Like every situation, there are many positives and negatives that can be observed. I had wanted to write this earlier but also wanted to wait, since I did not think it was the proper time to drop something cynical on this blog, when so many people needed feel-good stories to get by. So I have fixed that by combining the “jeers” with some “cheers”, so that the article is not overwhelmingly negative. If you have read the previous “Weathering the Storm” articles, than you will know my experiences with relief work have been very rewarding and positive, but there are a few things going on in our area that have slipped through the cracks, as you will see below.
Just when bipartisanship seemed dead in America, President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have shown that it is indeed possible to stand in the middle of the aisle to get things done. Being an independent fed up with both parties, I must say I am impressed with the actions of both leaders. Christie may have been too cautious for Hurricane Irene last year, but this year, you will see that he was spot on. I have not been keeping track of all the updates, but every time I heard him speak on the radio when the power was out, it instilled confidence in me that everything would soon be alright, and progress was being made. His bullyish, no-nonsense attitude may be unappealing to some people, but that is exactly what we need in politics, especially in a time of crisis. He is a take-charge man who tells it like it is, and I applaud him for never dancing around the situation. If I ever did reverse my decision to never vote for a major party candidate for president, should Christie run in 2o16, he very well may be the only Republican I would ever consider voting for. He has called all shots, and the the law and order in this state has been maintained as well as it can be given the circumstances. From trying to stop price gouging to signing the order to start rationing gas tomorrow, there is a sense of calm in an area that has seen much disturbance.
Unlike the other cast members of the films Gods and Generals and Gettysburg that I have been able to track down over the last several months, Les Kinsolving is not noted for his acting. Appearing as Confederate General William Barksdale, the distant cousin of the real general, he is more known for his career in the political spectrum, which includes serving as a White House correspondent (part-time now) and talk-radio host on 680 WCBM, which is run out of Baltimore. Les’ career has spanned several decades and has encompassed so much, including being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
When I was done asking him about his filming experience, I just had to probe him on some of his political views, and what being a reporter in our nation’s capital is like. Les was very kind to me and answered all of my questions, and I did not even know this interview was going to be taking place when I woke up this morning. I had contacted him a few days ago, and he responded this afternoon. Rather than schedule an interview for the future, we thought it best to just get it done today. I asked him about his filming experience, what it is like being related to a Civil War general (and a second one which will knock your socks off!), and much more, in our interview below!
LK: Well, I have a cousin, the one that I played the part of, General William Barksdale, and I had always been interested in the Civil War, and I heard they were going to do a movie on the battle of Gettysburg. So, I talked to the author of The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara, on the phone and I enjoyed speaking to him very much. He was a very stimulating person and he told me about Ron Maxwell who was going to direct it. I phoned up to Maxwell in New York, and we made an appointment. I did not tell him of my relation to Barksdale, and I talked with him and we had a wonderful time and there was a great deal of mutual interest. It was then when I told him of my relationship to General Barksdale of Mississippi, and he asked, “You’re his cousin?” and I responded, “I am.” and he said, “You look like him.” Then he said, “Just a minute”, and he went into this closet and came out after a while with this great big picture of Barksdale. He was the only Confederate general at Gettysburg who did not have a beard or a mustache, and again he told me that I looked like him, and I said, “I’m complimented”. He then asked me if I would like the part! (laughs). It took a long time to be produced but I had the part, and I played it again in Gods and Generals, which followed it.
GC: In both films, your scenes were very short, but how much did you have to prepare for these roles?
LK: I had previously been in a considerable number of plays, both little theater and light opera, but this did not take any time at all—I just had a couple of lines in each. I was still honored to have these lines. When I was first cast in Gettysburg, there were no lines and Maxwell waited until my scene came and put in a line for me. General Lee, played by Martin Sheen, says to me, “General Barksdale, is Mississippi ready?” and I said, “Mississippi is ready!”. (laughs) And that was it! I just had one or two lines in Gods and Generals as well. But in Gettysburg, I also played an extra as a flag bearer in a Virginia regiment during Pickett’s Charge, which took seven days to film.
GC: What was the hardest part of your filming experience?
LK: I think the hardest part was when I was playing this Confederate flag bearer and we went over the wall at the charge, and there were three huge Yankees who went after my flag, and I held it and it broke right in two, and I went down and got kicked; I don’t think they did it on purpose, there was just an enormous amount of action. They strapped me up with one of these wrap-around bandages and I was able to go back and do it three or four more times, because we did that scene six times that day.
GC: Did you happen to see the Gettysburg documentary that was on the History Channel last week?
LK: I did not see the whole thing because it came on while I was broadcasting.
GC: Okay, because there was a pretty big section on General Barksdale in it and I was just curious if you had any thoughts on that.
LK: Yes, my son watched it and told me, and I just ran in and took one look and was disgusted because the first thing I saw was that this Barksdale had a beard, and Barksdale did not have a beard at the time of the battle! The picture that I have of him, he does not have one, and I was disgusted at that.
GC: Now, a lot of us Civil War enthusiasts and historians wish we could be related to somebody who fought during the Civil War, so what is it like for you, to not only be related to a soldier, but a prominent general at that?
LK: Well, I am also related to another Confederate soldier named Robert E. Lee, who is a fifth cousin. Robert Duvall, who portrayed Lee in Gods and Generals, was also related to him, and so we found that we were distant cousins.
GC: What it is like being related to one of the greatest generals in military history?
LK: I agree with you, I think he is one of the greatest men in our history, with enormous courage and fundamental decency, and he will always be remembered. Of course, there are those that like to tear him to pieces, but that is expected of those who are still fighting that war.
GC: I would like to move to your other career now, as a White House correspondent. What does that entail?
LK: I am a White House correspondent, but I am not a full-time one anymore because I am a talk radio host and columnist, and I just can’t do it full-time, and with this particular press secretary, as well as the last one, who are two of the three most difficult I have ever dealt with, they hardly ever call on me. This one almost refuses me consistently, so I only go once a week. What I do is, I always have two questions, just two. He allows the people in the front two rows from the networks, to ask eight, ten, and twelve questions, but he will try to bypass me. Sometimes I will call out the networks, and sometimes I don’t. So what I do is, we report for the nine million people who visit World Net Daily, we list all the people at the briefing and the large majority whom he never recognizes or allows to ask questions because he is playing favorites with the front two rows. I think that is abysmal. I made a suggestion once, which was one of the few times I have ever had applause from the back, that he should call on each person in the front row for two questions and work his way right back so he gives everybody a chance, and then go back to the front row and give them two more. That got applause, but not from the front row (laughs).
GC: I have another question for you, and this is just out of curiosity, but what do you think of Sarah Palin?
LK: To look upon her, I think she is a very beautiful lady, and I realize that she had a lot of problems at home, but I think she really damaged herself by leaving the position of Governor of Alaska. I thought she did a good job out there, but she resigned. Now she is going all over the country campaigning, but she hasn’t, to the best of my knowledge, announced her candidacy as yet. I’m generally impressed with a lot of what she stands for, though I do not agree with her on everything…I don’t think there is anybody I agree with on everything.
GC: One more political question for you, who would be your favorite president, whether in your lifetime or in the past?
LK: Let me say that I think the greatest of all presidents, closely followed by Abraham Lincoln, was the father of our country, George Washington. I am a great admirer of his and he was not only a military leader that without him, we would have never won our independence, but he was our first president and guided us through the really tough times in getting us established as a country. There are a number who I admire in the modern era as well. I personally liked Ronald Reagan a great deal and I knew him when he was in California because I was a columnist and reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, and then the Examiner, while he was governor. There were times when I would ask him questions and he was always very astute and very amusing. I thought he was a great president, and there were others of course. The Roosevelt’s were two of the greatest and let me see who else…we have had some bad ones (laughs).
GC: Well, then who would be the worst president of your lifetime?
LK: That would be a tie between Jimmy Carter and the one we’ve got now (laughs).
GC: Thanks for being honest! I’m an independent so I don’t care who you don’t like.
LK: It’s not that I don’t like Barack Obama, it’s just that he has these press conferences where there are eighty reporters (I’ve stopped going to his press conferences) and they’re ridiculous. He’ll only call on certain ones. In the last three he called on thirteen, thirteen, and seven. He takes an enormous amount of time in answering questions—he gives these long monologues, and it sounds like he is dodging questions with these long answers, and he does this often. That is one of the reasons why I am not very impressed with him. There are times when I have commended him, and I think his order to go after Bin Laden was wonderful, but I think Bush had the same purpose. If they had just found him earlier under Bush, like the Seals did, I think he would have given the same order. I will try to be fair with the president whenever he says or does something that I believe honestly is good. I feel that it is only fair that you should try to emphasize that, and I do.
GC: One last question for you, and this is going back to the Civil War. If there is one piece of information that you think is being taught the most incorrectly about it, what would that be to you?
LK: I would say the alleged massacre at Fort Pillow, where they try to smear [Confederate General] Nathan Bedford Forrest. I have really studied that issue, and I have concluded and spoken out on this a number of times that it was not true. I think there are a lot of things that are misrepresented, but that is one of the worst. I hope that answers your question.
GC: Yes, it is definitely up there on my list. That, and people who say the war was fought solely because of slavery.
LK: Well, the interesting thing about the slavery issue, which is not often mentioned (laughs), is that among the slaveholders in the United States were Ulysses S. Grant and Mrs. Grant.
GC: And I don’t think Robert E. Lee owned any.
LK: His wife, Mary Custis, had a number of slaves, and he emancipated them. Grant, who was too poor to keep slaves, sold them, but Mrs. Grant continued to own them, and I think it was in 1864, she was almost captured by Confederate cavalry with her slaves! (laughs) I have no indication that the Grant’s ever mistreated their slaves, and I do not believe that the Lee’s did either. I have always been opposed to slavery, even though I am a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and I was one of the 25,000 who walked in the last day of the Selma March to Montgomery, because I believe new occasions teach new duties, and time makes ancient good uncouth.
GC: I want to thank you so much for this interview. It was great getting a chance to speak to you.
LK: It was my pleasure, and I hope that this gave you everything you needed, and I am grateful and honored.
I want to thank Les again for taking the time to conduct this interview. It truly was an enlightening experience! You can visit his official website here. Please check out my other interviews with Gods and Generals and Gettysburg personnel, located in the Civil War section on this site, which include Brian Mallon (General Hancock), Patrick Gorman (General Hood), Bo Brinkman (Major Taylor), and Jeff Shaara (Author of G & G).
I originally published this yesterday, but took it down because of the sensitive subject this is. After sending it to a few people, they convinced me to put it back up. I have made some edits, including the final paragraph which is newly added.
Sunday night it was announced on national television that the most wanted man in the world, Osama Bin Laden, had been killed by American forces, after being sought after for nearly ten years, since the 9/11 attacks. When everyone else screamed, “Woohoo!”, I said, “This is news?”. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2005, or maybe even earlier than that. The man with Kidney disease and a slew of other ailments who orchestrated massive terror plots around the world while wrapped in towels in a cave is finally dead. Personally, I thought he died years ago and it was just never released because we needed to keep the war going. As you have read on this blog, convenient events seem to happen that drive countries, namely the United States, to war. We needed Bin Laden all these years to have our little war, George W. Bush’s Holy Crusade, and now that it is finally reaching the height of its unpopularity, with whispers of our troops pulling out after nearly a decade of seeing our men and women killed so we can have
oil freedom, the man who caused all that needs to take an eternal nap.
This is not a conspiracy, folks, it is just another C-word: convenience. The United States has the most powerful intelligence and defense system on the planet—they probably know what I ate for breakfast this morning. I will leave my thoughts on the September 11th attacks alone, so you mean to tell me they could not find him all this time? How many thousands of people did we send into the desert looking for a man who was hold up in a mansion just a hundred miles outside of Pakistan’s capital? The US knew what they were in for, and still thought that an all-out war was the only way. How come, ten years ago, we couldn’t put together an elite team and send them looking? And more than ten years before that, we could have thanked Bin Laden for causing the fall of the Soviet Union, who saw their economy collapse and run out of money because they were chasing him all over Afghanistan.
To quell the idea that people may be thinking I am not happy about this, I will tell you that I am thrilled. The man who was involved in the attacks that brought down where my father used to work is dead—an icon of religious fanaticism. Let me be more specific: I am happy that he is dead, I am just not happy with how he came to die because it all fits into the storyline above. We need to start a war, so we go looking for someone evil. We need to keep the war going so we build up how hard it is to find him, and call for more troops. We need to end the war, so we kill him. Bin Laden dying in a shootout with US Navy Seals after we sent tens of thousands of soldiers scouring the desert for him is nothing less than our leaders (and I don’t mean generals) turning a blind eye. Bin Laden was right where he was supposed to be at the right time—perhaps we knew all along, but the American people are sheep who can be made to believe damn near everything.
On a more positive note, how thrilling is it to see the Democratic Obama administration get credit for the kill and not the war-mongering Bush Republicans? It is those same people who should be put on trial for war crimes that do not get to relish at the culmination of the campaign they started, which got the ball rolling to send 10,000 men and women to their deaths or life-long disability so that this day would come. The speech Sunday night by our president was nothing short of perfect. There was plenty of “I did…” and “I authorized” used, singling him out as the one who will get credit. There was only one mention of President Bush, and it was not in any context that people could think about wanting to give him credit too. My only question is, why release this information now? Had they waited closer to election time, the Republicans could have basically thrown their arms up in the air and said, “Just take it.” Instead it comes out now, and their must be a reason. The next few days and weeks should tell us what. I believe that Obama will now be reelected anyway. After all, how could he not? One of the most hated men in world history died under his watch? How can the Republicans attack that? Who has anything better than that to put on their resume? The party that started this war could not even finish it—that’s the irony.
So yes friends, these should be joyous days, despite my skepticism. Should the War on Terror finally come to an end because of this, then perhaps it was worth it. But until then, I will not be fully happy, not until all our soldiers come home, and this war in the Middle East is truly over.
EDIT: It has now been revealed that Bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea, in accordance with Muslim tradition (within 24 hours after death). While I have absolutely no problem with respecting their religion, was putting him out to sea really the best idea? The general public will now never get a chance to see the body, because it is doubtful that anything other than a blurry and obscured shot will be released. And people wonder why there are conspiracy theories…
Many experts are predicting that the price of a gallon of gas will skyrocket to around $5 this summer. This will leave many citizens wanting to cancel vacations and trips to relatives because they do not want to shell out a hundred dollars at the gas pump. Because the United States is obviously running low on oil, since we have no reserves of our own and currently occupy no foreign nations illegally which we could steal from them, I propose this two-year plan which will help keep gas at under or around $3 a gallon, an average which it is currently holding.
June 1, 2011: Without informing the elected government of the US, the shadow government comes up with a plan to invade the Kingdom of Wakawakaland, because of the country’s newly found oil reserves. Wakawakaland is a small, terrorist laden country whose tourist slogan bills them as being “Somewhere in the Glorious Middle East”. Because the population is so small, and they have no national army, they become an easy target.
June 5, 2011: The shadow government contacts leaders of a terrorist force of Wakawakalians to have them attack the United States so that we can, in turn, launch an invasion of their country. The sacrificial lamb will be Joe Biden.
July 4, 2011: After giving a twelve-hour speech on the importance of democracy, Joe Biden leaves a conference in Wakawakaland to go to the airport so he can return home. On the way, his motorcade is attacked by terrorists armed with water pistols. Following the aftermath of such a serious attack, the official report reads as follows: Casualties: 0, Damage: Clean windshield.
July 4, 2011: When news reaches back home that Biden is unharmed, Barack Obama does an epic facepalm, and the severity of such an attack on the United States of America is broadcast on the news day and night. Obama announces that we will “get revenge” on the terrorist faction. Those not on his side are labeled as “Un-American” and “Cowards”.
July 5, 2011: The army is put on full alert while congress scrambles to come up with a declaration of war. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now announces to the world that Wakawakaland is “chock full” of weapons of mass destruction, consisting of Nerf apparel and a Gatling water gun. She prepares a massive poster-board map of the country, spanning 25 feet by 10 feet, and stands on a podium holding a meter-stick, where she then points out a three millimeter wide speck in the bottom left-hand corner of the board, and states that the weapons of mass destruction are housed there.
July 6, 2011: The declaration of war is drawn up by congress. The only two senators who voted against it die in a plane crash in the middle of the Northwestern wilderness a year later.
July 10, 2011: While addressing the media on national television, Obama is asked, “Aren’t we overreacting?” to which the president responds with, “Why do you hate freedom?”
July 15, 2011: A government mandate stating that all those who own water pistols will be subject to wiretap and questioning. Five hundred first-graders are rounded up and held in prisons under treason charges. Guards pace up and down the interrogation rooms yelling, “What do you have against democracy?”
July 16, 2011: Barack Obama’s hair turns gray.
July 17, 2011: John Boehner cries.
July 26, 2011: Sarah Palin announces plans to take her TEA Party supporters on a private invasion of Wakawakaland. Because the government feels she is leading a private army and not a militia, she responds with, “Well, Dick Cheney did it.” She is detained for another four days. When she agrees to change the name of her army to Blackwater: The Sequel, they release her from prison and she is allowed to invade.
July 28, 2011: Halliburton officials are sent to Wakawakaland to guard oil wells before the invasion. A George W. Bush look-alike was seen hiding in the back of the lead truck.
July 30, 2011: Nancy Pelosi is attacked on the capital steps, also with a water-gun. She sustains no injuries except her makeup running off, revealing that she is actually a 75-year-old man named Steve.
August 1, 2011: The last pre-invasion plans are carried out to evacuate all the women in Wakawakaland. Bill Clinton volunteers to lead the rescue mission.
August 2, 2011: The invasion commences, as the United States drops fifteen trillion tons of bombs on the twenty-square mile wide country. They then drop baskets of food and water to those still alive.
August 3, 2011: The terrorist leader of Wakawakaland, Sheik Rick al-Dipietroziz goes into hiding in the country’s massive underground cave system. Though he has Kidney disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer, and Mesothelioma, he will survive for another twenty years, and never be captured by the United States.
August 4, 2011: Because the US realizes they will never capture DiPietroziz, they invade the neighboring country and execute their leader instead.
August 5, 2011: Sarah Palin and her contingent arrive in the jungles of Wakawakaland armed with M-16’s. They then realize that there are no jungles in Wakawakaland, and that they are actually on the wrong continent. A befuddled Palin breaks down and cries, saying that she cannot see Wakawakaland from her back yard.
August 6, 2011: Barack Obama’s hair turns white.
August 8, 2011: A navy destroyer arrives in Wakawakaland’s largest harbor, where the president announces that the mission has been accomplished.
August 30, 2011: A full investigation on the attack of vice president Biden is launched. It is created by the “House of Un-American Water Pistol Activity Commission”.
September 1, 2011: Joe Biden volunteers to chair the commission. When asked to state his name for the record, he speaks for twenty-five minutes.
September 20, 2011: The commission returns to session after a twenty day adjournment to absorb the chilling testimony given by Biden on the opening day. Monster Energy donates a thousand large cans to the commission members to help them concentrate when Biden talks.
September 25, 2011: John Boehner attacks Biden with his gavel. No one saw it.
November 1, 2011: Trillions of gallons of oil are finally being pumped out of Wakawakaland and sent to refineries in the United States.
November 2, 2011: Sarah Palin announces on Piers Morgan Tonight that she will be running for president in 2012. Morgan then has to be sedated and carried out on a stretcher live on the air after he laughs so hard he cannot breathe properly.
November 30, 2011: A troop of Wakawakalians attack the oil wells occupied by the Americans.
December 1, 2011: Barack Obama no longer has hair.
December 15, 2011: A constitutional amendment is ratified by a unanimous vote to stitch Joe Biden’s mouth shut. Simultaneously, Sarah Palin is placed under house arrest for “crimes against intelligence.”
July 4, 2012: A ceremony commemorating the terrorist attack takes place in Washington. At the end of his speech, Obama introduces Biden as the next speaker, but then pulls out a sign that reads, “LOL JK”.
October 10, 2012: Amidst the debates for the coming election, gas prices conveniently trickle down to $2.95 a gallon.
November 6, 2012: The election takes place, and though Palin is still under house arrest, she nonetheless emerged as the top Republican candidate. Obama wins by a landslide vote of 535 electoral votes to 3.
December 21, 2012: The world doesn’t end.