April 2024
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Sunday In Germany

By Ken Yeager

Wow ! I am shocked that no one is posting anything on this blog lately. What happened? I stopped contributing because I thought no one was reading my nonsense (and understandably so). But all of a sudden, quiet…..one could hear a pin drop.

OK, some disagreement but hey, it’s over and as Mimi said, we are all entitled to our own opinions. Despite our common Saigon background, the fact is we all grew up (except me-I don’t want to grow up) under different circumstances and in different locations, all of which helps form the person we are.

Over the years, I have become a strong liberal Democrat who supports Obama and his administration. I suppose that having spent about half of my life living outside the U.S. has influenced my thinking. I tend to see things differently than most Americans whose opinions are influenced by U.S. newspapers and broadcasts. I do have to say that I have become much more politically aware in the last 20 years or so.

When I was younger, much younger, and off to Vietnam as a GI, I was not thinking about the politics of the war, I was just doing what I was supposed to do. Now I see that was a horrible war and a huge mistake to become involved in. As usual, our political masters lied to us, just as they did in 2003 and Iraq. I did and do support the war in Afghanistan but the more I read about this guy Karzi, I am beginning to think we should tell him to shove it and pull out. But at the same time, not sure that would be a wise thing to do, either. I just hate to see America’s (and our allies) youth wasted and treasure flowing in to the pockets of corrupt Afghan politicians and their friends and family.

I am a member of a group called “KawaNow” which is a bunch of Kawasaki Nomad riders worldwide, but primarily in the US and Canada. It is amazing to read some of the stuff that gets posted on the KawaNow website blog. It seems that most of them are Republicans or right leaning. I guess their biggest thing is “Freedom.” Freedom not to have to wear a helmet, freedom to carry a gun everywhere and anywhere, freedom not to have health insurance, freedom not to have to pay taxes, well you get the idea. Re helmets, now if we were all born with only one arm and hand, I would rather expect we would not want to get it caught in a piece of machinery and then have a hand….so why don’t people want to protect the one brain that they have? Guns !!! As a former police officer, I am against guns in general, but I have no desire to ban them. What I would like to see is NO machine guns. All guns to be purchased after a thorough background check to keep the felons and crazies from having guns. ALL guns registered with the local police authorities, all owners to be trained by a licensed authority, and guns to be kept under lock an key at all times, including a trigger lock. OK, I know the argument…what good is it if someone is in my house and my gun is locked up. But at the same time, kids play with things they shouldn’t and accidents happen all of the time. My dad always had a loaded gun in his nightstand and I still remember being shown it as a little boy and told to NEVER go into that nightstand and I never did. I knew it was there, I knew it was loaded and I knew he would whip the living sh-t out of me if I disobeyed him.

I do not believe we are all created equal and therefore we do not all have the same opportunities as everyone else. Some are born rich, smart, good looking, etc. Some are born poor, handicapped, less intelligent than others, ugly, and some are saddled with medical problems that will follow them all of their lives. As Americans I would like to think that we are all equal before the law (but I know better) and in the eyes of God (if there is one), but after that…well, we are not equal. But what is wrong with trying to balance the ground so that everyone can have a decent life and a share of the pie. I know that some will take advantage of any situation….but that is a part of life and when cheats get caught, they should be punished, but don’t deny a decent life to a person who has less of a chance in life because of circumstances he or she was born into. I hate to think of a family going broke trying to care of a child with serious medical problems or an elderly couple who cannot afford decent food for whatever reason. And those women who continue to have children with unknown fathers just to get a bigger welfare check….sure it’s wrong, but the children didn’t ask to be born and they should be given a chance in life, not confirmed to poverty. And taxes….need I say roads, airports, seaports, schools, hospitals, police and fire departments, the wonderful military that we have with all their expensive toys (this is not sarcasm), and of course, our expensive members of Congress, plus all of the government employees that are out there working for America. Sure, some aren’t worth the money they are paid, but most really try to do a good job each and every day and as a retired gov’t employee, I know I worked damn hard during the majority of my 36 years. I will let others decide if I was overpaid or not.

I will be the first to say that I think the media over hype most situations in the US, but what I am reading in the International Herald Tribune, CNN, Huffington Post and a few other things, the potential for political violence seems to be growing and I find that frightening. Differences, OK, disagreements, OK, but beyond that, take a deep breath and move along. Americans need to work together, not against each other. Enough. Have a nice Sunday.


26 comments to Sunday In Germany

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Please excuse the misspelling, dropped words and other errors….Got to take more time typing and thinking or thinking and typing…not sure which. Anyway, hugs to all – Ken

  • mimi

    Hi everyone, Hi Ken, nice to see someone is contributing! We must be the two…how do you say someone who talks a lot: big mouth?- anyway two verbal persons-in my case I earned my living talking- lol.

    So that you don’t feel lonely, here are my comments: I agree with most of what you said, except guns. Having one seldom saves anyone from an attack, and having one can lead to disastrous consequences.
    On taxes I can add this: I paid and still pay the max(fed+provincial 49 % I think) but am very glad I do so. Education is affordable(school is free, university is about 3200 thousand a year) day care for children is $7 a day, health care is free(although we will pay next year a $200 a year for a health fund, bcz population is aging and the financial crisis has diminished the resources of the gvt). Part of the car insurance is also taken care of by the government,(the part that concerns injury, handicap death etc)it is a no fault system, so you get your compensation fast and without any arguing. It costs me about $300 a year. The material part, repairs etc, is private.
    Yes, the gvt is everywhere, but we never had governements getting rich on people’s back. And of course it is not perfect, but all things considered I would not change for another system.

    hugs to all.

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Where in the hell did everyone go????

  • Bruce Thomas

    Oh, you ex-pats! We’re busy doing our taxes!

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Already did mine and got my refund….why wait til the last minute?

  • Les Arbuckle

    Dear Saigon Kids,
    I’ve been busy writing(re-writing is more accurate) my memoir about my time in Saigon as a budding teenager. Recently, I’ve been fortunate to acquire an agent, Mr. Roger Williams of the Publish or Perish Literary Agency. Mr. Williams will be seeking a publisher for my Saigon memoir as well as my Super-hero fantasy novel. That has kept me busy enough, but I also moved from Encinitas, California to Boston, Massachusetts in January.
    I generally prefer not to discuss politics because the discussions often lead to misunderstandings and hard feelings, especially in today’s overheated political climate. I will tell you that I was, for a long time, a liberal democrat, but now consider myself a conservative who leans toward the libertarian side of things. Just got older I guess…
    But telling folks around Boston, even people you’ve known for thirty years, that you’re a conservative is a risky proposition. I’ve lost too many friends to risk it again, so I just keep quiet when the conversation turns political. No one person or book changed me from a liberal to a conservative and I doubt I have the ability to persuade anyone else to my point of view.
    I’ll let you all know when the memoir comes out. Hopefully it will rocket to the top of the NY Times bestseller list and allow me to retire a rich man. (Ha!)
    Take care,
    Les Arbuckle

    • Kenneth R. Yeager

      Les, I wish you great success and luck with your book.

      As for your political views, I understand exactly how you feel. What were the three conversational no-nos – women, politics and religion, I think that’s right. Strangely enough, I was initially a Republican but after Nitwit Gingrich, I switched over…just couldn’t (and still can’t) stomach the guy. Any person who would tell his wife while she is in the hospital with cancer that he wants a divorce is not a real man in my eyes. Anyways, you are OK with me, despite…….LOL. Take care – Ken

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Ken, Senator John Edwards out trumps Newt anyday for being a creep and all around jerk. One person changed your entire political allegiance? Are you sure you were not “leaning” beforehand?

    Making a political comment is bound to get some thoughts expressed…the silence is broken. Here are my unsolicited thoughts:
    Any individual who relies on the main stream media (TV, papers or magazines, websites), either foreign or domestic, I believe seriously needs to get out and sniff the winds for themselves.

    I recall, while living in Saigon,my family laughing at a Parade magazine article which stated the people living there were afraid to get out of their homes at night and, “waited until dawn to go out and count their friends.” Personally, at that time as an American teen, I never felt unsafe while living there from 1958-60, and went out at night many times across the city for parties, the Alhambra etc. If my parents at that time had had concern for my safety, they would never have permitted that.
    This Parade article was my first experience with the honest,”unbiased” American press, and I have never forgotten the comic, untruth that was printed. It created in me a lingering cynical view of print jounalism. My Vietnamese friends also thought it was laughable at the time.
    Looking back I can see that even then, the American public was being set-up for what was to become a massive PR campaign for a war and American military presence in that country…little hints and comments and eventually folks in the States began to believe our presence was needed.
    My cynical view of news gathering organizations now includes most press, TV, websites etc. Profit drives them all, and sadly, senationalism is the key to readership and viewership.

    Anyone who believes there is violence brewing in the U.S.A. today, should consider from whence they are getting their news. There are those in the media and elsewhere who would like that thought to become pervasive, and perhaps even factual.
    I have attended several political gatherings lately, which our local, left-leaning press continues to negatively label “protests,” and “demonstrations” when in actuality, they have been the most calm, democratic assemblies and expressions of liberty and freedom by thousands of our concerned citizens. The press and television seems to be disappointed when there is no violence to report,especially after having helicopters hovering overhead to “record” the non-existent “incidents.” Three peaceful, coordinated gatherings by thousands and thousands of our city’s citizens barely make the first page of the second section, whereas a violent one no doubt would have coverage front page and center!

    Ex-Pats, I ask that you return home to ask and see for yourselves what is going on in this country, not just read biased foreign and domestic reports for your understanding.
    There is a new wind blowing and its velocity and effect remains to be seen.

    • Kenneth R. Yeager

      Hi Suellen, I quite agree that Edwards isn’t much of a man either. He certainly gets no respect from me. As for my “leaning left” and Newt Gingrich, your probably right, I suspect I was getting fed up with the way things where going at the time. And in my opinion, things are much worse now. There is no bipartisanship in the congress at this time and that is a sad state of affairs.

      As to the print, computer and TV media I will also have to agree with you…I recall an instance when I was sent to Bangkok from Phnom Penh for a non-pro courier run and when I read the paper in Bangkok, I was almost afraid to to home. The media only looks for headlines to sell the “news,” and the truth be damned. I am sure most gatherings, demonstrations or protest marches (call them what you will) are peaceful and respectful, but when I do read about all the anti-gun control people attending these things, packing a side-arm, well, that does tend to make me wary. I think that 90 percent of Americans are good, honest and respectful people, but as in everything, there is always that 10%. But I also have to say, I do fear for the USA… some of the hate that is being broadcast is really frightening.

      Everyone have a good weekend. Ken

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    CORRECTION: It was Time Magazine, not Parade. Sorry for the typo.

  • Mike Gutter

    Sorry, Ken, but I suspect that people are bogged down with their taxes. I for one do not do much posting as it is. There are not many who would know me since I was so early to the scene in Saigon (1957-1959) and a young thing at that.

    I will make only one short comment about politics and that is. It is very hard to get away from it these days. It is everywhere on TV, the radio and in the papers. I even get blasted with emails. One cannot go to the grocery store without someone saying something while in the checking out line. It doesn’t make any difference what political affiliation one has, one will be lambasted with someone else’s opinions. This is just the normal life of an election year but made worse because I live in Nevada. We have a a scandal-ridden governor and US Senator was well as a contentious race with Senate Leader Harry Reid. This makes for interesting times. Oh, that old Chinese curse in upon us here.

  • frank

    I did my taxes early and noticed that my taxes this year had decreased even though my income went up (not by much). I love it when I get a refund! But who am I to complain about taxes? I receive money from three government retirement programs and I’m on three government health care systems. My wife and I pay $192.86 a month, seldom pay a co-pay, our medications are 0 to $3.00 a month, and we have free dental insurance. I wish my kids and grand-kids had the same.
    By the way, speaking of the “News”…Mimi, I wish I could have viewed your show. I am sure I’d been a great follower. Who knows, maybe then I would have learned French.

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    How do you all do it???
    If we could retire, perhaps our taxes would go down, too. As it is, we made about the same as last year and paid three times as much as before, and my husband is currently unemployed, as a result of company-downsizing due to the economy. We so look forward to what next year will bring for our tax situation, and health care options(LOL).
    Ken, you have peaked my curiouslity. I cannot fathom what actual gathering has taken place with folks packing sidearms. This was a published report? and by whom?
    Since 9/11 we cannot go to a professional baseball game, symphony concert or enter a local high school without going through a metal detector and often a handbag check.

    At the recent rally I attended, even so much as a little( 3 in.) pocketknife was confiscated. Men walking back to their cars were kindly telling others who were about to enter the venue, that this was the case so that others would not also have to walk back to their cars from the check-in area to store their pocketknives. At the end of the rally, there were many pocketknives on the check-in curb for folks to reclaim. And those ever-dangerous umbrellas were also confiscated, as it threatened rain that evening and many folks brought theirs with them. Afterward, they were also laid out for reclaiming.
    I cannot imagine what gathering was reported and in what media, where guns were being packed, unless it is the police. This is almost an impossibility these days no matter where and who is assembled. In fact, tragically, when the pro-Islamic Army Dr. at Ft. Hood Texas began firing at soldiers on the post last Fall, it was only the local police responders who were able to return fire, as not One Army Soldier in the entire deployment center where the shooting began was carrying a weapon. They were all completely defenseless against this crazy man shooting away at them.No soldier is allowed to carry a weapon.
    Down on the border, the local sheriff is telling the farmers to carry guns.There have been reports of 600 deaths(many beheadings as well as shootings) since January, due to drug smugglers, and it has gotten very dangerous there. The drug cartel danger has also spread 800 miles away to our metropolitan area recently. Texas is still the Old West in many respects. Permits for concealed handguns has risen dramatically this year…but they are not usually taken to rally or assemblies, only deadly pocketknives and umbrellas!
    Have a good weekend. Always enjoy reading your thoughts, Ken. Though we all came from different backgrounds and places, and have gone down different roads from Saigon days, the smell of nuk mam and the VietNam experience binds us in special ways.I shall always respect the differences. Looking forward to Les’ book, and Elvera’s documentary.

    • Kenneth R. Yeager

      Well, as you know, I am not in the U.S. so I do have to fall back on what I read. I have no personal observations or reports from friends. But I have read that at these Tea Bagger rallies, guns have been seen on the hips of some of the participants and of course, numerous states now allow persons to carry weapons both concealed and openly. Perhaps the news reports are hyped, but if they are exaggerated, then I am hopeful and relieved. I would hate to think that guns are becoming as common as belts and wallets.

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Les, the winds of change are blowing in Boston, too. When my daughter and son-in-law moved to Boston Jan. 2009, we laughed about them being the only Republicans in the entire state. As it turned out, a large majority of her office leans right, and they openly discuss politics without fear of derision or repercussion.
    Comforting thought.
    Enough politics for now. Everyone, I wish you could come to Texas this Spring to see the bluebonnets. They are the prettiest they have been in several years, blanketing the hill-country fields of the Lone Star State in deepest blue. Breathtaking. I am not a native, but got here as quickly as I could, and then made sure my three children were born here! The sight of the bluebonnets makes you proud to be a TEXAN.

  • frank

    Actually for the majority of Americans, 2009 had the 2nd lowest tax burden in the last 50 years. Of course with a bad economy…since 2007…this and other factors increase the deficit. But how much does that matter when the U.S. has only balanced the budget five times in the lifetime of a Saigon kid…1956-57, 1968-69 (this one bothered me because I was not making much money in the Marine Corps at the time. I had to pay $12.00 more than I had already had paid…to help pay for the war that I’d just come out of! Thanks a lot LBJ!!) and three years in the 1990’s. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” Who said if you could keep people in fear and keep them in a constant war, you can control them?
    Guns! I have never counted all the guns I own. I suspect I have somewhere between 20 to 30 of them. About three years ago I locked them all up and have not looked at them since. (The only thing I’ve noticed is a slight shrinkage! lol !!!)
    In 1971 it was estimated that an average Montana House hold had five guns. I wonder if that number has increased. I have a friend that loves guns. He collects them, he shoots them, he instructs people how to use the. About six or so years ago, a terrible person hurt my youngest daughter. My friend Dan, who was concerned about me, (he was in Berlin in August 1961 and was later a sniper in S.E. Asia) took me out into the desert just east of Tombstone. He had an M-1 carbine. I shot that weapon for about two hours and reflected and reminisced on the smell of cordite! I love that smell as much as I like the smell of Hopi’s gun oil. I felt so much better as the afternoon wore on!
    Should Manhattan, Montana have the same gun laws as Manhattan, New York?
    A few weeks ago, Arizona legislators pasted a law that you can carry a gun into a bar, unless there is a sign posted “no guns allowed”. Yesterday, another gun law was passed that in Arizona anyone over 18 years of age can have a concealed weapon without a permit. You see here in Arizona we need a gun to protect us from the people that have a gun.
    The first year I taught school was in the most southeast town in Arizona (border town of Douglas), One day in class the topic of guns came up. A little “gang banger” made the comment that he needed a gun to protect himself.. That evening, while driving home, I thought to myself that he was the first person that I’d ever met that was probably saying the truth about guns and himself.
    Fort Hood? Almost every time I was at Ft. Hood I carried a 45 in a shoulder holster with no ammo (never liked the 9mm). For decades, Military personnel, on a military reservation, have not been allowed to carry ammunition unless they were on special duty or on a “live fire exercise” (or legally hunting). With the all volunteer force, in order to keep combat effective with less folks, most security (including many other jobs) has been turned over to the private sector…something that we used call a “rent a cop”. Thus soldiers are just people!
    Who is worse? I guess one difference between Edwards and Gingrich is that Edwards is out and finished while Gingrich is still an icon and a player in politics.
    Pro Islamic? Some of my favorite people are of the Islamic faith. I find that their concerns are like mine. Health, kids and grandkids, success, jobs; family life, etc. are their concerns. . Now that guy at Ft. Hood…. he is a wacko. Just like Timothy Mc Veigh was … not a Pro-Christain-ic, but also a terrible wacko in my book!

    Ah yes the days when we could carry a knife to school and leave a gun in the car because we were going to hunt right after the bell. I tell students that when I was a teenager, we were more responsible then what kids are today!! lol Remember when everyone was so willing to give up their rights for security after nine eleven (Thanks a lot Bin Laden!). Once you accept thing like the Patriot Act there is no going back. I think that when people see other people as potentially evil, they want laws that control people. Perhaps if people saw others as basically good, they wish to have laws that help people! Gosh, that sounds so Jefferson like!

    Today, it was about 80 degrees in our high desert recluse. We worked mostly in the garden.. well I must admit that I sat much of the time in a lawn chair with a scotch and water (connecting with some of my ancestors) and telling Sue how nice it all looked! Frank

    • Kenneth R. Yeager

      This is a great post and I agree with pretty much everything Frank wrote. Well thought out, humorous and to the point. Thanks, Frank

      Wow, I guess I sort of stirred up a pot of something…keep it coming folks.

      Weather is good and I will hit the road after lunch. Have good Sunday. Ken

  • frank

    Thanks a lot Ken Yeager!

  • frank

    Another law just passed in Arizona…”Must have an I.D. on you at all times or you can be arrested”! I think it is punitive!!! Who are they after? … the Irish? The Texans? … But who am I to say..yours truly… just six pack charlie!!!

  • brooks toland kasson

    i wonder where in texas do you live, suellen? i’m in austin.
    btw, politics aside, i am still believing i met a jane t. flowers early on in my time in saigon (60-62). no one else seems to remember her. i think her dad must have been a civilian, and she was from bowling green, ky. anyone but me remember meeting her?
    hi, kenny.

    • Kenneth R. Yeager

      Ahh, Brooksie, you are still among the living. Glad to see your short post. How about a few more contributions to the blog….talk about your art, anything. Ken(ny)

    • Brooksie – Maybe you are remembering Mary Jane Flowers who was inseparable from Alice B. Toklas whose parents had the bakery with those tasty brownies known for there magical powers to create – imaginary little friends – LOL – 🙂

  • candice busa

    I was wondering if anyone knows where Barbara Brady(sp)is or where to contact her??? Her father was a Pan American pilot and she was in Saigon around 1962,63,maybe 64. She was at the American theater when it was bombed. Thanks for any help. candice busa

  • brooks toland kasson

    it seems my search for jane t. flowers may indeed be a puff of smoke. i swear, i went over to her house on the river side of the palace in l960 and she taught me about the beat poets.
    i loved her handwriting, too….ah, those were exotic times.
    so, elvera, how is your filming coming on?
    and, does anyone have paul christensen’s address, please?

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