Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In the clearing of sand pines, a poem by Mike Marcellino

File:Pinus clausa.jpg

In the clearing of sand pines
by Mike Marcellino

In the clearing of sand pines,
but a small patch on the planet
Button and i find our
when the sun
kindly shines
on the clearing of sand pines.

Some sap stuck on
the paw of Button, the standard, curly
white Poodle,
picking up needles
and match sticks.

We search inside churches
temples and chapels
for the meaning in our lives,
philosophy of life.

Button and me,
we find ourselves
under the sun
in the clearing of sand pines,
her burnt golden needles
soft beds
to rest our weary minds.
in the pines,
in our clearing of sand pines.

"We don't own 'anything',
i thought to myself, suddenly
light speed.

Everyone owns everything -
the things we and our fellows make
with our own hands.

The real treasures
in the clearing of sand pines.

In the pines,
in the pines,
in the clearing of sand pines.

The clearing of pines by Mike Marcellino, copyright 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Do You Really Want to Go There? - a Vietnam War memoir

Search and destroy, Vietnam War, 1968 Photo by Mike Marcellino

Do you really want to go there?
By Mike Marcellino

“Do you really want to go there” the counselor said to me.  I had just told her a story that continues to haunt me of the night I went blank in 1968 talking with two soldiers filling sandbags in a wooded wasteland in the jungles along the Cambodian border northwest of Saigon in South Vietnam.

I’ve written hundreds of stories for newspapers and magazines, poetry and songs.  The past four years with musicians I’ve recorded and performed what I call poetry music, including songs about the Vietnam War and its aftermath.

This is my own story, a view behind the camera, pen and mic - behind the scenes of my life of a writer, photographer and folk music artist.  The story I find so difficult to write.

After the war as a newspaper reporter back in the states, I covered murders, fatal fires, bloody airplane crashes, a Brinks armed car robbery, and the most brutal business of all – politics.  I’ve interviewed presidential candidates, Hollywood stars, two of the longest held POW’s from the Vietnam War, acclaimed folk singers but most often the man on the street, aspiring artists, teachers, scientists, workers in factories and farms.  This story is personal and one I’ve never told, just alluded to in poems and songs.  It’s really the story of a life behind pens, notebooks, computers and cameras – my life as a writer and artist.

The U. S. Army bird colonel laughed as he looked at me just as I was jumping down from his Huey chopper.  I’m still trying to figure out what was so funny – maybe me with camera hanging from my jungle fatigues and only a jungle hat on and without a weapon.  Maybe he thought this story would make him a one star general.  One of the batteries of a battalion of the 23rd Artillery Group was firing in support Operation Yellowstone, our largest offensive at the peak of the Vietnam War when we had more than a half million troops in country.

I did ‘want to go there,’ find out what happened to me as the night was broken by continuous automatic weapons fire.  The lieutenant said we had mercenaries out there to defend the sandy dirt pile bulldozers had just carved out so the 155 mm self-propelled howitzers that look like tanks could slip in.  A barrel of one of the guns read “Alpha’s Angles” and maybe there was an angel out there over no man’s land that helps me survive.

Though the heat of the day I took pictures of the guns booming and the U.S. Army soldiers sweating.  I interviewed them, though I’m now not sure just how I did it as the guns never stopped firing.  Then I noticed the guns were silent and soldiers were stripping and taking cold showers from suspended canvas bags flown in by helicopters.

I didn’t get a shower.  I don’t remember eating anything either.  Then a wise –ass lieutenant walked up to me and told me I’d better start digging my hole.  Before the bulldozers stopped pushing huge piles of dirt over the corrugated half-moon steel roofs to cover the holes, I almost dug the hole - looking much like a perfect rectangular grave - too wide so the roof would have collapsed into the hole.

Sometime that night I walked over to my hole and found someone had put in an air mattress and pillow into my hole.  Were they pulling my chain or was it a sign of respect, or both?

To cool off I sat and talked with two bare-chested soldiers filling sand bags. The wooded perimeter looked like "no man's land" and automatic weapons fire was continuous. 

Suddenly bullets whizzed by.  And that’s the last thing I remember.  I have no idea how I got out of Firebase Ord along the Cambodian border.  My photographs and stories were published in Starts and Stripes and military newspapers.  I remember being told that Firebase Ord was overrun by a ground attack the next night.  I never have found out the fate of those artillerymen and engineers.

“Do you really want to go there,” the counselor said to me, adding that I was probably experiencing some form of traumatic amnesia.

Yes, I do want to know what happen to me that night.  I want to know what that war has done to me, to my fellow soldiers and to my country.  I want to know that some good has come from it.

Hundreds of stories later I still search for answers.  I wrote stories of a search and destroy mission in the rice paddies and an all-night helicopter mission they called “Firefly.” I photographed refugees in a new village we helped the build after destroying the one they had lived in for generations, bandaged children in darkened makeshift hospitals and scenes of utter destruction reminding me of photographs of World War II.

My return to the ‘world” as we called the United States, wasn’t easy either.

Near the end of my year tour of duty as a combat correspondent and photojournalist, I must confess, I was hiding out from the war in Saigon.  I decided to do a story on “rural electrification.”  With only days left until I was scheduled to leave country, they called it your ETD, estimated time of departure, I got a strong feeling that my number was up.  I thought that I was too lucky too many times as a covered the war from the Highlands, throughout III Corps and into the Delta, more than half of South Vietnam.

None new where I was or how to find me in Saigon. Hiding out gathering photos of how electricity was bringing work to the Vietnamese people almost led me to miss my “freedom flight” back to the USA.  I was unaware I had been given a “seven-day drop” or in other words I was getting out of Vietnam seven days early and I couldn't be found.

They finally found me as I had happened to meet an officer I served with in a Hawk missile command in West Germany before I volunteered for Vietnam.  (I found the Col War boring and had grown tired of of alerts in the dead of winter, giving me frostbitten toes and finger tips.

I did make my "freedom flight" home but remember nothing of it.

I do remember finding myself alone at five o-clock in the morning in my dress green U.S. Army uniform in the Denver airport waiting for a connecting flight back to my home in Cleveland.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yes, Virgina, 'the times, they are a changin'

Oh, Obama!

PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks, as a tear streams down his face, at his final campaign stop on the evening before the 2012 presidential election, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa.
President Barack Obama speaks, as a tear streams down his face, at his final campaign stop on the evening before the 2012 presidential election, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. ((Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo))

Obama 'change' sweeps old guard 
by Mike Marcellino

Yes, 'Virgina'...'the times, they are a changin' 

If you think this is just a Bob Dylan song and a rallying cry for 'hippies' read what the Dali Lama had to say about President Obama's victory Tuesday.  The Democrat president gathered 303 electoral votes (33 more than he needed), defeating the former Wolverine now Bostonian businessman Gov. Mitt Romney by more than 2.7 million votes.

American singer songwriter Bob Dylan wrote "The Times They Are A Changin' nearly 50 years ago in 1964.

"When you were elected in 2008, you inspired the world with a call to take responsibility for the problems we face as global citizens. Since then, you have made earnest efforts to live up to that great hope and trust placed in you by the American public. I believe you have been re-elected now in recognition of that effort." — the Dalai Lama.

I didn't think it would happen, but it did.  

The new grass roots coalition of liberals, youths, blacks, Latinos, the poor and working class showed up again, turning out in great enough numbers to give the offbeat (or 'new beat') charismatic president four more years in the White House to wrangle Congress for real change, creating a strong country in which everyone has a fair shot at reaching 'the American dream.'

Here's President Obama's victory speech on CSPAN -

 On the eve of the most expensive presidential election in history - seemingly endless, often bitter and divisive, President Obama foretold his victory and those who would make the difference.  He loudly proclaimed, without hesitation,  himself as the champion of poor and working class, the less fortunate Americans.  At the polls Tuesday these folks showed that they believe in him.

Also in the waning days of the campaign, Romney foretold his own demise.  He took a punch at the Obama coalition, calling them freeloaders taking government handouts and it had to end.  Mitt forgot these folks pay taxes and they proved that they show up.  

While I expected Romney to lose a close election, he even lost his  double digit lead in Florida, an old South state now changing with an invasion of Yankees. He lost by 47,493 votes.  

Majorities of 63 and 57 percent of folks making less than $30,000 or $50,000 backed the nation's first black president. Obama's call for "change" again ignited a majority of Americans.  He drew large, enthusiastic crowds that actually reflected our nation's changing face of 2012.  In contrast, Romney's crowds, while enthusiastic, were overwhelmingly white and aging, southern and western (minus the West Coast). 

Obama even carried Romney's 'home states' of Massachusetts and Michigan, capturing nearly 61 and 54 percent of the vote.  

As a testament to his response to the Hurricane Sandy disaster, Obama carried New York and New Jersey, reeling form Hurricane Sandy and now a northeaster, by nearly 63 and 58 percent, landslides.

And, yes, President Obama did carry 'ole Virgina' by more than 108,000 votes.  Now it may be 'so goes Virginia, so goes the nation.'  I say this in all due respect to 'the bell weather state' Ohio, which Obama won by more than 100,000 votes.  A Republican has never won without Ohio.  Perhaps it's Virgina's time to call the future again.

And, I haven't heard of any 'civil war' going on just yet, as a Texas county judge had predicted.  Romney did win Texas with 57 percent of the vote.  

Oh, by the way, Money.com reports that Colorado and Washington state voters approved the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.  Yes, 'the times, they are a changin.'


Voters have approved marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado, where this smoker celebrated the "420" holiday in Denver earlier this year. But it's still illegal, according to the feds. 

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Voters in Washington and Colorado passed ballot initiatives Tuesday to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the biggest victory ever for the legalization movement.

"The significance of these events cannot be understated," said NORML, a pro-legalization organization, in a news release. "Tonight, for the first time in history, two states have legalized and regulated the adult use and sale of cannabis."

Meanwhile, as the states ad feds fight over pot, here's more world reaction to Obama's second term as president of the United States -

One of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis (in Syria). Above all, congratulations to Barack. I've enjoyed working with him, I think he's a very successful U.S. president and I look forward to working with him in the future."— British Prime Minister David Cameron, on a visit to Syrian refugees on the Jordanian border.

"Your re-election is a clear choice in favor of an America that is open, unified, completely engaged in the international scene and conscious of the challenges facing our planet: peace, the economy and the environment." — French President Francois Hollande.

Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to Obama expressing hope that "ideals of liberty and justice, which guided the founders of the U.S.A., may continue to shine on the road ahead for the nation." — Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi

As if a prediction of the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, Bob Dylan performs his classic song of change, "The Times They Are A Changin" first recorded in 1964 on an album of the same name.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Jersey Republican Gov Christie praises Democratic President Obama's leadership in an about face amid Hurricane Sandy devastation

'Praise' and 'scorn' all in a day's politics
amid Hurricane Sandy's devastation  
 by Mike Marcellino

New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, the main surrogate for Mitt Romney in  tight race to unseat President Barack Obama, may have discovered that praising your political enemy beats "scorn." In the past Christie has been anything but timid in wailing against Obama's "lack of leadership."  In any case Gov Christie made the rounds on the morning shows to do his flip flop.

"President Obama has been outstanding" - New Jersey Gov Chris Christie

Republican Gov. Chris Christie, Mitt Romney's chief surrogate, walks hand in hand with Democratic President Barack Obama during a Hurricane Sandy stop.

Writing this opinion piece reminds me of reading Nineteen Eighty Four, the George Orwell fictional satire on totalitarianism and the dictatorship's "doublethink" and "doublespeak."  Now in 2012 and the Internet age, it's getting awfully hard to know the truth when you hear or read the words of our national political leaders.

In American government and politics, especially in these days of federal government gridlock, it's not what appears to be evident that matters; it's what lies below the surface, in the wheeling and dealing in our nation's capital and the state capital.  Case in point:  Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who almost ran for president in this election though he was only in his second year as governor. 

Christie today on CNN's Piers Morgan show praised Democratic President Barack Obama for being "very cooperative" aiding New Jersey, including the beach towns like Seaside Heights where Christie grew up, devastated by super storm Hurricane Sandy. 

On the surface folks think like Piers, who gushed over Christie, that the Republican governor is a straight shooter, not playing politics.

Think again.  Christie appeared to care deeply and sincerely about his state and its people reeling from 12 foot storm surges, heavy rains and high winds.  Sandy caused three deaths in New Jersey and a total of more than 40 in the U.S. and $10-20 billion in damage.  

But, praising President Obama for doing his job could play very well among independent and wavering Democrats for Obama.  His tact could also play well when Governor Christie runs for president most likely in 2016,  unless Mitt Romney wins the election less than seven days away. Christie appeared on television as a good guy and operating in a non-partisan governing fashion, rather than the political same ol' same ol', so prevalent in recent years.

If Christie had criticized Obama for his handling of the natural disaster that could have hardened his support among Democrats and independents. 

One must also look at Christie's record of being implicated but never prosecuted on one scandal after both as U. S. Attorney in New Hersey and governor.

So, when reading the headlines and stories or watching on television, look below the surface to try to get at true motivation for words and deeds.

One thing we know for sure - President Obama must be doing one hell of a good job dealing with killer super storm Hurricane Sandy. If you don't believe me, as his opposition.

New Jersey Republican Gov Christie', a sharp critic of President Obama's failed leadership, does an about face on Democrat Obama's leadership amid Hurricane Sandy devastation.  Christie, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's chief surrogate,  calls Obama's leadership "outstanding.   Maybe we should call off the election and declare Obama the winner.  With Romney suddenly adopting most of President Obama's domestic and foreign relations stances, I am starting to see a Republican strategy of embracing your political enemy in order to defeat him. 

Here's some "political intelligence" from the Boston Globe on Gov. Christie's about face on President Obama's leadership.

Chris Christie, fierce Obama critic, praises president’s response to Hurricane Sandy

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has blasted President Obama’s leadership, heaped praise on Obama on Tuesday for his handling of Hurricane Sandy.

“The president has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA,” Christie said on NBC’s “Today” show.
Christie, whose state is among the hardest hit by the storm, made appearances on several morning talk shows on Tuesday and applauded Obama at each stop.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Christie said “the president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit. He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything and he absolutely means it, and it’s been very good working with the president and his administration.”

On CNN’s “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien,” Christie added that Obama “has been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state, and not once did he bring up the election.”
Raise Your Voice
Click to contact candidates or elected officials about this issue.
Christie is a prominent surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and was tapped to deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in August. During that speech, Christie used variations of the word “leader” 17 times, often in the context of criticizing Obama.

“It’s time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House,” Christie said at the convention in Tampa.
“I believe in America and her history,” he added at another point. “There’s only one thing missing now: leadership.”

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
Here's the Piers Morgan 'chat' with Gov Christie

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is 'Money' the root of America's downfall?

File:United States one dollar bill, obverse.jpg
If you will notice this one dollar bill with George Washington, our father and general, is not backed by gold or silver, but by faith in the United States of America

Notebook Writer:  Sound Off One Two

Is 'Money' at the root of America's downfall?

Dear Folks, 


I've come to find out in writing this piece out of the blew looking at a scary graphic of Hurricane Sandy bearing down on our nation's capital, where I had just been and barely survived.  (I might as well be at The Ritz in Cleveland rather than Union Station in DC, except for McDonald's where I totally lucked out and got a second Big Mac for one cent.  Being rather busted nearing the end of the month in this great soggy depression in the USA, this two Big Macs maybe $3.71 (a good guess as i don't save Big Mac receipts kept me from starting on Amtrak's Silver Meteor to Florida.)

The train ride thanks to some great folks from all over creation and a super friendly and professional Amtrak staff made the 24 hour ride from Cleveland to Jacksonville a fun trip with coffee and cigarette breaks coming in the nick of time. And, this time I did not like my brothers before me get thrown off the train for no reason into the abyss of North Charleston, South Carolina where it costs $30 to look at a cap driver once you get past the city police. See my first of a series of stories on 'ridin' and rollin' on Amtrak'
 aka Wetlands to Badlands Tour 2012-3: Beat Poetry Music of Mike Marcellino

Choo Choo Amtrak....Part One 'Ridin' and Rollin' Amtrak

They don't call "money" the "root of all evil" for nothing.  "Money" has become persuasive lifestyle in American society and our "gold rush" mentality and excessive quest to possess material things. 

Texas businessman Ross Perot recently warned that the USA is at risk for "disaster" and "takeover" due to the federal government's 'alcoholic' like spending and 16 trillion debt.  Perot ran as a third party presidential candidate in 1992 and 1996.  Well, wish it were just that simple but on the other hand, the American people are asleep at the switch in electing federal representatives that perpetuate the decline of America.

 $ 1 6 , 2 0 5 , 5 2 2 , 6 7 9 , 3 4 7 . 7 5

In spite of his piles of money, Perot failed in his bid for president.  In 1992, an independent group of Cleveland, Ohio Vietnam veterans started Veterans for Clinton, the Vietnam draft dodger along with George W. Bush.  We met up with Bill's Arkansas boys across northern Ohio, even caught by Australian television, joined with union workers, women and peace an environmental activists and helped sweep Clinton into the White House for eight years of prosperity, progress and lack of wars.

A handful of veterans sitting on a Cleveland curb literally energized Clinton's campaign in Ohio and across the country.  He won the veteran vote, Ohio and counties never won before by a Democrat. 

You ask, what's your point Mike?   The point is I was there on the curb and that anything is possible if Americans take action to make our country 'all it can be' (I'm an Army veteran of Vietnam). 

Clinton did emphasize veterans who have served and sacrificed for their country, not just in the elections but all year long.  That's rare.  He never thanked us formally, but I guess we didn't want his 'thanks" but his actions.  When I met for coffee in the Map Room of the White House in the bitter winter of 1992-3, I remember writing notes on some white slips of paper and said to President Clinton and those dozen or so grass roots folks and senior political aides.  I simply asked him to test all he does on whether it will strengthen the American family.  He did a pretty good job.

Frontline produces some of the best, most accurate and fair news coverage in the world.  The influence of 'Money' on our freedom is the greatest challenge of our time.  I invite you to watch along with me and swap notes on the future of the United States of America.

Note:  this column by journalist Mike Marcellino was written in response to a graphic of Hurricane Sandy about to give a left hook into the nation's East Coast, perhaps centered on our capital, Washington, D.C, the house of emptiness.  Mike just arrived in St. Augustine Beach, Florida after leaving by train just in time, from the District of Columbia, where he could not get a ride to the Vietnam Memorial, not even from Congress or the Office of the President or Vice President.  More about Mike's DC Road Trip coming soon on his Notebook Writer Blog.

Take care,


PS:  Be great to hear from some of you folks about what's doing on in our country and where we're headed.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chooo Chooo Amtrak Silver Meteor Jacksonville, Florida to The Big Apple, but no Mike

It's 9:06am, Friday, and I should be on that train just two hours out of Union Station and New York City jammin with all my friends in The Big Apple (Photo Wikipedia)

Chooo Chooo Amtrak Silver Meteor Jacksonville, Florida to The Big Apple, but no Mike

by Mike Marcellino

I was thrilled again, just as a child riding in coach, and even once in a compartment on the Sanfa Fe El Captian from Chicago to Los Angeles. Happy as a 7-year old can be, while getting creamed in games of gin rummy with my Dad, Tony.

I had set out to the Amtrak station on the outskirts of Jacksonville, amazed that I had packed in time. I always over pack, so this time I just downsized, making Governor Romney quite proud of me.

Outside the station on a not too warm Thursday, September 28, I took a smoke break, Army style, feeling it's great to be alive, after Vietnam, that is. Then I noticed that everyone was already in line inside. They check you in at the car door in my experience in most places, even Washington, DC.

When I made my reservations on the Silver Meteor, I requested a window seat, explaining I was a combat veteran of the Vietnam War and being in the isle seat is very discomforting for someone with "'a classic case" of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) the docs told me at the Center for Stress Recover at the VA Medial Center in Cleveland. The Amtrak reservation folks were quite considerate and said they would make a note and see what they could do, but it would be up to the Amtrak border person.

Walking inside, I say the long line of folks of all sorts, with lots of kids waiting in line.

"Oh, do I need to get at the end of the line?" I asked the Amtrak man, sheepishly.

"Yes, end of the line for you," the Amtrak man said to me.

"Well," I said, "End of the line for me," I added, borrowing Captain Willard's line when he got his "mission" to go out and kill one of his brothers-in-arms' cause he'd used the same tactics as the enemy.

By the way, I'm typing this story in the Business center of the Charleston, South Carolina, not New York City, and red on and you'll see why.

I happily step up to the boarding lady and her Amtrak man. Gosh, they were nice. I told her I was a disabled combat U.S. Army veteran and had asked for a window seat. She didn't reply, looking at her seating chart.

Wahoo! I go t my window seat, No 39 and the car wasn't very crowded. Since I'm a notorious slow and bad packer (in the Army I was strack but I think "too many missions, too many helicopter rides, jet strikes, in a man-made sandy new firebase in or near Cambodia. (Whoops, sorry, we weren't supposed to be in Cambodian then but that was where the enemy got away to every day.

I was famished. Walked to the dining car after a Bud and asked if I could have dinner. I waited for a while and finally someone noticed me. I was told I had to have a reservation so I made one for 8:15pm, which I later learned was "last call."

Well, after a quick smoke break in, I think Jessup. Yes, I remember now, as a young woman had said something to me and explained she had never been out of Georgia and was afraid to travel on the train. "You'll be fine," I said, smiling. "Riding Amtrak is wonderful. You've be fine." I think I calmed her down, she smiled and walked away.

I got back aboard eager for dinner as a musician headed for New York told me he had some great Maryland crab cakes (I'm a Baltimore boy). But, I was told there were only two items left on the menu - a steak somewhere over thirty bucks, and pasta that didn't sound very appealing.

Well, I guess it's a hot dog for me, but it was Kosher.

Now is where the real drama begins. I had spent my time in the lounge car, relaxing and fixin' to play some solitaire and hearing this most unique shrilling loud but cheerful laugh from a young graphic designer from Savannah.

I turned, thinking about the hot dog and crab cakes I missed. I bet the first class folks had crab cake, but for me at the tail end they called "last call" but I didn't know that.

"How come there's very little food left in the dining car," I asked an Amtrak man who, unfortunately turned out to be the conductor. Every Amtraker had been so friendly and nice so far but that was to end in a nightmare for me.

The "conductor" who I guess runs the train, though I always thought it was the engineer who really ran the train. The conductor looked up and said something about the matter of little food for regular folk like me. "It's Amtrak policy out of ..." I think he said Miami.

"Well, I replied, smiling, I think Amtrak should change it's policy.

And then I got the look form him I will never forget, and not many minutes later I found out the whole story.

I returned to my seat to find a huge man taking up both my seat and the one next to him.

I walked back down the isle and told an Amtrak man that a big man was in my seat taking up a seat and a half. I said I can't do this, I have PTSD.

The Amtrak man was nice and he moved me to number fifty somethin' at the front of the car facing a blank wall. I could put my boots up. Trouble is my frostbite on my toes from that winter in Germany guarding the Czech border from the Russians. (I knew they weren't going to do anything because the Five K Zone was peaceful with nobody around and I know that 'cause me and the colonel's driver drove right into the "no man's land" without a scratch.)

Then the conductor lowered the boom on me. Suddenly he was in front of me with another Amtrak man looking quite threatening.

"What happened?" he asked abruptly and unkindly.

"Nothing happened," I said, now scared of the Amtrak man more than the enemy in Vietnam.

Well, they left, but a few minutes later in the darkened car, a bunch of Amtrak men suddenly stood in front of me as we pulled into the station.

The conductor said he had two complaints from passengers about me.

He gave me no chance to say a word, in my defense or otherwise.

"Your are off the train," the conductor said.

"These guys mean business," I thought, now resolved to my fate.

After I made my way from the Silver Meteor I was greeted by a bunch of local police. Fortunately they were nice and respectful.

"Am I charged with something. Under arrest?"

"No, we have nothing to charge you for," the officer said.

So there I was alone as alone can be in the dark at the Amtrak station in North Charleston, South Carolina.

I took a cab, but to the airport as I was told by the cab driver that the bus station was closed for the night.

"Well, it's the airport for me," to myself.

And, here I am typing way on the PC in the Business Center of the Charleston airport.

Funny thing, now I recall that everyone I talked with from the cab driver to the really nice folks at the airport seemed to understand what happened to me, like it was par for the course for the Silver Meteor.

Then I realized by mistake.

I had chatted with a woman and her baby boy on and off. She told me she was the wife of the train engineer. "Wow I thought, wouldn't it be cool to get into the engineer and add that to my series of stories about reliving my Santa Fe days.

You see my mistake was being honest. I told her I was a journalist doing a story on riding Amtrak on my coast to coaster Wetland to Badlands tour zig zaggng American on the choo choo. "I was hoping to do a good story about Amtrak, now it's looking bad."

And that's when Mike, host of "Notebook Writer," "the best of" Blog Talk Radio, got booted into Charleston and a $22 cab fare and no way to get out of Charleston.

Now the screech of the iron wheels on The Silver Meteor smells more than a bit stinky.

And now I recall watching a man pulled off the train in just about the same fashion. I wonder what he did to deserve being trapped on the out shirts of Charleston, in North Charleston or something. Now, I too know what "Chooo, Chooo, Amtrak Silver Meteor, but no Mike feels like.

It's 8:10am Think I'll go out and take a smoke break and see the sun rise. I had called Amtrak in the middle of the night and they said no one there could help me and to call customer service after they open at 8pm. The Amtrak man on the phone didn't miss a beat, like this stuff happens all the time.

Now I wonder just how many passengers get kicked off the government trains in the middle of the night in no where's ville.

At some point I will call Amtrak media relations and asked them some questions, but right now I'm light by $16 dollars to the airport Business Center.

The people at the airport are so nice and sympathetic. They look at me nod there heads and smile in a supportive, caring way. They know what it's all about.

To me it smacks of dictatorship. I never go ta chance to say a word or hear a charge.....

Choo Choo Amtrak Silver Meteor Jacksonville to the Big Apple, but no Mike.

copyright Mike Marcellino, 2012 Choo Choo Amtrak Silver Meteor Jacksonvile, Florida to the Big Apple, but no Mike

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Are veterans on your "hit list" too, Gov Romney?

Governor Mitt Romney caught off guard by "hidden" video as he spoke to rich donors.  It's reported that former President Jimmy Carter's grandson "leaked" the video.

Mike to Mitt:  Are military veterans on your hit list too?
An Open Letter to Governor Mitt Romney,

Do you really believe that I and my fellow veterans of America's wars are freeloaders - "handout victims" as you called us in your speech. If you do, I resent your remarks and your beliefs. Of course, I know you were caught "off guard" by a video of you speaking to raise more money for your campaign for president. You thought no one other than your pals were watching but the grandson of Jimmy Carter leaked the video to the American people and the world.

I am a veteran of the U. S. Army in the Vietnam War where I served as a combat correspondent and photojournalist and would bet you 100 shares of stock that I've seen more 'action' in my life than you have. I also served as a civilian journalist, receiving national awards for investigative and community service reporting. I protect your freedom so say offensive and false things about me and my fellow veterans. And, being a reporter on the streets of America is a form of combat too.

"Handouts?" I, and millions of my fellow veterans, especially of combat, are alive and functioning as well as I can be today thanks to the medical and financial services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. During one of my illnesses I also received temporary cash support for a year, your so-called "handouts" from the state of Ohio, in part using federal dollars. Does this make me a "victim" Gov. Romney? Well, if I am a victim, I am proud of it, proud to serve my country.

You said that you were speaking about the supporters of President Obama in the presidential election when you referred to the "victims" of "handouts." As a journalist I do not publicly support any candidate. What I do in the voting booth is my business, but you can be assured that unless you apologize and explain yourself you have lost my vote for good and I would bet the vote of many fellow combat veterans who needed or will need help from their country.

Mike Marcellino
Veteran, U. S. Army, II Field Force, Vietnam War, 1967-68 Four Campaign Stars/Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry
folk music artists #26 Folk charts, New York City (ReverbNation)
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 Washington Post, September 18, 2012

On Letterman, Obama says Romney ‘writing off’ much of country

Video: As President Obama gets ready to appear on David Letterman’s show on Tuesday, we take a look back at what the interviews on late-night television have revealed about the first family.
NEW YORK — President Obama responded Tuesday to controversial remarks by Republican Mitt Romney by suggesting that his opponent was “writing off a big chunk of the country” and was wrong to suggest that nearly half of Americans think of themselves as victims entitled to a handout from government.
In an interview on “The Late Show with David Letterman” taped Tuesday afternoon in New York and scheduled to air nationally later in the evening, Obama said:
The Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut looks at how Mitt Romney’s remarks in a video from a campaign fundraiser might hurt his campaign’s efforts to reach certain demographic groups.
The Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut looks at how Mitt Romney’s remarks in a video from a campaign fundraiser might hurt his campaign’s efforts to reach certain demographic groups.
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“When I won in 2008, 47 percent of the American people voted for John McCain,” Obama said. “They didn’t vote for me and what I said on election night was: ‘Even though you didn’t vote for me, I hear your voices, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to be your president.’”
Obama said presidential candidates are always under the microscope and are going to make mistakes. Letterman reminded the president of his own gaffe in the 2008 campaign, when he spoke of conservatives who “cling to guns or religion.” But Obama noted that he immediately apologized for the statement — an apparent contrast to Romney’s defense of his comments, which Romney called “inelegant” but reflective of his views.
The statements in question came to light on Monday, when Mother Jones released videos from a private fundraiser in Florida in May in which Romney dismisses Obama’s supporters as “victims” who take no responsibility for their livelihoods and who think they are entitled to government handouts. He said that his job “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Mother Jones released the full video, including controversial remarks showing the Republican nominee saying that Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever” in reaching a peace agreement with Israel.
In the Letterman interview, Obama said traveling the country he never meets anyone ”who doesn’t believe in the American dream.”
“There are not a lot of people out there who think they’re victims,” he said. “There are not a lot of people who think they’re entitled to something.”
But, he added: “We’ve got some obligations to each other, and there’s nothing wrong with us giving each other a helping hand so that that single mom’s kid, even after all the work she’s done, can afford to go to college.”
Tuesday was Obama’s second appearance on the Letterman show since he became president. First lady Michelle Obama was a guest on the show earlier this month. The program was scheduled to air at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The president was Letterman’s sole guest Tuesday, and he sat for a wide-ranging interview that included a few lighter moments as well as more serious ones. Letterman lingered on a number of serious topics, asking Obama to explain the nation’s budget crisis at length and to comment on the gridlock that much of the nation sees in Washington.
“There’s more than enough blame to spread around,” Obama said. “These problems have been around for a decade or more.”
Asked about the violence in Libya last week that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Obama said the administration’s top priorities now are to “refortify” security at American embassies abroad and to bring the murderers to justice. He criticized the offending anti-Muslim video that triggered the violence, but he said the video was not an excuse for violence.