Bob's Blog by:
Robert Eliot Wirt Jr ( alias ) Bob WIRT

This is the spot where I post my thoughts in a forum which can't be deleted by others.
You may wish to read these thoughts, or not, but they'll stay here so long as I have a say in the matter.

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Bob and Bettye's 2005 trip to California
and our encounter with the Banana Slug

Click here to see Bettye & Bob's Florida Beach House
Ongoing Construction : 1985 to 1996 - Sold : 1997

We are, each of us, known by the company we keep and by the quality of our friends...

The man who would be your
Barack ( N-M-N ) Obama
shows his true feelings about our flag

(click photo above to view the video)
To quote his pastor, whom he claims
not to have heard in twenty years
of Sunday sermons:
"God Damn America"
Bill Ayers: unrepentant domestic terrorist; icon of the radical left; Professor of the University of Illinois; the man who initiated Barack Obama into Chicago Democratic machine politics; demonstrates their mutual disregard for America's flag...

... by contrast, here's a guy who's obviously worn his country's uniform and respects everything his flag stands for.

Bettye and Bob in their foot-massage studio, across A1A from
St Barts Coffee Co

Spring 2006

International Swimming
Hall of Fame

Fort Lauderdale FL

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as pictured above

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John McCain for President
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Bob and Bettye
Sitting in a tree...

Bob and his beautiful
wife, Miss Bettye

At the 82nd Airborne Division So Fla Chapter Installation Dinner 2006

Humberto Fontova
Exposing The Real
And The Useful Idiots
Who Idolize Him"

Berkeley Breathed
presents Opus
© 2007
Opus Muslim Fundamentalist Radical Islamist strip
The Glass Bass
courtesy Sadler James
Cooling it at the beach...

The Glass Bass © 2007 Sadler James
My sister Kristine marries George de Cossio in Sonoma CA at the Kenwood Community Church

"Ballad of the
Green Beret"

"Fighting Soldiers From The Sky"
Written by SSG Barry Sadler and Green Beret Author Robin Moore
© RCA Victor
Released In 1966

"Hunting The Jackal"
by SGM Billy Waugh
US Army
Special Forces (Ret)

A Special Forces and CIA ground soldier's fifty year career hunting America's enemies.
Buy the Book here

Division Association
South Florida Chapter

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Kung Fu Bettye
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Bob, Max and Bettye at the beach just hangin' out

Max atop his favorite perch ...

... Unfazed by Al E Gator
poised below

Martin & Curline
Kung Fu & Grappling
Martial Arts Competition

Big John McLaughlin

Scuba adventures with Sea Hunt, James Bond, Flipper, Papa Topside, SeaLab, Courtney Brown and others...

"He Didn't Say

MSG Raymond Flaherty
a Pulitzer Prize Nominee
and combat veteran of
Special Forces and
White Star Teams

In this complex action adventure two US Special Forces Master Sergeants volunteer to be dropped into Laos to search for a downed USAF pilot. After that nothing is predictable.

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J D Pendry
CSM US Army (Ret)

Our God and Soldiers we alike adore, ev'n at the brink of danger, not before. After deliverence, both alike required, Our God's forgotten, and our Soldiers slighted - Frances Quarles

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A Donna Musil Film

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Our Journey Home"

The first documentary about growing up military

Because everyone needs a place to call home

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"Military Brats, Legacies of Childhood Inside The Fortress"
Mary Edwards Wertsch
Introduction by Pat Conroy

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Bettye and I have for years made a regular monthly donation to Feed The Children and we feel strongly that their ongoing efforts on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims is genuine and real. We urge anyone with a desire to help to click their link above.

Grandma Kris and the ACS Castro Valley Relay for Life

Grandson Kevan Mathis and his battle against Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Click this link to read my sister Kris's message about her grandson
Kevan's Story
and the
ACS Castro Valley 2006 Relay For Life

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From: Bob Wirt Date: November 3, 2007 To: James
Subject: "informed post" on the Small Wars Journal

As the SWJ guy says, waterboarding in and of itself is neither dangerous nor torture. Used to extremes it would be, but of course that is what no one knows - how it is being used and to what extent. If it is used in a reasonable manner, it is not torture and does not violate government guidelines precluding torture.

Small Wars Journal: "... these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods." - Malcolm Nance, SWJ - this would obviously apply also in discretionary use of the same techniques in moderation, unless he wishes to contradict himself. Trouble is that in the real world interrogators often carry their practices to extremes absent oversight, å-la Abu Ghraib (which your guy misspelled, by the way).

I went through waterboarding (Chinese Water Torture), among other interrogation techniques, as part of my training at the JFK Center For Special Warfare at Fort Bragg back in 1965/66. I don't feel any real harm was done to me and in fact acquired an appreciation of what to expect if and when I might be subjected to such for real. Good training, not torture. We also ran a POW operation at the Jungle Operations Course E&E School in the Panama CZ where I was both a student and cadre at times during 1967/68 and similar techniques for extracting information were used on trainees in the jungle environment with no adverse effects on the subjects.

If Judge Mukasey says he has not been briefed on waterboarding and the manner of its use by the US government, he must be taken at his word. It would be reckless of him to condemn in advance, as he is being asked to do, a technique of which he has only peripheral knowledge. He has, after all, not yet been appointed Attorney General and does not have the inside information needed to formulate an opinion as to whether he considers it torture or whether the manner in which the US government is using it is in violation of the Geneva Conventions - a document which, by the way, specifically excludes from its protections those who operate without a declared war and approval of same by a recognized sovereign state, or who conduct combat out of uniform, without identification and in violation of those same Conventions, ie: terrorists.

There is obviously some point at which interrogation techniques can metamorphose into torture when taken to extremes, as happened with John McCain (as cited in the SWJ blog) and I agree with the Senator when he decries not interrogation, but torture. I gave money to McCain's campaign in 2000 and have done so again this year, not only because I agree with him politically, but because I recognize his heroism in surviving five years of actual torture at the hands of Hanoi Jane's friends the North Vietnamese.

It's funny how you assume I'll agree with someone else's "informed post" just because you yourself accept convoluted reasoning, absent personal experience with the actual situation at hand. I personally don't happen to agree that torture actually extracts useful information since the subjects generally tend to tell you anything you want to hear, true or not, just to get the torture to stop. In that regard most interrogation techniques practiced by the naive and uninformed elicit nothing more than useless fantasies rather than actionable intelligence - save for the few opportunists who are willing to sell their valid information for favors, and they are legion, in which case torture is not necessary, just cash.

See you at the beach...
Bob Wirt

On Nov 2, 2007, at 7:45 PM, James wrote:
I think you will agree with this informed post on the Small Wars Journal
You also may get a chuckle from this: > Video from Intel Dump

From: Bob Wirt Date: October 1, 2007 To:
Subject: Smokers should pay for the harm done to others...

The Editor :

Your reader vents that the proposed $1 tax on a pack of cigarettes to help fund poor childrens' health care makes no sense. Actually, it is a totally logical response to a very real health problem. Cigarettes are the only product which, when consumed according to the manufacturer's intended use, cause death as a direct consequence, both to the consumer and to bystanders who have not themselves made such a poor lifestyle choice. Those who do choose to smoke force anyone nearby to smoke as well, consciously causing others to develop cancer, heart disease and increased risk of alzheimer's disease. The logical way to deal with this health risk imposed by smokers on innocent bystanders is to collect money from the offenders up-front to help offset the damage being done, particularly to the young children impacted by the poor choices of smokers - often the childrens' own parents. The subtle child-abuse of parents smoking on their own children is a related matter demonstrating the lack of consideration of smokers for the health and well-being of others. The $1 tax is a good first step on the road to accountability.

Bob Wirt

• Thinking of quitting smoking? Second hand smoke may be an even bigger contributor to the risk of Alzheimer's disease than previously realized. It's known that smoking increases significantly the risk of cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease, in turn, is a risk factor for Alzheimer's.

From: Bob Wirt Sent: Sep 29, 2007 To: Humberto Fontova
Subject: Che and the 8th Special Forces Group Panama CZ

Humberto Fontova :

Regarding your book: "Exposing The Real CHE GUEVARA, and The Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him" ... Thank you.

I served with the 8th Special Forces Group (Abn) in the Panama Canal Zone from 1966 to 1968, and was on hand when a Complemented A-Team (12 Green Berets and three CIA ops/intel guys) was sent from our unit to Bolivia to train the 2nd Ranger Batallion of the Bolivian army.

The A-Team arrived in-country in March 1967; spent six months training the Rangers; fielded them in late September for two weeks in tracking down and capturing Che; and were extracted and returned to Panama the next day, sometime in mid-October 1967.

When they returned to Fort Gulick (CZ), I was between missions and was assigned to drive the (unnamed) Major who commanded the team to "the-other-side" for debriefing by USARSO and various CIA types. What he imparted to me during our day-trip was quite interesting and the story from the enlisted members of the team (along with the pictures they brought back from the schoolhouse) were textbook counter-insurgency.

Unfortunately, the US plan to capture and try Che was compromised by the execution - which you pretty accurately described according to what I was told forty years ago by those who were there at the time. Che violated every precept of his own Guerrilla Warfare manual in Bolivia, and we believed then (and I believe to this day) brought on his own demise as a result. Without the support of the people in the countryside there can be no successful insurgency.

Around the time they were in Bolivia, I was serving on three separate A-Team missions to Nicaragua's mosquito coast in the area of Puerto Cabezas and Bluefields. We conducted civic action missions and training of the Somoza Guardia in a hearts-and-minds effort to deflect the efforts of the Cuban Special Forces there who were attempting to implement Che's revolution in Nicaragua through their field-work with the Sandinistas. Something they were only able to accomplish once Jimmy Carter stopped US aid to Somoza after a fifty-year history of US military training and financial support for the Nicaraguan government.

I'm always amazed in reading accounts of Che's capture and execution by the (unnamed) Bolivian Ranger Captain on orders from Rene Barrientos, that our A-Team is normally not mentioned. Of course the only successful Green Beret mission is one no one hears about, and it's probably best that SF is left out of this story as well. No one seems to know what a murderous thug Che truly was and unfortunately the Hollywood types are always going to go with whatever story makes the US look bad, so they tend to embrace the lies. Hanoi Jane comes to mind...

Of course, now there is no Che; there is no 8th Special Forces Group; and there is no Panama Canal Zone. Hard to say why but it's surely not through Fidel's efforts, just our own failure to follow through in support of our friends. One of the ongoing problems with any democracy is the politicizing of foreign policy and abandonment of commitments of prior administrations to the whims of the newly elected, trying to follow through on what they perceive to be the will of the people.

We abandoned the Cubans at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 just as we abandoned the Kurds to the chemical reprisals of Saddam Hussein in 1992 and Eastern Europe to the Soviets in 1945. Guerilla warfare, as with any war, is not a pretty thing to behold. The feckless nature of politicians is generally revolting and not to be examined closely, much like staying out of the kitchen of your favorite restaurant if you wish to enjoy your meal.

de Oppresso Liber
Bob Wirt

PS: We didn't wear our berets in the jungle either, too damned hot...

On Oct 1, 2007, at 1:58 PM,
Humberto Fontova wrote:
Thanks for the note, Mr Wirt. Sure woulda loved to have known of you before turning in the Che manuscript. I would have loved to have interviewed you for the book. Saludos, Humberto Fontova

From: Bob Wirt Date: October 2, 2007 To: Humberto Fontova
Subject: Re: Che and the 8th Special Forces Group Panama CZ

Humberto :

No problem, maybe next time. Of course, I'm never in much of a position to verify military details without giving up names of people who normally would prefer to remain clandestine. It's the SF nature, after all. I have friends who served with the Special Forces troops from Fort Bragg and trained the Cuban patriots of Brigade 2506 in the Winter of `60 and the Spring of `61, but they don't say much about it. Just enough to let you know how dedicated the invaders were to ridding their island of the despot Fidel.

During my missions to Nicaragua in 1967/68, I met a missionary doctor who ran a hospital in Puerto Cabezas and who provided the radio contact for the (rag-tag) CIA air support wing which had gathered there in the weeks prior to the Playa Girón invasion, only to stand helplessly by and watch as the planes all scattered to the four corners after Langley called off their mission on orders from JFK the day prior to the Bay Of Pigs disaster. No way those brave Cubans were going to prevail without the USA keeping its word and backing them up.

I was in High School in Ankara, Turkey, during the `62 Cuban Missile Crisis, and usually when I read accounts of the Naval blockade by JFK and his staring-down of the big-bad Russian Bear, they almost never acknowledge the quid-pro-quo of the removal of our twenty-three Jupiter missile sites from eastern Turkey which defused the situation. The Russian missiles in Cuba right in our own backyard were the Russians' answer to our aiming a phalanx of Jupiters at their major cities from their own backyard. Tit for tat, so to speak...

My dad, a decorated WWII B-17 navigator and pilot, was the cryptography officer attached to the American Embassy at the time and privy to all of the highest level communiques regarding the negotiations. The story-line the JFK administration put out to the press really pissed him off when it came to Bobby's political coverup of his big brother's basic weakness in handling the matter. It really hacked off our friends the Turks as well.

Had the American public known the true nature of the resolution to the Missile Crisis confrontation, there would have been a little more skepticism when we were spoon-fed the Warren Commission report on JFK's assassination, or when they were rushed into war by LBJ following the Tonkin Gulf incident.

de Oppresso Liber, Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: August 22, 2007 To: Laura Wirt
Subject: Frozen remains thought to be WW2 airman

Hi Mom: Good to see they'll finally be laid to rest ... Love, Bob

Posted on Mon, Aug. 20, 2007

Frozen remains thought to be WW2 airman

Mountain backpackers have discovered remains believed to be those of a missing World War II airman resting atop a glacier near where an aviation cadet's body was found two years ago, authorities said Monday. The second set of human remains was found in an alpine region of Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada range on Wednesday, as little as 50 feet from where climbers spotted the ice-entombed body of Leo Mustonen in October 2005, park officials said. Military anthropologists plan to analyze the largely decomposed body, which they believe could be one of three men who was flying with Mustonen when their AT-7 navigational trainer plane disappeared after takeoff from a Sacramento airfield on Nov. 18, 1942...
© 2007 Miami Herald Media Company

From: Laura Wirt Date: August 22, 2007 To: Bob Wirt
Subject: Re: Frozen remains thought to be WW2 airman

Hi - Almost forgot about the find of 2 years ago. I'm so surprised that bodies could be in the mountains all this time without being found. There are so many campers/hikers around these days. WWII was the "popular" war because of the patriotism that surrounded our entering into Pacific and European campaigns. But all wars are hell, as so well portrayed. It was a sad time for the whole country and such finds as these bodies renew the feelings of helplessness that engulfed us all - And, they can talk about Combat Stress Syndrome today as though it is something new but I am sure that all military, regardless of the circumstances, faced the same emotional traumas and carried most of them for the rest of their lives. Hope you are well...  
Love, mom

From: Bob Wirt Date: August 22, 2007 To: Laura Wirt
Subject: Re: Frozen remains thought to be WW2 airman

Hi Mom:

I think they used to call it "shell-shocked" back in WWI; & WWII for that matter. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is just the new catch-all diagnosis for an ancient problem. Nobody is really up for the killing and mayhem, although some macho-types pretend to be unfazed by it all - mostly those who've never been confronted with the actual situation. I was happy to get out of my four years never having had to kill anyone; happy as well that I was only shot one time and that with a blank from an M16 - burns and abrasions but no bullet hole. The only other time I ever actually was fired on was by a Honduran border guard who thought we were going to invade from Nicaragua while we were playing hide-and-seek with the Sandinistas and Cubans around the banana plantations south of the river. He though we were a threat because we were running up and down the Rio Coco in dugout canoes with a group of Miskitu Indians, so he took a few potshots at us with an old flintlock muzzle-loader. No real risk there unless he had actually hit one of us - we might have died of lead poisoning or something. You could watch each shot arc across the river and splash into the water in what seemed like slow-motion ...

Love, Bob

From: Bob Wirt Date: October 19, 2005 To: Laura Wirt
Subject: WWII airman found on Mount Mendel

Hi Mom: Just saw a headline crawl on FOX News saying that the frozen body of a WWII airman was found on Mount Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park in CA. Said he was dressed in a flight suit and covered by a parachute. They said something about his having been lost back in 1942. Think he might have been a student or instructor? Scary after all these years... Bob

From: Laura Wirt Date: October 20, 2005 To: Bob Wirt Subject:
Re: WWII airman found on Mount Mendel

Hi. I read the same news brief. It said that he was a student navigator so I would presume he was in a class at Mather Field. Dad got his wings on October 30th, 1942, so its possible that they knew each other. Those things happened often during those early war years. I remember that they lost several B-17s during combat training (some with husbands of friends of mine) while we were travelling through the great Northwest - Pocatello, Idaho, Casper, Wyoming, Salina, Kansas. This was between November of '42 and late Feb. of '43 when Dad left for England. Crash search and body recovery were not high on their list of priorities in those days. I don't think the name of the airman was mentioned. It was a sad, sad time. Are you still going to look for houses this weekend? Looks like hurricanes are destined to dog your heels this year! Lets hope that Wilma loses power before it hits the mainland.
Love, Mom

From: Bob Wirt
To: Friends and Family
Date: August 11, 2007 4:26:22 AM EDT
Subject: Bettye's Clear CT Scan and Birthday in the NC Mountains

To Our Friends and Family:

We saw Doctor Simon at H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa on July 25th, the day after Bettye's infusion port removal - which she referred to as a leap of faith as it was taken the day before she would learn the CT result. The port had been in place for well over three years and she is apparently no longer a candidate for chemotherapy so long as her remission continues. The port had become uncomfortable, having been implanted in her vein as long as it was, and the doctors agreed it should come out to avoid future problems. The CT scan was perfect, according to Dr Simon, so we turned north to Lake Wylie in the Carolinas for her week-long celebration of wellness with her family.

Three months of relief always turn into a week or so of tension as we gear up to make the trip to Moffitt for her quarterly scan. Good news always buoys her and a poor result sends us back to Fort Lauderdale licking our wounds. It's a real roller coaster, but we are blessed with her longevity and continuing excellent care provided by the good folks at Moffitt. Thanks, as well, to the beneficial effects of
Tarceva ® and Bettye's own meditations and visualizations, which she feels strongly help her body to accept the treatments both spiritually and metabolically.

Bettye spent some time on the road corresponding with a girl in Arizona whose father in India is receiving gemcitabine and carboplatin, to be followed with Tarceva
® for his own adenocarcinoma lung cancer. She had been reading Bettye's WebLog and was comforted by Bettye's success in treatment for a case as close as it is to her father's own, and was also pleased to see he was receiving the same drug regimen from his doctors in India. It pleases me, also, that Bettye takes the care and consideration that she does in responding to other patients and caregivers, and that she in turn receives some gratification and comfort from having provided hope and guidance to others in her situation. Bettye is a very spiritual person and people do seem to respond strongly to her counsel.

Bettye enjoyed her ten-day vacation from
Tarceva ®, necessitated by antibiotic therapy for an eye infection, and is now back on her regular 50mg/day. She seems to be tolerating the effects much better than before at the higher dosages of 75-150mg, and is faithful in her 6AM daily meds ritual for what has turned out to be lifesaving maintenance from Genentech's Tarceva ®.

We spent Bettye's birthday weekend in Blowing Rock in the North Carolina mountains. It's a place we both love, and she found herself a couple of nice birthday presents. With our method: she gets to shop; I present the plastic; and there are no returns... Enjoyable for us both because she gets just what she wants and there's no guesswork on my part. There was plenty to pick from at Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway, conveniently located between our cabin and downtown. A new coffee mug from Bob Timberlake's Gallery; ice cream at Kilwin's on Main Street; and a pleasant walk through the downtown shops capped our day Saturday before retiring to our cabin suite nestled up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

A fantastic Sunday morning breakfast at the Dan'l Boone Inn in Boone NC was so incredible that we drove the twenty miles back up to Boone Sunday night for their equally gratifying family style dinner. The best country cooking I've had since they closed Aunt Fanny's Cabin in Atlanta a couple of decades back - except, of course, for sister-in-law Margaret's southern country-kitchen magic. I always manage to steer the car close enough to The Dan'l Boone when we're in the mountains that we're both overtaken with the irresistible urge to partake, and to hell with our diet - Daniel Boone doesn't serve tofu...

The July temperatures in Blowing Rock and Boone were in the high 60s to 70s and the crisp air was a bracing change from our tropical Fort Lauderdale Beach environment. Both extremes are good, each in their own way...

We turned back to Charlotte where Bettye had a Monday meeting with her sister's Rx providers, then headed for Savannah for our regular half-way stopover at The River Street Inn. Massive container ships floating by all night, looming over us like ghosts in the silence, they always seem to be close enough to reach out and touch. Breakfast downstairs of coffee and beignets with praline sauce at Huey's on the riverfront, then on to Fort Lauderdale the last day of July. Back to work...

Happy Birthday Bettye - click here for Bettye's Birthday Pictures

Bettye and Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: June 12, 2007 Subject: SpringTime in Florida

To Family and Friends :

Bettye and I have had a pretty interesting several months, what with the doctors, clinics, meds and all. There have now been five clear scans (four CT one PET) following Bettye's cancer recurrence scare last summer. She has remained in remission since October and is doing much better on her medications, Tarceva
® particularly, which has served her well for over two years now. She has successfully slowly reduced her daily dosage from 150mg to 50mg currently, and is feeling much better than before. As she has told me, she no longer feels body-slammed every morning, but still has some minor rashes and blisters as side-effects of the drug. All in all, though, with the excellent care she receives from the H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center she remains a success story following three years of treatment in her Clinical Trial. We're looking forward to continued remission under Dr Simon's excellent supervision, along with the assistance Drs Victor Toledano and Dr Leonard Seigel here in Fort Lauderdale. Her next scan at Moffitt will be in about six weeks and we're anticipating continuing remission...

It is a truly strange phenomenon, however, that some old friends have faded away rather than face her cancer, and others have become closer and genuinely compassionate over the past four and a half years. Some understand, some don't. Some can't deal with mortality on a personal basis, others can. She understands. As Bettye says, she herself had subconsciously shied away from people with lung cancer and throat cancer specifically, until she finally put her own situation behind her and can now deal with the highly personal specifics a little more easily. I can discuss treatment, prognosis and other aspects of living with lung cancer, but only because my involvement with Bettye's case is as a caregiver, not a patient, and while it's painful the discussions are not as devastating to me as they tend to be for her.

She willingly counsels and helps others with all kinds of cancers, and hopes to be able to give even more future encouragement to those with lung cancer. She spent a long hour on the beach last week visiting with a friend from Cape Cod, whose husband's kidney cancer just metastasized to his lungs. Her empathy and words of encouragement seem to comfort everyone she speaks with and let them know they're not alone. Her biggest hesitation upfront was that she would give end-stage patients false hope. Some might believe that if she did it, their loved ones could do it also, just by being positive. (Bettye tells me: don't ever tell someone with cancer to "just think positive", it sounds good but it's not really what they want to hear - too simplistic and somehow dismissive.)

Not everyone can travel to Moffitt; nor can their head be in the same place as is Bettye's. Then, also, there comes a time when it is a person's time to go. Bettye is working through all of these issues so she can be of better assistance to others with lung cancer. True, it is incurable, but she sees past that part (or skips past it...) and goes on, expecting to live a long life. However, some people cannot deal with such a devastating crisis - everyone's at a different place in their own life's journey and Bettye totally understands this as well, as she has been there.

Funny thing about it is that Bettye looks so healthy and vibrant that most people forget her lung cancer history, and we really do appreciate that. She sees herself as well and refuses to look back. Staff at the cancer center really light up when they see her coming as she simply radiates a glow and incredibly contagious optimism wherever she goes.

I do notice, though, that some people we go out with become irritated at her efforts to avoid cigarette smoke. We went to a restaurant with friends recently, and after Bettye asked for a table "as far as possible from the smoking section", the husband turned to his wife and commented (in a stage whisper) " we'll have to listen to her bitch about the cigarette smoke all night". We don't remind them of her stage-4 lung cancer, but others don't watch her cough her head off for days or weeks on end, as I have over the years, following even short-term exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke. She is highly allergic, and sensitive to the carcinogens in the smoke and it really brings her down. Thirty-five years ago her doctor told her she might end up needing a tracheotomy to breathe, as her air passages swell so badly when she is around cigarette smoke. We don't say anything when such insensitivity happens as we'd rather enjoy the evening without the strife or hard-feelings which often accompany any explanatory rebuke, no matter how gentle. Guess we can't educate everybody.

We went back to see Bettye's family in The Carolinas last Thanksgiving and had a great visit with her siblings, nephews and nieces. She discovered on our trip that her next-elder sister Fran would have to be relocated from the Assisted Living facility where she had been for several years, and Bettye spent the next six weeks on the phone (mostly from Fort Lauderdale) investigating, interviewing and enlisting other family members in checking out each place before the decision was finally made to move her in mid-January. How people live in separate states without relatives to help them is a tough one. Fran's brother Cy who lives nearby spends countless hours tending to her needs, and everyone in the family including sister Polly, sister-in-law Johnnie and niece Deb's husband Harry and friend Cecil Moon took on the task of relocating Fran, all of which is remembered by Bettye in great gratitude.

Bettye also took on the task of helping with the accounting for Fran's various (half-dozen or so) medical care providers and was successful in stopping some problems and avoiding others through her get-tough approach to the computer-driven billing agencies which seem to take over the lives and well-being of each of us as we get older. Amazing, the things they get away with when no one's watching the books for shenanigans. Amazing, too, how many separate and independent profit centers are involved with each and every aspect of one person's assisted living care. Account and billing for normal, everyday drugs and supplies by separate interconnected services to older patients who can least afford the overcharges seem to be pervasive. A real eye-opener to both of us.

Bettye and I got back up to Lake Wylie NC/SC at Easter and she was able to set Fran up with a meeting with Social Security for the appointment of a family member as Representative Payee and the establishment of an SSA approved bank account. One of the first things Bettye had learned from a sympathetic Social Security representative back in early December was the necessity for such a Payee arrangement in case Fran's disability were to worsen and she could no longer participate in her financial affairs. Strange thing is, they won't even talk to a relative (even with Power of Attorney for the SSA beneficiary) without the Payee being in place. Scary how tightly they hold onto your money for you - although it really is all about trying to stop the rampant fraud against the elderly that's so prevalent these days. Still, it's frustrating...

When we went to the local Social Security office in NC I waited in the lobby and had a sidelong view of Bettye, Cy and Fran huddled up to the window speaking with their SS rep through the glass shield. It was a beautiful picture reminiscent of a Mary Engelbreit greeting card, watching Bettye and Cy help Fran through the maze of bureaucracy and looking out for each other. The three of them, youngest of seven siblings, had ended up in the Mills Home Baptist Orphanage just about sixty years ago and looked out for each other back when they were four, seven and ten just the same as they do now. Bettye always says being at Mills Home was the best possible thing that could have happened to them, under the circumstances, as it was a place of structure, safety and stability for, in Bettye's case, the next dozen or more years. The older siblings had already left home - Texas, Florida, The US Navy - but still looked out for the younger ones as best they could, although it was a near impossible task since they were just kids themselves. Fran was the fifth sibling, Cy the sixth and Bettye's the baby of the family. No one shares their particular experience in that regard and it was a privilege to see them still caring for each other as always. It was a loving family scene I won't forget.

Fran was no sooner settled into her new accommodations for three months or so than Bettye phoned for her nightly chat about 10:PM on Friday night about three weeks ago. Sister Polly had spoken with her a couple of hours earlier that evening and all was well. By the time Bettye called, Fran answered and was speaking, but not coherently, and didn't seem to know who Bettye was - nor even who she was herself. Bettye put me on the phone and I sensed from her symptoms that Fran was having a stroke or some similar crisis. It took us about fifteen minutes to get someone to answer the phone at her nursing station and were fortunate to get her a 911 trip to the hospital next-door. Cy drove over and spent the night with her in ICU and Bettye spent most of the night on the cell with Cy trying to keep up with the situation. Cy and the rest of the family (Barbara, Polly and her husband Bill) spent all weekend shuttling back and forth to sit with Fran and see her through the crisis. At that point we didn't know whether we would ever be able to communicate with her again.

After about three days Fran came out of it and began to speak, but still with no true recollection of events. It was about a week before Bettye could explain to her that we had gotten the 911 response from 750 miles away and that Fran herself had not actually gone next door to her neighbor for assistance, as she remembered. The EMT on the ambulance diagnosed an "altered state of consciousness". Her doctors said that the MRI showed no stroke per se, but that there was a thickening of the blood and symptoms which mimicked a stroke. Don't know what that means (a pseudo-stroke without the paralysis) but we're all glad she's OK and we look back on Bettye's insistence on the Representative Payee as having been just some really good luck. Without the paperwork in place, had she not recovered as well as she has the ramifications could have been her benefits for care and treatment might have come to a halt or run into long bureaucratic delays. Not a comforting thought.

Nice thing, though, just the other night I heard Bettye asking Fran about a hymn they used to sing at Mills Home and it was Fran who remembered "Farther along we'll know all about it, Farther along we'll understand why...", and as they sang to each other over the phone I knew Fran would be OK and Bettye would finally relax.

My own medical adventure turned out, after much probing and scanning, to have been something more than the widespread abdominal inflammation we suspected, as I was finally diagnosed in January with Crohn's disease. The etiology of the problem is stress and the management of it seems to be steroids, anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressants, since the stress is omnipresent. Probably had something to do with the peritonitis and emergency abdominal surgery I went through back in April 2006. The Crohn's seems to be under some bit of control now, what with the prednisone and Nexium among other stabilizing drugs. I had lost fifteen pounds one week around New Year's and had Bettye not insisted I get back with my GI Guy, Dr Wisam Zakko, about the problem it would just have gotten worse. At least now I no longer feel like I'm rotting from the inside out. I'm still twenty pounds below my normal 200 and can't seem to gain it back, but I actually do feel better for once. The weight loss got so bad I actually had to start wearing a belt with my 501's. Maybe 38 years at 200 was long enough and 180 is my new normal...

Our entire lives are not taken up with medical matters, thank God. We do spend many enjoyable early AM hours on the beach at St Bart's Coffee Co near the International Swimming Hall of Fame, meeting and chatting with different people from all over the world and from many different cultures and backgrounds - all of which feeds our fascination with life and its infinite variety. If you can't travel much, our tactic is to let the interesting people come to you - and Fort Lauderdale's a great place for it.

Current project? New hurricane shutters for the condo as the season is upon us yet again. Tropical Storm (not-quite-Hurricane) Barry slid by June 2nd with a threatening sidelong glance at us, just enough to make us glad the shutters would be installed soon. Fires all over Florida (200+), particularly some a hundred miles west of us near Naples in the Everglades raged throughout May to the point Bettye couldn't leave the condo or office without a mask for one exceptionally bad week, and only for short runs to the car. Who knew a swamp could burn? We're really bummed for the gators and beautiful wildlife who're suffering and dying over someone's carelessly discarded cigarette or match.

We always love our trips to Moffitt across Alligator Alley when Bettye counts gators along the north-side canal. The hour-long Everglades portion of the trip normally allows for from about six to as many as three-dozen gator sightings on the almost hundred mile run. Always makes our day when they're out in force. As Bettye says: it's the simple things in life, seen through childlike eyes, which give true happiness. Reminds me of the story she told me about her first trip to Florida to visit brother Ev and his wife Marg for summer vacation from the Mills Home orphanage some 55 years ago. She had been told stories of the beautiful palm trees with their coconuts growing all over Florida, and when they first drove into the state there were no palms. She thought she had been cruelly misled until some hours into Florida the palm trees began to appear and her faith was restored as they were more beautiful than she had ever imagined. We still love sitting under the palms on the beach most mornings, and I know now why she loves them so...

All our best,
Bettye and Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: May 31, 2007
Subject: Stand back and watch Allah and Muhammad prevail

Sunnis and Shiites are murdering each other with car and body bombs, apparently because one group prays to Mecca five times daily and the other only four (but the fourth session being a longer, double devout prayer) so the heretical infidels must, of course, die.

Al Qaeda, backed by Iran's Mahmud Ahmadinejad, is murdering mostly other muslims in their attempts to foment a religious insurgency among the different sects in Iraq to win regional dominance for their own twisted Wahhabi take on the Koran - My Way Or The Highway, highway to hell that is.

Palestinian freedom fighters Hamas and al-Fatah are at war, attacking and killing each other for a change instead of their Jewish neighbors. Besides, the Israelis are perfectly capable of self-defense as they've proven time and again.

We need to stand back from this hornets' nest, watch awhile, wait, and let our enemies do our work for us - they're so much better at murder and mayhem. We need a good strong border fence alright, a fence of troops and warships around the middle-east to keep these crazies penned in and focused on each other as proper targets of their misbegotten rage.

Sounds like a plan. But what about our oil supply, you say? Here's another good idea, lets drill for more oil in our own backyard; develop hydrogen, nuclear and solar capabilities to efficient and profitable technological levels for domestic energy self-sufficiency; and leave these religious nutcases to fight among themselves over dominance of their desert wasteland.

Allaha Ismarladik,

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: May 20, 2007 Subject: Jimmy Carter, Foreign Policy Scold

Editor, The Sun-Sentinel :

So Jimmy Carter denounces the Bush administration as "the worst in history" in foreign relations. Guess Jimmy's just tired of wearing that particular crown of thorns himself. Aside from his 21% prime rate, 18% mortgages and 12% unemployment, all achieved in just four short years, the crowning jewel of Jimmy Carter's lamentable tenure in office was his abject failure in dealing with his most notable foreign relations fiasco: fifty-two American Embassy employees held captive in Iran for 444 days while Carter dithered about and bemoaned his foreign relations impotence in the face of Islamofascist terrorists.

Carter's 1980 declaration that the Persian Gulf was under US control following the fall of the Shah, and his concurrent arming of Saddam Hussein to be our regional proxy against Iran were not exactly gems of diplomacy. It took two successive Republican administrations to confront militarily the Islamic crazies on their own turf.

It was a failed Democrat foreign policy of the 1990s under Bill Clinton which saw the jihadists bring the war to American soil with their first attempt on the World Trade Center in 1993, and their ultimate success on 9/11: Bush's early watch; Clinton's long-term failed policy. The groundwork was laid by Carter in 1979/80 and came to fruition with the murderous 2001 attack on the WTC. I prefer the Republican policy of confronting these murderous terrorists on their own turf, rather than ours. Better there than here, better now than later.

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: May 6, 2007 To: Editor, The Sun-Sentinel :
Subject: "Jamestown represents the origins of democracy and slavery."

RE: Peter Wallenstein, the Virginia Tech historian you quoted on Sunday as saying "Jamestown represents the origins of democracy and slavery."

Surely you misquoted him since (among others) the ancient Babylonians, Greeks and Egyptians all held slaves garnered from their conquered foes going back three thousand years or more before Jamestown; since the black African tribes of the fifteenth century and earlier captured and exploited slaves of neighboring tribes before beginning to sell them to European traders; and Europeans introduced African slaves to the Americas over a hundred years before the founding of Jamestown in 1607.

Additionally, the Greeks might quibble with him about the origins of democracy being in 17th Century Jamestown since theirs dated from about 500 BC, over two millennia earlier.

Perhaps he, and you, intended to say Jamestown represented the origins of democracy and slavery in North America? Only if you discount the likelihood that Vikings led by Lief Ericsson brought some of their thralls (slaves) with them to Vinland (our New England coast) about six hundred years before Jamestown. Additionally you would have to discount the Iroquois Confederacy, an American Indian tribal democracy dating from the 12th Century.

History is written by the historians, unless the record is corrected before it becomes set in stone.

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: May 2, 2007 To: Mike Subject: TAPS: SFC [Name Withheld]
Mike - Sometimes people ask why I've worn my POW/MIA bracelet for 35 years...
Bob - ps... ( Mine reads: Lt Col Charles Burkart Jr 6-12-66 ) ... see attachment :
From: SFA Date: May 1, 2007 Subject: TAPS: SFC [Name Withheld] (D-5614)

... the remains of [SF Soldier], D-5614, a member of Special Forces Association [...] will be laid to rest in Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery, Exeter, RI. For more than 35 years he had been listed as MIA-presumed dead, when in 2006 his remains were positively identified. [...] as he was known to his friends, joined Special Forces and served in Fort Devens, MA, when he received orders to report to Studies & Observation Group, MACV-SOG VN, and was assigned to CCN. On May 3, 1971, [he and two other SF Soldiers], along with three Montagnards, comprised the 6-man reconnaissance team "Asp." The team was inserted by helicopter into rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 14 miles south of the southern edge of the A Shau Valley and 43 miles west-southwest of DaNang, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam. Ten minutes after landing, the team radioed a "Team okay," no further contact was ever established. Aerial searches and an SAR insertion failed to turn up any sign of the team and they were listed as MIA as of May 10, 1971. After [he] was declared MIA he was promoted to the rank of SFC. Among his decorations awarded prior to his death was the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Purple Heart, Korean Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, CIB, and Master Parachutist Badge. After his death he was awarded a Bronze Star (First Oak Leaf Cluster), Air Medal (Second Award), and Purple Heart (First Oak Leaf Cluster) Posthumous... While the media is aware of the impending service the family has asked that we not institute any media attention...
De Oppresso Liber
BackStory Link

From: Bob Wirt Date: April 12, 2007 To: Jason Whitlock KC Star
Subject: Don Imus, Iconoclast and martyr on the PC altar

Jason :
I sent this to Tucker just before your appearance today. Thank you for pointing out that the emperor truly has no clothes. Unfortunately, Jesse and Al aren't going to heed your words of wisdom. Keep up the good work. The truth will out.
Bob Wirt
------------------------------------------------------------------------- Attachment --
From: Bob Wirt Date: April 12, 2007 To: Tucker Carlson MSNBC
Subject: Don Imus, Iconoclast and martyr on the PC altar

Don Imus got caught up in a firestorm of PC sanctimony from various high-profile hypocrites such as Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson and The Reverend Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton, who condemn his unfortunate comedy rif while excusing blatant excesses in their own community by highly-paid bigots who degrade their own for monetary gain. Give me a break...

You don't have to agree with everything Imus says or does to appreciate his iconoclastic rants and his insightful dissection of politicians and assorted other sloppers at the public trough, friend and foe alike. CBS publishes, distributes and plays hip-hop and rap-crap with more degrading and inflammatory lyrics every day, yet they pretend to have clean hands in this farce.

It's really just all about the money.

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: February 15, 2007 To: Don Imus MSNBC/CBS
Subject: Valerie Plame Wilson


If Joe Wilson had been so anxious to protect the fact of his wife's employment at the CIA, he probably would have used her married name in his Who's Who In America listing for 2003, instead of her maiden name Plame (see attached graphic from the WizBangBlog) .

Also, a friend locally was an officer with decades of time in grade at the Marshall's Service in DC who tells me that it was common knowledge on the cocktail circuit there that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA since Joe Wilson was proud of the fact and was apparently compelled by his massive ego to boost his own rep at every opportunity, even peripherally, by bragging on her connection to state secrets. Any reporter with an ounce of ambition would have accessed his Who's Who data and made the Wilson / Plame connection.

Valerie was not a covert operative, but rather an analyst at Langley, and no law could have been broken by identifying her as working for the CIA since the law against disclosure applies only to covert agents and operatives.

Tim Russert is undoubtedly like most other reporters in that he trades tidbits of info he has for tidbits of info from others that he may not have had prior. It is not inconceivable that he dropped the information on Scooter Libby in attempting to elicit other, possibly unrelated info that Libby might have had which could have been useful to your buddy Tim. Think about the reality for a minute before defending him to the ends of the earth.
Bob Wirt

"Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West"

Click above for the DVD or to suport the effort

From: Bob Wirt Date: January 31, 2007 Subject: Islamic Radicals and We Infidels

Bettye and I went to a special screening of a very disturbing and timely film last night sponsored by FLIFF, The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival at Cinema Paradiso: "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" from Wayne Kopping and Raphael Shore.

Anyone who thinks we're not currently at war with the terrorists needs to see this movie. Even if you enjoyed Michael Moore's Cut-and-Paste pretend documentary, you need to see why these Islamic radicals are out to kill us all as infidels and non-believers in their one-true-religion of Muhammad and Allah. If you couldn't watch "Fahrenheit 9/11", or were sorry you wasted your money going, "Obsession" lays out in realistic terms the truth of the matter about the ingrained fanatacism of the Jihadists who are out to murder us all. They're stark scenes we never get to see on our home-grown media outlets of the real terror we're facing.

Our leftist domestic media delights in skewing their reportage against our country and our troops, and resists showing the good our soldiers are doing in the countryside where the Iraqi's, Afghani's, Somali's and others are truly glad to have us around for protection and assistance in fighting our mutual enemies the Islamic terrorists. "Obsession" shows at least some of what our enemy is up to and the depths of their commitment to our eradication.

Logic is defied in the Jihadist holy-warriors' single-minded purpose of religious conversion or murder, to attain their goal of worldwide domination for Islam. No amount of dialog or negotiation can be successful when dealing with an opponent who's holding a gun in your face or menacing with a bomb, and who actually relishes the self-immolation which would be the likely result of his taking you out with him.

The radical fundamentalists are the real menace but the subtle acquiescence of the moderate muslim enablers they live among is a very real danger to us all. Hearing the hatred and venom spewing forth against the Great Satan (USA) should open the eyes of even the most complacent and unrealistically PC among us.

"Obsession" is disturbing but eye-opening for those who've been sleep-walking through the war on terror. Like Chairman Mao said: "Political power comes from the barrel of a gun." After all, we didn't talk the British and King George into giving their American colonies over to us without a fight, we took our freedom at musket-point. Armed conflict in defense of our Republic is just and necessary in the face of these ubiquitous murderers disguised as friends, neighbors and allies while they lie in wait to attack when least expected.

The time is long past to stop pussy-footing around and hit back, hard. There's no way we're going to talk our way out of this one.

The tragic thing about the funding of these murderous terrorists worldwide is that their money comes from each of us, cruising around nonchalantly in our monstrous SUV's or burning oil and gas just because it's readily available, regardless of the cost. From our local gas station; to the Arab sheiks rolling in our petrodollars; who in turn pay the Islamic fundamentalists to leave their own territory (mostly our friends the Saudi's) and export their Wahabi Madrassa schools with their twisted interpretations of Koranic scripture to other less self-absorbed countries where the Mullahs thrive under the false guise of religious teachers. Schools full of eight year old children brandishing AK47's and calling for death to Bush and Uncle Sam. Primary education Muslim style.

Hillary Clinton, during one of her recent town hall campaign stops in Iowa, was demanding to know why the Bush administration has failed to capture Osama bin Laden over the past six years of chasing him around the Arab world. The suck-up audience never asked her the obvious question of why her husband Bill failed to capture OBL for eight years after the first `93 bombing of the WTC by OBL and friends, and his subsequent known attacks on our embassies and on the USS Cole. OBL had been served up on a silver platter several times by our covert Special Ops troops (and by several friendly regimes) and our draft-dodging Commander In Chief William Jefferson Clinton declined to accept the corpus time and time again. Then came 9/11... There's plenty of blame to go around here for both administrations, but Hillary's holier-than-thou attitude is enough to bring on a case of the heaves.

According to news reports, Hillary's aides also slammed her main rival Barak Obama by pointing out that he had attended an Islamic Madrassa in Indonesia during four years of his childhood. I don't believe she went so far as to point out that his full name is Barak Hussein Obama, although some claim her camp did. I personally preferred the way Teddy Kennedy referred to him in a National Press Club speech recently as Osama Obama. Maybe Barak can clue us in as to how to deal with his classmates... Looks like the Democrat candidates are beginning to eat their own. The distraction may even serve to leave President Bush free to get aggressive and pursue the bad guys without having to constantly defend himself to the Capitol Hill politicos lining up for his job.

Let's bring on the President's SURGE and finally allow our troops to attack and kill some of the murderous terrorists of the Shi'ite Al Mahdi Army militia. Controlled by radical cleric Hojatoleslam Muqtada al-Sadr with the blessing of his friend and ours, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, popularly elected leader of our newly created democratic showcase in the Middle East, they're busy butchering their neighbors the Sunni's for their heresy while our troops have been forced to watch and not intervene to stop the wanton murders.

Democracy at any cost: Watch what you wish for, you might get it...

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: January 29, 2007 To: John Gibson Subject: Poster Girl Hanoi Jane

John Gibson - The Big Story RE: Anti-War March On The DC Mall

At least this time Hanoi Jane dragged her bony butt to Washington DC instead of the heart of enemy territory before spouting her treasonous accusations. Maybe she's learned a little something in the past 35 years, but she's still putting our troops in harm's way by emboldening the enemy and demoralizing those on the ground in Iraq willingly risking their lives to take the fight to the terrorists on their home turf instead of battling them here in the USA. She should take Ted's money and go back to her comfortable, lefty Hollywood cocoon and screen endless runs of Barbarella for her like-minded neighbors. Couldn't stand her then, can't stand her now.

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: January 28, 2007 Subject: The OJ Method - One Man; One Knife; One Victim

Speaking of despots, and we were, I've had a longstanding theory of regime change policy, which I've recently renamed but which remains just as effective as before:

The OJ Method - One Man; One Knife; One Victim
Accomplishing the task with the least collateral damage. The point is not to glorify a murderous thug like OJ, but to give credence to an ancient and reliable tactic. Something to keep in mind next time we're faced with a Hitler, a Saddam Hussein or other such miscreant such as Mahmud Ahmadinejad; Kim Jong Il; or, closer to home: Fidel Castro or his buddy Hugo Chavez. Still can't believe he was deposed in 2002 and we actually allowed him to walk back into his office and solidify power through the rigged voting machines owned by his buddies and now in use throughout the USA.

The nice thing about the OJ Method is it puts limited personnel at risk, is carried out by dedicated volunteers with a true sense of mission, can remain clandestine, provides deniability and keeps collateral damage low. Besides, on-camera beheadings of innocent American civilians by the Islamic Jihadists (and their gleeful display on their WebSites) seem to be acceptable to the rest of the world so such incidents should not further raise the indignant ire of our supposed friends across the waters.

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: January 25, 2007 5:54:07 PM EST Subject: Sandy Burglar

Sandy Berger claims that the only documents he stole from the National Archives were duplicates, and that he did not steal and destroy any uncopied originals. Oh, good... Why, then, did he confess and plead guilty to stealing and destroying the copies since that would have accomplished nothing. His quest was to seek and destroy incriminating evidence in secret government files which might cast negative light on his former boss Bill Clinton, and his inept handling of the late `90s run-up to 9/11/2001 and possible Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda involvement. Give us all a break...

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: January 23, 2007 Subject: The Social Security Trust Fund Joke

The Social Security Trust Fund was first raided by LBJ back in the `60s in order to fund the Viet Nam war and to pay billions in construction contracts to the Brown and Root division of Halliburton. Sound familiar? For the intervening forty years or so every administration and congress has looted the fund with impunity. All political creatures love to spend, and it's our savings they're spending. The real crime here is that 90% of income earners pay about 15% their income into Social Security, while the 10% of earners who make more than $100,000 per year pay significantly less. (You pay about 7.5% and your employer matches it, up to the $100,000 cap, so it comes to 15% because if you weren't on the payroll the employer wouldn't have to send it on to your Uncle Sam at the SSA - the self-employed pay the full 15% themselves)

Each million dollar earner (and there are plenty of them) pays just 1.5% or a rate one-tenth of the rest of us. Each ten million dollar earner pays just 0.15% into the fund, a rate one-hundredth of what the 90% majority pays. If everyone paid the same tax rate on income each year there would be an ongoing surplus since collections would increase tenfold as just 10% of taxpayers garner 90% of the income each year. Benefits could be raised for retirees; further excess funds could be used to wipe out the general budget deficit in just a few years; and payroll tax rates could even be lowered to the benefit of all. Don't look for the top 10% of wage earners to start paying their fair share, however, as they own the politicians and dictate the legislation.

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: December 18, 2006 To: Family & Friends Subject: Greetings

(I didn't author this, but I do admit to having forwarded it to a bunch of people, amazingly no one got mad)

To Our Democrat Friends:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishees. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

To Our Republican Friends:

"Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.." 

Bettye and Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: November 26, 2006 To: Rend Al-Rahim Subject: Washington Journal

Ms Al-Rahim - :

It was a pleasure speaking with you this morning during your appearance on Washington Journal.

Unfortunately I was cut off by the moderator (due to time constraints) before I got to express my main point: That it was Winston Churchill who said the worst mistake of his career was that as British Colonial Minister following WWI, during the forced breakup of the Ottoman Empire, he cobbled together the three distinctly separate regions of Kurdish Mosul, Sunni Baghdad and the Shiite South into the country of Iraq.
The Iraq constitution indeed allows for regional autonomy, but unfortunately the Bush Administration is resisting because they don't want to appear to be admitting failure in their plans for Democratization of the Middle East. A foolish cowboy attitude reminiscent of LBJ's failed Viet Nam policy of the 1960s. I agreed before the war that we needed to rid the world of Saddam Hussein since, like Osama bin Laden, he was another of our former friends who went badly wrong. I just thought we should have attempted through a hearts-and-minds approach to get the Iraqi citizens to do it on their own with our backup, rather than sending in the US Marines, so to speak.

Those who claim Saddam had no WMD's conveniently forget that it was the USA who during the late `70s and on through most of the `80s armed and encouraged him to use the weapons we sold him against his neighbor Iran. We had a right to be upset that our own CIA creation, Reza Shah Pahlavi, was replaced by a group of uncooperative Mullahs, but Hussein was another monster of our own making. Most Americans don't seem to understand that one abandoned gas station out in the desert could provide sufficient underground storage capacity for enough concentrated chemical weapons to wipe out millions of people in the region with nothing more than a 6" pipe protruding from the sand. Good luck finding that.

As a veteran of four years with the US Army Green Berets (1964-1968) I have had certain experience with insurgency and counter-insurgency operations, having trained at the JFK Center For Special Warfare at Fort Bragg NC and served on many missions throughout Central and South America in our attempts to keep Fidel Castro and Che Guevara from exporting their communist philosophy throughout the region. We did pretty well until Jimmy Carter cut off the funding for our efforts in 1977, but that's another sad story of philosophy overwhelming practicality. My primary training was as a medic, with my secondary in weapons and my third skill being demolitions, so I do have some understanding of the problems we face against the guerillas operating throughout the Middle East. I just wish our government would recognize the nature of the conflict and get with the program.

My graduation in 1963 from the American High School in Ankara Turkey after two years of living "on the economy" there gave me a certain understanding of the thoughts and feelings of Muslims in that 90% Islamic society, and an appreciation for their ability to maintain a secular democracy in relative comfort alongside disparate religious factions. It's one reason it galls me when so many claim that Muslims aren't capable of a self-governing democracy in the Middle East, yet fail to view the success of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's grand experiment right next-door.

My great-grandfather, Dr Loyal Lincoln Wirt DD, served with the American Red Cross during WWI and established the organization Near East Relief with the backing of the Wilson administration. They built over 250 orphanages throughout Turkey following the war to house the Armenian orphans left in the wake of the Kaiser's and Ottomans' genocide. Although I have Turkish friends who to this day deny there was such a holocaust, I ask them why then did we have to build so many Armenian orphanages in Turkey. The reality of this is brought home to me whenever I hear Mahmud Ahmadinejad rail about the destruction of Israel because I know the very real possibility that the first target of his peaceful nuclear power program will be apparent when nuclear tipped Russian built missiles are launched at Jerusalem. And it'll happen before anyone can do anything to stop it.

Keep up the good work. I wish you luck in your efforts. Peace in Iraq and throughout the Middle East region is critical to the entire world.

Allaha Ismaladik,

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: Sunday, November 05, 2006 To: Nancy San Martin The Miami Herald Subject: Daniel Ortega and Jimmy Carter

Nancy San Martin :

Regarding today's article in the Herald: You should be aware that the only reason the Sandinistas were able to finally prevail over the Somozistas in 1979 was that Jimmy Carter, the best friend a despot ever had, pulled US aid from the Somoza government in 1977, causing the Guardia to fail in their efforts to protect the population from the Sandinistas. Our US Congress, through a Democrat caucus, sealed the deal in the mid-80s when they stopped the Reagan administration and Oliver North's efforts to support the Contras, the true patriots in Nicaragua.

When we were in-country training the Somoza Guardia (later Contras) in counter-insurgency techniques in 1967/68, our Guardia soldiers used to point out the "communistas" in our midst - Nicaraguan Sandinistas who were at the same time being trained nearby in insurgency tactics by the Cuban Special Forces originally deployed by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara throughout Central and South America.

Jimmy Carter (pictured in your article) seems genuinely pleased to see his old communist buddy Daniel Ortega, poised to once again take over power in that beleaguered country. Ortega's vaunted land reform instituted in the 1980s consisted simply of the Sandinistas taking the property and businesses of the rightful owners and keeping it all for themselves. The indians and farmers got squat from the Sandinistas and were shot if they complained. It was the Sandinistas' withdrawal into the major population areas of Nicaragua to enjoy their newfound wealth which left the countryside exposed to roving bandits and drug dealers, to the ultimate detriment of the very people Ortega had claimed to be working to benefit.

César Augusto Sandino must be spinning in his grave.

Bob Wirt

Here's the level of interest in the information:

From: Nancy San Martin Date: November 5, 2006 To: Bob Wirt Subject: RE: Daniel Ortega and Jimmy Carter

Thank you for taking the time to write.

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...

We had a truly great trip to California October 12-17th to attend the wedding of my sister Kristine and her love, George de Cossio. Bettye and I flew into Oakland Thursday, spent the night with my mom in San Leandro, then on Friday took a drive up through San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Stinson Beach and Inverness then on into Sonoma for Kris and George's wedding. They were married Saturday the 14th at Kenwood Community Church in Kenwood CA which was built by my great-great-grandfather David Wirt back sometime in the 1880s. It was a lovely ceremony with about a hundred people jammed into that little 125 year old church in the wine country. I was truly honored that Kris asked me to give her away during the ceremony, even though I had only my white Levi's and a Hawaiian shirt to wear. When they told me the wedding would be casual, they forgot who they were speaking to... Fortunately she was already planning to walk down the aisle to the Hawaiian Wedding Song, so everything worked out and I wasn't totally embarrassed. The reception at Little Switzerland in El Verano CA featured about two hundred guests, superb food, and a great mariachi band followed by an incredibly talented group of musicians who seemed to have mastered every instrumental and vocal style, which kept everyone on the dance floor `til the wee hours.

Funny thing for me and Bettye, being in the middle of wine country with libations flowing like water, what with our teetotalling for the past two and a half years... Oh well, at least we had no hangover. Just a beautiful garden room at the Sonoma Valley Inn with a fireplace and all - The great crisp fall weather in Northern California just can't be beat. We headed back into Berkeley on Sunday to the Hotel Durant for a couple of days visiting with my family. Daughters Dawn, Becky and Shelley (who made a timely trip from Edinburgh, Scotland), all six grandkids, my mom, and Becky's husband Goga and his parents (from Kushal Madjra, Haryana, India) were all there - making for an eventful and quite enjoyable end to our trip - then Tuesday it was back to Fort Lauderdale and the business. So here we are, trapped in paradise yet again. As Creedence Clearwater Revival might agree, it beats being stuck in Lodi. Thank goodness the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is back in season - It really continues to be an enjoyable diversion at this time each year.

All our best,
Bettye and Bob

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.

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