Recent Articles

Damn It!  He Ain’t My Commander in Chief

• Topics: USA & World, War & Peace,

And he isn’t yours either, if you are among the 99% of the U.S. population who are not in the armed forces. But I see and hear the expression all over, in print, on TV and on the airwaves, the reference to Trump as “our Commander in Chief.” I do have a recommendation for civilians who refer to him as such: Sign up at your local recruiting station and make your dreams come true.

The president has several jobs, one of which is to command the U.S. armed forces. He is not a military member and does not wear a uniform. (If you see him show up one day in an Idi Amin Dada or a Muamar Gaddafi get-up, move to Vanuatu.) Presidents do not “command” the U.S. population. In fact, they work for us, something that seems to slip the mind of many presidents when they sit down for the first time in the Oval Office. Our nation does not require obeisance. We are not commanded. Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter were each once my Commander in Chief (all of whom served in the military during WWII) but when I resigned my commission in 1978, that was it. I no longer saluted.

Constant referrals to Trump as “our Commander in Chief” reeks of bellicosity. Unless you are a soldier, stop it!

Comments by Readers

Randy Petty

Oct 07, 2020

Who is the commander-in-chief when the president’s brain is addled by steroids?


Dick Conoboy

Oct 07, 2020


The unfortunate reality is that the president, in his role as commander in chief, remains there until he relinquishes his duties under the 25th amendment or if he is declared mentally or physically incompentent under the 25th amendment.  Not very tidy but them’s the rules.


Doug Carlson

Oct 09, 2020

I agree, Dick. What stirs my anger is when I see him try to pull off crisp salutes as he gets on and off aircraft. His dangling thumb spoils his effort to appear “soldier-like,” and nothing can wipe away the bone-spur stain that kept him outta Vietnam, where you and I first met.


Dick Conoboy

Oct 09, 2020


Yes, my friend, you and I can get out of the military but we can’t get the military out of ourselves.  It is there, pinned forever,  as are our reactions to it.  This president is a pitiful human being who lives in constant fear of failure and humiliation.   The irony is that his actions bring on both.  Under the present conditions, to call him commander in chief is, essentially, to mock him. 


Christopher S Hudson

Oct 10, 2020

Education about the reality of the military should begin as early as possible:

National Organization Opposing the Militarization of Youth.

The spin begins early in our culture… I was a Conscientious Objector when Nixon “called me up” and in many long, sincere conversations with my dear friend who did suffer the consequences of his so-called service I always come back to my early access to better information/education.

By age 18 I knew The American War (as the Vietnamese called it) was based on sociopathic B.S. but my good friend did not. As a member of the working class he did not have available to him all the tricks that the Trumps and Cheneys of the elite used to avoid conscription into the maw of the military.


Dick Conoboy

Oct 11, 2020


Thanks for your thoughtful comment. 

In the late 70s as a US Army major, I wrote a letter to Time Magazine supporting then President Carter’s executive order that  pardoned “draft dodgers”.  I learned shortly that the commanding general’s wife was furious and demanded that her husband court martial me.  For what offense, I still don’t know (conduct unbecoming an officer?) but I learned that the Army was probably not going to be my lifetime career.  I had orders in hand reassigning me to NATO headquarters in Mons, Belgium, considered a plum assignement, but I chose instead to resign.

This was the culmination of years of growing disenchantment mostly fueled by incompenent commanders to whom subordinates had to toady up lest a bad efficiency report tank a career.  There was also the lingering thoughts of the futility of the war in Viet Nam that hung over the military like the cloud over Joe Btfsplk.

So, in a way, I  understand your decision as a CO.  I was nowhere near that in the mid-60s as I graduated college with a much sought after Regular Army commission.  The Army was exciting, interesting, eye opening and finally disappointing as the years went by.  I know  you already read about my further thoughts in my article entitled DEROS + 50 years.

I can be supportive of organization such as NNOMY. Youth needs to be presented a balance picture of the realities of military service. 

We need good soldiers as we also need good police officers. How wonderful if we needed neither. But that is not the reality. 



Christopher S Hudson

Oct 11, 2020


I’ve enjoyed reading of your personal Army experience… I do agree we need good soldiers but do we need a regular and gigantic standing army and all the rest of the vast bureaucracy and bloat that grows out of control? The authors of the Constitution were deeply fearful of a standing army, hence the 2nd amendment, wherein a well-trained militia might be called up in defense…. that is “defense” of the country. Maybe we need a system more like the Israelis…

It’s always useful to re-read the famous Smedley Butler speech (below). I don’t think a lot has changed, our military is joined at the hip to our corporatocracy.

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”


Dick Conoboy

Oct 11, 2020


Of course we do not need this boated Jabba-the-Hutt we call our armed forces. 

However, I will disagree about the origin of the 2nd Amendment.  It was actually a sop to the southern states to get them to sign on to the Constitution by allowing them to have slave patrols (militia) in the event of slave rebellions.  Read Thom Hartmann’s take on the 2nd Amendment entitled “The Second Amendment was ratified to preserve slavery”




Christopher S Hudson

Oct 11, 2020


I’ve listened to, read and respect Thom Hartman but this was news to me! So much of the wheeling and dealing around the Constitution seems to have been around slavery. Thanks for the clarification….

BTW, what happens if Jabba-the-Hutt keeps growing larger, does he explode like the diner in the famous Monte Python episode?



Dick Conoboy

Oct 11, 2020


No, I understand he morphs into Pizza-the-Hutt.



Damn It!  He Ain’t My Commander in Chief

By Dick ConoboyOn Oct 06, 2020

And he isn’t yours either, if you are among the 99% of the U.S. population who are not in the armed forces. But I see and hear the expression [...]

10 comments, most recent 6 months ago

A Doorway Home

By Guest WriterOn Oct 03, 2020

JC Mansfield guest writes. She has resided in Bellingham for 22 years as a mom and artist, working in childcare and bookkeeping. She is BTC alumna, AAS - Legal & Administrative [...]

1 comment, most recent 6 months ago

Musical Chairs At The Planning Commission

By Dick ConoboyOn Oct 02, 2020

[Update. 9:00am, October 4th: MacKenzie Graham will leave the Planning Commission at the end of 2020.] As I explained in my article on September 17th (Planning Commission To Have Four Vacancies), [...]

2 comments, most recent 6 months ago

Vote Pellicciotti For State Treasurer - Important

By Dick ConoboyOn Sep 28, 2020

“The Washington Treasurer is a state executive position in the Washington state government. As the state’s chief financial office, the treasurer manages the cash flow, investments, and debt of [...]

2 comments, most recent 6 months ago

The Pandemic and the Presidency

By Michael RiordanOn Sep 25, 2020

In early January 2018, Bill Clinton’s science adviser Neal F. Lane and I published a New York Times opinion column titled, “The President’s Disdain for Science,” which began, “Since [...]

11 comments, most recent 6 months ago

Some Thoughts On Policing

By Dick ConoboyOn Sep 23, 2020

This is offered in a spirit of understanding and not condemnation of the Bellingham Police Force nor of those who seek to change its methods of operation from within or [...]

6 comments, most recent 6 months ago

Updates: Cougar Trapping ... Maybe

By John ServaisOn Sep 23, 2020

These are followups to the Sun, Sep 13, article “Cougar Trapping ... Maybe”. - - - - - 4th Update: Wed, Sep 23, 8:30 pm A cougar - probably the same one - got [...]

4 comments, most recent 7 months ago

Planning Commission To Have Four Vacancies

By Dick ConoboyOn Sep 17, 2020

Three appointments expire Jan 1, 2021 The Bellingham Planning Commission (PC) is about to have four vacancies, out of a seven-member panel, that need to be filled by January 1st. (See PC [...]

1 comment, most recent 7 months ago

Cougar Trapping ... Maybe

By John ServaisOn Sep 13, 2020

Normally cougars in Bellingham residential areas are only after deer, especially fawns. Our city is over-run with deer, to the degree that no successful garden is without a tall fence [...]

1 comment, most recent 7 months ago

Homeless Camp Cleanups: A Personal Report

By Guest WriterOn Sep 11, 2020

Markis Dee Stidham guest writes on his personal experience with homeless in our county. He is the county council appointed Homeless Advocate for our county. - - - - Greetings [...]

1 comment, most recent 7 months ago

Updated Conduit Policy? Worthless!

By Jon HumphreyOn Sep 11, 2020

One of the most frustrating things about dealing with Public Works, as reported to me by many people who have worked on many different issues including transportation, water, broadband, and [...]

Tragedy…Not Guilt, Not Innocence

By Guest WriterOn Sep 10, 2020

[This is a fourth article from our guest writer who does not wish to make his identity known. I refer to him as G, a retiree who moved to Bellingham [...]

7 comments, most recent 7 months ago

Mayor Fleetwood to Pick Members of Broadband Advisory Group… Just Kidding!

By Jon HumphreyOn Sep 04, 2020

I write to you today with a brief update on the state of broadband, and especially public fiber-optics. Thanks largely to the efforts of public broadband supporters in our community, [...]

3 comments, most recent 7 months ago

We interrupt our writing on local issues…

By John ServaisOn Sep 04, 2020

I’m sure some mouthy politician will try to explain or mollify the impact of this photograph. But no human being deserves this. What makes it barbaric is these police [...]

Nearly 2,000 WWU Students To Return To Campus

By Dick ConoboyOn Aug 28, 2020

“Because almost all of Western’s classes will be conducted remotely this fall, we expect about 1,800 students on campus in Bellingham during the day, and about 1,300 students living on campus [...]

12 comments, most recent 7 months ago

We Have Two Extra Ballot Drop Boxes!!

By John ServaisOn Aug 26, 2020

​Indeed, our county auditor was honest with all the facts she told me, and the facts she wrote to others, including County Executive Satpal Sidhu. Unfortunately, it was an example [...]

6 comments, most recent 7 months ago

Ballot Drop Boxes: More are Needed

By John ServaisOn Aug 22, 2020

Four more ballot drop boxes are needed in Bellingham. They can be quickly built and installed in time for the November general election. Any one of three county government departments [...]

8 comments, most recent 7 months ago

WWU President To Students: Please…Stay Home

By Dick ConoboyOn Aug 22, 2020

College campuses are now opening across a nation that is still reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of these openings are not good, as more and more stories surface [...]

COB to Create Sham Broadband Workgroup to Protect Special Interests - Even During a Pandemic

By Jon HumphreyOn Aug 21, 2020

Hello wonderful broadband supporters! We need your help contacting the City of Bellingham once again. Specifically, your council members ( and the mayor ( . We need [...]

Ice Cold

By Guest WriterOn Aug 20, 2020

[Our guest writer is Dr. Bill Lyne, Professor of English (American and African American Literature) at Western Washington University who writes a blog for the United Faculty of Washington State [...]

3 comments, most recent 8 months ago