Heavily Armed on the 4th of July

On the evening before the 4th of July this year someone set off some M80s or Cherry bombs, and it sounded like my house was the target. After slipping from window to window and carefully looking out, I left the house and checked the perimeter of my property looking for any signs of damage. While I was out staying in the shadows, there was no one in sight. The street was empty, and I didn’t find any damage or evidence of the explosives I’d heard that rattled my windows.

I went back inside, locked up, and later that night, when I left my home office after 8:00 pm, I took my loaded shogun with me to the family room where I watched a DVD.

All the noisy, flashy fireworks are a perfect cover for criminals and crazies to act, and that’s why on July 4th, I’m ready to fight. I slipped a large canister of pepper spray in my shirt pocket, hid a loaded pistol under a pillow and carried the shotgun to the family room with me to continue watching that DVD I started the night before.

With the 4th of July explosions popping off lighting the sky, every 10 minutes, I put the DVD on hold and slipped from room to room to peak out windows and make sure nothing suspicious was going on outside.  Even though there were plenty of explosions and flashy fireworks in the distance, I never saw anyone outside of the house, on the street, or across the street, but I stayed alert and ready anyway. To most combat vets with PTSD, when you relax and think everything is okay, that’s when the shit will hit the fan so you never relax.

Each window and door in my house has four locks. The last two locks can only be activated inside the house. No key will unlock them from outside. In fact, the workers that installed the new windows soon after I bought the house told me that one of my self-made locks was called a Deadman, because the simple, homemade device made it difficult for firemen to get in the house to save me.

I still remember my reply. “The threat of dying in a house fire doesn’t cause me to lose sleep. But the thought of some punk breaking into my house and me not being ready because I didn’t hear them does. If I know it is easy for someone to get inside my house without hearing them, I will be awake all night listening to every sound. I wanted to make sure that anyone breaking into my house had to make a lot of noise to do it and alert me. If a fire breaks out and kills me, too bad.”  I think that way because of the odds of a fire vs. a break-in.

According to FEMA, in 2010 there were 362,100 residential fires in the United States while there are about 131 million housing units.  That means the odds of my house catching fire are about a quarter of one percent.  But according to A Secure Life.com, “Data from the FBI 2012 crime report shows that we can expect one in every thirty-six homes in the United States to be burglarized this year (every year).”  Those odds are more than 3-percent or 12x the risk of a house fire.

I’m a combat vet. I live with the fight or flight response of PTSD, and I have no intention to run away. That leaves me with one choice, to fight. If someone breaks in my house while I’m home, one of us is going to die and I plan on it not being me.

It wasn’t always this way. I was married for forty years and to protect my wife and family from the flashbacks, caused by the combat memories that followed me home from the war, I kept my firearms locked away and lost a lot of sleep. Now that I’m on my own, the weapons are out when I’m home, and I sleep better knowing the house is sealed – something I had no control over when I was married. What is a vet to do when the wife can’t sleep unless she leaves the bedroom window open, and she sometimes wakes up and leaves the house on hot nights to get some cool air, but forgets to lock the front door when she returns?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

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The Renovation

What does a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam vet do with his life after he retires from teaching in the public schools for thirty years? He buys an abused house and renovates it.

Lloyd Lofthouse

After sixteen years of marriage to Anchee, we divorced in early 2015. It wasn’t easy going public on my blog about the divorce. Anchee is the best woman I’ve ever known, and there will be no details beyond this.

Anchee and I remain friends, and she still cooks me great tasting pies without adding any sugar. Before I wrote this post, I had a slice of one of her apple pies for my dinner. Anchee’s pies don’t include sugar and they come with a lot of other healthy ingredients than just fruit. Imagine a fruit pie that, I think, tastes great and is a nutritious meal too. In fact, she’s in China now and I’m driving to her house once a week to water her yard for her. She has a big yard and many trees. I’ve written about her house on this Blog before when we were still married.

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Megan Leavey and her dog Rex, Semper Fi – Once a Marine, Always a Marine

I saw a film today, Wednesday June 14, 2017, based on the true story of a U.S. Marine and her dog.  While watching the film, I was with her every step of her journey. The first part of the film shows a young American that has lost her way due to the death of a close friend. Her family is dysfunctional and poor just like mine was. I identified with her reason for joining the Marines and that decision straightened her life out like it did for me.  When she reached boot camp and I watched her expression and body language as the DI’s tore into her and the other recruits. I laughed because that was me in 1965 at MCRD. Leavey went through boot camp at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

When Megan is asked in the film why she joined, she said, “To get away from my life.” I couldn’t have said it better.

But after book camp, she was still struggling to find a balance in her life, and that got her in trouble leading her to the shit detail that introduced her to the Marine Corps infantry bomb dog program and Rex.

The battle scenes in Iraq were intense, and I was there with her every step of the way.

After she leaves the Marine Corps, she finds herself lost again until she takes up the struggle to adopt and save the life of Sergeant Rex, her combat dog, who had been retired and was scheduled for euthanasia.

After Vietnam (1966) and the Marines (1968), it took me years to find that balance. It’s not an easy journey.

Since it isn’t a secret that she was reunited with Rex, who taught her what love is, I’m going to admit that my eyes got misty while watching this part of the film. If you see the film, I suggest that you take some tissues.

Megan Leavey grew up in Valley Cottage, New York. She enlisted in the Marines in 2003 and after boot camp was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, where she was paired with military working dog Rex. They served together on two deployments in Iraq. They were first deployed to Fallujah in 2005, and then to Ramadi in 2006, where they were both wounded by an improvised explosive device. Leavey was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a “V” device denoting heroism in combat.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

Trump’s Great Military Defeat

Trump lied when he said he won the popular vote instead of Clinton based on his allegations of voter fraud without any proof. He did not win the popular vote.

Trump lied about the crowd that came to his inauguration. He said it was the biggest in history. It wasn’t.

Trump lied that he had the biggest Electoral College win in U.S. History. He didn’t. Out of 56 elections, Trump’s rank was #46.

Trump also lied about the military vote when he claimed that he won that.

But Trump wasn’t alone believing that the military vote supported him over Clinton. For instance, AOL News reported that US veterans voted 2-to-1 for Donald Trump. Brietbart, a fake media outlet of the Alt-Right lying, misinformation machine, also alleged that veterans voted in ‘Record Numbers’ for Trump. Another conservative media source, Newsmax, also alleged that Troops Backed Trump By 3-to-1 Margin over Clinton.

They were all wrong!

To be fair, this view was so widespread that even Bill Moyers asked Why do Veterans Support Donald Trump?

When I searched Goggle for the actual numbers, I didn’t find any. All of the claims I found were based on polls and opinions, and we know how wrong they can be.

To find an answer, I had to dig deeper and this is what I discovered.

There are two categories of U.S. military veterans. There are combat veterans and non-combat vets. Trump won the combat vet vote, but he lost the non-combat vets, the troops that have jobs in the military that support combat vets.

The exit poll results tell that story. CNN.com reported that 34% of (combat) veterans voted for Clinton and 60-percent for Trump.  But 50-percent of non-combat veterans voted for Clinton and only 44-percent for Trump.

How many troops (non-combat vets) are there? The answer I found was 7.  That means for every combat vet, there were/are seven back at a base camp, stationed in Europe or somewhere else in the world, or even in the U.S. in support roles.

In 2012, Time Magazine asked “Does the Military Vote Really Lean Republican?” The nation’s 24 million troops and veterans account for about 10% of the nation’s potential voters, but they’re not the monolithic bloc many believe.

Crunching the numbers:

123,724,157 Americans voted in 2016 (not counting votes for 3rd party candidates). If ten percent of the voters were active troops or inactive veterans, then about 12.4 million represents the military vote. If we divide the military pie into 8 slices, the slice that represents combat vets is about 1.55 million troops, but the other seven slices total 10.199 million troops that served in non-combat positions.

  • Combat vets who voted for Trump = 930k
  • Combat vets that voted for Clinton = 620k
  • Non-Combat vets/troops that voted for Trump = 4.774 million
  • Non-Combat vets/troops that voted for Clinton = 5.425 million

Total for Trump = 5,704,000
Total for Clinton = 6,045,000

That means Clinton won the military vote by 341,000.

In addition, I discovered through an Open Secrets report that Members of the military gave three times as much money to Clinton than Trump.

Open Secrets said, “Active and retired members of the military have been showing far more support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton than for her Republican rival, at least as measured by the checks they’ve written to her campaign.”

Eighty percent of the contributions from retired military went to Clinton, and Seventy-two percent of contributions from active military went to Clinton.

Then there is the fact that Clinton had the support of more retired generals and admirals (110) than Trump’s 88, and Clinton’s list had better reputations.

The Daily Beast reported on The Disgraced and Little-Known Generals Backing Donald Trump. “Among the 88 (retired) generals and admirals who endorsed Donald Trump on Tuesday was a commander who once reportedly demanded President Obama produce his birth certificate, an Air Force general who was reprimanded for his role in a deadly 1996 crash, four commanders who were present at one of the biggest scandals in Navy history, and a special forces general known for spilling secrets and trying to turn military campaigns into religious crusades.”

It’s clear  that the Trump does not have a mandate to ‘drain any swamps’, a phrase that is misleading code for flushing the federal government down a toilet after using the U.S. Constitution to wipe his ass and then flush that document away too.


Did you know that Trump is on the Top 10 list of famous draft dodgers? Do you really want this serial liar as the commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in the world?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Current Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) and a Clueless Donald Trump

Did Donald Trump know about plans to drop one MOAB in Afghanistan?  The answer is no, but after the bomb was dropped the malignant narcissist in the White House saw his approval rating go up.

The UK’s Independent reported, “Pentagon officials said (general) Gen Nicholson didn’t need and didn’t request President Donald Trump’s approval before using MOAB.”

What about BlU-82, also known as the Daisy Cutter that was used in Vietnam and years later in Afghanistan in the Tora Bora Region? Was the Daily Cutter the mother of all conventional bombs before MOAB?  The answer is no. Read on to discover the explanation.

MOAB weighs 21,600 pounds. The Daily Cutter (BLU-82) weighed 15,000 pounds and was also dropped by MC-130 aircraft.

BLU-82 was used extensively in Vietnam. For instance, during Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971, twenty-five BLU-82s were dropped on NVA and Pathet Lao Forces in Laos. That is about 375,000 pounds or 17x one MOAB.

More operations using BLU-82 followed.  The last BLU-82 was dropped in July 2008 at a Utah Test and Training Range.

In addition, another eleven BLU-82s were dropped in five night missions during the 1991 Gulf War adding up to another 165,000 pounds, almost 8x MOAB.

Then the U.S. Air Force dropped several BLU-82s during a campaign to destroy Taliban and al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan to kill and demoralize personnel and to destroy underground and cave complexes. American forces began using BLU-82 in November 2001 and again a month later during the Battle of Tora Bora.

It was the success of BLU-82 that led to the decision to develop the MOAB.

What about the impact of smaller bombs? During the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force sent B-52s on well over 10,000 bombing raids. A typical mission delivered 168 tons (336,000 pounds) of ordnance on target, inundating an area 1.5 by 0.5 miles with an explosive force equivalent to 10 – 17 MOABs.

Since 2003, fifteen MOABs have been manufactured at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Oklahoma.

How did the Malignant Narcissist in the White House, Donald Trump, get credit for dropping one big bomb he knew nothing about until after the blast?  The answer is good misleading public relations and/or more lying propaganda.

Oh, and worth noting, during World War II, the UK’s Royal Air Force dropped FORTY-TWO Grand Slam Bombs that weighed 22,000 pounds each. Then after World War II, the United States developed the T-12 Cloudmaker that weighed 44,000 pounds, much larger than MOAB or the Grand Slam, but the Cloudmaker was never used.

Dropping another big bomb was really no big deal once we learn about the history of the UK’s Grand Slam, and America’s Cloudmaker and BLU-82.  Trump does not deserve any credit for the use of MOAB.

Did you know that Donald Trump went out of his way to avoid serving in Vietnam, and the malignant narcissist called sleeping around (having lots of sex with different women) and avoiding STD’s his “Personal Vietnam”?   – New York Times and The Hill

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

 

 

What is the Lying Malignant Narcissist Planning for the VA Medical System?

The popular-vote loser and allegedly illegitimate President Donald Trump wants to privatize the Veterans Administration. The Liar-in-Chief claims that vets are not getting the medical care they deserve.

But Bill Moyers.com reports, “Scamming US Veterans: Efforts to Privatize Veterans Administration’s Health System … Evidence suggests that a privatized system would make worse any problems veterans now face in getting care — and it is likely to cost more money.”

The VA currently has 168 VA Medical Centers (hospitals) and 1,053 outpatient sites.

How much do you think the VA infrastructure is worth – all those hospitals and clinics that were built with public funds over the last century – Trillions?

Just one of the 168 VA hospitals, the one in Palo Alto, has over 800 beds, including three nursing homes and a 100-bed homeless domiciliary – all to serve more than 67,000 enrolled Veterans.  Although the cost of building a hospital varies depending on where you live, an answer on Quora estimated the cost is about $1.5 million per bed. If accurate, the VA hospital in Palo Alto is worth about $12 billion.

If one VA hospital is worth about $12 billion, what are all of them worth?

Some states are already giving, yes giving – not selling, public schools and the property to private sector, for profit, corporate charters and those charters, when they go out of business, and many close their doors annually, can sell that property resulting in a 100-percent profit because that land and the buildings were free. If the state wants that school back that taxpayers already paid for, then it has to be paid for again with public funds.

I’m a woodworker. That’s my hobby. Last summer on a Saturday, even with all my safety gear (goggles, Hepa filter mask, ear protection, gloves) I still ended up with a wood-chip embedded under my left eye lid and that chip was scratching the surface of my eye.  When I called the VA’s 24/7 nurse, I was told that there was a high risk of losing vision in that eye. She said, “Get to a hospital emergency center as soon as possible.”

My vision was blurred and the pain was intense.  The closest hospital emergency room was at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, and my VA medical coverage might not cover the cost of that visit.

It cost my former sister-in-law several thousand dollars when her youngest son had a severe asthma attack, and she didn’t have health insurance.

“For patients without health insurance, an emergency room visit typically costs from $150 – $3,000 or more, depending on the severity of the condition and what diagnostic tests and treatment are performed. In some cases, especially where critical care is required and/or a procedure or surgery is performed, the cost could reach $20,000 or more. “ – CostHelper.com

I couldn’t risk it but I couldn’t drive, so I asked a friend to drive me to the VA hospital in Palo Alto, California where the VA has a 24/7 emergency medical center. That VA hospital is huge.

After arriving, I didn’t have to wait long before I was seen by two doctors who then referred me to a specialist, a doctor on call from the Stanford University’s Medical Center. The Stanford doctor drove to me at the VA hospital and saved my eye.

I discovered, when possible, the VA has partnered with many private sector and university hospitals to make sure vets get the care they need. After all, The Washington Post reports there is a shortage of primary care physicians in the United States, and it’s going to get worse.

In any huge system there is going to be problems, but my experience with the VA is that the problems are few compared to the private sector where I had my medical care for decades before I retired from teaching and turned to the VA for medical care.

And U.S. News.com reports, “Medical Errors Are Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.”

“People don’t just die from heart attacks and bacteria, they die from system-wide failings and poorly coordinated care,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “It’s medical care gone awry.”

Turning the nation’s vets over to the private sector, for profit medical care system is not the solution to any problems the VA medical system has.

In fact, thanks to the VA’s innovative computer information system, most of the mistakes that cause deaths outside of the VA do not happen there.

From the Bill Moyers piece (link above): “The key point was that the VA system effectively tracks patients through their various contacts with doctors and other health care professionals.”

“This reduces the likelihood that they will get unneeded treatment, but more importantly, ensures that the patient’s doctors are aware of the other treatments their patient is receiving. A major problem for patients seeing multiple doctors is that none of them may have full knowledge of the set of conditions afflicting the patient or the drugs they might be taking. By keeping a central system and having a general practitioner assigned to oversee the patient’s care, the VA system minimizes this source of mistakes. In fact, this model is so successful that most providers have tried to move in the same direction in recent years.”

The VA also negotiates the cost of drugs with the private-sector, for-profit drug industry. The Los Angeles Times reports, “the VA pays 40% less for drugs than Medicare.”  In fact, if Trump and/or Congress allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices too, the savings could be about $30 billion annually.

Back to Bill Moyers: “Nonetheless, as Alicia Mundy points out in a recent Washington Monthly piece, the VA system still did quite well by most measures. An analysis done for the VA in 2010 found that nearly all the studies comparing the quality of VA care with its counterparts in the private and public sector found that the VA provided care that was as good or better than what was available in its competitors.”

The New York Review of Books says, “Privatization means that a public service is taken over by a for-profit business, whose highest goal is profit. Investors expect a profit when a business moves into a new venture. The new corporation operating the hospital or the prison or the fire department (or the school) cuts costs by every means to increase profits. …

“For the past fifteen years, the nation’s public schools have been a prime target for privatization. Unbeknownst to the public, those who would privatize the public schools call themselves ‘reformers’ to disguise their goal. Who could be opposed to ‘reform’? These days, those who call themselves ‘education reformers’ are likely to be hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs, and billionaires, not educators. The ‘reform’ movement loudly proclaims the failure of American public education and seeks to turn public dollars over to entrepreneurs, corporate chains, mom-and-pop operations, religious organizations, and almost anyone else who wants to open a school.”

It’s already happening to our public schools; it can happen to the Veterans Administration too. I don’t want some greedy SOB like Donald Trump to destroy the quality of VA medical care.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

Combat Hero Blasts Trump’s Attacks on Free Press

Diane Ravitch's blog

The commander of the Navy Seal raid that killed Bin Laden denounced Trump’s absurd claim that the press is “the enemy of the American people.” Retired Admiral William H. McRaven said that Trump’s charge that the free press “the enemy of the American people” was “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.

“William H. McRaven, a retired four-star admiral and former Navy SEAL, slammed President Trump’s characterization of the media as “the enemy of the American people,” calling that sentiment the “greatest threat to democracy” he’s ever seen.

“That’s coming from a man who’s seen major threats to democracy.

“McRaven, who was commander of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, organized and oversaw the highly risky operation that killed Osama bin Laden almost six years ago. The admiral from Texas had tapped a special unit of Navy SEALs to carry out the May 2011 raid on the elusive…

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