Sunday, January 21, 2018

This Week in Fortress America with Johnny

by John Patrick Conway, Jr.

OK. So now that we're down the rabbit hole with our group of 1% Federal whores pissing about in true childlike fashion, I thought it might be a good time to clear the air of some of  the smoke and mirrors. I'm not going to go on at length today...yeah, I know you're disappointed but, hey, I got a life too. In fact, I wouldn't be writing this post if our press was doing their jobs by calling out those who've been attempting to muddy the waters by casting aspersions, and lying through their teeth about what it is they're all really after...which is to say, of course, jockeying for power. So in a nut shell lets review.

To start with, we have the primary reason why I'm taking to the web today...hypocrisy. While listening to the news this past week we've all been inundated with a bunch of sissy Republican crybabies pointing the finger of obstructionism at Democrats. This can only be seen for what it is: an insult to the intelligence of the American public. For eight long-agonizing years under the Obama administration the Republicans had made political stonewalling an art form, and only now that others are subjecting them to their very own treatment they, all of a sudden, are coyly acting as though this behavior is unbeknown to them...? FUCK YOU!

I also just love the way Republicans try and get all jingoistic whenever it serves their purpose of attempting to ingratiate themselves with military contractors, somehow liking them to patriotic victims in this week's funding crisis and by all those "un-American, communist-like Democrats" as opposed to what they really are...which is to say this nations greatest welfare state! That's it, you mother-fuckers! I'm all for a strong military, but we're not getting what we pay for. What we are getting, however, is a minuscule lot of expensive crap that will not perform and/or survive in a real-world all out war. Can anyone say Lockheed F-35...?

Another thing our news media is completely dropping the ball on is our economy. Donald Hump (no, that was not a typo) is, true to form, attempting to lay claim to the soaring equities market. This past week the DOW Jones Industrial Average licked 26, if that actually means anything anymore. I've already covered the elements of this phenomena in my post Navigating the "Smoke and Mirrors" until the other shoe drops...what to do? January 28, 2012, but I'll recap real quick. The DJIA is useless as a barometer of economic health, and has been so for some time. Whenever the business world gets too real for any one of its constituent components, it is delisted and replaced with another...not because it  no longer serves as a reflection of economic activity but rather because it is serving as a reflection of economic activity and Wall Street can not have this. The owners of this index now promiscuously alter its line up whenever any of its company's fail to live up to arbitrary expectation. I mean, they're changing companies within this index like we all change underwear so there is no real continuity in tracking economic health.

What is of even greater concern here, though, is that the continuing surge in equity prices we are seeing today is at the behest of ever decreasing trading volumes. As any technical analyst can tell you, this is a classic technical indicator of an impending bear market reversal. And given the relative magnitude in the bubble being created (notwithstanding all the bullshit estimates based upon easily manipulated P/E data) the down draft is shaping up to be protracted.

As always, the only ones propping up the market are the same old players with deep pockets and a lie to sell: Banks, Funds and large Corporations with a lot of skin in the game. Just when Main Street has committed en masse, it will be these same economic terrorists that cash out, slowly at first and then at an accelerating rate, leaving all the suckers on Main Street left standing without a place to sit at the table.

So how all you Democrats feeling now about supporting Hilary? Was it worth it? You know, stifling the only candidate who could have appealed to a commanding portion of the electorate more than our current "stable genius?" Bernie is getting too old now so, if I were you, I'd know what? I'm wasting my time with you. Forget it.

And now a word from our sponsors:

* Preparation H - Because there is always hope.

*  Tums - When hope is fast becoming a recognition of reality, and finally...

* Smith & Wesson - Just when you can't take it anymore and revolution is the only answer.

Copyright January 21, 2018. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Oh My God! Lt. Cmdr. Philip Francis Queeg has assumed command of the USS America!

by John P. Conway, Jr.

You know, I read the news and sometimes its with my left arm folded across my chest to support the right one so that my hand can cover half my face with only my left eye to take in the absolute garbage I see. Today I recognized that I was doing this as I read about our "stable genius" President and his comments on Twitter. I mean, this guy is an embarrassment to the character of this nation. Yeah, I realize that comes as no surprise to most but I'm starting to question if I can really tolerate another three years of this.

When George W. Bush was in office, I made a point of keeping the remote within a reasonable distance so I could hit the mute button as soon as I heard his voice when watching TV, or listening to it as I made dinner in the kitchen. I simply could not stand it. For me it was like having to listen to someone scratch a chalk board with their nails. But now it seems every time someone quotes Trump, or I hear him on television, I begin to cringe at what's about to follow.

Be this as it may, what I began to wonder today, however, is how others can possibly stand to be around him as much as they are...? Seriously! What is wrong with these people?!

This guy has no loyalty to anyone...other than himself. Just listen to what this idiot tweeted the other day:

"Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!"

Now, I'm no fan of Steve Bannon but I almost feel sorry for the guy after all he has done to get this absolute douche-bag elected. And just listen to how he always follows the same script to attack those he perceives as attacking him. I listen to him and I picture a child screaming, "...I know you are, but what am I?!" Some may find all this amusing and I'll admit that in the past I have been as guilty as others in this regard, but a couple of things happened lately which has me a bit concerned.

The first was that I read about a group of Congressmen (five Democrat and one Republican, I think) who visited Yale University recently to discuss the President's mental state with some Psychiatrist. I remember thinking at the moment that these guys were really just reaching for it. But the second thing occurred while I was relaxing, watching REEL THIRTEEN's This Weeks Classic which was an airing of an old favorite of mine: The Caine Mutiny.

It came to me as I was listening to the defense attorney, played magnificently by Jose Ferrer, question an Industrial Psychologist regarding his assessment as to the mental state of the Caine's Commanding Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Philip Francis Queeg. As I was listening to these two men verbally duel with one another in what is probably one of the movies' best scenes, a thought crossed my mind. If you have not seen this picture yet I'm posting a transcript of a particularly telling scene below. Just read it and you'll see where I'm going with this...

DEFENSE. Doctor, my background is legal, not medical. Forgive me if I ask some elementary questions.

WITNESS. That's perfectly all right.

DEFENSE. Now Doctor, you said in previous testimony that Lt. Cmdr. Queeg, like all adults, had problems which he handled well. Could you describe those problems?

PROSECUTION. Objection. Lt. Cmdr. Queeg is not on trial here, Lt. Maryk is. This question constitutes irrelevant probing of medical confidences.

DEFENSE. I rely on the judgment of the court. Evidence regarding Lt. Cmdr. Queeg's mental makeup is of the utmost importance to my case.

JUDGE. The question is material, objection overruled. The doctor may answer within the limits of medical discretion. Recorder, you may repeat the question.

COURT REPORTER. You said Lt. Cmdr. Queeg, like all adults, had problems which he handled well. Could you describe the problems?

WITNESS. The overall problem is one of inferiority feelings, arising from an unfavorable childhood and aggravated by some adult experiences.

DEFENSE. What were those adult experiences?

WITNESS. He'd undergone a lot of strain in long, arduous combat duty. I think that's about all I can say.

DEFENSE. Now, sir, would he be inclined to admit mistakes?

WITNESS. None of us are.

DEFENSE. Would he be a perfectionist, sir?


DEFENSE. Inclined to hound subordinates about small details?


DEFENSE. Would he be inclined to think that people were hostile to him?

WITNESS. Yes, that's part of the picture, yes.

DEFENSE. And if criticized would he feel that he was being unjustly persecuted?

WITNESS. As I say, it's all one pattern, stemming from one premise, and he must try to be perfect.

DEFENSE. Doctor, you have testified that the following symptoms exist in Lt. Cmdr. Queeg's behavior: rigidity of personality, feelings of persecution, unreasonable suspicion, a mania for perfection, and a neurotic certainty that he was always in the right. Doctor, isn't there one psychiatric term for this illness?

WITNESS. I never said there was any illness.

DEFENSE. Thank you for the correction, sir. What would you call a personality that had all these symptoms?

WITNESS. A paranoid personality. But that is not a disabling illness.

DEFENSE. What kind of personality, Doctor?

WITNESS. Paranoid.

You can stream the movie for the rest, but you see what I'm aiming at here...don't you? Is our President unbalanced, or just quirky? I'll let you form your own opinion. For me, though, I'm beginning to believe the former.

At first sight, I saw Donald Trump for what he is: a privileged and spoiled brat with an inflated ego and a delusional sense of entitlement who, instead of recognizing that it's easy to make money when you've been showered with it from the start - as opposed to earning it, believes that his success in life is the direct result of genius. But buried deep down within, I suspect our Commander in Chief knows otherwise.

People who are secure and comfortable within their own skin are those who demonstrate justifiable pride in silence. Criticism is usually met with a moment of pause; unjustifiable taunts with a smirk as they turn and walk away. But those who really know better, even if it is on some visceral level, that their success is shallow and without merit tend to lash out in retribution when confronted with an assessment of their true nature...and this just screams Donald Trump.

So, is he nuts? I don't know. I'm not a Psychiatrist and, if the truth be told, I don't hold the field in high regard. Actually, that goes for the entire medical profession. Find a cure for the common cold and cancer, then we'll talk. For me, I prefer plain old, middle of the road, everyday common sense. To that end, I'll conclude this post with one more scene from The Caine Mutiny. Here the defense is forced to justify a line of questioning after an objection by the prosecution. For the purposes of this article, I'm the Defense, Lt. Cmdr. Queeg is Donald Trump, and all of you out there reading this post are the Naval Officers sitting in review...

PROSECUTION. Objection. The Defense outrages the dignity of this proceeding.

DEFENSE. The prosecution believes the report of the psychiatrist closes the case. But it is up to you Naval Officers to judge the captain's performance. And I must review that performance.

JUDGE. Objection overruled.

Actually, one final thought. I don't get Twitter. I've never felt the need to hear any one individuals thoughts just as their having them. Unless it's someone like Albert Einstein or Jesus Christ...what's the point? It seems today that everyone is all up in everyone else's business. The same goes for the news media who is on a crusade to topple Donald Trump, regardless of the fact that he successfully bamboozled a necessary percentage of the voting public to give him another fix in his attention addiction. I don't know about you, but my life would be magnitudes better, and this country as well, if they all just ignored the mother-fucker. Now that would send him over the edge...psychotically!

Copyright January 6, 2017. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How Time Flies...

by John Patrick Conway, Jr.

Today while I was at work the calendar on my computer caught my eye. I looked at it, then I looked back at what I was doing. I looked at it a second time and, again, resumed what I was doing. The third time I looked at my calendar, however, I stopped what I was doing entirely. I just stared at it this time with my hands hovering over my keyboard. I knew there was something special about this day, but it took a second to recall what it was...

After a moment or two a smile crosses my face. This was the day I earned my very first rating as a licensed aviator. That's right! December 12, 1987! That's the day I first took and passed my Oral and Flight check-ride for my Private Pilot License. Single Engine - Land. Of course, the day you solo is the day you become a pilot...for me that was March 1, 1987. But achieving this goal was one of the proudest days of my life. It said to the world that Johnny Conway was recognized, by the government of the United States of America, to exercise the benefits, privileges, and responsibilities afforded someone of this honor.

Just as I was reveling in this warm and fuzzy moment, a realization struck me that erased the smile and brought me back down to pun intended. Although the experience seems like it just happened yesterday in some respects, the year 1987 hung heavy. I rationally knew how long ago that is, but for some reason I had to actually tap out the math on my computer's calculator to convince myself...

2017 minus 1987 equals...Holy Shit! 30 years?! 

And I was only 22 years old when I achieved this milestone. I don't know. I don't feel old...and I'm not. I'm just a...distinguished middle age. Yeah, that's it! A distinguished middle aged, gentleman. Yeah...

OK. You can stop laughing now. I can hear you, and that's just not cool...

So, anyway, why do I bring this up? Well, picture this: A few years ago I'm watching PBS and a program comes on about a group of women who volunteered to endure the very same trials and tribulations as those experienced by NASA's first group of astronauts, the Mercury 7. These women were all aviators who had distinguished themselves in one way or another and, although the testing was never officially sanctioned by NASA, it was overseen by the very same Flight Surgeon that had helped develop the screening for the Mercury 7, Dr. William Lovelace. And the tests were also conducted at the same clinic as those of the Original 7: The Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

These women proved that they were every bit as good, and every bit as tough, as their male counterparts. They're known today as the Mercury 13.

I'm not going to get into the details of the program as you can look that up for yourselves. An excellent account of the shenanigans that constituted NASA's evaluations back then can be found in Tom Wolf's excellent book, The Right Stuff. I'm sure the DVD for the program I watched is also available from PBS as well.

The reason I'm mentioning all this now is because, much to my surprise, as I watched this program I learned that there existed a serendipitous link between my check-ride that overcast day in December 1987, and the events chronicled within this program.

Listed among these Original 13 was a woman named Irene Leverton. When I heard her name, I immediately sat up as I was then lying on my couch while enjoying this documentary. I remember yelling out loud, "...Irene Leverton! Wait...that can't be." But it was. This was the very same F.A.A. Designated Examiner who gave me my Private Pilot oral exam and flight test. WOW!

During the exam we got to know a little bit about each other. She asked about where I was from; what my parents did; how I ended up going to college at ERAU and flight training in Prescott, Arizona. Likewise, she told me about how she got into flying in Chicago, the operations she worked for over the years and the types of aircraft she had flown. I specifically recall how fondly she remembered her time as a check pilot for Japan Airlines, or was it for pilots training to fly with Japan Airlines?  Either way, I remember her trying to ease whatever trepidation I may be experiencing at that moment by comparing western culture to that of the comparatively less forgiving Bushido code followed by her Japanese charges. Just in case your really didn't help.

Be that as it may, I don't recall her having mentioned anything about her experiences at the Lovelace Clinic. If she did say anything about it, I do not remember. To be perfectly honest, I was just glad she wasn't breathing fire and snacking on the remains of students who had gone before me.

You see, she wasn't exactly held in high regard by many people I had heard from, and had a reputation for being intransigent, truculent even. I had a roommate one semester that, if he thought it would've done any good, would have burned her in effigy. He had gone up against her for his Private Pilot check-ride as well and she "busted" (failed) him. Then again, I remember him as being a real dick, so fuck him. But there were many others whose opinions I did respect and who avoided her at all costs.

Well, I'm proud to say that on this day in 1987 I started a tradition of having passed all my check rides the first time around without a single bust. But if I ever came close, this was it. I remember during the oral, she fixated on the fact that I broke a particular leg of my navigational planning in two. I did it because I felt it gave me better land marks to fix my position over the desert, as well as the fact that this leg traversed two sides of the same sectional chart. She saw this as an inability to plot a consistent course using a tried and true method of superimposing a sheet of paper over the terminating checkpoint of the leg with respect to a coordinate in terms of longitude and latitude that overlapped both sides of the chart, and then plotting a straight line using it. I really pressed the rational behind my course construction, but what saved the day is that I demonstrated the aforementioned procedure of plotting a straight course from one side of the chart to the other. Whew! That was close.

The flight check-ride was mercifully straight forward and uneventful. I'd like to say that I impressed the hell out of her that day but, in all candor, her disposition would suggest I simply proved safe enough to certify. In fact, before we even got into the aircraft she let it be known that so long as I didn't do anything stupid like get lost, crash, loose control or make her squirt in her pants, I was a lock. Not in those words exactly but I got the idea. Just demonstrate good judgment and command of the ship and I'll be on my way...and so it was.

You know, as I stated earlier, I remember the dates I first soloed and earned my Private Certification, but I cannot pinpoint the exact dates of any later class ratings or certifications. I had to refer to my logbook to find that I received my Multi-Engine class rating in June, 1989 and that I had my Commercial/Instrument check rides in February, 1990; first for Commercial/Instrument Multi-Engine-Land, and another for Commercial Single-Engine-Land. Yeah, you have to take them separately if you can believe that. The Instrument rating transfers from Commercial Multi-Engine to Commercial Single-Engine, but not the other way around, but why the Commercial maneuvers didn't translate over as well I'll never understand. Probably to keep DPE's in business I suppose.

The point I'm trying to make here is that by the time I completed my flight training, I was more relieved than anything else. What I remember most of my advanced training was flying under the hood and shooting instrument approaches on one engine, usually with the critical engine shutdown and its propeller feathered. Don't get me wrong, I still loved it and I was really good at what I was doing. But it was hard work.

So it is every year on December 12th that I look back with pride and joy in what turned out to be my first real taste of accomplishment in doing something that, before all other things, I love to do. Today, however, as I stared at that calendar on my computer the smile returned to my face once more, and this time I thought of Irene Leverton and the brief but pivotal roll she played in my life's story. I learned last summer that Irene passed away peacefully on July 23, 2017 on a Ranch just north of Prescott's Love Field. She was 90 years old. There's no telling for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if her last thoughts on this earth were that of flight.

Copyright December 12, 2017. All rights reserved.