Monday, August 28, 2006

Never Again!

[The following article first appeared in the Roanoke Times August 17, 2006.]

A Media Lap Dog No Longer
Jerry Fuhrman
The New York Times recently revealed in a front page article ("Partisan divide on Iraq exceeds split on Vietnam," July 30) the results of a study that showed more polarization exists today with regard to opinions on the war in Iraq than existed at the time of the Vietnam War:
"No military conflict in modern times has divided Americans on partisan lines more than the war in Iraq, scholars and pollsters say -- not even Vietnam. And those divisions are likely to intensify in what is expected to be a contentious fall election campaign."
The reason for this is simple. Unlike the turbulent days of Vietnam, in which the opinions expressed on network news shows held sway over the populace, much of America today relies on an array of alternative sources for news. And we are the better for it.

When Walter Cronkite declared in 1968 that the Vietnam War was "mired in stalemate" and couldn't be won, people's resolve was profoundly shaken. The former CBS News anchorman is now credited with having nearly single-handedly turned America against the war and to have brought it to an end. He deserves that credit.

Many of us on the right learned a valuable lesson from Vietnam, the offshoot of which is that it is because of Cronkite and others like him that those alternative news sources exist today. In the '60s, we were witness to nightly bouts of anguish and remorse displayed on the evening news over the pain and suffering inflicted by American military personnel upon innocent women and children in villages and hamlets seemingly throughout Vietnam -- North and South. And we subsequently learned that all the anguish was completely phony.

As soon as we retreated, Cronkite and his ilk on the left turned their backs on our allies there and the real slaughter began -- in South Vietnam in 1975 when wholesale executions of North Vietnam's former foes began, and, at the same time, in Pol Pot's Cambodia, where the killing fields were sown with the corpses of up to 3 million innocent people. Little was said about it on the evening news. Cronkite, et al, had moved on to Watergate and more enticing matters. Many of us learned not to trust these people ever again. We came to know them for what they are -- pretenders.

So, when President Bush appeared before a joint session of Congress 10 days after 9/11 and said, "Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success," we took these words to heart, steeled our resolve, prepared for that long, protracted conflagration that was forced upon us by a fanatical foe, cheered our loved ones who volunteered by the thousands to enter into harm's way in order to make us safe here at home, and vowed to stay the course.

And we expected no help from the left.

What we expected we have gotten. More stories of pain and suffering. More complaints of brutality. At the same time that accounts of buses carrying school children in Jerusalem being blown up gain only passing comment, a report of prisoners in Baghdad being forced to wear panties on their heads is condemned ad nauseam. A Koran supposedly being flushed down a toilet in an American prison gets far more air time than does the cold-blooded execution of four Americans in the streets of Fallujah.

They expect us to take them seriously. We did indeed learn from Vietnam -- and its aftermath. We learned the slogan taken up by Jews after the Holocaust: Never again! And we took to heart and live by the powerful words of Abraham Lincoln spoken at a time when another great struggle was under way, one that was taking a far more grievous toll: "We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth."

We resolve to maintain the world's last best hope in part because these pretenders won't. So we find ourselves with this great divide between the attitudes of Americans on the left and those of us on the right. We expected it. We accept it. We celebrate it.

As for Vietnam -- Never again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Letters In The Attic

Harold Fuhrman, my father, served in the 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division in World War II. He participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, was captured by the Germans, spent months in prisoner-of-war camps, and was eventually liberated by the Russians. He returned home to Bowler, Wisconsin emaciated and in poor health in the spring of 1945.

It was thought towards the end of the war that the Nazis would retreat into the Bavarian Alps and would wage guerilla war from there after the German army was finally defeated. Because of that, the 101st Airborne was transferred to Berchtesgaden, where Adolf Hitler had his palatial mountain retreat, with the intention of taking on the remnants of Hitler's fanatical SS.

This letter was written by a soldier in the 101st to Harold from there. Adolf Hitler had committed suicide just a few weeks before and the German army had surrendered on May 7. When the letter was written, the war in Europe was ended but the war against Japan would still rage for another three months.

The letter is typed, double-spaced, on standard size lined paper. Being 61 years old, the paper is aged, faded, and in poor condition. The identity of the author, K. Dunbar, is unknown but since Harold had worked on Division HQ staff and Dunbar obviously knew him well, and the fact that he had access to a typewriter, leads one to believe that Dunbar too worked at Division HQ.

I found the letter among my father's possessions after he died. In reproducing it here, I corrected a few typos for the sake of clarity.

26 May 1945
Berchtesgaden, Ger.
Dear Harold:

I certainly was glad to read your letter and learn that you were home. Also that both you and Gamble [in combat Harold operated a bazooka; Gamble was his loader and was captured at the same time] came through O.K. I hardly know what to say to you and I hope that you get used to being a civilian before too long. Do you think that you will be discharged before too long? I sure hope that we can get back to the states before too long. 

We received notification from the War Department that both you and Gamble had returned to Military Control and we knew that you had been liberated by someone but we didn't know exactly who. As some of the other boys that are writing and telling you that we are down here in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Hitler's and Goering's old hideout. I sure wish that you could see this place. Those bastards weren't hurting for anything.

They will also tell you that Tom Doyle was captured up in Bastogne and so far we haven't heard anything about him. Herb Beck who was also captured is in a hospital in France trying to put some weight back on. In the three months that he was captured he lost 58 lbs. and when one of the boys saw him they said that he really looked bad. I sure hope that Tom comes through all right. J.J. Stevens gets letters from his sister but they haven't heard anything about him. Well I guess that I had better close for now ... So here's hoping that you enjoy a wonderful stay while you are home and God bless you.
K. Dunbar

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Failing Plan

[The following article first appeared in the Roanoke Times August 11, 2006.]

The Plan For Southwest Virginia Is Failing
Jerry Fuhrman

In a recent conference call with one of Virginia’s most powerful politicians, I asked how he thought the dismal situation in Southwest Virginia could be turned around. I wanted to know what could be done to counter the sweeping and devastating manufacturing job losses that have occurred, how he might deal with our coal counties that are losing population, and about our stagnant economy. His answer? “Tourism.”


Another politician who has no answers, no new ideas, so he falls back on the default position learned from and perfected by a long line of politicians past and present. Southwest Virginia has nothing going for it save some rocks and bushes so we need to promote what little we have in the forlorn hope that we can lure northerners down here and partake of our scenic splendor, and while doing so, try to get them to purchase a hot dog and a bottled water at the local gas station. That, friends, is the plan for our future success.

It certainly can be said that we have what can be considered a scenic – some might say rugged and inhospitable - landscape. And with it – because of it – we are burdened with a weak transportation infrastructure. To make matters worse, we have substandard schools. And a very low-tech environment with predominantly unskilled labor. And in the areas where we were traditionally strongest, we now have foreign competition. And in parts of the region, we are in the throes of depopulation, particularly when it comes to our best and brightest young people who routinely move out of the area in order to be able to make a future for themselves. Yes, we have our hurdles.

But, by God, we’ve got trees too. And boulders. Lots of pretty rock formations. And lizards and snakes and such. So our future, according to those we look to for guidance in such matters, depends on enticing tourists to the area to walk among nature’s wonders. Or some such. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Not a Bad Day On The Mountain

It's a good day I think when you get a mention on and in the Washington Post.

My guess is neither link will be active very long so check these out while you can:
  • Melissa McNamara with picked up my post from Saturday regarding Al Gore's hypocritical global heating lifestyle in "Gore Full Of Hot Air?".
  • Chris Edwards with the Washington Post links to a post I had on Sunday with regard to the disparity in wages between the Washington DC area and the rest of Virginia in "Federal Pay: Myth and Realities."
As for Ms. McNamara, not only does she write well (although I really must simplify the spelling of my last name), I want to give birth to her next child. Check out the accompanying photo; you'll see what I mean.

And don't anyone write me about my having been very critical in the past of CBS News. That's all now changed. A kind word from a good lookin' reporter/producer and I'm a changed man.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

'Into The Mouth Of Hell'

As many of my regular readers know, I've been pretty tough on the Roanoke Times editorial staff in the past. You also know why. It's made up of a motley collection of leftist lunatics who write crap most Southwest Virginians can't comprehend or relate to.

Well. I'm here to report that I've now met most of them and found them to be a rather nice bunch. Still lefties and still looneys but nice just the same.

I bring this up because I am now one of them ... sorta. Beginning today and for the foreseeable future, you'll find once a week a column written by me for the Times. It will appear every Thursday and you can find it in the Op-Ed Commentary section of the paper. As you might expect, the first column is about Southwest Virginia and our ... burgeoning ... tourism industry. You can access it here:

I generally hold liberals in low regard, considering most of them to be today's version of the 50's John Birch Society - with a twist. But I will give the editorial page editor of the Times, Dan Radmacher, credit for this. Despite the fact that I've gone after him on more than one occasion on the pages of this weblog, ridiculing some of his leftist nonsense, he invited me to bring the discussion to his page of the Times. He certainly didn't have to do that.

Such open-mindedness from a flaming leftist I'm not used to, but he's to be thanked - and commended for it.

So, I'm going to take this opportunity to change the way people view the Roanoke Times, one subscriber at a time. And when I've been able to wean them all from their (perceived) dependency on big government and their naive notions that we don't live in a hostile world and their twisted belief that George W. Bush is the great satan, I'll then work on the editorial staff.

A tougher row to hoe.

Anyway, I hereby thank Dan for the opportunity to bring to the readers of the Roanoke Times a different perspective (one held by most Americans, ahem), a conservative perspective, a Southwest Virginia perspective.

Believe me, in discussions with Mr. Radmacher, I've warned him about what's going to happen. Some of his readers are not going to like that which they are going to read. The namby-pamby limp-wristed Democrat types. I told him that it may reflect on him. And will without doubt come down on him. He accepts it (poor fool) and welcomes the dialogue that will ensue.

I just hope they don't kill him.