|Bob and Bettye's 2005 trip to California|
Kung Fu Bettye at the Beach
Max atop his favorite perch ...
Bob, Max and Bettye hangin' out
... Unfazed by Al E Gator below
From: Bob Wirt Date: November 13, 2006 Subject: The fake punk band Carne Asada - Full Contact Mariachi
One of the great things about the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is that we get to see so many movies by really talented people, which may (or may not) be coming soon to a theater near you. Our friend Steven Hein is co-producer, along with Amy Wilkes, of a fascinating documentary on the fake punk band "Carne Asada - Full Contact Mariachi". The movie was aimed at thirty-somethings, and I don't know about anyone else but it made these sixty-somethings want to grab a guitar and a funky hat and hit the road. Rock & Roll...
PUNK LIKE ME
"A documentary about finally getting off your ass and making your teenage dreams come true"
Check out the video trailer here
Contact here for info:
Carne Asada Films
Email: Click Here
From: Bob Wirt Date: November 13, 2006 Subject: Brats, Our Journey Home by Donna Musil
When Bettye and I went back to California last month for my sister's wedding, I carried a DVD with me to share with my family - "Brats, Our Journey Home" by Donna Musil. I was greeted at my Mom's house by everyone waving their copy of the DVD, anxious for me to see it. I had been turned on to the film by a fellow Military Brat, Dave Grant, who, like me, is a member of the sub-species Air Force Brat. I found Dave and the other military brats last summer, online at the Military Brats Registry.
I had been raised on military bases throughout the world during my first eighteen years, and the film was as close to my life story and that of my siblings as I ever could have imagined. I had always considered "Blue Sky" to be the definitive Hollywood take on our childhood experience, but had resisted my brother's and sisters' advice to view "The Great Santini" - I thought Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange in Blue Sky had really nailed the ultimate portrait of my parents and our life, and I wasn't looking further. I was wrong on that one - I should have kept looking.
When I first saw Brats, I knew this excellent documentary was the real life story I held in my mind's eye. My pleasure at being able to take Bettye to the FLIFF screening and introduce her to the story of my formative years was complemented by the very enjoyable conversation we were able to have afterward with the producer, Donna Musil. When you've lived in a couple of dozen houses and attended over a dozen schools before High School graduation as most of us have, living on domestic bases and "on the economy" in foreign lands, you have a unique back-story shared by every other brat out there. Unique to us and mostly unknown by those raised in civilian families. If you're a Brat, you've got to see this movie. Order the DVD here...
Note regarding the following: I sent the letter below to both of my local papers following John Kerry's scurrilous comments regarding the low-level of intelligence of our soldiers serving their country in Iraq. (And you shouldn't believe the apologists who are saying it was just a bad joke poorly told. John Kerry had the same attitude toward his fellow soldiers back in the 1960s and `70s when he was paving his way toward a career in elected public life.)
The Herald published a truncated version of my letter where (the red phrases were omitted) and the ones in [brackets] were added, thereby changing the meaning of the message, as is their wont. The Sun-Sentinel called me on Nov 2nd to verify my authorship, but did not publish, probably because it had already appeared in the Herald that AM. Funny how editing for space leads to an alteration of the intent...
From: Bob Wirt Date: November 1, 2006 To: <email@example.com> <HeraldEd@herald.com> Subject: John Kerry and Iraq
The Editor (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and The Miami Herald) :
[It is] Interesting that [Sen] John Kerry is now warning college students, in time of war, that if they can't stay in school they'll end up in Iraq. It was John Kerry who, during the Viet Nam war [Kerry] in 1966, ran out of college deferments and was forced to enlist[ed in the] Navy rather than risk being drafted into the Army Infantry and actually having to serve in the trenches. Floating around in a boat in the Gulf of Tonkin was apparently more appealing to him than slogging through the mud and rice paddies with an M16 and a prayer. At the time it was a valid and honorable choice, but a little cynical in retrospect. The attitude is no less cynical today, given that so many patriotic young people are putting their lives on the line for the rest of us. Better there than here, better now than later.
Further note: It's always a risk sending a letter to the Editor of any newspaper as they have the final say in printing something over your name which you may, or may not, have written. When you write back to complain, they never correct the record, so I'll probably just stop sending letters to the Herald as they are particularly bad about it. The Sun-Sentinel, on the other hand, if they publish one of my letters seem always to manage to print it as I sent it, for which I am grateful.
These troops had their own take on Kerry's attitude toward them
This is a prayer request for a man in need of prayer, and was sent to me by our friends Nancy and Bob Mulcahy.
From: Bob Wirt Date: October 31, 2006 Subject: The continuing adventures of Bettye and Bob
To Our Family and Friends:
Following nearly two years in remission and about a year and a half on Tarceva ®, Bettye went on a medication vacation June 14th, where the doctors allowed her to go off her cancer maintenance drugs. As she put it, the drugs made her feel body-slammed every day without even the transitory pleasure of it having been the result of a few margaritas with dinner - Just the pain, none of the pleasure. She wanted to feel normal again, and for about six weeks she felt great. It was as if she had never had lung cancer and she seemed invigorated and infinitely happier. Unfortunately, her CT scan on August 15th showed what Dr Simon termed subtle changes in the pleura of her lungs where the cancer resides.
He put her back on the Tarceva ®, although at a half-dose of first 50 then 75mg daily, and scheduled a PET scan for September 21st. The PET scan came back clear and a month later on October 26th her followup CT scan came back clear as well, with the subtle changes gone and her lungs returned to a state of remission. As Dr Simon advised us Thursday, she is back to where she was in June with no evidence of metabolic activity from her cancer. Seems as if the drug was having a major positive effect in keeping her cancer suppressed so she's decided to make peace and live with it. The lower dose of the drug seems to be causing fewer side-effects and her spirits are relatively high because of the new, improved status of her lungs.
Hard to remember she's had lung cancer for four years now and has been Stage 4 since January 2004. I'm always amazed at her strength and determination. She's back to water aerobics and gym workouts, balanced by her daily meditation and visualization sessions. A certain calm and serenity has replaced the panic from August's adverse changes and she's back on track with her health and well-being.
Her recent good news has been tempered with my own medical adventure. Just two days before our trip to the H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in August, I had a bout of excruciating pain and ended up in the Holy Cross emergency room for several hours for what turned out to be a stubborn kidney stone stuck in transit and refusing to take that last leap to freedom. They put me back on Percocet ® and advised that this too would pass... Which it did, about ten days later. Bettye, however, picked up on the radiologist's report of my abdominal CT scan which indicated something called ground-glass densities and atelectasis in the lower portion of both of my lungs. She showed the report to Dr Simon during her visit, and he asked me to bring along the actual CD when returned in September so he could see the evidence, rather than just blow it off as inconsequential. Based on viewing the scan itself in September he ordered a full thoracic CT and scheduled me as a patient to return last week (October 26th) for evaluation.
Our primary physician Dr Toledano had already ordered a PET scan to see what was up, and Dr Simon had the same reaction, scheduling me for the PET scan at Moffitt this week, so we're hitting the road for Tampa again Wednesday AM. When Dr Simon reviewed my CT scans from April, August and October, he was pleased to inform that my lungs were clear and that the ground-glass densities and atelectasis were of no consequence. He then got very serious about what he termed my abnormal appearing lymph glands. When he showed me where they were, all I could say was: "Oh good, right next to my heart..."
His feeling was that it could be either lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) or some reaction to trauma due to the anesthesia intubation from my diverticulitis/peritonitis surgery last April. They can only tell with a PET scan which would reveal any metabolic hyperactivity if it's lymphoma. If no reaction is observed, they'll likely suspect the trauma and infection aspect, rather than cancer. In any event, he advised that a needle biopsy might be called for at that time, depending on the scan result. He also indicated there's an outside chance I'll have to have surgery and possibly hospitalization, depending on what's revealed in the biopsy.
When the nurse checked us in last Thursday, he said we were his first tag-team. Hard to say whether that's a good thing or not, but given the superb quality of care Bettye has received from the folks at Moffitt over the past thirty months we're guessing it's a good thing for us...
Just as with Bettye's insistence that we both have full-body CT scans back in July 2002, and her discovery of her own adenocarcinoma as a stage 1, we feel that her concern about the lung involvement revealed in my abdominal scans associated with the diverticulitis and later my kidney stone attack led us directly to the discovery of these lymph node concerns. Proactive seems to work out for us in these matters and we have every confidence that we've caught something possibly serious in a very early, and treatable, stage. It's a good thing she's looking out for both of us...
From: Bob Wirt Date: September 23, 2006 To: James M Subject: Voting Fraud
From: James M Date: September 22, 2006 Subject: Voting machines
Will The Next Election Be Hacked? Fresh disasters at the polls -- and new evidence from an industry insider -- prove that electronic voting machines can't be trusted...
( Note: This story was sent to me by James, as a text file, but with no online link.
Here it is http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/11717105/robert_f_kennedy_jr__wil )
I am, of course, never surprised at your willingness to spot a Republican under every rock, but when you read these screeds online, you should at least consider the source. Robert F Kennedy Jr, writing in Rolling Stone Magazine, is hardly an impartial observer. He is, after all, a partisan Democrat seeking leverage for his family and friends in the upcoming elections by demonizing the Right and burnishing the ostensible humanitarian motives of the guilt-ridden liberal Left.
The folks at Rolling Stone are historically a bunch of pot-smoking, communist-leaning allies of the British Left with a hate-America attitude that most loyal US citizens find repulsive. The fact that you deleted this source information from your forwarded article says something about your attempt to persuade at any cost. Simple concealment is nothing less than deception.
A more even-handed view of the controversy can be found in the mainstream publications, such as Business Week (below) which questions the motives of both parties and the vendors involved, including the one owned by Hugo Chavez' Venezuelan friends who rigged his re-election in 2004, to the cheering and applause of James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, the best friend an autocratic despot ever had.
The owners/officers of Smartmatic Corp of Boca Raton FL (formerly Sequoia), operators of voting machines throughout the USA, are: Antonio Mugica, Alfredo Anzola, Antonio Mugica Rivero and Roger Pinate - Venezuelans all. And, oh yes, some guy named Kevin Hurst - probably their beard.
There is plenty of real information out there showing the folly of inserting these easily manipulated computer terminals nationally, but then there have been accusations of voting fraud since the beginning of the American experiment in democracy including, throughout the 20th Century, that the lever operated machines favored by many big city ward captains would record votes opposite of what was selected before the lever was pulled. Conspiracy theories abound, but it's all normally just about money and power.
See you at the beach...
----------------------------------------------------- Business Week - JUNE 5, 2006 ------------------------------------
NEWS: ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY
One Man, One Vote, One Conspiracy Theory
Critics of electronic balloting are raising questions about a voting machine supplier
After the controversial 2000 Presidential election, the U.S. embarked on a campaign to replace paper ballots and their infamous hanging chads with electronic voting. But the new systems, many based on touch screens similar to bank ATMs, have become the bane of computer experts and some political activists on the Left.
Critics say the systems are riddled with security leaks that could allow corrupt companies or polling officials to steal elections. Now the complicated ownership of one of the nation's top three voting-equipment companies has attracted a new cadre of doubters.
The company, Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., sells machines in California, Illinois, and 18 other states. It has come under fire because its majority shareholders are Venezuelan. In the colorful imaginations of some, the Sequoia story is a tale that ends with Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chávez, a foe of the Bush Administration, in a position to manipulate American elections.
In Washington, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) has asked the Treasury Dept. to explain Sequoia's sale to the Venezuelans last year. "It doesn't seem like the deal...was vetted by our government, and I want to know why," she said in a May 5 letter.
Following a contentious Apr. 7 hearing on Sequoia's role in a recent Chicago primary, city Alderman Edward M. Burke, a relatively conservative Democrat, said: "We've stumbled on what we think could be an international conspiracy to subvert the electoral process in the United States." Burke offered no proof, and despite similar concerns expressed by other Chicago pols, the city and Cook County will continue to use Sequoia equipment.
Sequoia officials insist that neither Chávez nor the Venezuelan government has had any link to the company. "There is absolutely, unequivocally no connection," insists Sequoia Vice-President Michelle M. Shafer. But Sequoia's ownership is elaborate. The Oakland (Calif.) business was acquired for $16 million in March, 2005, by Boca Raton (Fla.)-based Smartmatic Corp. Smartmatic is owned by a Netherlands holding company, which in turn is owned by Smartmatic International Group, based in Curaçao.
Sequoia says the Curaçao company's principal shareholders are its Venezuelan chief executive, Antonio Mugica, and his family. A large minority stake is owned by other Venezuelans. "We were trying to make a fluid company that could operate internationally," says Shafer.
The Venezuelan connection has fueled speculation among bloggers and others in the anti-electronic-voting world about Smartmatic's role in a controversial 2004 election to recall Chávez. The company received a $91 million contract from Venezuela's national electoral council to conduct that vote, which Chávez eventually won. While Chávez opponents claimed fraud, no U.S. critics have linked Smartmatic to corruption, and the company strongly denies it engaged in any.
The U.S. criticism of Sequoia and its owners is just the latest spat in a nasty battle over electronic voting. Most of the conflict concerns security problems. "These major security holes have been there for a long time, and they are not going away," says Holly Jacobson, co-director of Voter Action. Her group has challenged electronic voting around the country in races won by both Republicans and Democrats.
Still, the new machines are catching on, thanks in part to more than $2 billion in federal funds. The number of counties using electronic systems has more than tripled since 2000, to 1,050. And public opinion surveys suggest that most voters like them.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- what real people think --------------------------------------------
Review: Why not call President Carter and his Carter Center to avail the elections in Chicago and West Palm Beach and the next elections to come here in the US, like he did in Venezuela leaving us that monster in power for perpetuity? The ONLY reason why Chavez is still in power is because of Carter's testimony the very next day of the Venezuelan referendum, when he availed the results, even when all polls, exit polls, showed a 65% result against Chavez and the very next day, Chavez won by a 60%. Now, call Mr Carter, so he can do the same damage he did in Venezuela right here. Tell him to support those machines from hell in the Georgia elections!
Date reviewed: Jun 13, 2006 8:33 PM
Review: We cannot ensure that employees and leaders of voting system vendors will not favor one candidate over another. Therefore we must ensure that the voting systems themselves are designed to be beyond reproach. HAVA spent billions of dollars on new voting systems, but the required new federal voting systems standards have still not been created. Unfortunately, the principle that votes are cast in secret and tallied in public is incompatible with voting systems being protected as trade secrets. Besides paper trails, or even better paper ballots, voting systems should be open to public inspection, including source codes and design specifications. Public scrutiny helps Linux be secure. It is secrecy that invites errors or fraud.
Date reviewed: Jun 5, 2006 7:20 AM
Review: Read the account of Smartmatic ownership and make up your own minds. As a Venezuelan I can only say that democracy is not best served by these machines: http://www.vcrisis.com/index.php?content=letters/200508141135
Date reviewed: Jun 3, 2006 2:34 PM
Nickname: Ronald Smythe
Review: I am impressed at the takeout of the polls. Quit voting now, folks, it merely gives politicians consent to loot.
Date reviewed: Jun 3, 2006 2:07 AM
Review: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/world/2004-07-12-venezuela-evote_x.htm --quote-- "There is no voting system more secure than this one," Mugica boasted, tapping a machine's screen during a demonstration in his sleekly furnished Caracas office. A square piece of paper popped out of the computer, a physical record of his vote. That, Mugica insists, is the system's primary safeguard against fraud: A paper trail that allows for a recount of any contested election. --unquote-- If this is ever implemented in the US, it will be one of the few touchscreen systems to implement a voter-verified paper trail. If there is a hint of fraud, such as the exit polling might indicate, there will actually be something physical to count. Perhaps your publication could better spend its time by reporting on e-voting companies that refuse to implement this kind of safeguard.
Date reviewed: Jun 2, 2006 8:11 PM
Review: Seuoia can fight Venezuelan nationals without tourist visas because they were not acting as tourists. Sequoia seems to have the same kind of scary connection to the Venezuelan government (Smartmatic's largest client) as Al-Qaeda with US government (military and intelligence training). These days you just can't believe in anyone: no one in government, no one in corporations, no one in mass media.
Date reviewed: Jun 1, 2006 7:13 AM
Review: OK. I guess I'll be the one to blow the lid off the Trade Secrets. If a candidate gets a mark by their name, their vote count increases by 1. I hope I don't get into too much trouble for divulging proprietary information.
Date reviewed: May 31, 2006 4:06 PM
Nickname: Jim March
Review: The real crime is that the Federally-managed oversight process on voting machines is a very bad joke. The California legislature recently questioned representatives of two of the three Federally approved testing labs doing oversight on these machines. The third lab and all the vendors bowed out but the remaining testimony is just unbelievable. For a six-page excerpt set and a link to the full transcript, see: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/showdownincalifornia-27599.pdf
Date reviewed: May 31, 2006 10:06 AM
Review: That's $3.8 billion in free Federal money. That will make almost anything seem popular until the crash comes after the feeding frenzy is over. Electronic vote counting has no credibility for the simple but powerful reason that they count the votes in total secrecy. They even call it "trade secrecy." "Confidence" is thus not the right question. The right question is how can anyone have a basis for confidence when they can't possibly confirm it and no one else can either? Given the ability to count votes in secret, and use trade secrecy to keep everyone away, how long before one of these vendors starts selling elections? Why not? Who would know? Where are the checks and balances?
Date reviewed: May 31, 2006 4:10 AM
Nickname: Concerned Voter
Review: Interesting story, but it fails to note that Smartmatic had no election experience whatsoever when Venezuela chose it to provide electronic voting machines for the recall referendum against Chavez. They clearly had an inside track on that contract, and the question is: Why? Also, why is Sequoia flying Venezuelan nationals without tourist visas to help conduct U.S. elections, as was reported in The Chicago Sun-Times and The Rocky Mountain News? Finally, how can the company spokesperson claim that there is no connection to the Venezuelan government when the Venezuelan government remains Smartmatic's largest client?
Date reviewed: May 31, 2006 3:30 AM
From: Bob Wirt Date: September 11, 2006 To: James M Subject: Hugo Chavez and US Voting Fraud Possibilities
From: James M Date: September 4, 2006 Subject: Are you still willing to vote?
Streaming Video of Clinton Eugene Curtis http://www.glumbert.com/media/vote.html
Your streaming video of the voting fraud allegation by Clinton Eugene Curtis was interesting, but begs the question of who may truly be behind such fraud. What he says about source codes and vote switching software doesn't make much sense as it would in fact be possible to develop blocking software to counter the type of fraud he is describing. If you listen to the testimony, he never says such a program was written, and the man he accuses of asking him about such a bit of software code is Tom Feeney (R-FL) with whom Clinton has had a long-running dispute and a series of altercations.
Sounds like a bunch of mud-slinging and speculation to me. If this guy Feeney in fact asked the question Clinton Curtis claims, his motivation was not necessarily devious but could have been more in the nature of attempting to protect the integrity of the system, not undermine it. Probably not though since Feeney is ethically challenged anyway, but Curtis is running against Feeney for the US Congress in the 24th District so his own motivations in this brouhaha may be self-serving.
You, of course, believe this purported machine rigging to be a Right-Wing Republican plot to undermine democracy, but you should also consider the known fact that Hugo Chavez, erstwhile president of Venezuela, is a major stockholder through several Cayman Island corporations in the software company based in Florida which programs our Florida voting machines, along with those in many other US states. Chavez bought his own 2004 return to power in Caracas through rigged voting machines, endorsed wholeheartedly by James Earl Carter, and is undoubtedly eyeing our US elections and the potential there for promoting his agenda in our own venue.
Voting fraud on a massive scale in this country is in danger of becoming a reality and the manipulators of our election results may not be those we would at first suspect (the weasels in and/or seeking public office), but may in fact be political terrorists offshore with objectives of their own, having nothing much to do with our domestic politics and more to do with their own self-promotion and self-interest.
--------------------------------------------------------- Article of Interest ----------------------------------------------
Federal Committee To Investigate Sequoia Ownership
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA
July 16, 2006
Responding to a request from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) has opened an investigation into whether the foreign ownership of Sequoia Voting Systems compromises national security. Smartmatic, whose majority owners once had links to the Venzuelan government, acquired Sequoia last year. Earlier this year CFIUS, a 12-agency panel chaired by the Treasury Department, approved a bid by a Dubai company to buy several U.S. port operations, a deal that was subsequently terminated after questions were raised in Congress and in the media.
The ranking member of the subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology, which has jurisdiction over CFIUS, Maloney sent a letter on May 4, stating that she wanted to ensure the Smartmatic deal had received federal scrutiny. Maloney was quoted in a recent syndicated article "as you can imagine, having a foreign government investing in or owning a company that supplies voting machines for U.S. elections could raise concerns over the integrity of elections conducted with those machines."
In a press release that accompanied her letter to CFIUS Maloney wrote:
Smartmatic was first the subject of controversy in 2004 when the Hugo Chavez-led Venezuelan government selected it to provide the voting machines system for the presidential recall election, even though it would be the companys first time providing machines for an election. Smartmatic teamed up with a Venezuelan software company, Bitza, which at the time was 28% owned by Chavezs government. More recently, a Chicago city alderman questioned the possible ties between Sequoia and the Venezuelan government when that companys machines were used in the March 2006 Chicago primaries.
According to the article cited above, Brookly McLaughlin, a CFIUS spokeswoman, said she could not comment on whether the committee cleared the purchase. McLaughlin also declined to confirm or deny whether the committee is investigating Smartmatic's purchase of Sequoia. She said she could only say that CFIUS "has been in contact" with Smartmatic.
----------------------------------------------------------- Also on the same subject ---------------------------------------------------------
Posted on Fri, Jul. 14, 2006
Panel scrutinizes voting machine company with ties to Venezuela
By Alfonso Chardy McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
A U.S. Treasury-led panel that investigates whether U.S. companies with ties to foreign investors compromise national security has contacted the Boca Raton, Fla., parent company of a voting machine supplier whose top executives once had links to the Venezuelan government.
The company, Smartmatic, last year acquired Sequoia Voting Systems, a well-known supplier of electronic voting equipment in 16 states. Palm Beach and Hillsborough counties are among those that use Sequoia's electronic voting machines. Smartmatic was a partner in a consortium that supplied electronic voting machines used in the controversial referendum President Hugo Chavez won in 2004.
Sequoia has also come under fire in Chicago, where glitches in voting tabulations in a recent election, coupled by the company's admission that its technology support staff is comprised of Venezuelan nationals, raised concern among some city council members who grilled the company's president, Jack Blaine.
"The history of the company that was hired to run this election is no stranger to scandal, not the least of which involves its ties to Venezuela and the claims of its partnership with political corruption in that country," said Alderman Edward Burke at an April 7 Chicago City Council meeting where Blaine was questioned.
Neither Smartmatic nor the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, CFIUS, said why Smartmatic had been contacted. But earlier this year Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., asked Treasury whether the committee had cleared Smartmatic's purchase of California-based Sequoia.
Rep. Maloney echoed the concerns of anti-Chavez critics, suggesting in her May 4 letter to Treasury that CFIUS should review the transaction and determine whether the company is a tool of the Chavez government to influence U.S. elections.
"As you can imagine, having a foreign government investing in or owning a company that supplies voting machines for U.S. elections could raise concerns over the integrity of elections conducted with those machines," Maloney wrote.
Mitch Stoller, a Smartmatic spokesman, said the company did not seek CFIUS review of the transaction because it was not considered to have military, defense or national security implications. Before the purchase, Sequoia was already foreign owned. Its prior owner was De La Rue of Britain.
"Smartmatic is an independent company and no foreign government or entity - including Venezuela - has ever held an ownership stake in Smartmatic," Stoller said
Smartmatic's principal executives are from Venezuela, but the Venezuelan government did not invest in the company. Rather, the government invested in Bizta Corp., which provided software used by Smartmatic, The Miami Herald revealed in 2004.
CFIUS, which includes several federal agencies, emerged from obscurity earlier this year when it approved a bid by a Dubai company to buy several U.S. port operations. The public uproar and congressional questioning eventually scuttled the deal.
Maloney, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology, which has jurisdiction over CFIUS, said in her letter to Treasury that she wanted to ensure the Smartmatic deal had received federal scrutiny.
"I would have concerns if this transaction was done outside the CFIUS process, a process that was put in place to appropriately examine these types of foreign investment."
CFIUS is a 12-agency panel chaired by Treasury and includes the departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security.
Brookly McLaughlin, a CFIUS spokeswoman, said she could not comment on whether the committee cleared the purchase. McLaughlin also declined to confirm or deny whether the committee is investigating Smartmatic's purchase of Sequoia. She said she could only say that CFIUS "has been in contact" with Smartmatic.
Smartmatic is owned by Smartmatic International Holding B.V. in Amsterdam, Stoller said. Blaine, Sequoia's president, told the Chicago City Council that the Amsterdam outfit is owned by Smartmatic International Group, N.V. of Curacao.
Bizta was owned by the same Venezuelan nationals who control Smartmatic, Antonio Mugica Rivero and Alfredo Anzola Jaumotte, childhood friends and engineering school graduates.
Anzola's father, Alfredo Anzola Mendez, was a prominent opposition member and a columnist in the anti-Chavez Caracas newspaper Tal Cual. "I'm anti-Chavez by conviction," he said in a 2004 interview at his home in an exclusive Caracas neighborhood.
The Venezuelan government's investment in Bizta gave the Caracas government 28 percent ownership of the company. The Venezuelan government agency that made the investment, a venture capital fund, said it had nothing to do with the referendum and that it was a bid to promote a promising small company.
In February 2004, the National Electoral Council in Caracas, awarded Bizta and partners Smartmatic and CANTV, Venezuela's publicly held phone company, a $91 million contract to develop new voting machines. But shortly before the referendum, Bizta announced that it was buying back the Venezuelan government's shares.
© 2006, The Miami Herald.
Visit The Miami Herald Web edition on the World Wide Web at http://www.herald.com
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
From: James M Date: September 4, 2006 Subject: CIA - The World Factbook Rank Order Current account
This list by the CIA is based on "Current account" not projected.
From: Bob Wirt Date: September 4, 2006 To: James M Subject: CIA The World Factbook Rank Order Current account balance
Interesting, but hard to say what it means. The country with the largest, most robust economy leads in debt? I guess, but then the USA gives more money away in foreign aid than the total economies of most of the countries on the list.
The USA's total economy is the largest in the world, even larger than that of the entire EU, so I guess our debt would be the largest as well.
Our per capita GDP is sixth in the world only to Bermuda, Luxembourg, Equatorial Guinea, the UAE and Norway which says something for the general prosperity and well-being of the 300,000,000 people who live here. But then, that's just another meaningless statistic.
It's a funny thing about statistics, they can be made to prove anything, even the truth. Like the quote attributed by Mark Twain to Benjamin Disraeli: Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." ~Mark Twain, autobiography, 1904 (but, as yet no actual record of this under Disraeli's authorship)
Have a great whatever's left of the weekend, and don't labor over the statistics. Enjoy...
South Florida Sun-Sentinel - Fort Lauderdale FL
Let companies pay for research - Posted August 14 2006
Before President Bush authorized, in August 2001, an initial $250 million in federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, there had been none. In spite of this, news headlines read "Bush limits funding...", not "Bush authorizes funding..." which is what he did.
I don't personally agree with the reasons cited for the restrictions, but others feel strongly about limiting federal funds for the destruction of embryos. After all, we each have a right to a say in how our tax money is spent by the federal government.
The larger point is that it is the multibillion-dollar drug firms that want the taxpayer to foot the bill for the research, so they can garner the exorbitant profits associated with the marketing of medical technologies resulting from such lab work.
These monoliths should instead build on the findings of the research we the taxpayers have already funded and put up some of their own bloated treasury to fine-tune and finish the job by expanding into new embryonic lines if they indeed feel so strongly that the cures lie therein.
President Bush started the ball rolling over the past five years; it's time for the private sector to pick it up and run it to market without more of our hard-earned tax dollars.
No law prevents private research on embryonic stem cells, it's just their reluctance to pay their own way to the resulting profits.
My sister Kristine works with Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley CA and Kevan is her 7 year old grandson:
From: Kristine Koenig Date: July 27, 2006
Subject: GRANDMA'S BRAGGING RIGHTS!
Hi all! I wanted to share with everyone the article in our local paper today that highlighted Kevan, who has been chosen as the Honorary Cancer Survivor at this Saturday's Relay For Life in Castro Valley. Click on the website link below to see the article, we're very proud of him. At the opening ceremony he's going to give a short speech (at 7 years old he's braver than most of the rest of us!), then he'll carry the torch and lead the first lap around, which is the traditional Survivor's Only Lap ... Love to all, Kris
Click this link to read Kris's message about Kevan's Story and the ACS Castro Valley 2006 Relay For Life
From: Bob Wirt Date: June 26, 2006 Subject: News for sale... Papers Setting Al Qaeda Free To Murder
Thanks to the New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today, Al Qaeda is now fully informed as to just how America has been tracking their phone calls into and out of the USA and the movement of their finances through the international banking system. I can (half-way) understand the liberal weenies at The Post and the commie-pinko-bedwetters at The NY Times, since we've become accustomed to their treasonous leaking of America's anti-terror secrets, but what in the world was USA Today thinking? No one was listening to the phone calls or monitoring domestic bank account details; they were tracking international phone numbers involved with calls from or to known Al Qaeda operatives and monitoring funds movement of known Al Qaeda accounts and those of their sympathizers. Both are legal and necessarily clandestine to remain effective.
Al Qaeda can now just alter their methods of communication and financing to avoid our government's legitimate scrutiny and thereby further their anti-American agenda without the pesky CIA and NSA being able to as effectively track and stop them from fomenting their murderous terror attacks. Al Qaeda doesn't need an intelligence service to facilitate their activities, just their friendly local fish-wrapper will do. There are federal laws against publishing classified information leaked by rogue federal employees, but don't hold your breath waiting for the feds to bring these arrogant scribes to task. Funny thing is that the papers take a stance claiming the "public's right to know", but the real reason is increased revenue and circulation. It's all about money, not news. The least they could do is be honest about their unscrupulous motivations and admit that their venality has overtaken their ethics. Personally I don't really want to know how we're doing it, just that it's getting done. When it comes to finding and killing our enemies, the result, not the details, is what matters.
National security has become a catch-phrase akin to 9/11, but these are not just a pair of easy fall-back positions. They are integral to the safety and security of our domestic lives and not to be dismissed as just the administration's cover-all excuses. There was a time in this country when the major media held secrets in wartime, such as their fore-knowledge of the D-Day invasion during WWII; or their protection of JFK through their willfully ignoring his sexual escapades in and out of the White House. Their position protecting secrets of war or private failings of public officials then was reasonable; now they are just opportunistic. The result is a weakening of the war effort; greater risk to our front-line soldiers; and insecurity and uncertainty for civilians on the home-front. News for sale... to hell with the real-world consequences.
From: Bob Wirt Date: June 25, 2006 5:10:53 PM EDT Subject: Bettye Takes A Medication Vacation...
To Our Family and Friends:
On June 14th, Bettye and I travelled to H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa for her scheduled quarterly CT Scan and bloodwork in followup of her treatment under the Clinical Trial being run by Dr George Simon. This is a trial called Molecular Analysis Directed Individualized Therapy (MADe IT) For Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. She got great news (again) that the scan was clear and she remains in remission. After twenty-seven months in the clinical trial, and twenty-one months in remission, Bettye has been taken off her maintenance drugs and is enjoying what her care-givers cheerfully refer to as a Medication Vacation. Two months, maybe more, we'll see how it goes...
I had been hesitant regarding any changes in the status-quo, since she had remained in remission so long and seemed so outwardly healthy, but Bettye wanted a more natural lifestyle and a return to normalcy. Bettye was on the Tarceva ® daily for about fifteen months, and it seemed to be doing its job. While she has had good days and bad on Tarceva ®, on many days the unwanted side-effects of the drug were spoiling her quality of life and she was anxious to experience overall good health once again. After three months of talking it over, and with the concurrence of Doctor Simon, we decided to venture once again into uncharted territory by going drug-free as she had done briefly a couple of times in late 2004 and early 2005 (due to liver complications from Iressa). As to her finite life span, Bettye seeks quality over quantity, and her daily happiness is supremely important to her continuing good health.
Truth be known, now after almost two weeks off the meds, she's feeling great and beginning to enjoy life more. We're confident that her meditations and visualizations will help her to keep her immune system on track and that the bi-monthly monitoring by the incomparable Moffitt crew will ensure that the (stage IV) adenocarcinoma stays suppressed. If not, they're there to begin again with the meds, but Bettye and I remain confident that the drugs won't be needed any further. She chooses to see herself as well, and so do I.
After we got the good news at Moffitt, we headed north to Savannah GA once again to The River Street Inn, and then took a jog north to Fort Bragg NC to attend my Special Forces Association Convention for a few days. There were about fifteen-hundred ex-Green Berets there, mostly from the 1950s & 60s era, and Bettye came to understand I'm not the only weirdo who sleeps with a knife under his mattress. Not really, but then she's always had an appreciation for my love of the jungle and my other unconventional habits. (Jungle boots and Jungle knife... How I love that Jungle life...) It was inspiring that everyone stood at attention and all commotion ceased whenever Barry Sadler and Ballad Of The Green Berets blared over the loudspeakers. Patriotism, selflessness and devotion to duty are, hopefully, not a lost art... At least they're not among those most dedicated of warriors. I'm truly grateful to my ex-top sergeant from the Panama CZ, CSM Bob Mulcahy, for getting me involved with the SF Association last year and back in touch with my fellow soldiers.
Following Fort Bragg, we went on to Lake Wylie SC/NC to visit with Bettye's family for a few days, then back to Savannah and our return to Fort Lauderdale after what had turned into about a ten-day jaunt, rather than our normal week. Each time she gets the good news from Moffitt about her test results, Bettye feels incredibly relieved and has to head home to her family. A good investment of our time and a soothing break for her jangled nerves after the quarterly run-up to the life-defining CT Scans. We're looking forward to many years of clear CT Scans and her continuing good health and happiness.
Best wishes to each of you,
Bettye and Bob Wirt
From: Bob Wirt Date: May 26, 2006 6:11:43 PM EDT Subject: Political Triumvirate Covers Up
To the editor HeraldEd@herald.com :
Judge Michael Gates rules in the trial of Broward Sheriff's Deputy Christian Zapata that Sheriff Ken Jenne doesn't have to testify and can avoid his subpoena from the defense on the basis that he doesn't know anything about manipulation of crime statistics. Ken Jenne is the guy who bought the easily manipulated computer programs which immediately began to spit out highly inflated statistics which made Sheriff Jenne appear to be a management genius and crime-solving whiz, at least according to the Sheriff's own press releases. Ken Jenne is the sole beneficiary of these skewed statistics and benefited politically and financially from the publication of those numbers, but according to Judge Gates the Sheriff himself can't possibly know anything about how the statistics came to be manipulated. How Judge Gates knows this without hearing Sheriff Jenne's testimony is anyone's guess. Three politicians: the judge; the prosecutor; and the sheriff, watching each others' backs to the detriment of the poor guy at the bottom of the pile who was just doing his job according to what his superiors expected of him. There'll be no justice in this courtroom anytime soon - just another injustice done to a dedicated deputy who simply did what his bosses told him to do - while the politicians all take a walk. How about a perp walk for Sheriff Jenne... Do we really have to leave justice up to the Feds?
(06/06/2006 : While the paper didn't publish this letter, the jury did the right thing and found the deputy not-guilty. Apparently Broward County jurors have more honesty and common sense than certain of our judges, prosecutors and the sheriff.)
From: Bob Wirt Date: April 16, 2006 Subject: Bob's Medical Emergency and Subsequent Epiphany
To our Friends and Family:
Sorry, but I've been offline since Thursday the 6th. I woke up with a bad case of what I thought was indigestion about 5AM, and by the time I got to the overwhelming pain and cramping in my abdomen a couple of hours later, it was about 7:30. I decided it was my kidney stones acting up and told Bettye I was going to sleep it off. She, fortunately, insisted I go to Holy Cross Hospital to find out what was really wrong since the pain was similar, but not the same, as in the past. I fought her on it, but she prevailed, forcing me into the car and thereby saved my worthless hide.
Long story short, their diagnosis (some twelve hours later) was that I had a perforated bowel and was going into peritonitis. The surgeon, Dr Arison, came to my room about 8PM, said he had another patient prepped on the table, but that he had stopped by to let me know I was next in line. He advised that I submit to immediate repair as I had no time to shop for other options. They filleted me like a flounder, removed about three feet of bowel, cleaned out what the Doctor described as some of the worst infection pockets of diverticulitis he had ever encountered, and sewed me up. Got home seven days later, Thursday night past. I'm feeling good, but with a developing scar that I believe I can morph into a pretty good tale of an alligator attack out of the Everglades.
Bettye saved my bacon on that one as I do know that peritonitis is a drastic emergency and had I gone back to bed to sleep off what I thought were some passing stones I'd have woken up dead, as they say. What I had thought were just some uncomfortable attacks of indigestion for the past few weeks turned out to have been something much more serious, and the Rolaids weren't doing much to help the situation.
My own training in trauma surgery, although it goes back some forty years to my Green Beret "Fighting Soldier From The Skies" days, was thorough enough that I knew the time to be critical once Dr Arison explained I had a perforated bowel and that my abdomen was filling with air and myriad other nasties. The peritonitis diagnosis was key, however, in that it is something which must be dealt with within hours or it's bye bye Boffo.
Anyway, Bettye and I are back here in our love nest in the sky, overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, Bonnett House Park and the incomparable Atlantic Ocean - for all of which I have a newly-rediscovered and profound appreciation.
All our best,
Bettye and Bob (Mr Lucky) Wirt
From: Bob Wirt Date: March 10, 2006 Subject: Boot Camp Killers
A young man was killed the first week of this year by guards at a Panama City, Florida, "Boot Camp" for juvenile offenders. The world has seen still-clips from the grainy video of these guards punching and kicking the 14 year-old just before he died, and witnessed the camp nurse, charged with safeguarding the health of the detainees, watching without stopping the attack. The myopic Dr. Charles Siebert, medical examiner for Bay County, after performing his own inimitable style of autopsy, pronounced the death to be by natural causes due to sickle cell trait - a blood disorder virtually unique to blacks. Blame the death on the boy's skin tone, not on the eight beefy guards pummeling him without mercy.
The guards themselves describe their actions couched in logic-defying euphemisms such as "hammer strikes", "knee strikes", "takedowns" and "pressure points". One "applied a knee strike to Offender Anderson's left thigh and escorted him to the ground" while another "took control of Offender Anderson's left arm for counseling". Between the bullshit committed to paper by the medical examiner and the boot camp guards, one might almost forget they brutalized and killed a kid whose only crime was having taken his grandmother's car for an unauthorized joyride. Fourteen year-old Martin Anderson got the death penalty for a misdemeanor. There's the real crime.
For the record, these so called boot camps which use corporal punishment and physical assault to teach discipline are nothing more than a sham and false depiction of the conditions in true military boot camps upon which they're supposedly modeled. In the real military, any soldier in authority who physically assaults another soldier is subject to courts martial, imprisonment, loss of rank and discharge from the service. No DI or training cadre I ever encountered or heard of employed this type of brutality in earning the respect of his charges or instilling discipline in those same soldiers. Civilian boot camps as currently constituted here in Florida are nothing more than a fraud being perpetrated in the name of justice and function as a dumping ground where untalented, uninformed, sadistic menaces-to-society are allowed to masquerade as law enforcement officers.
In four year in the US Army I went through plenty of brutal training regimens, none of which involved being punched or kicked by my instructors. Fort Polk LA in the winter of 1964/65 was a miserable place where it seemed everyone with a stripe on his sleeve knew my real name was Shit-Hook and they all seemed to be yelling at me at once. We all did the work we had to because we didn't want to be the only guy in the field who couldn't perform the task at hand. Discipline, structure and respect are learned and earned from the accomplishment of the most difficult tasks assigned, not from having been beaten into submission.
The only place I got myself hurt in such military training was during eight weeks of hand-to-hand karate school under MSG Joe Virtue. In that situation I volunteered for the training and we students were thoroughly pummeled, not by our DI's but by each other. I was a mass of black, blue and green skin tones with several broken toes thrown in for good measure, but the injuries were worth what was learned in the training, and it was my own choice to undertake the task to improve my skills.
What the Governor and powers-that-be in the state of Florida need is someone who knows how to run a real military-style boot camp, and who remembers that they're dealing with youthful offenders who need nothing more than discipline and boundaries to help them back onto the straight-and-narrow as we used to say back in olden times. The concept of boot camps is a good one - the execution of that concept in Florida fails to stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny.
de Oppresso Liber
From: Bob Wirt Date: February 25, 2006 Subject: Citgo, Hugo Chavez and "Jimmy"
Bettye's brother Everett has been telling her for some time now that he doesn't buy Citgo gas any longer because it's owned by the Venezuelan government. I know she mentioned it to me before, but it just didn't click until I read a letter to the editor in today's Miami Herald on the matter from Mark Ham of Miami Lakes.
I checked the allegation out and find it's true: Citgo is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela SA). Hugo Chavez stole the most recent election in his run for the presidency of that country, to the cheering of none other than James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, and now sets prices and export policy for that oil to the USA. This radical communist bully-boy buddy of Fidel Castro's is not the type of guy I intend to enable, and is in fact just the sort of idealogue/demagogue we used to joust with in the jungles of South and Central America in our late 1960s efforts to shut down Fidel's and Che's incursions into the Latin American countries. I like the Venezuelans I know personally, I just don't think much of their leader, and apparently neither do they.
Now that I've been awakened by the writer, my wife and my brother-in-law, I intend to take the capitalistic approach to this situation by not buying anything from Citgo or anything else from the companies which market their fuel, mainly 7/11 Stores. I can buy my gas, and coffee, elsewhere and in so doing protest in that very All American Way: I'll give my money to someone I don't actually know to be my enemy. I'm thinking that Amerada Hess is my best bet as they don't utilize either Venezuelan or Middle East oil in their products. Besides which, they just opened a new station on the beach road (A1A) about a block from our office. Friendly and convenient. They sell coffee too.
From: Bob Wirt Date: February 25, 2006 To: HeraldEd@herald.com Subject: Big Tony, Little Tony and Pudgy
Editor, The Miami Herald:
Big Tony, Little Tony and Pudgy
Way back in February 2001, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was gunned down gangland style on a side-street near downtown Fort Lauderdale. One of the original partners in the Miami Subs fast food chain, and more recently the owner of SunCruz Casino Cruises, Gus had just sold his casino operations to a couple of fast-talking swindlers who had agreed to put up $23 million of their own funds and another $125 million or so in bank financing for the purchase. When Gus found out the money wasn't there and wanted his SunCruz operations back, he ended up in a major disagreement with the new owners: Adam Kidan and former high-powered (lately disgraced) Capitol Hill lobbyist Jack Abramoff. That was just shortly before Gus turned up dead on the street.
Now, five years later, Kidan and Abramoff have pled guilty to fraud charges in the matter and Florida is proceeding with murder charges against three business associates of Kidan and Abramoff: Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello; James "Pudgy" Fiorillo; and Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari. The State of Florida alleges that the three were hired to murder Gus and is determined that they pay for their crime. Funny thing is, the person(s) who did the hiring have not been charged in the murder. Gosh, wonder who the moneymen were on this one. Apparently under Florida law only the triggermen face the gavel of justice. The moneymen apparently only violated various civil tax statutes or some such. Does it seem to anyone else that now they've turned canary for the Feds with pleas to fraud, bribery and conspiracy to corrupt elected officials that Kidan and Abramoff are going to be allowed to walk on the murder? Fry the street thugs and send their wealthy employers to Club Fed? Sure seems that way...
From: Bob Wirt Date: February 15, 2006 To: Friends and Family Subject: Update for family and friends
Looking back on the past three and a half months, the lingering effects of Hurricane Wilma here in Fort Lauderdale have been deep and prolonged. We never believed that there would be people who'd go without power for up to ten weeks or that the Galleria Cinema next door would still be closed from roof damage fifteen weeks after the fact. Decimated canopies of trees which used to abound here in Broward still lie in rotting piles along some roadsides and traffic signs still lie in gutters and medians all over town. Funny thing is that most people I speak with around the country have no idea we were hit so hard, first by Katrina and then by Wilma. It's true Katrina did much more damage to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after leaving here, but strange that most don't remember Florida was even hit first. In Florida there were a million without power following Katrina, three million in the dark following Wilma. Twenty-one deaths from Wilma in Florida, added to the nine in South Florida from Hurricane Katrina, made this Fall one of the worst in memory. Recovery is ongoing, but painfully slow.
From a personal standpoint, our own business was hit with a ten day power outage, leaving us with a very painful revenue shortfall for October. The worst of it was that our main computer database was severely damaged as a collateral result of the outage while our programmer was trying to rebuild the harddrive files. We've spent the intervening three months trying to limp along with missing, irreplaceable files on a twenty year old Unix platform, operating with twenty year old accounting software in a language which no one remembers how to program. Retrieving and reformatting the twenty-some years of data from Unix to a new Mac platform has presented us with an interesting, make that puzzling, task - one that we had not planned on spending time and money on at this stage of our careers. Sometimes a tree landing on your roof or car can be easier to deal with than the hidden damages to infrastructure associated with running a distribution business.
(Anyone with information on our AT&T 3B2400 - Unix System V Release 2.0.4 3B2 version 2 unix, running
APPGEN R1.5.3 1983/85 Software Express: We're missing files "Selectem" "Demo" "Exit" and "DefConv")
We had a real treat in November when Genentech, the firm which manufactures Bettye's Tarceva ® flew us both to San Francisco (first class, no less) the Thursday before Thanksgiving for a four day three night stay at the Mark Hopkins on Nob Hill. They were very impressed by her success on their cancer maintenance drug and by the Living With Cancer speech Bettye made at Moffitt Cancer Center last June, and wanted to feature her in their corporate promotion for Tarceva within the medical community. It's great to hear from her doctors how well she's doing, but having the drug company react so favorably to her impressive health result is just so much icing on the cake.
They put us up in a beautiful room overlooking Huntington Park and the Union Pacific Club. We rode to the Top of The Mark each morning at 6:30AM (while still on Florida time) and were seated in a cozy table at the north of the hotel with staggering views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate and Oakland Bay Bridges with Alcatraz taking center stage at each day's sunrise. And what a buffet spread - not on the old diet, but we partook nonetheless: Bettye from the dim-sum and assorted fresh fruits; and I from the fried dead meat selection. Friday morning, Bettye and I walked the short couple of blocks through the park over to Grace Cathedral and took a long walk through that very beautiful church, after which we hiked down the hill to Union Square to visit Williams Sonoma and the local Borders Books and Music. They were somewhat different from the ones we live virtually next-door to, but then, what the heck ...
We rode back up to The Mark on the Powell Street cable car as far as California Street (about five blocks or so). The gripman was very kind and explained the mechanics of the cable car system to Bettye as we stood on the back deck, and as we debarked advised that we hadn't ridden far enough to be charged for the trip. Auntie Dawn brought Ami and Roopi over for dinner and a movie Friday night, and the kids actually had a good time at "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit", considering their disappointment at the latest Harry Potter being sold out on that opening night. The Genentech photography session took just a couple of hours on Saturday and we crossed the bay to San Leandro for an early Thanksgiving Dinner with family at my Mom's house (limo ride courtesy of Genentech). Nice people ...
We had a great trip to the H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center December 21st and Bettye's CT scan and blood work came out clear yet again, giving her fifteen months of remission following chemotherapy treatments in 2004 for her adenocarcinoma lung cancer. As has become our routine following the quarterly checkups at Moffitt, we headed north to Savannah for Wednesday night at the River Street Inn, then on to Lake Wylie straddling the South Carolina / North Carolina line for Christmas with Bettye's family. Monday night we went back to River Street for some quiet time, then back home to Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday to catch up on shipping orders and closing out the year's business.
We've given some serious thought to relocating to the west coast (of Florida) to be closer to Moffitt. We'd like to be within a thirty minute ride of the hospital and the south Tampa bay area around Riverview and Ruskin seems to be comfortable and convenient, although we're still looking north near New Port Richey and Tarpon Springs. Hate to leave Fort Lauderdale after twenty-three years, but reality intervenes.
Looking forward to yet another great year in Paradise...
Love to all, Bettye and Bob Wirt
Fort Lauderdale Condo For Sale
The Corinthian On The Intracoastal
936 Intracoastal Drive, Fort Lauderdale FL 33304-3634
on the 17th floor, near the center of this 24 story building, just off East Sunrise Boulevard. Amenities include rooftop swimming pool, party room, billiards room and sauna facilities, full-time property manager, maintenance and 24/7 security.
One of the most spectacular views in town.
From: Bob Wirt Date: January 26, 2006 To: Fred Grimm Subject: Bogus Botox Therapy ...
Fred Grimm <fgrimm@Miami-Herald.com>
Nice column, but I don't believe anyone would knowingly throw a silicon-injection party for buttocks enhancement. Unless, of course, they were trying to turn her buttocks into an enhanced mother-board. Silicon is the element more associated with computer chips and such. Silicone is the compound used for surgical implantation. When those with the power of the press don't check their facts, people are encouraged to repeat published misinformation as fact.
On a related subject: I never did notice a retraction in your paper following their headline the other day about Dr McComb being an MD when he is in reality a DO. Nothing wrong with being a Doctor of Osteopathy as opposed to a Medical Doctor, but they are not the same and the titles are not interchangeable. People really do believe what they read in the paper and too much misinformation is presented, unchallenged, as fact.
From: Bob Wirt Date: January 7, 2006 To: Gary and Pat Subject: Bettye and Bob at The Beach
Pat and Gary:
I'm glad Bettye had the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon. She often speaks fondly of both of you, and always wonders about the health and well being of your son, as well as the other kids and grandkids. We both appreciate and value your friendship, and really do miss the bluegrass jam sessions you sparkplug.
I hope you understand why she doesn't see all of the emails you send to me, Gary. The ones she does see, she chuckles over or just appreciates for the sentiment. When you ask her whether she gets them, I hope you also understand why she may not remember the specifics. I do receive them, and show her those I believe she can handle. Also, as I have twelve email accounts, most of which are posted online on our various websites, I get hundreds, and some days thousands, of emails to sort through. As a matter of policy I don't forward anything.
Of course, I show her every email message which is written to her directly by friends and acquaintances as they are obviously meant specifically for her. I only censor "forwards". Bettye's computer system is for business only and she has been using it for over twenty years now, but she does not have a modem hookup for security purposes and has no internet access of her own. I pass her messages to her and she does respond to everyone who writes to her. She goes to work every day because it gives her a sense of value and continuity, and takes her mind off her health problems.
After three and a half years of battling her incurable lung cancer with some very toxic drugs, her memory is not what it used to be. Don't get me wrong when I say it, because she is totally normal in most respects - just a few gaps in the recognition factor which might otherwise allow her more normal recall. Also, any small controversy or feeling of guilt that she is not doing what she should in her life can send her into periods of sadness, so I take it as my responsibility to shield her from most of the real world.
Bettye's state of mind is fragile, though her heart and will are strong. We don't know how much time she has left and we live from day to day assuming the best and visualizing her as well, not ill. To see her today, no one would imagine that she has terminal cancer, and frankly we are glad for that as she doesn't seek pity or condolence. She just wants to live her life in happiness and contentment, and it's my job to see that she is comfortable and loved. Stress and controversy have a deleterious effect on her health and we both try our best to keep her calm and in comfortable, familiar surroundings.
The trips to the hospital in Tampa are both terrifying and heartwarming - terrifying on the way there, and heartwarming after we have received good test results. It's a real roller coaster ride and the path from test to test is uncertain and foreboding. It's why I try to take her back to NC after each visit so she can revel in her family and deal with their problems and controversies, rather than her own. It's also why I try to take a day in Savannah on the way up and back to allow her some quiet rest in beautiful surroundings. For the same reason that each Thursday night following her Wednesday treatments at Moffitt back in 2004, I took her to the Edison House at Fort Myers Beach to rest and watch the dolphins playing near the pier at sunrise.
Bettye is downstairs now doing tea with a neighbor who lost her husband of twenty-five years last summer. Bettye really is a great source of comfort to others in pain and it takes her mind off her own mortality. Good for them and good for her own peace of mind.
Call or write her anytime, she loves to hear from you.
God Bless, Bob Wirt
From: Bob Wirt Date: January 6, 2006 To: Billy Subject: Good Evening
Thanks for the quick response. Niceville is very nice. I lived in Fort Walton Beach a couple of times while my dad was training at Eglin AFB (back in the `50s) and enjoyed it then and now. Bettye and I went to my 40th High School reunion in Panama City FL in late August 2002. It was a multi-class reunion for the American High School of Ankara, Turkey, and we got about 40 people, which was close to 20% of the graduating classes of 1960-64. Love the sugar-white sands of the panhandle.
The individual who forwarded my inquiry to you is CSM Bob M... Bob was the guy at the 8th SFG in 1967/68 who taught me para/scuba; let me instruct from time-to-time for subsequent cycles; kept me on various A-Team missions (Nicaragua et al); and out of the company area (trouble whenever I was idle). He was in Laos in the late `50s, Panama in the mid to late `60s, and Viet Nam with the 5th SFG in the early `70s. Bob retired in the early `80s after having served as CSM of the 10th Group at Devens. Only time I actually spent anywhere near Fort Devens was about 1954/55 when my dad left us at Westover AFB while he set up shop at Lajes Field in the Azores where we lived from 1955-57.
If you had a chance to read any of my blog, you may have noticed the page on my wife, Bettye, who has been battling adenocarcinoma lung cancer since July 2002. http://www.BobWirt.com/bettye.html
We spent most of 2004 traveling weekly to Tampa to the H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center for her treatments. I lucked into making contact with Bob and Nancy through a chance meeting with another SF medic from the 8th, Steve Bruno, who tripped across us as we were drinking coffee at the beach near the Fort Lauderdale International Swimming Hall of Fame in December 2004. Long story short, Bob and Nancy opened their Sun City Center home to us, and have been gracious hosts every 90 days or so when we travel to Tampa for Bettye's CT scans and updates with the doctor running her clinical trial. They are really nice people.
I have given a lot of thought to writing, but the business keeps both of us hopping, even though we're trying to scale it back. Just too much stress involved in business today; not the fun it used to be cracking retail chains with some dynamic new product or other. Also, I tend to bristle when editors intrude on what I believe to be impeccable prose. (... as Foghorn Leghorn used to say, that's a joke, son.) Guess I'd have to get over that attitude if I ever wanted to get anywhere in the field. Bettye is working on her journals, pretty much of a spiritual / meditation / visualization approach to coping with cancer, while accepting that medicine and the mind have to work in concert to achieve optimal physical health. She tires easily, however, but has every intention of finishing her project. Setting her thoughts to paper seems to help in her healing.
Looking forward to hearing from you again soon. Likely at the convention ...
De Oppresso Liber
From: Bob Wirt Date: December 30, 2005 To: Friends Subject: How Today's Press would have Reported D Day
An old friend, an ex-82nd Airborne officer, sent this around recently. Enjoy - Bob:
How Today's Press would have Reported D Day
NORMANDY, FRANCE (June 6, 1944) Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more were wounded today in the first hours of America's invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children. Most of the French casualties were the result of artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of US troops.
Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated, and that reaction against the American invasion was running high. "We are dying for no reason," said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. "Americans can't even shoot straight. I never thought I'd say this, but life was better under Adolph Hitler."
The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, thus threatening the species with extinction. A representative of Greenpeace said his organization, which had tried to stall the invasion for over a year, was appalled at the destruction, but not surprised. "This is just another example of how the military destroys the environment without a second thought," said Christine Moanmore. "And it's all about corporate greed."
Contacted at his Manhattan condo, a member of the French government-in-exile who abandoned Paris when Hitler invaded, said the invasion was based solely on American financial interests. "Everyone knows that President Roosevelt has ties to 'big beer'," said Pierre LeWimp. "Once the German beer industry is conquered, Roosevelt's beer cronies will control the world market and make a fortune."
Administration supporters said America's aggressive actions were based in part on the assertions of controversial scientist Albert Einstein, who sent a letter to Roosevelt speculating that the Germans were developing a secret weapon -- a so-called "atomic bomb". Such a weapon could produce casualties on a scale never seen before, and cause environmental damage that could last for thousands of years. Hitler has denied having such a weapon and international inspectors were unable to locate such weapons even after spending two long weekends in Germany. Shortly after the invasion began, reports surfaced that German prisoners had been abused by American soldiers. Mistreatment of Jews by Germans at their so-called "concentration camps" has been rumored, but so far this remains unproven.
Several thousand Americans died during the first hours of the invasion, and French officials are concerned that the uncollected corpses will pose a public-health risk. "The Americans should have planned for this in advance," they said. "It's their mess, and we don't intend to help clean it up."
I didn't write this one either, but it was too good not to pass along ...
From: Bob Wirt Date: December 13, 2005 To: Friends Subject: 18 Ways To Be A Good Liberal
18 Ways To Be A Good Liberal (Wait, is that an oxymoron?):
1. You have to be against capital punishment, but support abortion on demand.
2. You have to believe that businesses create oppression, and governments create prosperity.
3. You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are more of a threat than US nuclear weapons technology in the hands of Chinese and North Korean communists.
4. You have to believe that there was no art before federal funding.
5. You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical changes in the earth's climate and more affected by soccer moms driving SUV's.
6. You have to believe that gender roles are artificial, but being homosexual is natural.
7. You have to believe that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding.
8. You have to believe that the same teacher who can't teach 4th-graders how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex.
9. You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature, but PETA activists do.
10. You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn it.
11. You have to believe that Mel Gibson spent $25 million of his own money to make The Passion Of The Christ for financial gain only.
12. You have to believe the NRA is bad because it supports certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain parts of the Constitution.
13. You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.
14. You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, General Robert E Lee and Thomas Edison.
15. You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides are not.
16. You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.
17. You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag, transvestites and bestiality should be constitutionally protected, and manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.
18. You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast, right wing conspiracy.
From: Bob Wirt Date: November 10, 2005 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Jesse Jackson's Rewrite of History
In Appreciation, the eulogy of Rosa Parks authored by the Rev Jesse L Jackson Sr [Nov 7th], he makes the assertion that Rosa Parks' efforts from 1955 thru 1964 "... forced red states to comply with the Brown v. Board of Education decision ..." [of 1954]. It should have been pointed out that during that time frame the segregated south was a stronghold of the Democratic party and can in no way be accurately described as what are today known as Republican, or "red states". The Democratic solid south of Stevenson, JFK and LBJ began its shift to Republicanism in the election of 1964, and was not fully converted until Richard Nixon's southern strategy was implemented in 1968. The term "red states" is almost exclusively related to political tendencies of the 21st century. If TIME is going to provide a pulpit from which Rev Jackson is allowed to rewrite history through his patented brand of demagoguery, you should at least ensure the accuracy of his statements before publication.
From: Bob Wirt Date: November 5, 2005 To: Bob & Nancy Subject: Wilma and all
Bob & Nancy:
As you can imagine things here are still in disaster mode. We had just a little water under the living room sliders and the carpet dried out in about two days. The power and water came back up the day after the storm (Tuesday the 25th) but it was dicey. We didn't lose any glass and that's a good thing. Our power came back up at the office on Monday the 31st, and we've spent all week trying to catch up on shipping and following up on voice mails collected over ten days' time. The broadband doesn't work at the condo (Comcast) but works here at the office (BellSouth DSL). Now I've got server problems with the host of my domains, so I've been back and forth with them today.
Bettye is fine considering all she's been through, and we're planning on attending the 82nd Chapter Officers' Installation Dinner tonight in Hollywood. The Film Festival has been running for a couple of weeks now so we've been seeing a lot of movies, particularly since we have no cable yet (two weeks now). That's probably a good thing though.
More later. Gotta get Bettye somewhere for some healthy food then we'll head off to a couple of films this afternoon before the Airborne thing at 7PM tonight.
Bettye and Bob Wirt
From: Bob Wirt Date: October 16, 2005 To: Herald Ed Subject: RE: Character vanishes from public discourse
Miami Herald Editor:
Robert Steinbeck vents admirably, but tends to shade his facts to blend into his preferred Democratic slant. Bill Clinton was not impeached because of private sexual conduct. He was a sexual predator who spent nearly three decades in public office imposing himself sexually on government employees working in the lower levels of his state and federal bureaucracies, comfortable in the knowledge that they would not complain or report his illegal offenses for fear of losing their jobs. It was his perjury in federal court, trying to defend his violation of sexual harassment laws against one in a long line of wronged subordinates, which resulted in his impeachment and the ultimate loss of his license to practice law.
On October 11, 2002, Congress voted by a 75% majority of the House and Senate to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq. How does this make the President a liar? Because he relied on the same intelligence information that the CIA, the US Congress and the United Nations were relying on? Because the WMD's were known to be stockpiled in Iraq throughout the `90s? Credence was given to the WMD menace when Saddam Hussein called on his generals at the dawn of our 2003 Iraq invasion to release their secreted WMDs on the advancing American troops. We called his bluff on that one, but believing the obvious doesn't make anyone a liar, just honestly mistaken. Hypocrisy, here, seems an intrinsic element of your columnist's opinions.
(carryover from 2005 blog)
From: Bob Wirt Date: September 12, 2005 Subject: Katrina and Concomitant Blame
Now that the incredible natural disaster of Katrina itself has passed, and dealing with the resultant damage has finally begun, it may help to address some of the strident blame and finger-pointing which is inundating us all (just as the floodwaters did the victims).
George Bush, who proved himself a stand-up, take charge kind of guy following 9/11, stumbled, mumbled, bumbled and failed to lead in the days running up to and continuing on through the storm and its aftermath. He's my president, but I'm glad he can't run for another term as I'd be truly conflicted were he the Republican nominee in 2008 - this from someone whose family's GOP roots run back to the election of 1860. George could have employed the marshaled forces waiting to render aid and assistance and twisted the arms of the local politicos who were actually resisting accepting aid from outside the state, but he failed miserably in that leadership role. States' Rights as a policy is not to be scoffed at, but this was an emergency. I think even the strict constructionists would have forgiven him erring on the side of humanity. Not too quick on the uptake there, Mr President...
That said, it was not totally President Bush's fault that FEMA, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were not allowed to enter New Orleans and aid the victims as they should have been. The relief trucks and supplies were massed along the Gulf Coast well in advance of Katrina's landing, but Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana dithered, blithered and fumbled around trying to protect her civil and law enforcement authority from encroachment by the big-bad-Feds. Unsure of her authority, and jealously protective of it at the same time, her inaction was deadly. She was conducting a turf-war while her citizens were dying and should be impeached by her constituents. The Federal troops and FEMA cannot take control in an emergency such as this was without an express request from the governor of the affected state, so they sat on their hands for days while Ms Blanco tried to make up her mind what to do. A hopelessly lame response on her part, inexcusable on the face of it and verging on criminality, given the devastation and loss of life it perpetuated.
Mayor C Ray Nagin, in his own little bid for power and control, failed as well in not persuading either Blanco to get off the dime or convincing the Feds to bypass her with a direct appeal to the relief agencies for immediate aid on a local level. It was incredible to watch Mayor Nagin during last year's hurricane onslaughts repeatedly advising people not to leave their homes but rather to employ "vertical evacuation", something he was repeating again this time, whereby residents are told to climb to the highest floors in their buildings during a storm. Then, if the water begins lapping at their toes, he advised them to climb into their attics and use an axe to cut their way onto the roof of their home. (Anyone ever tried to swing an axe within the confines of a typical attic? Me either...) This is a "plan" best utilized when you are totally out of options and have no other viable choice, not something to be undertaken as a first resort, but as the last. The easier, more common sense approach would have been for the Mayor to mobilize the city bus fleet and the fleet of school buses at his disposal and actually evacuate his citizenry to safety in Baton Rouge or as far north as necessary to protect them from the devastation. Instead, he let his charges drown and left the fleets of buses to be flooded in the wake of the storm. Instead of casting blame and epithets toward the federal agencies he blamed for his situation, he should have turned his gaze within, and questioned his own lack of preparedness and foolish advice about attics.
Both Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin have admitted that the idea to keep relief supplies away from the evacuees gathered at the convention center and Superdome was a conscious one, taken to discourage people from staying there and encourage them to move along to other shelters outside the immediate disaster area in and around New Orleans. An incredibly cruel and selfish attitude to take toward the tens of thousands of people who were suffering and dying before their eyes. They both should be ashamed for their lack of compassion and denial of basic human dignity to those they were attempting to herd along into someone else's venue of responsibility.
The subject of the inadequate dikes surrounding the city of New Orleans is a fascinating one. Imagine that the construction of the levees was proposed and authorized in 1965 and scheduled for completion in 1975, and for the intervening thirty years no one has bothered to complete the project and half-way protect the city. Budgeted funds were hijacked and spent on other, less worthy but prettier, self-serving pork-barrel type projects. President Bush requested larger appropriations from Congress than any prior administration, but still the job lay fallow. Too many years of whistling past the graveyard has put a lot of innocent people into real-life burial plots. It'd be nice if the politicians, the corps of engineers and the contractors actually did the right thing for once. Everyone knew the levees had to be completed but everyone also had other uses for the money, almost none of those uses being as critical as the one the funds were appropriated for to begin with.
It's been said that it was racism which caused the Federal government to ignore the masses of black people trapped in New Orleans following the storm. Not likely, given that the EEOC, the NAACP and the ACLU are constantly watching. Others say it wasn't racism because the Mayor himself is black, therefore it must be something else. Here's the thing about racism in certain places, notably New Orleans. For centuries the patois of colors scattered among the population there: Black; Cajun; Creole; White; and Caribbean, has fostered a rigid class system of elitism and subjugation based on shades of black and white. Black on black discrimination is commonplace and the economic success or failure of individuals in that great welter of humanity is often determined by the lightness of one's skin, rather than a strictly black or white kind of bigotry which pertains elsewhere. The Paper Bag Rule of New Orleans society is infamous for its use and acceptance among the various social levels: if you are darker than a supermarket paper bag, you are denied admission and acceptance into certain clubs and business gatherings. It's this social stratification which keeps the dark skinned blacks down and the lighter skinned more toward the upper end of the economic curve. Even within families the lighter skinned often shun the darker complected members, perpetuating the outside forces of favoritism. The racism is codified and legitimized by the openness and acceptance of this blatant discrimination, and almost never discussed in polite society. It just is what it is.
Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton can be excused for their unsubstantiated racism charges against the federal government since they had no choice but to bloviate: the cameras were, after all, running. Barak Obama at least recognized that the administration was "color blind" when it came to their response and he didn't rush to play the race card as so many others are wont to do. Andrew Young, lately of Atlanta but originally from New Orleans, benefits by taking a page or two out of Obama's playbook - he certainly seemed rational in his comments on the subject. Or maybe it's Barak following Andy's lead? Whatever, it's a good thing.
The other foolishness which was painful to watch was the Mayor of Biloxi MS being interviewed as Katrina bore down on the Mississippi RiverBoats (gambling barges) docked all along the Gulf Coast between Gulfport and Biloxi. He kept telling the interviewer not to worry, that the casinos were built to withstand 150 mph winds and would not be damaged in the hurricane. He was obviously avoiding answering the unasked question - what happens when the twenty-five foot storm surge lifts the massive barges and deposits them in the middle of downtown with their walls and hulls intact? That is, of course, exactly what happened, but at least the mayor wasn't caught on tape admitting in advance that he knew the extent of the inevitable damage to come. The whole business of pretending there was none of that sinful gambling going on in Mississippi because the casinos were floating on the river or the gulf was a foolish self-delusion to keep the local preachers from complaining about the sin of drinking and gambling since it was offshore and not the doing of their flock. Let's hope someone wakes up there and builds the replacement casinos on dry land and at some safe elevation. It'd be nice to see real boats, beaches and piers back along what used to be a beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast. Safer too...
Having lived in Biloxi MS a couple of times (at Keesler AFB) and attending for some brief time Mary L Michel Junior High School in town, I hold a special place in my heart for what was a truly beautiful piece of country. I've also had some wonderful times in New Orleans, and also gotten into some real trouble there, but that's another story. The Royal Sonesta, Desire Bar, Fats Domino and Clarence "Frogman" Henry dominate the memories of the good times. Here's hoping the city comes back as great as its former self. A hundred and twenty-five years ago the good people of Louisiana moved their capitol from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, claiming the Crescent City was just too hedonistic to be an appropriate seat of government. Some dichotomy there, politicians denouncing hedonism, but then that's another story as well...
Bettye and I make a regular monthly donation to Feed The Children and we feel strongly that their efforts on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims is genuine and real. We urge anyone with a desire to help to click their link above.
de oppresso liber - Bob Wirt
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Bob's service in the US Army from Tonkin Gulf to Tet (`64-`68) 8th Special Forces Group (Abn)