Hammer Questions New Battlefield

I was reading a story about this plan to forgive college student loan debt. It made me think of the day I made my last college loan payment – and how absolutely drunk I got that night. Paying off that boat anchor was like the 4th of July, Christmas and VE Day all rolled into one! I also was recalling how hungover I was after the big celebration. Even my hair hurt. The agony was so bad that just thinking about it now made the pain seem a little too real all over again.

I guess I was more lost in thought than I realized because I about jumped out of my seat when I realized a really, really large shadow was in my door, taking up the whole door frame. Sure enough, the huge shadow was John Hammer, an old friend I hadn’t seen in a quite a while.

“How closely are you following all this news out of China,” he asked in that deep, gravelly voice of his.

“Well, hey to you too John,” I said, trying to catch my breath. “It’s been, what, a year or so since you stopped by?”

If you don’t know the man called the Hammer, he’s as hard as tempered steel and has a neck that’s as red as a fire engine but a heart that bleeds pure American. He’s bigger than a tree house and his hands are as big as catcher mitts. And somehow, despite his size, he moves with the stealth of a cat.

“Look, Timmons, I’m not one much for conspiracy theories, but this China stuff is getting a little weird.”

“How’s that, John?”

“OK, everyone knows about the spy balloon thing – and in fact, a lot of people laughed that off,” he said. “Everyone said that there wasn’t anything that balloon could see that satellites didn’t already have their eyes on. But tell me this, what about the reports that said it could collect cell phone data?”

“Look John, I seriously doubt that China needs a balloon to do that.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “But we know that a balloon can spend a lot more time over a specific space – like this one did over the 341st Missile Wing in Montana. And did you know Timmons that an article in PLA Daily called the altitude where that balloon was the “new battlefield?”

“John, what’s the PLA Daily?” I asked.

“The PLA is the People’s Liberation Army.”

I stared.

“It’s like our armed forces, Timmons. It’s their army, navy, air force, space force and everything. Don’t you keep up on this stuff?”

Apparently not.

“You know me, Timmons. I’m not some nut wearing aluminum foil hats. But back in the 1940s, we had some pretty big clues that Japan was going to attack us. I’m not saying China is, but we do know they’ve been building up their nuclear arsenal. We know that Taiwan could be a big issue. We know that the head general of our Air Mobility Command wrote a memo saying we’d be in a war with China by 2025. We know-”

“Hang on there, John,” I jumped in. “What about being in a war? Who said that?”

“It’s a four-star general named Mike Minihan,” Hammer said. “Timmons, I thought you were in the news business?”

I had nothing.

“I’ll tell you this, Timmons. I don’t know what I don’t know. But you got all that, plus what’s pretty much been confirmed about COVID-19 starting in a lab over there and you got both the U.S. and China doing some saber rattling . . . Add to that the weakest administration we’ve had in Washington in a long time and it just feels a little like things are starting to build up. I hope I’m worrying about nothing. I hope I’m wrong.”

With that Hammer left as quietly as he came and that old hangover really was feeling a bit too real again.

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Wednesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at [email protected]