Monday, June 26, 2006

Persons of the highest courage and conscience.

"Those in the military who dissent and resist what they know are illegal actions of the Bush administration are persons of the highest courage and conscience."

This quote came from an article written by Ann Wright, a 29 year Army and Army Reserves veteran. The article is being distributed by Truthout and can be found at:

I recommend you read the article. I wish all young Americans had the opportunity to witness first-hand the illegal actions of the Bush administration regarding Iraq. That is why I favor a universal draft for everyone in their late teens and twenties, without any loopholes. All young adults, both men and women, need to see for themselves.

That's what was wrong in the Vietnam War. The educated youth of that period did not witness the lies and mistakes made by LBJ and Robert McNamara because loopholes in the Selective Service System enabled them to opt out. People like Bush and Cheney opted out during the sixties, put their selfish interests first, before the interests of their country and countrymen.

And now these selfish men are in charge. They didn't care how many Americans died in Vietnam as long as it wasn't them. The same was true for Bill Clinton. And now they don't care if Pfc. Thomas Tucker and
Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, who were tortured and killed last week in Iraq, are dead. As long as it isn't one of their children or children of their friends and associates.

There are going to be worldwide repercussions because of the illegal actions and lying by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. And it is going to be those in their late teens and twenties that will be on the front lines of dealing with them. ---Walter Haan,

Sunday, June 25, 2006

They are ours and I mourn them.

This past week the al-Qaida-led Mujahedeen Shura Council claimed responsibility for the murders of Pfc. Thomas Tucker (left) and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca (right) in Iraq. They had been tortured.

They are ours and I mourn them. As is true for all of us, these two young men had hopes and dreams for prosperous and happy futures with their families.

When I was in the Army 40 years ago, I knew young men just like them. I WAS a young man just like them. And if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how angry I am about Pfc. Tucker's and Pfc. Menchaca's deaths. And you know who I blame for putting them in harm's way.--Walter Haan,

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fathers' Day

Bennett Cerf (1898-1971), was an author of limericks and humor in the first half of the 20th century, a founder of The Modern Library and its more famous offshoot, Random House, and a panelist on the 1950s-60s TV show, What's My Line.

He acquired The Modern Library with Donald Klopfer in 1925, providing the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. He was a major figure of American publishing for more than four decades.

So why am I mentioning him on Fathers' Day?

During the Vietnam War, one of Cerf's sons managed to not be drafted by becoming a teacher in a New York City grammar school. He taught mostly Hispanic children in kindergarten classes, according to a New York Times article I read in 1967. I went ballistic when I read it and am still upset by it almost 40 years later.

Why am I upset? The article reported that many of the children in the younger Cerf's classroom called him daddy because so many of their fathers were in Vietnam. These kids missed their fathers.

The draft of the 60s and 70s was rife with loopholes so that well connected, educated men could avoid serving. In my Signal Corps company in 1965-66, out of 150 enlisted men, only one was a college graduate. Me.

Today, the National Guard has replaced the draft as a "Selective Service" pool of men that the government draws upon to fight its unpopular war in Iraq. The children of Guardsmen serving in Iraq and Afghanistan would surely have loved having their fathers home today.

But our ruling clique, the oligarchy that runs the United States, has made sure again that anyone with power and influence or education and connections does not have to serve in the military.

Until there is a Selective Service in this nation that mandates universal service in our military, without loopholes, the USA will never be a true democracy. Happy Fathers' Day.---Walter Haan,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Books. They don't mean anything.

I accidently discovered the movie Wonder Boys recently on DVD. It's a 2000 film starring Michael Douglas, Tobey MaGuire, Frances McDormand and Robert Downey, Jr. It's a very funny film about writing and book publishing.

The Michael Douglas character, author of a successful book seven years ago now struggling with his second book, mumbles to a gifted young writer played by Tobey MaGuire:

"Most people don't think and if they do, it's not about writing. Books. They don't mean anything. Not to anybody, not anymore."

As a book publisher, I recognize that there is some truth in those lines. Steve Kloves wrote the screenplay based on a novel by Michael Chabon.---Walter Haan,

Friday, June 09, 2006

TV drama The Shield: Are you happy now, George Bush?

Last Tuesday, June 6th, I was watching Rescue Me, a funny and dark Denis Leary show on FX. In the middle, among the commercials, they had a promo for the upcoming last season of The Shield: "Coming soon."

The promo showed all the main characters lurking in a darkened underpass next to a dead body in a car. It was one of the good guys, or reasonably good, compared to the rest of the crowd on that show.

Words were printed on the screen and it all reminded me of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their ilk:

"Viewer discretion advised.

"When everyone's dirty.

"When everyone's desperate.

"When everyone's guilty.

Voice over: "Are you happy now, Vic Mackey?

"No one rests in peace."

Are you happy now, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld? Over 2,400 of our people are dead because of your lies. Iraq is an even worse disaster because of you.

Millions of people are not resting in peace. The middle class in Iraq is fleeing for their lives. American families are in anguish because of lost sons, husbands, brothers, daughters or afraid they will soon lose a son, husband, brother, daughter.

And today (June 9th) is Robert McNamara's birthday. He is 90. You remember McNamara. He's the Rumsfeld of the sixties who lied about our "upcoming victory" over the North Vietnamese. But he secretly knew we hadn't a prayer of winning. He has since admitted it! Over 58,000 names on The Wall. But he's still around, prospering.

That'll be our future. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld will still be around years from now. Prospering. Making money in oil.

But for now, they're desperate. They're trying to convince us that the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will lead to a victory and a democratic Iraq. Yah, right.

They're guilty as hell.

Are you happy now, George Bush?
--Walter Haan,

Monday, June 05, 2006

For Fathers' Day: The Grasshopper That Roared

Many of us remember the fictional 1959 comedy movie, The Mouse That Roared, starring Peter Sellers. Now there’s a true story of Piper Cubs as artillery spotter planes during World War II in a book entitled The Grasshopper That Roared.

Can you imagine going into combat at 70 miles per hour in an unarmed, unarmored, 65 horsepower fabric covered Piper Cub? Believe it or not, the Cub has been called “The Most Lethal Warplane in the World,” and its nickname was The Grasshopper.

The name “Grasshopper” originated during the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers. William T. Piper, owner of the Piper Aircraft Company, loaned the army several Cubs and pilots as an experiment to determine if they could be employed for air observation. The name stuck.

For all the guys interested in military aviation and the Piper Cub in military use in particular, Southfarm Press ( is offering for Fathers’ Day a two books-for-the-price-of-one sale. The two books are:

The Grasshopper That Roared by Jean L. Chase (ISBN: 0-913337-54-4; 256 pages; 2005; $30), and

Janey: A Little Plane in a Big War by Alfred W. Schultz (ISBN: 0-913337-31-5; 288 pages; 1998; $30)

Both hard cover books are offered for a total of $30 together plus shipping. The publisher will gift wrap the books also, and guarantees delivery by Fathers’ Day June 18th if the paid order is received at by noon on June 14th.

The Grasshopper That Roars is about the war in the Pacific and Janey is about the war in the European Theatre. Grasshopper recounts Chase’s battles in New Guinea and the Philippines. He and his Cub were part of McArthur’s “return” to the islands. At one point, Chase emptied a Thompson machine gun from the back seat of his Piper Cub on a Japanese outpost that had had the audacity to fire on another Cub.

Janey was the longest lasting Piper Cub of World War. It was landed on the shores of North Africa in November 1942 and Schultz and Janey fought their way across North Africa into Sicily, Italy southern France and Germany. George Patton was a passenger in Janey.

Jean L. Chase, who resides in Portland, Oregon, writes affectionately about the Piper Cub as a military weapon:

"The aircraft flown in World War II (L-4s and L-5s) were the last of the old fabric and dope aircraft flown in combat. There may even have been a few still around during the first part of the Korean War.

"Flying the Piper Cubs L-4s (the military version of the J-3 Cub) and the Stinson Sentinel (L-5s) in and out of short narrow strips and farmer's fields a pilot had better know the crop being grown in the field where he intended to land. For example, a cut wheat field would probably be too soft, but an alfalfa field would be fine if the crop was not too high. A high drag followed by a low drag across the field told one if a landing could be made and then “gave it a go.” Yes, we broke a few props, cracked up a few planes, and lost some pilots. By the way, pilots had to watch those darned cows. Some would try to eat the fabric off our Cubs.

"Those old crates would burn in about two minutes if they caught on fire. There was no armor plate, nothing but a cushion and a little fabric between you and the machine gun bullets whizzing up from the ground. Like an old instructor at Fort Sill told his students, “They'll fly low and they’ll fly slow, but they’ll just barely kill ya.”

"It is hard to believe now, but the Piper Cub cost the U. S. Government only $2,600.00 a copy. It weighed 1,200 pounds and was powered by a 65 horsepower continental engine. The book said it would cruise at 75 mph.

"I never could get mine over about 65 mph at cruising speed with two people and a heavy tactical radio. I liked going 75-mph with just me and no added equipment.

"If you encountered bad weather we had no sophisticated electronic navigation or “let-down” equipment to get you out of trouble. Furthermore, in flight training, night flying was not taught. Sometimes pilots had to use their ingenuity to get out of a bad situation.

"One pilot was caught in a snowstorm while flying over the English countryside. Snow was falling so hard he had no forward visibility and he could only see the ground by looking out of the side windows. Flying at an altitude of only 30 or 40 feet he knew he had to land before he hit a house, a tree or some wires. The wind was blowing about 30 knots. He would cross a field that looked long enough to land but by the time he turned downwind he would loose sight of it in the turn.

"His solution: He turned down wind, as he crossed a field that looked long enough. He then started to count fence lines. When he had counted five fence lines he reversed his course into the wind and counted fence lines backwards, five, four, three, two, and one. At one he cut the throttle and landed hoping it was the field he had selected. We truly flew by the seat of our pants.

"I was very pleased to see Army Aviation receive some credit in the Persian Gulf War and Iraqi War. The advances in technology, equipment and firepower have been tremendous. As an old operational pilot, many of the concepts which are standard procedures today were kicked around in operations tents in the Pacific and Europe during World War II. This was before we were taught or had the equipment to fly instruments.

"The arming of Piper Cubs was considered and even tried. Charley Carpenter in North Africa killed five enemy tanks with three bazookas mounted on each of the wing struts of his Piper Cub. After that, he became famous throughout the army, at least among the pilots, as “Bazooka Charley.”

"A couple of aircraft 30 caliber machine guns were salvaged from a crashed SBD dive-bomber. An attempt was made by my crew to mount them on my Cub. We couldn’t quite figure out how to rig them without the danger of a gun coming loose and shooting down my own Cub with me in it!

"Then there is the story about dropping hand grenades from Cubs. An observer, in the rear cockpit of a Cub, pulled the pin on a grenade and accidentally dropped it on the floor. The pilot looked back and all he could see was a behind and elbows as the observer scrambled to recover the grenade and dump it overboard before it exploded.

"I preferred to destroy targets by directing artillery fire from the air. The Piper Cub could see the target from the air and therefore directed most of the observed artillery fire in the Pacific and European Theatres during World War II. Failure to develop and use air observation could have cost us more casualties and prolonged the war."

The Southfarm Press offer for the two Grasshopper and Janey books for the price of one is only available at

Friday, June 02, 2006


I'm kinda speechless about Haditha. I know, as a historian, that I should be used to this sort of thing. The following is excerpted from a short book I'm publishing in July, Blacks, Indians & Women in America's War for Independence by Dudley C Gould (ISBN: 0-913337-57-9):

"Indians were not alone in committing outrages. Four companies of Dan Morgan’s wild riflemen with Sullivan’s column captured one Oneida Indian community, part of the Six Nations in the Finger Lake district of central New York. These Virginia Long Knives added disgust to the terror of their name by gang-raping and slitting the throats of helpless squaws, young and old. A Lieutenant William Barton of the 1st New Jersey recorded proudly in his diary how Indians were tortured for hours, being peeled alive for their skin to make boot legs.

"In Prince Philip’s War in 1675, Reverend Solomon Stoddard of Northhampton, Massachusetts, suggested that English hunt American natives with “dogs, as they do bears and wolves,” as the Spaniards did, as slave-owners hunted their runaway property, and as they did all along in Virginia."

Haditha, My Lai....

Don't you sometimes wish that war was legally banned? I wouldn't mind being put out of business because there were no more war stories to publish and no market for them.--Walter Haan,