s useful to remember the early years, when Jim Henson’s genius still infused the Muppet troupe. From Muppet Wiki: When Count von Count introduced himself in a Beat the Time sketch in his traditional way, “They call me the Count because I love to count things,” Guy responded with, “Well, I’m Guy Smiley. They call me Guy Smiley because I changed my name from Bernie Liederkrantz.”
Bloggage: I’ve always wondered how the downturn in newspapers’ fortunes is playing out in Europe, particularly the U.K., which publishes the liveliest papers in the English-speaking world. Give a smart writer a simple assignment — a general piece on men’s underwear — and watch her run:
Come the Renaissance, as the chausses became tight hose, the braies got shorter and were fitted with a convenient flap for urinating through. That buttoned or tied flap – the earliest codpiece – wasn’t actually covered by outer layers, so Henry VIII, never one for modesty, began to pad his. Historians have suggested that beneath Henry’s appendage may have been hidden the medication-soaked bandages needed to relieve the symptoms of his syphilis. Men free of venereal disease, meanwhile, used the tumescent codpieces as a handy pocket. (“New World cigarette?” “Ah, not for me, my lord, no.”)
Among the things I learned from that article, besides the disgusting one about Henry VIII’s syphilis: Brit slang for undies includes “smalls,” “y-fronts” and just plain “pants” (distinguished from trousers). Also, “there is one delicate area of pant advancement where men are not yet ready to go – universal package sizing.” Because no man wants to go into a department store and be spotted buying the masculine equivalent of a 32A.
What Gannett is Doing to the Free Press is a standard small-talk discussion among Detroit journalists since the paper’s sale two years ago, but to me, it all comes down to the Tips Box, the Gannett trademark, you-are-too-stupid-to-live-your-life feature tacked on to too many stories. With a big winter storm overnight, there’s a huge Tips feature in today’s paper. Among the tips: Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary. Roger that, sir!
It seems a fitting note to shove off for the weekend on. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
alex said on February 1, 2008 at 11:02 am
The magic that’s missing from Sesame Street is that it has become too busy fending off polemicists. Funny item on the CBS Evening News about it a few weeks ago. They ran old clips from back in the day which were full of contemporary no-nos: Children playing in urban lots on old mattress springs and crawling through culverts; children trusting adults who invite them in for sweets; the Cookie Monster setting a bad dietary example by eating cookies…
It was such an innocent show. That’s what’s missing.
Jason T. said on February 1, 2008 at 11:17 am
The Bernie Liederkrantz line almost put me on the floor this morning.
The problems with local newspapers are the subjects of master’s theses at Columbia, not a comment on a blog.
But there are two big problems that go hand in hand.
First, reporters who lack initiative.
Second, editors who beat the initiative out of reporters by demanding a steady diet of crap like “tip boxes” and localizing wire stories about “trends.”
I got some of my best feature and news story ideas by closely reading the classified ads and legal ads. The chief photographer at my first paid newspaper gig taught me to do that.
But I doubt many local reporters have the luxury of going through their own papers with a pair of scissors and a red pen, nor do editors reward that initiative.
“Gee, this Faberge egg thingy is OK, but what’s the news hook? And where’s that round-up piece on winter driving tips we need for a B-1 package?”
That’s the reason you’re supposed to go to local town meetings, too — not to be a stenographer, but to look for story ideas, dangnabbit.
Excuse me, the nurses are here with my prunes now.
nancy said on February 1, 2008 at 11:26 am
The classifieds are stories on the hoof. Is there anything more poignant than a for-sale ad reading, “White wedding dress, size 14, never worn. Make offer.” Don’t think so.
Sue said on February 1, 2008 at 11:32 am
Speaking of the wind changing, has anyone seen the opinion article by Eric Boehlert in Salon yesterday regarding Fox News’ ratings dive? One of my favorite lines: “Bottom line is that Fox News is in for a very rough 2008. And the umbrella reason for that is quite simple: Eight years ago the all-news cable channel went all-in on the presidency of George W. Bush and became a broadcast partner with the White House.” The line for gloating starts behind me.
Connie said on February 1, 2008 at 11:55 am
Those never worn wedding dresses are all over ebay as well.
I got a snow day today. But not until I had struggled through the unplowed roads to get to work. Since I am the one with the responsibility of declaring a snow day I felt rather stupid doing it after I got there. Made the decision about 15 minutes before we would have opened. Two employees hugged me.
I hate having to make the decision and despite internet access to local news and weather, I waver every time. From my quiet rural subdivision I just can’t see what’s going on out there.
ashley said on February 1, 2008 at 12:17 pm
Yes. “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”
And you couldda made it a size 16, and the baby shoes still trump it.
Danny said on February 1, 2008 at 12:23 pm
Sue, I think you got in line too early. Or maybe in the line for eating crow. Fox News will do fine in 2008.
derwood said on February 1, 2008 at 12:29 pm
We have an online classified system at work. Several times a year the “Gently used breast pump” appears for sale. Isn’t this something you would want to buy new?
Dorothy said on February 1, 2008 at 12:48 pm
Not necessarily derwood. They have parts that come off to clean, so why not? I’d rather know the person I buy it from, though, if I were in that situation. I never used one, even though I nursed both of my kids.
I keep wondering if my son’s ex-fiance is going to put an ad in the paper for HER wedding dress, never used? He confessed after they broke up that he thought the dress she chose was entirely too expensive. And my daughter still has to pay for the bridesmaid’s dress, even though they weren’t completed before she tried to cancel the order. I’m quite sure she’ll never wear that, either.
nancy said on February 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm
Exactly. The pump itself you buy used. (I did, and passed it on to someone when I was done with it.) The plastic clown-horn thingies stay with you. But they’re cheap.
Jeff said on February 1, 2008 at 1:25 pm
Gannett math is All readers = 4th graders.
It doesn’t take long before you start treating the staff like, at best, 5th graders.
Wait, i made my twice yearly trip through the newsroom here yesterday — they are hiring 5th graders! (OK, 15th graders.) And exactly one dad/older male and one mom/older female. For everyone else, Bill Clinton wagging his finger at the cameras over “that woman” is something that happened when they were in, well, 4th grade.
Jeff said on February 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm
Oh, my Lovely Wife says there are only sixteen breast pumps ever made, and they just travel about as needed, passed from friend to friend or sold on Craigslist. They are, she tells me, indestructible, and hardly anyone uses them as much as they thought they would — and Microsoft hasn’t figured out how to get into the market and make breast pumps non-reverse compatible.
brian stouder said on February 1, 2008 at 1:49 pm
The plastic clown-horn thingies
This gave me pause; “clown-horns”? I was thinking of horns on bulls (rodeos have clowns – so I wasn’t TOTALLY stupid!) – and the whole thing sounded pretty…painful.
THEN it hit me – “honk honk” horns!!
Anyway, I guess I’d rather talk about horny breasts (painful or rootin’ tootin’!) than a seepy syphilitic sovereign
Danny said on February 1, 2008 at 2:08 pm
My cup runneth over.
michaela said on February 1, 2008 at 2:32 pm
Jeff, I gotta dispute you and/or the Lovely Wife on the “hardly anyone uses them as much as they thought they would” — every nursing working mom I know (incl. yrs truly) has a long, complicated relationship with ye olde milk machine.
I was “lucky” enough to have a NICU baby (6 wks premie, though you’d never know it now that she’s almost 2), so my OB wrote me an Rx for a brand-spankin’ new pump, and insurance covered the entire $300.
Jeff said on February 1, 2008 at 2:43 pm
Well, my beloved used hers for a year ‘n change, but got it from someone who used it for about six weeks and just couldn’t stand it anymore, it went to a relative who will remain unattributed who planned to use it six months and didn’t go six weeks, and then passed along to another who used it twice.
My mom was a LeLeche League stalwart, and i know many do get extensive use from the pumps, but personally and pastorally the formula sloshes in pretty quickly. I salute the complicated part, and cheer you with the length, but i’ll stand by the general statement.
Kim said on February 1, 2008 at 3:17 pm
Best classified ad I ever saw: Wedding dress, size whatever, worn once by mistake. Better, Dorothy, that your son’s no-doubt heartbreak didn’t happen after the I do’s.
You know what was the hardest part about using ye olde breaste pumpe? Sitting in a bathroom stall to use it in the Factory. The newspaper didn’t make it easy, that’s for sure.
Dorothy said on February 1, 2008 at 3:47 pm
Wish I had a dollar for every person who said that to us, Kim (better now than after the I do’s). Even my hubby and I said it. We could probably buy a used breast pump about now with all the cash!!
brian stouder said on February 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm
non-sequitur; isn’t it odd* how quietly that major Clinton fund-raising story surfaced and then submerged again, yesterday? It never came up in the cnn debate, and Obama almost kissed HRC at the end of their issues-roundtable.
But, if HRC defeats the better candidate (Obama) this Tuesday, you know we’ll have a deluge of Clinton fund-raising stories.
Bill Clinton – or any ex-president – is a fundraising asset; but yesterday’s (now quickly submerged, but still lurking, no doubt) story about mines in Kazakhstan is sure to have a long half-life (so to speak)
When it comes to WJC and money, you might say ‘when it’s uranium, it pours!’….and the other Hsu will also fall, soon enough
* and by “odd” – I don’t mean to imply that there’s a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy at work; the story is just genuinely odd. One has the feeling that a lot more detail will emerge – and indeed, mining the information (so to speak) certainly cannot be easy or quick. It looks like the sort of thing that will be fodder for many books in future years, especially if HRC wins the presidency
Danny said on February 1, 2008 at 4:40 pm
Brian, I have watched two of the Democrat debates and my (still evolving) critique of Obama is that he is pretty likelable and charismatic, but there is very little substance in terms of mature policy discussion. He’s great on the inspiration, but that’s about it. This is where experience which I referred to a week or so ago would have helped him. Too bad. He seems like a genuine fellow.
I’ve been thinking a little about matchups for November and wondering how he would fare against either of the likely GOP candidates. Again, the experience would be a problem. McCain could overplay that experience card though. He just comes off like an old, angry guy. That would lose him some votes. But in the end, whether it be Romney or McCain, I wonder if people would go into the voting booth and blink and say, “Holy crap. We’re at war and the economy is very shakey. I can’t vote for this kid.”
I think Hillary might be the more viable and better candidate.
Now I must go wash my mouth out with soap.
LAMary said on February 1, 2008 at 4:44 pm
I’be interviewing lactation educators all week so I feel pretty knowledgeable about this breast pump business. Ask me anything.
Danny said on February 1, 2008 at 5:08 pm
Mrs. Richard Faydor: If you eat chocolate, do you get chocolate milk?
Rosanne Rosanna-Danna: Mrs. Faydor, I didn’t think this was possible, but you are even stupider than your husband!
Kim said on February 1, 2008 at 5:33 pm
LA Mary: Do you know why they can’t make a breast pump that doesn’t sound like you’re giving buzz cuts to a bunch of recruits? I grant you it’s been a few years since I was hooked up to one, but seems like the new moms I know say the pumps sound like a dairy might.
Ryan said on February 1, 2008 at 6:08 pm
Have you seen Sesame Street in the past year or so? It’s actually quite good these days.
joodyb said on February 1, 2008 at 6:13 pm
man is THAT the pot calling the kettle black. Colbert IS Guy Smiley! (i miss jim henson. sniff.)
Dorothy: i suggest your daughter take that dress (made of some fabric she wouldn’t wear anyway, no doubt) and make cute throw pillows out of it. it feels really good cutting up something you hate! plus taffeta bolsters totally ROCK!
Jeff said on February 1, 2008 at 6:55 pm
Brian, even more interesting was that the Kazakhstan story dropped off the front page by Noon at nytimes.com, but by 2 pm was at #4 on “Most E-Mailed,” the only way you could find the story without digging well down into the national section. This morning, after the dog didn’t bark at the debate, it was up to #3. Jonah Goldberg and i have been e-mailing the rating status back and forth, and it seems wiser heads think the story was a bit of a trial balloon, to see what else gets flipped over the transom about Bill’s activities.
Jeff said on February 1, 2008 at 7:02 pm
Y’know what would be a stitch, and would make Peggy Noonan burst a blood vessel? If McCain would call Obama and offer him the veep slot.
Even if Barack said no to John, i’d love to know he considered it. And what movement conservatives hate about McCain is that they know he has thoughts like that, and might even act on them.
Can’t you hear it? “My friend, you’re young, and you may have heard i don’t buy green bananas anymore; that fine lady you’re running against will never let you inside her operation — only room for one alpha male in the pack — we may disagree on a few items, but my friend, we both love this country, don’t we? Let’s have some straight talk: would you back me up on my run for the White House? Take your time, i just got a fresh cup of coffee. Y’know, we could have some fun out on the trail. I’ll tell you about Hanoi, and you can tell me about Chicago.”
del said on February 1, 2008 at 9:19 pm
Sue, thanks for the heads up on the Faux News story. Fox’s botched report on Begala and Carville joining Hillary makes me wonder whether it’s in for some more commeuppance of the variety that Dan Rather felt when one of his stories turned out to be wrong. I’m thinkin he was suckerpunched with bad info. Yes, definitely in the gloating line here (even if, as Danny says, they’ll make money).
alex said on February 1, 2008 at 11:21 pm
What happened to Rather is that CBS had to show the world it’s on the up and up, or at least tries to be. Fox never eats its own words, never apologizes. In fact, it revisits the Obama madrasa agitprop every chance it gets.
And it’s not like Rather was wrong, even if the evidence he held up was fake. Bush did get a sweet deal on military service and people covered his ass because of who his dad was and it’s a perfectly legitimate point to raise when he’s a pampered plutocrat sending the children of the peasantry off to die in vain.
Fair and balanced. Uniter not a divider. It’s all from the same tired playbook. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it must be an elephant.
Danny said on February 2, 2008 at 10:21 am
Fox never eats its own words, never apologizes. In fact, it revisits the Obama madrasa agitprop every chance it gets.
Alex, this is simply not true. I have heard them mention this story on O’Reilly’s show at least a half a dozen times over the past several months and they always say that the story is absolutely false and that it was apparently part of a smear campaign against Obama. They don’t blame Hillary, but she or one of her minions would be a logical source.
*And a little searching shows that Obama appeared on “Fox and Friends” on January 8, 2008. This is the show that originally mentioned the story that was published in Insight magazine. Apparently Obama thinks the story was corrected to his satisfaction.
Jeff said on February 2, 2008 at 10:36 am
And as for the “sweet deal on military service,” the truth is a great deal more interesting and complicated than that, but serves neither Bush fans or Bush haters, so gets swept aside.
Fighter jocks who’ve looked at the Bush record tend to agree on the unspoken story line. He learned to fly a very dicey jet fighter, the F-102, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-102_Delta_Dagger, (which had a not-bad chance of going overseas when he signed up with them, for which he almost certainly got a boost from Dad’s friends), managed it quite well, and then . . .
What apparently is being hidden is the fact that Bush had a near-fatal incident or two, on landing, which did not turn out to be a fireball and a grease-spot, also to Lt. Bush’s credit. The after effect, a not unusual one, was that Bush simply could not (and this is after hundreds of hours of flights) get back into the cockpit http://web.archive.org/web/20041013165632/http://wjwb.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WJWB/MGArticle/JWB_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031778123118&path=!frontpage. There are today a number of well-known and relatively safe ways to let your CO know that you aren’t flying that jet again, ever, and the armed forces know now that a billion dollar airplane is worth more than getting a few more flights out of a rattled, likely to auger-in pilot. You get posted to ground, everyone politely never alludes to why this is, and then you leave the service at your next re-up.
Bush didn’t have that out-system in place, and so did what was the 60’s era version of it, which was play dodge the physical — and claiming, if accosted by a superior who knew you needed an updated flight physical, that you were too recently inebriated was considered a fair excuse, and reason to wait. (You can also see how this could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.)
If you find all this a little unlikely, let me note that there is no evidence George W. Bush has flown anything, even for a minute, since the said event which preceded his “flight physical ducking” and so-called early departure from service. Pilots then and now know the phenomenon, and pray it doesn’t happen to them, but are generally militantly unjudgemental about those to whom it does happen.
What does this say about the candidate and the president we have today? I honestly don’t know, but it’s a more interesting story than the one Dan Rather tried to lazily flop out in front of an audience looking for simple, choice cut red meat.
Danny said on February 2, 2008 at 10:40 am
And it’s not like Rather was wrong, even if the evidence he held up was fake.
This is beautiful. After I posted the above I looked more closely at your comments and saw that. I mean, how can anyone take anything you say seriously when you type stuff like that.
I feel like Jason fighting the Hydra of Stupidity.
Jeff said on February 2, 2008 at 10:56 am
Danny, if all you’ve ever heard is that Bush somehow got out of any kind of service and got into a guaranteed, cushy spot where you sipped daquiris while poor young men of color went in your place into a booby-trapped jungle, then Alex’s statement makes sense. But i’d encourage anyone on either side of “Is Bush an evil chimp?” debate to read the story i stuck a link for in my comment. You can easily read it and say “this, too, is part of why i don’t want a guy like this as president,” but it does sound like a human being and not a caricature.
And it all does leave me angry at a Dan Rather, who knows the full story, but chooses to tell the story that makes him feel better and tells better across the table at The Palm to his buddies. Which i’m sure isn’t a fair assessment, because it sounds too much like a caricature, and i don’t want to do that to a person, including Dan Rather.
Danny said on February 2, 2008 at 11:03 am
Very good points, Jeff. And thanks for the link.
*Just to set the record straight, I am not a Bush apologist. He has disappointed me greatly, just not for the same reasons as most others here. I just can’t abide lies.
Jeff said on February 2, 2008 at 12:12 pm
Now, since there are no perfect flawless paragons to vote for as our next president (well, except for Romney, in a central casting sort of way), we return this previously scheduled election to discussions of whose policies best build safety and sustainability for the US of A.
There are also no vile malign thugs on either side who will utterly destroy the nation, either. LaRouche, maybe, but otherwise, they’re all decent people who have chosen to work their way up through a deeply flawed system that is the worst in the world, except for all the alternatives. (hat tip Winston)
Andrea said on February 2, 2008 at 11:29 pm
Breast pump… 1 1/2 years…. arghhhh. Buy a GOOD double electric used pump, get your own horns. Two or three sets, so you don’t have to wash them at work. 🙂
alex said on February 3, 2008 at 8:17 am
Jeff, I couldn’t get anywhere with that link. I’ll allow that I may have to eat my hat if it says what you say it says. Yes, it would make me think differently.
As for you, Danny, gloat all you like but please dial down the incivility. I really don’t feel like descending to your level and making ugly on this site.
del said on February 3, 2008 at 11:33 am
Danny, I’m having a hard time cutting and pasting from prior posts so though I won’t quote you directly I think you said that Fox has mentioned the Obama story about a half a dozen times and explained that it is absolutely false. Can you appreciate how repeating incorrect stories even if disclaiming them as false could create false impressions? As for example when someone watches just 20 seconds of the Fox story before clicking (and seeing the denial)?
Can you also understand how Fox’s saying that it was apparently part of a smear campaign — though they do not directly accuse Hillary — is also . . . edgy . . . journalism (unless of course they offer evidence for the smear campaign)?
Consider these as rhetorical questions as this is Sunday morning and there’s gotta be some kind of holy law against my point-of-view ramblings…
Danny said on February 3, 2008 at 2:52 pm
Del, I see what you ae saying, but all I can go on is what I have seen for myself. These haven’t been feature stores like, “Obama: An In-Depth Look.” They have been more along the lines of stories discussing the nastiness of the campaigns, push polling and other questionable practices. Then they might have a discussion about rumors and outright lies being propogated and then O’Reilly would say, “Well a good example of that is that totally false story that came out about Obama and the madrassa. A total smear campaign that was almost immediately debunked…” And then some comments about the internet, blogs, new media, etc.
So it is just quick, up-front comments like that where I have heard the story and I haven’t seen any features about Obama that mention the story while showing B-roll of muslims praying at madrassas and then belatedly mentioning, “but that story is false.”
Anyway, that’s just what I have seen. And I guess they seem to have been doing enough to have satisfied the Obama campaign so that he would even make an appearance. I even saw Hillary Clinton being interviewed on FNC last week.
I’m not saying this is true of you del or even Alex, but I get the impression that a lot of people come to opinions about things without doing any research and solely based upon hearsay. I am a conservative, but I watch the Democratic debates too. And not with a closed mind. I want to see it for myself and reach my own conclusions. And, BTW, I think CNN did a very good job the other night with the Republican debate. A lot better than NBC did. Russert and company were on the attack at the debate they held, editorializing and asking all sorts of leading questions that had the ring of, “When did you stop beating your wife?”
Jeff said on February 3, 2008 at 7:57 pm
Ah, shoot — here’s the article, which our blogmistress may certainly delete if it violates some copyright provision i’m blithely skipping over:
Fear of Flying
A Duval County woman says nerves ended W’s National Guard service in Texas
By: Susan Cooper Eastman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sep 23, 2004
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According to Janet Linke, a Jacksonville resident and artist, Bush’s flying career was permanently disabled by a crippling fear of flying.
Janet Linke has been thinking about George W. Bush a lot lately. Thirty-two years ago, her late husband Jan Peter Linke served briefly in the Texas Air National Guard’s 111 Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Bush’s service in the same squadron has gotten plenty of attention in an election year when what you did during the Vietnam War is suddenly a litmus test of character. But Linke claims she knows a part of the story that nobody has mentioned.
According to Linke, a Jacksonville resident and artist, Bush’s flying career was permanently disabled by a crippling fear of flying.
Linke’s husband was admitted to the Texas Guard in the summer of 1972 to replace Bush. President Bush has said that he stopped flying fighter jets because the Alabama Guard unit didn’t have jets, and he wanted the transfer to Alabama in order to work on a political campaign. But Linke says she heard a different story from her husband and Bush’s squad commander, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. Shortly after her husband joined the Texas unit, Linke says, the couple discussed Bush’s service with Killian at a social event.
Contrary to some news reports that suggest Killian admired Bush, Linke says the officer didn’t have much use for the young lieutenant. He mentioned that Bush appeared to have a drinking problem, she recalls, but he was most offended by another incapacity: his fear of flying. According to Linke, Killian said Bush was grounded in his fourth year of flying after he became incapable of flying or properly landing a plane.
“He was mucking up bad, Killian told us,” Linke says. “He just became afraid to fly.”
Killian has become a major figure in Bush’s unfolding “Guardgate.” CBS news anchor Dan Rather produced memos signed by Killian saying he was pressured to sugarcoat Bush’s service, among other things. A few days after the report, CBS backed off when other media questioned the veracity of the documents.
But flight logs released by the White House three weeks ago in response to a lawsuit by the Associated Press show a strange retraction of Bush’s air time around that period. In February and March 1972, Bush switched from flying the F102A fighter jet, which the Guard used to patrol U.S. borders, to a two-seat T-33 training jet. His superiors also returned him to flight simulator practice sessions.
But records suggest the extra training sessions didn’t help. Logs show that in March and April 1972, Bush twice needed multiple tries to land the F102 fighter. Days later, on April 16, Bush piloted a plane for the Texas Air National Guard for the last time.
“He just couldn’t cut it,” says Linke. “I was led to believe he was kind of a coward.” (Folio Weekly was able to reach two former Bush squadmates in Texas, but both declined to be interviewed.)
In May 1972, Bush left Texas. He headed to Alabama, where he requested assignment with the postal reserve unit. Bush’s request was initially denied. But in August 1972, Killian stripped Bush of his flying duties for failing to take an annual physical. In September, he was ordered to take an administrative post with the Alabama Guard.
“[Killian] sent him to Alabama to fly desk,” she recalls. “And then he never showed up.” In Alabama, Bush’s fellow guardsman have said they don’t remember ever seeing him.
For Linke, W’s military service has become a very personal flashpoint. Linke’s husband died while serving in the Texas Guard in 1973 after drinking at the officer’s club. He nodded off at the wheel, drove into a lake and drowned. Linke was 27 years old with a 3-year-old son. She didn’t know much about who W was then; his family was not on the national radar. “We were told his father was a very wealthy Texan with CIA connections.”
After Bush became president, to the swelling sounds of military music and war cries, Linke found herself unable to shake her memory of Bush’s abrupt departure from military service. When she saw him swoop onto an aircraft carrier wearing a green flight suit, she thought about that 1972 conversation with Killian. But it wasn’t until the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth advertisements questioning John Kerry’s military service began airing in Jacksonville that she became incensed and decided to speak up. “At least Kerry served,” she says. “Bush stepped aside. Anyone else who was AWOL like that would have been in Leavenworth, and here he is president of the United States.”
Linke, who voted for George Bush’s dad, insists she’s not just anti-Bush or anti-Republican. But she’s unhappy with W’s presidency. After the passage of the Patriot Act, Linke and a girlfriend made T-shirts that said, “One Nation Under Surveillance.” And in early September, after seeing a swift boat ad, she went to Duval County Democratic Party headquarters to pick up Kerry-Edwards signs and chose to volunteer her story. Democratic Party officials contacted Folio Weekly the same day. Linke spoke to Folio Weekly before the White House released Bush’s flight logs, which appear to substantiate her story.
Unlike his mom, Linke’s son Chris supports President Bush. But he doesn’t doubt her version of events. “If she says it happened, that’s good enough for me,” he says. He notes that flying fighter jets is a dangerous job, and “not everybody’s got the mettle,” so he doesn’t doubt that Bush could have lost his nerve.
But Chris Linke’s faith in the president remains unshaken. When he goes to the polls in November, he says, “I will be voting for him.”