Photo by Edward F. Palm)

About Me

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Forest, Virginia, United States
A long time ago, my sophomore English teacher, Father William Campbell, saw something in my writing and predicted that I would someday become a newspaper columnist. He suggested the perfect title for my column--"Leaves of the Palm." Now that I have a little extra time on my hands I've decided to put Father Campbell's prediction to the test. I'm going to start using this blog site not just to reprint opinion pieces I've published elsewhere but to try to get more of my ideas and opinions out there. Feedback is welcome. To find out more about me, please check out my Web site: www.EdwardFPalm.com (Click on any of the photos below for an enlarged view.)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Back to Seabeck

Thus far, this year has been frustrating.   We seem to have had a lot more eagles hanging around last May, and the May before that.  To make matters worse, the weather won't cooperate.  I've just had to stand out in the rain, keeping my camera as dry as I could.
       The eagle in this first shot was particularly frustrating.  I got within about 75 feet of him, but that distance included about 30 feet of mud flat in between the oyster bed I was on and the one he was on.  Judging from past experience, I must have been within his comfort zone, but he sat and sat and took his good old time deciding to fly off.  It was as if he were saying, "Come on out on the mud flat; I dare you!"  As I've explained before, the mud flats are really treacherous.  You can sink up to your knees and beyond.  That's how I lost a cell phone a couple years ago.  I sank up to my knees and pitched forward, launching my cell phone into a pool of salt water.  But I did manage to keep my camera dry.  That's the important thing!  --EFP

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Seabeck Eagles Revisited

I had a better day at Seabeck today.  The light wasn't great, but at least it wasn't raining, and the eagles did come in fairly close once the tide started coming in.  --EFP

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Revisited--Again

[Naval Academy midshipman, Marine training, Quantico, 1992]
I've never been one to buy into the myth of the liberal bias of the mainstream media.  Ever since Vietnam, I've believed that, for the most part, all the grumbling traces back to conservative resentment at having their own myths and cherished articles of faith challenged.  But, lately, I've begun to wonder about some of the sob stories that have been making the national news.
     A case in point is yesterday's news story about senior ROTC scholarship cadet Sara Issacson, who is now faced with repaying the government the cost of her scholarship--$79,000--for voluntarily revealing that she is gay.  It is not her sexual orientation that concerns me. I have gone on record as supporting the right of gays to serve openly in the Armed Forces ( My P.I. Piece).  But there is another moral issue here.  She entered into a legal contract.  She accepted one of a limited number of highly prized scholarships. She agreed that, in return for a free ride through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she would serve as an Army officer for four years.  She is now reneging on that deal.
     In all fairness, according to the syndicated article that appeared in yesterday's Seattle Times, Issacson only recently came to terms with the realization that she is gay.  Some, of course, would see the timing of this epiphany as awfully convenient and suspiciously self-serving.  Assuming that she is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about what she knew and when she knew it, the better and more moral choice in this case would have been to keep her counsel and honor her contract.
     I say that because I believe that the current policy is on the way out and that gays will soon be allowed to serve openly.  If, as Issacson claims, her heart's desire really was to become an Army doctor while living "an honest life," there would soon have been no conflict between the two.  Surely, she realizes that.
     Frankly, I have to doubt her sincerity.  I suspect that she is just trying to use her sexual orientation as a Get-Out-Serving-Free Card.  Worse, the media seems sympathetic to that wish. Whatever Issacson's motives, the least she can do is to repay the cost of her scholarship.  --EFP

The Free Marketplace Revisited

My thought for today:  I suppose that we sure got big government off BP's back.  It would seem to be past time for big government to climb back on.  --EFP

{Street evangelist, Seattle]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The 5th Stryker Brigade and Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan?

["Sarge and young recruits, Vietnam, 1967]
One of the big news stories here in Western Washington is that 10 members of Fort Lewis's 5th Stryker Brigade are under investigation regarding some suspicious civilian deaths in Afghanistan.  I don't know what these ten soldiers are suspected of doing, but I do know something about how atrocities can happen.  Hence, I thought it might be time to dust off something I wrote some years ago about Haditha:  Palm on Haditha      

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Friends the Jays

I'm still obsessed with trying to get a good shot of a blue jay flying off with a peanut.  I didn't get a good one of a jay in flight, but I got a few good casual portraits.  --EFP

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Palm-Print of the Day

This homemade submarine sat in front of a long-closed country store in Seabeck for the past five years--at least.  (That's how long we've lived here.)  The store was recently reopened, and the new owners moved the sub to the backyard.  The new owners don't know anything about it, except that it came with the store.
      I have to wonder who would have gone to the trouble and expense to build this thing, only to abandon it.  Thereby hangs a tale, I'm sure.  --EFP

The Seabeck Eagles

No, the "Seabeck Eagles" are not a football team.  They're the real thing.
      Every year, in May, large numbers of migrating eagles come through our area on their way to Alaska.  The mud flats at the mouth of Big Beef Creek in Seabeck, WA, is a great place to photograph them, particularly when we're having minus tides.  Below, please find a few of the best shots I got yesterday.  Click on them for a better view.  --EFP

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Modest Proposal Revisited

[My own take on the "Peaceable Kingdom."  Actually the jaguar was lying next to a thick glass partition.  Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, May 1, 2010.]
This just in from my friend and former Papa Three Marine Larry Scroggs:

Service During Hostilities : By Executive Order Number 13269, dated July 3, 2002, President Bush declared that all those persons serving honorably in active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States at any time on or after September 11, 2001 until a date to be announced, are eligible to apply for naturalization in accordance with the service during hostilities statutory exception in Section 329 of the INA to the naturalization requirements. This means that individuals with even one day of honorable active duty service can apply for citizenship, regardless of how long they have been a resident. Note: Under this provision, individuals who apply for citizenship after discharge must present a DD Form 214, with service characterized as "Honorable," or "General." Those with other characterizations (including Entry Level Separation), are not eligible.
Section 329 of the INA also applies to service-members who served on active duty during World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

It would seem that I have been preempted--at least in part--by President Bush.  Now, let's tout it.    And, as I indicated before, I would even extend it, granting conditional amnesty to any illegal alien willing to enlist.  --EFP

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Modest Proposal

[Soldier, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, July, 1983]
I'm of two minds about Arizona's tough new illegal immigration law.  I can understand why people in Arizona are fed up with being taxed to provide services for people who are here illegally.  According to tonight's "CBS Evening News," about half a million illegal aliens live there.  To what extent these "undocumented" people (to use the politically correct term) have exacerbated the crime problem in Arizona, I don't know.  But many Arizonan's think they have.  On the other hand, the comedians who are reminding us of that "Show me your papers!" cliché of World War II films have a point.  There are unfortunate Third Reich overtones to the new law.  I can understand why Latinos are upset.  Enforcement will depend on racial profiling.
       Just last night, "60 Minutes" jumped on the bandwagon, running a piece on how hundreds of Mexicans have drowned trying to swim across a fast-moving irrigation canal that forms a significant stretch of the border.
       That's indeed sad, but I keep coming back to the fact that they were voluntarily risking their lives in order to enter the country illegally.  No one made them take the risk, and the canal is not a moat intended to keep Mexicans out.  it is an irrigation canal--period.
       And this morning, I noticed a pundit on TV decrying the fact that our immigration policies have broken up families.
       That, too, is sad, but I keep coming back to this fact:  they're here illegally.  They knew they were subject to deportation when they came.
       Still, I can understand the impetus.  For all our faults and problems, America has much more to offer than Mexico.  I also understand that we would all be paying much more for our fruits and vegetables were it not for large numbers of illegal/undocumented aliens.
       Hence, I would like to advance a modest proposal of sorts:  let's start an American Foreign Legion.
       The big draw for the fabled French Foreign Legion has always been permission to reside in France--following an honorable discharge, of course.  The Legion still exists, in part, because not enough Frenchmen are willing to enlist in defense of France and its interest.  We have essentially the same problem.  Not enough Americans are willing to enlist in defense of our America's defense and interests.  Otherwise, we wouldn't have to maintain an inhuman operational tempo that keeps our troops deployed more than they're home.
       I see at least a partial solution to both problems--illegal immigration and an inadequate All-Volunteer Force.  Why not offer Mexicans and other foreigners the same sort of deal the French Foreign Legion offers?  We could offer enlistees and their families permanent resident status in return for four years of honorable service in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force.  I would even extend the deal to those here illegally.  We could wipe the slate clean and offer permanent resident status to illegal aliens who self-identify by enlisting.  Their families, in turn, could stay as long as their military sponsors continued to serve honorably.
        Frankly, I would rather see our political leadership refrain from getting us involved in unnecessary and self-defeating wars.  Likewise, I would like to see our President and our Congress give real substance to their rhetoric about the current war being a national imperative, and I don't see how they can do that without reinstating the draft and making the middle class share the inconvenience and the pain.  I would like to see the Federal government come up with a reasonable Scandinavian-style guest worker program and to take responsibility such "guests" rather than placing another financial burden on the already hard-pressed states and municipalities.  Finally, I would like to see today's young people feel an obligation to render some type of national service.
        But since none of these things is likely to happen, I'm for forming an American Foreign Legion.  --EFP

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Sign of the Times!

The failure of Lehman Brothers, or even General Motors, is one thing.  But this Seattle landmark will be closing its doors in June after 27 years.  Whatever are we going to do about the economy? --EFP