Monday, June 30, 2014
I have never done anything like the sailboat gig that is ahead of me, but I am looking forward to it. I was told it really sometimes takes a full week to achieve relaxation, and week two is where the relaxing actuaaly occurs. It appears to be working that way for me. The Kittens have all sorts of grand plans on how to spend their last day here, but I will simply read, veg, and wash some skivvies and some foul smelling t-shirts.
On your next trip to the Carribean, I recommend eating the spiny lobster. It has a slightly different taste than coldwater varieties, but is wonderful nonetheless. Eating has been my main activity here, and I have excelled at it. To offset some of the gluttony, I hiked along a "trail" over the top of the mountain behind our place yesterday. There were periods of real paths, but mostly a lot of rocky footing that invited death or serious injury. The Kitten comforted me as I set out by reminding me of the island triathalon later in the day, and the likelihood that SOMEONE would stumble over my body. So I had that going for me. It was a good workout and I did indeed defy death. Enough for now friends, peace.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
I am of course a Reagan kinda guy. That doesn't mean I agree with everything Reagan did, far from it. His second term was a damned joke and a testament to the folly of playing defense rather than going on the attack and moving the ball downfield (thanks Don Regan and Howard Baker). No I mean I'm a believer in limited government, sound monetary policy and maximum personal and economic freedom. The Establishment apparently believes none of that as exemplified by GWB's expansion of government. So in this war, the same war since 1964, you will have to choose sides. What I propose is a way to win this war.
Now, let me just say, we Reaganites have been good soldiers. We've contributed and we've voted for candidates we didn't believe in out of party loyalty and sometimes out of a fear for the Democrat opponent. But for the most part we've been there when the Party needed us. Not so with the Establishment wing. The Cuccinelli loss in Virginia and this latest episode in Mississippi in which the Establishment aligned themselves with the Democrat Party and their hordes of dirty tricksters shows me the Establishment is going for the throat. Inclusion and "Big Tent" doesn't mean Tea Party types apparently. Therefore I'm staying home this November.
In my state we have a pretty competitive Senate race going on between Kay Hagan and Tom Tillis. Tillis defeated Greg Brannon (the REAL conservative) in the primary due mostly to national party support, the support guys like Cuccinelli were denied. I don't think the national party should be involved in primaries period but I certainly will not pay for my own demise.
So good luck in November to the "go slow" Democrats who control our party. Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller would be so proud. But it's time for an amicable divorce.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Second, the place spreads along the shore beautifully, but we are at one end, comletely opposite from the pool and removed from the little shops, pub and such. Long walks are required for just about anything, in addition to multiple stair climbs.
All of this walking and climbing is essential, because there is no gym. I really have come to be pretty particular about lodging and gyms. Hell, if I am expected to eat like I am on vacation, I damn sure better be able to work it off.
Next is internet. I don't care to listen to the bullshit, "you're on vacation, why do you need internet?" this is the 21st century, and lots of folks live their lives with the internet as a valuable tool for work and play. I dont mind paying for internet, just give me the option. ATT is where I turned to enable this post, but I should get wifi in my room.
Pretty minor bitches, all in all. It really is a bit of paradise, and properly supported, I could live for extended periods here. For some reason, I like seeing the Flag of the UK here. Comforting to know that at the end of this food chain is the Queen and our best friend.
As some might be disappointed if I did not decribe my travelling rig, I describe it as "soccer Dad geek"' with a pair of plaid shorts, a blue collared shirt, and running shoes with ankle high Nike socks (Just Do What?). I wore the trainers rather than flip flops solely as a logistical matter, as sneakers take up a good bit of suitcase. My attire here has improved over my travel rig, but let's just say, thank goodness for long sleeved sun shirts.
The Kitten has decreed that we dine tonight at some place other than our Gtmo like resort, which appears to involve somewhat of an extensive walk. I look foward to reaching our destination in max-schvitz, and then achieving that state again on the walk home. Cheers!
I type from the porch of my little hillside retreat on Virgin Gorda BVI overlooking the North Sound. In my view not four miles away is Richard Whatshisname from Virgin Atlantic's Island called Nekkar. The place I inhabit until July 1 is a resort firmly fixed in The Kitten's mind from her post college days teaching sailing to teenagers. It is called The Bitter End Yacht Club, and for the sailing set, this is where it's at. There is a constant breeze blowing here, but even a breeze doesn't cool real hot, and away from the shade of my porch it is really hot. I woke a bit ago from a well-earned nap and decided to check in with you folks. I parted with sixty sheckels to purchase some international roaming time and so am making use of the surprisingly stron cellular signal here. The Kitten has alighted with the oldest Kitten for some snorkeling, which came in second place to the nap.
This is a lovely place, with everything one could ask for. The food is wonderful the scenery is sublime, the staff is friendly, and the weather is perfect. But I wouldn't be me if I couln't find a few nits to pick would I?
First, there is no air conditioning. I have listened to the Kitten drone on about how there is no need for a/c down here, and she is mostly right. For instance, it is the heat of the day right now, and I am quite comfortable on the porch. However, i am wearing next to nothing. I awoke last night drenched with sweatlying in a pool of my own making. When I glanced up, I could see that the ceiling fan was not moving. That's all it took. I simply like the world better when I can duck into a 72 degree oasis.
Friday, June 27, 2014
My recent predictions proved more wrong than right, but hey, that's why they play the game. The big surprises were perennial powerhouses England, Italy and defending champion Spain all stomped all over the peckers to an early and mortifying exit. Three of the most talented teams in the world (at least on paper) posted a combined total of 7 points out of a possible 27. Milano's La Gazzeta dello Sport said it all: "Way to go lads, NOW STAY GONE!"
This was a great shock to European pride (arrogance might be a better word) but thems the breaks. All is not lost however as Germany, Holland and France are doing well and the Belch and Greeks are in so they can't complain too much, unless you're Italian, Spanish or English of course.
The Americans squeaked in through the backdoor on goal differential (too bad Renaldo) so I take back everything I said about Herr Klinsmann. I'm really shocked at how well the Mexicans are playing. The Mexico/Brazil match was probably the best nil all game I've ever seen.
You see you silly Americans, it's about action not scoring, that's one thing you dumbass Americans will never understand. Your granddaddy knew it when baseball was legit, now we gets scores of 12-9 IN THE 6TH INNING! Speaking of baseball the difference between a base hit and a foul is literally milliseconds, and so it is with football (soccer). Check out Robin Van Persie's goal up top, absolutely brilliant!
The overachievers are Chile, Costa Rica and the US. Clint Dempsey has been amazing! We let Portugal steal a draw and we had quite a few opportunities against Germany and could have won that one, but as Ben Hogan said about a very young Jack Nicklaus, "If he knew HOW to win he would have beaten everybody today". At the very least we earned Germany's respect and put the world on notice not to take the Americans lightly. Costa Rica, our qualifying group partner is also looking fantastic! Not bad for a small little Central American country. Small is good (at least that's what I keep telling the wife).
So, next up is the tough-shit-you're-done-don't-let-the-door-hit-you-in-the-ass-on-the-way-out round. The most interesting and the most anticipated (for me anyway) is the Netherlands/Mexico match on Sunday. They've both been playing well and are well matched, should be a great one. The US plays Belgium and I think we might just get by these guys but if we do we'll probably have Argentina and THE MAN himself waiting, Lionel Messi (4 goals in three games for an undefeated side). It'll probably be curtains for us but what the hell, had a good run.
Correction: Last time I wrote on this subject I said Cameroon was called "The Tigers". Must be old age or too much Clemson football but they are of course called "Les Lions Indomptables" (The Indomitable Lions). I'm ashamed and embarrassed by this error and I beg your forgiveness.
Now you know what I know so piss off, I got shit to do.
THE SMARTEST MAN IN THE WORLD
(well at least Irishman) is celebrating his birthday!
Although his age is guarded with the zeal of Hillary and Bill Clinton's medical records, I have it on good authority that CW is today 49 years young (he looks twice that, but that's another story).
So, to the man who's self absorption knows no bounds, the man with whom the "selfie" has become an obsession (it runs in the family), the man who's fashion sense parallels a psychotic's grasp of reality, I think I can speak for us all when I say congratulations on such a momentous occasion and many happy returns.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Well it worked. Our Tea Party candidate (or as I choose to describe them, conservative advocates for freedom and the rule of law under our Constitution) lost by 25-35k votes, cast by crossover Democrats who were scared shitless that their right to vote would be taken away.
Since when did the Republicans become the party of demagoguery? Since when did they use slimy dirty tricks and scare tactics to manipulate the ignorant out of a vote? Since when did they go down the road of ignoring the wishes of their own people and just "import" new people that were a little more malleable?
If you can judge someone or something by their enemies then the Republican Party establishment and Barack Obama have a good deal in common. This isn't the first time this has happened and it won't be the last. A guy with a 57% conservative rating is NOT the kind of guy Mississippians need in the US Senate. Furthermore, if the Republican Party wants to blow it's wad on other Republicans rather than the Democrats then have at it, but you'll do it without me.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Unless I find a computer with a keyboard, I probably won't blog until I get home. Can't stand blogging on my iPad.
Hopefully the inmates will not destroy the asylum.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
|John Koskinen, Commissioner of the IRS and Face of Arrogant Government|
That he is the Commissioner of the IRS is reason enough to have distaste for Mr. Koskinen. That he is a strong contributor to Democrats and the Democratic Party is another. The third strike is his philanthropy at Duke, which could be the biggest reason to despise him. Whatever your reasons for disliking him, his blatant stonewalling and "see no evil" approach to the loss of these emails is enraging.
While I should have been watching the College World Series, my attention was called to the theater of the absurd going on last night as Mr. Koskinen testified before a House Panel. Lord grant me Mr. Koskinen's demeanor should I ever be subject to adversarial questioning...I can surely say that. But at the heart of this matter is the fact that the IRS was not following GOVERNMENT REQUIRED document retention procedures, that it paid out $87M in bonuses and spent $50M in conferences (2010-2012) but did not have the money to backup its email (it printed those it considered to be "official", which apparently none of the 67,000 Lois Lerner emails were).
One of two things is true, and possibly both. One...there is a coverup that goes to the very heart of the Obama Administration, that the IRS and the Obama Campaign conspired to target/silence Conservative groups and then covered their tracks. Two...there is a profound ineptitude in modern American government, that it cannot do many simple things right, that such government is increasingly turned to by this administration as the answer to solving big problems and that we are consistently realizing that such government cannot possibly do what it is being asked to do.
The agency charged with a good deal of the enforcement of Obamacare--the IRS--cannot back up its own files. Let that sink in, friends.
When will the American public wake up to how badly they've been duped? The video of Democratic lawmakers APOLOGIZING to the Commissioner of the IRS should be part of virtually every RNC ad buy for the next two years.
We have entered some kind of bizzaro-world where the IRS is seen as a victim and an obfuscating bureaucrat is hailed as a hero. Get your head out of your ass, America.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Last night I prepared myself a dinner that would have gone over like a fart in church with the Kitten/Kittens. Grilled lamb chops, Zataraine's Red Beans and Rice, and Brussel Sprouts. I cooked twice as much as I would eat specifically with tonight's dinner in mind, which would be a repeat performance. I thought about the Red Beans and Rice through most of the day; if you haven't tried, I recommend them.
What a joy the meal was tonight. Just as good as last night, but with only three and a half minutes of microwave time standing between its liberation from the refrigerator and my gullet--as opposed to the preparation that went into last night's rendition. I do this quite a bit--especially when I am solo. Steak doesn't age well in the refer, but pasta does. Again, the Kittens won't eat pasta that has been in the refer, so I get little side joys with many meals that I do not have to fear sharing with their hungry little selves, as they pass on the delight.
I wonder if someday when they are paying their own way, the girls will embrace the joys of leftovers. Not out of some newfound Dickensian flintiness; rather, an appreciation of the goodness that went into the meal in the first place, and the delights of round 2.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
But the draft wasn't all bad even though it was entirely corrupt when it came to who was and wasn't drafted. The biggest advantage of a draft, at least in terms of a societal good is that it puts people together from different backgrounds in close quarters where they have to get to know each other. Cooperation breaks down stereotypes and America is so big and diverse (I hate that word) that without something like this we tend to factionalize. Inner city brothers thrown in with Rednecks along with Chicanos and Indians and Mini-soda white boys (the whitest of the white) and Maniacs (folks from Maine), Mass-holes, Nebraska farmer boys and California suffer dudes, Okies, Cajuns, you name it. It exposes everybody to everybody else and most come to find out that Puerto Ricans or Crackers don't have horns.
In addition it takes one from their support network and they have to create a new one. It shows them how others do it (or at least how the Army does it) and they'll be less likely to go back to 125th Street and look for the nearest heroin dealer or welfare office. The services are great teachers of discipline and duty, plus they tend (but not always) to be a meritocracy.
I admire the military. I wish I had used my military experience to greater value. The military offered so much that I failed to take advantage of to my own detriment and the military's as well. But I did my duty and everything that was asked of me, so value for value, I don't owe them anything and they don't owe me anything. But the experience was invaluable in that it showed me the world and the people in it. It stimulated my curiosity and showed me I had options. It gave me the confidence that I could go anywhere and take my best shot. THAT my friends is just one of the reasons we need a draft, otherwise we'll go the way of Rome with hundreds of different peoples and languages under the same roof. It didn't work then and it won't work now.
|Cpl Kyle Carpenter, USMC. Hero.|
It is not difficult to see how we got to this point. We drafted young men who went off to die in what became a very unpopular war. We then decided the draft was inconsistent with our values, so we went to an all-volunteer force. Over the years, the maintenance and sustainment of that force became increasingly expensive, as the military was forced to compete with the civilian job market in the "battle for people". Salaries and benefits rose. An web of ever-increasing inducements resulted, including child care, medical benefits and educational stipends.
At the same time, we--as a society--rethought our reaction to the Vietnam War. We had grown ashamed of our participation in it and to some extent, ashamed of our role in the world. Among other things, Ronald Reagan helped get us over that. We became proud of ourselves again. We began to admire the military. Our actions in Grenada helped showcase the effectiveness of the all volunteer force. The bombing of the Embassy in Lebanon created great sympathy for the Marines killed there. The removal of a corrupt regime in Panama followed closely by the first Gulf War showed that we could indeed have a powerful fighting force without a draft.
And we began to feel guilty. No longer was military service something that everyone at least had the possibility of experiencing. No, it now became that which others did. We created essentially an army of mercenaries, detached from the greater civilization, paid to do our dirty work. We admired them, but we did not understand them. It was the way zoo visitors regard the animals.
|This is NOT a Hero.|
And so now we are left in the situation that we have created a military that does not necessarily "look like" America, who fights our wars for us (while we become "exhausted" by war) not under penalty for desertion but for a package of pay, benefits and retirement that are by any account, generous. Additionally, we feel guilty that our own sons and daughters are not part of this force, and perhaps, we feel guilty that we ourselves have not served. Who among us sees pictures of Navy Seals or Air Force fighter pilots and does not compare our self, badly in most cases? Nowhere has this impulse reached its height greater than in the U.S. Congress, a place that once was dominated by those who had served in the military, but which now can scrape together only a handful of members who understand what serving actually feels like.
This sense of guilt, this sense of having others do the dirty work for us has created a situation in which not only can legislators not find the courage to question the utility/effectiveness of the generous benefit packages they provide, but that they find great political benefit in pilling on even more, playing to this zombie-like adoration of the military. Whereas once this great nation reared up and sent its WWII veterans to college en masse, unleashing a dynamic force that benefited this nation for decades, we now provide funding so that the children of the currently serving can attend private high schools. As a young man, I joined a Navy in which I was told that after twenty years, I could retire and enjoy medical care at military treatment facilities. That now has morphed into a program that provides me world class healthcare at civilian facilities for the cost of one latte a week, a cost that was supposed to increase with inflation but which had not done so between 1998 and 2013 due to Congressional cowardice.
When there was a draft, the public and legislators had borne similar burdens to those who serve. They had a better idea of the deprivations AND the benefits. They recognized the difference between a legitimate "hero" and someone who served honorably--and there is a vast difference. And they had the moral standing to be able to more sensibly determine what was useful and what was excessive in determining total compensation for the force. They can no longer do this. We are a society with a huge guilt complex that plays out in what we have created, which is a new dependency class made up of those who serve and have served aided and abetted by veterans groups that wave the bloody shirt any time a politician has the guts to say, "hey, why don't we look at reforming this..."
I applaud Captain Summers for his piece in the Post. But somehow, I have a feeling that he is just another voice in the wilderness, one more voice to be drowned-out by the din of entitlement and dependency.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
In the meantime, I have six days to myself here at home, except for two labs and two cats. With a colossal amount of work to do before I check out for two weeks, today's overcast/rain provide a good atmosphere for getting the jump on it.
No doubt you have suspected, I landed in a pretty nice situation here with the Kittens. Not much to complain about, and if I did, you wouldn't give a crap anyway. But I've learned a lot about myself in the past seven years, and the biggest lesson is that I'm a hell of a lot more introverted than I thought I was. I am a Myers Brigs ENTJ , with the "NTJ" attributes being very strong. The "E" however is always ...just over the line from I. Sure, I run a blog and write about the most mundane things in my life. And I am a Facebook exhibitionist. But when it comes right down to it, I really, really like occasional alone time. Just me. Eating what I want. Watching when I want. Sleeping when I want. Working when I want. This was coincidentally, the way I generally lived my life as a single man, and while the benefits of familial living are manifest, the absolute selfishness of singleness doesn't play well within that context. And so, like a bear riding a bike in the circus (h/t Garrison Keillor, who said a monogamous man is like a bear riding a bike in the circus--you can teach him to do it, but he'd rather be in the woods doing things that bears do), I have come to enjoy my family life. Seriously. I definitely prefer this--but these little interludes of solitude really are good for my soul.
I have decamped from the ManCave to the kitchen, having lugged my all-in-one computer over here to take advantage of the views, the air conditioning and the company of the dogs. No family meals will occur here for a few days, so I have untrammeled access to the kitchen table. The refrigerator is gleaming, having been denuded of the accumulated excess of vegetation and other kitten related overages. My single guy refrigerator was a monument to efficient living. All the right condiments, with their expiration dates, and just the minimums necessary to accomplish my eating goals. The freezer tends to explode with the tasty flesh of various quadrupeds, winged creatures and denizens of the sea, but the refer always appears half full, the way I like it.
We have a heated pool, but the water temperature sensor went bad, according to the Kitten (whose technical skills vastly outstrip mine). My well-earned reputation for both a distaste for and ineptness with home repairs led to her deciding to put off the repair until after we return. On a whim yesterday, I searched YouTube for any hints on this issue and there it was....a whole video dedicated to pulling off this exact repair! What a chance to prove my manhood! To contest my father's famous declaration that I "...do not know the business end of a screwdriver." I called the local pool supply store and indeed, they had the right part. Having purchased it, I next needed to wrestle with the whole "electrical safety" issue, which meant isolating the pool equipment. I'd never actually seen the breakers, but there they were, on the panel in the basement. Once isolated, the repair took about twenty minutes and I now have a fully functioning pool heater. The spa blower and its gas heater are down though....and I'll need a real electrician for help with that. But little victories accumulate, friends!
After a pretty long day of non-handy-man related paying work, I purchased a nice ribeye from Acme and grilled it for dinner. Perfect. I've come to decide that the ribeye is indeed, the tastiest cut. Don't get me wrong, I like a filet every now and then, and a NY strip can be devine...but for consistent taste? The ribeye is king. All that fat, I think. After dinner, I began my periodic re-watching of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (Blue-Ray, Special Extended Edition), something I take on EVERY time I get extended periods of solitude. I once watched all three back to back to back while gorging myself with chicken wings. Heaven. But I was more moderate last night, enjoying only two heaping tablespoons of peanut butter washed down by a few cups of coffee.
At 10PM, I decided to go to bed. This in and of itself is uninteresting; what is worth recounting is that I estimate being asleep at 10:05PM! My Kitten is a bit of a night owl, you see, and going to bed generally begins a period of conversation, much of which sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher to me after I begin to lose consciousness. This is primarily my fault, as I generally tend to go out to the ManCave after dinner to work, so that pre-sleep time is necessary to work out the issues of our life. But last night! Right to sleep. No CPAP machine. No conversation. Eye mask on. Earplugs in. And sleep straight through to 0900. Glorious.
Today is mostly work, though I did slip out and buy a couple of obscene crab cakes for dinner, along with my pampered dog's food. We have some friends coming to stay in our house when I leave (next time, Hammer) , and taking care of the cats won't be an issue. The dogs are a bit different though. They get into everything, they are awesome but only modestly trained, and they mostly respect their electric fence. I decided to put them up in a local well-regarded kennel, but I'm pretty sure I'll worry about them most every day I'm gone. Needed to make sure I had plenty of food for them.
The whole "should we get a dog" and then "should we get another dog" always boiled down to me to the "what will we do with them when we go away?" Question. It really bothered me...and I'm not entirely sure it doesn't still. Part of me was of the opinion that getting dogs would slow us down, keep us from traveling/doing stuff. I know that's selfish, but that's the way it is. Now that I have them, wouldn't trade them for the world, but....
With the posting of this piece, you may be saying, "hey, what happened to the eSabbath". The eSabbath was entirely designed to ensure that I gave my family my attention during that time. Since they're gone, no need for an eSabbath. Around 3pm today, I'll turn on the TV with the sound off to watch the rain-interrupted UVA/Ole Miss College World Series game. If UVA wins, they go to the championship to face the winner of today's Texas/Vandy game. If they lose, they play Ole-Miss again, as this round is double elimination. They've had awesome pitching lately, but their bats have been a little quiet. Hopefully that ends today.
Ok, back to work.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I knew nothing about Newport when the ship pulled in, but one of my new buddies there was an old hand, having gone to college at Holy Cross and then spending summers there. I was unprepared for just how much fun the town could be, but I put my 22 year old liver and newfound steady paycheck to work seeing just how far both could go. Not alone, it seemed the entire wardroom was on a similar mission. I'm not sure how much actual maintenance got done that summer, but I do remember an awful lot of tough hangovers, good meals, and shoreside chicanery.
This was the beginning of a love-affair with Newport that continues to this day. You see, the surface force of the US Navy has much of its training base there, and I would return to Newport for extended periods three more times in my career. Additionally, it is the home of the Naval War College, and so during my last tour at the Pentagon when I worked on strategy, many more trips to Newport were necessary. Only once in my career did a long stay in Newport coincide with Summer, but I learned to love the place in winter anyway. Christmas in Newport really is a great thing.
In fact, the first holiday I spent away from home was Thanksgiving, 1987, when I had my soon to be wife (an then ex-wife) up for the Thanksgiving break. We cooked a Perdue chicken in our antiquated stove and had a wonderful time. My worst memory of that time wasn't specific, so much as it was the general pain of walking from where Ensigns were allowed to park to the trailers that served as steam engineering school at the time. Perched right on the shores of the Naragansett Bay, the wind seemed constantly to assault on directly, and I have never known cold like those walks to the trailers.
I returned to Newport late August of 1993 to attend Department Head School, a little older and wiser, and tending to the demise of my four year marriage. These were the early months of my great eschewing of alcohol, and there was something very different about the place (from my first stay) without the aid of copious amounts of beer. I still loved it, but for different reasons. Those who were at this school with me had chosen to make the Navy a career, each of us having had already prime opportunities to jump ship and head off into the civilian world. Many were married with children. In fact most were. As a(n) (almost) single guy, I was something of a novelty. I spent six months there this time, living in the carriage house of one of the great mansions of Newport that had been turned into condos. It was a time of semi-serious study and the making of lifelong friends.
In the Summer of 1999, I was back for XO school, which wasn't really long enough to merit getting a place in town, so I, like the rest of my class, bunked in the "Suisse Chalet" on base, which was an execrable existence in a bad "public private venture" hotel that scooped up our per-diem and provided us with meager shelter. In the Spring of 2004 I was back for CO school and back in the Suisse Chalet.
This week, I am at a nice little spot just over the town line from Newport in Middletown, to attend the Current Strategy Forum at the War College, a two-day gathering of navalists and active duty folks brought here to commiserate over the sorry state of you pick it A) the Navy B) the making of strategy C) Navy Strategy D) Strategists. I have known many of the people here for years now, and like most of them. My plane landed Monday afternoon and I drove my rental car from Providence on a delightful Spring day. I don't know if you've every approached Newport from Jamestown before, but there is a huge bridge connecting the two, higher in span than one would ordinarily be for such a place, but this was to accommodate the aircraft carriers built once upon a time near Quonset. As you crest the height of the bridge, the view laid out before you is beautiful, with the War College on your port bow and the old town of Newport broad to starboard. As I made this drive Monday, I found myself drifting back in time to the earlier trips I'd made there by car, usually to being long stays. I remembered the anticipation of a new step in my career, the thrill of being thrown in with a new group of folks that I didn't know, and the virtual certainty that when it was over, I would have new friends for life.
Perhaps that is why I love Newport. It is so very closely associated in my mind with good friends. I'm here for the remainder of the day, then it is back to Easton for a week before I start an extended vacation. More news on that later.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Let me make a couple of assumptions. I will assume Obama is getting pressure from the Hispanic organizations who are most likely threatening to stay home come the midterm. I will also assume that Obama, being a Kim Philby type (having been raised for the most part outside the country by a rabidly anti-American activist, speaks like an American and is culturally a good approximation of an American but is in fact NOT really an American) doesn't care one wit about the country and is actively working for "change" (in this instance the end of the white European power structure). From Obama and Holder's perspective anything and everything that contributes to that goal is to be pursued and unlimited Hispanics immigration fits the bill just fine. The brown people's history is after a generation (if it takes that) they go from the hard working third worlders "do anything for a buck" to a gangbanging dependent class more than willing to bleed the host country dry, after all, everything the gringo has he stole.
But there's a problem. O&H view Hispanics as just another coalition partner along with unions, gays, Islamists (yes it's true) etc., but they aren't. After Whitey looses control do blacks think we're all going to be this big multicultural hodgepodge of sweetness and light? If the day comes when Hispanics are a majority in California or Arizona, what do you think the prospects will be for African Americans in those states?
Maybe B&H haven't thought this through. They love shaking the tree but haven't a clue where the leaves might fall, and let me just say this with total confidence, if Hispanics gain control of the SouthWest they will fall on blacks first. Hispanics have very little love for blacks, and they suffer none of the guilt we white Americans have by the boatload. As far as they are concerned they're just reclaiming their own land and I doubt the Al Sharptons or Rev. Barbers of the world will be tolerated for one damn second. In fact, civil unrest like we've never seen before will inevitably be the outcome...and I'm talking massive loss of life and destruction.
Americans are spoiled. As Bismarck said, we're a world power with two weak nations and two oceans for borders, about as good as it gets. But the America haters are more than willing to import our problems. O&H had best watch out, once something like this gets rolling it's hard to stop and they could be importing their own doom.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
But, to be honest me and pop really didn't get on. I think I had WAY too much of my mother's side to suit him. He was stoic, humorless, severely critical and intimidating. If the definition of a good parent is provider-protector-teacher then Ed was batting 1000, 500 and 0. What I learned from him I learned through osmosis. He had zero patience and an ultra-low tolerance for bullshit or bullshitting. Horsing around would get a foot in your ass faster than a Marine DI with a hypertestosterone disorder.
He enjoyed the appearance of respectability but at his core was anything but. I believe that man is a spiritual being that must worship something be it material goods, status, a supreme being...something, but NOT worshiping is not an option. Ed worshiped money and tail (in that order). I don't think he necessarily liked women per se but he enjoyed the pursuit and conquest (as we all do) and of course the physical aspect. After I got old enough to know what was happening I never knew him not to have a little something on the side, but he was always VERY discreet (Ed never EVER ratted on himself). My uncle (Ed's brother) used to borrow my apartment for his dangerous liaisons (at the time 25 years happily married) so it runs in the family I guess.
He worked liked a madman. He worked so much he couldn't relax unless he was asleep. He could have retired at 45 and lived comfortable for the rest of his life (and I'm sure prolonged his life) but he just couldn't help himself. He had a nice house but not many material possessions. He was cheap as all get out. He wouldn't spring for cable and I can't imagine what he would have thought of cellphones. About a year before he died he bought a brand new Silverado pickup, loaded. He drove it for a week and sold it, went back to his '71 Cadillac. We tried to tell him to take a little time for himself and enjoy the fruits of his labor but he would just give you that look, as if to say "Ya lazy little bastard, I'm a bidnezman and this is what we do".
He had a reputation for offering good terms on deals, but look out if you tried to screw him. He had a vindictive streak a mile wide. He once caught one of his employees stealing from his warehouse: An older lady called and complained that she didn't appreciate his workers urinating out front even if it was 5:30 in the morning....BUSTED! He didn't get on with the prosecutor and therefore hired his own prosecuting attorney (possible in those days). The guy did nine years at Caledonia.
I could go on and on with stories about Ed, some were funny as hell but most I'm still trying to forget. But after 28 years I have to say I miss the old buzzard. I won't say he gets a pass for some of his shit but he was what he was and in hindsight I sorta, kinda accept it. Like so many people he went after what he THOUGHT would bring him the most happiness, and there in lies the rub. All the womanizing and money grubbing obviously scratched some itch, but in the end I'd be surprised if he thought it was worth it. He paid for his sins (dropped death at 56 from a worn out, depleted body) so he got what was coming to him. But like a wayward child I just wish I could go back and talk some sense into him... but he wouldn't have listened.
In the Spring of 1987, I graduated (on a Sunday) from UVA. On Monday, I played golf with my friends, and on Tuesday, I drove from Charlottesville to Norfolk to report for duty to my first ship--the USS MCCANDLESS (FF 1084). We NROTC types did not get the Naval Academy "basket leave" time off after graduation, so most of my class was doing the same thing, heading off to their first assignments. Additionally, we got virtually no choice in where we were headed, so a fourteen year old frigate in the time of hot AEGIS Cruisers and Spruance class destroyers was not necessarily the bee's knees.
I wound up serving for three years in MCCANDLESS and made lifelong friends there. She was a bite-sized ship, perfect for a young man with little or no mechanical skills to cuts his teeth on. I learned a ton there, made two Med deployments and was held hostage by Fleet Training Group Guantanamo Cuba for twelve weeks of an eight week REFTRA.
So when a group of folks from the ship decided to organize (Facebook) a reunion, I got in touch with some of the seminal figures of our time on that ship and we conspired to join the fun. That these lame, weak, once great, former friends ultimately dropped out of the event toward the end of the planning did not dampen my desire to attend.
A ship reunion is sort of an odd thing, in that MCCANDLESS was in service for twenty years or so, and so the overwhelming majority of the people in the room were not in fact, enjoying a "reunion" at all. I served with six or seven of the people in the room of sixty or seventy. We were however, all bound together by the experience of having served. There were two "plankowners" there, guys from the crew that built the ship. There were tales of deployments, of collisions, of groundings (yep, the Mighty Mac had both!). The guys I served with that showed up were pretty much all of the same kind of Sailor--"Operations Specialists", or OS's.
I've always liked OS's. As the ship's Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, I worked most closely with OS's and Sonar Techs. Sonar Techs were "my guys", but because of the way a ship hunts subs, I spent more time with the OS's. Keep in mind, this was the last few years of the Evil Empire, and while the MCCANDLESS was a pretty modestly capable ship, we could do one thing well--hunt Soviet subs. And these guys were really good at it.
I worked with OS's very closely for the two ships after MCCANDLESS too. These are very bright guys, any one of which could have been doing my job if they had either chosen to do so or had the means to pursue the options I did. The leader of this bunch--JD McClure--then--was the main impetus in gathering them for this event.
I flew from BWI to STL via Atlanta (yech) and rolled in to the hotel about an hour before things got started. After a quick workout, I headed to the bar, there to be greeted by Gadsen Edward "Ed" Rule, the Supply Officer for most of my tour. Suppo is a great guy, and he was ultra-competent. It was great to see him and to hear his uproarious laugh again after a long, long time. Then I ran into the OS crowd, and had a lively reunion conversation with them.
At dinner, I spent the time with three older officers, guys who served in MCCANDLESS ten years or so before I did. Really good guys, one of whom went to law school after he left the Navy, practiced law for a while, then went to Med school. Now he's a professor at Tulane teaching medicine.
It was a serious mix of people, just like a ship's crew. One guy rode his Harley with his girl across the South to get there, mostly in the rain. There was an emcee of the event, who spent most of the evening walking around with a microphone interviewing people. All in all, it was a wonderful event, and it was good to see folks I haven't run into in a long time. I need to thank my Dad (Happy Father's Day, Dad) for suggesting I attend. It was a good call.
Now I'm on a flight to Atlanta for onward movement to BWI. Very early start, and the guy who drove me to the airport thought I had committed a sin against nature that I would spend only one night there and see nothing. I begged a busy schedule and promised someday to see the sites. If the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce needs a new Director, I know the guy.
The airport experience in the last two days confirms two suspicions of mine. One, that Americans are simply not getting any smarter, and two, I am simply not getting any more tolerant. We've been at this ridiculous bullshit TSA stuff for thirteen years now. Let's get with it people. It is not that hard. Take stuff out of your pockets. Take your belt off. Take your shoes off. Take your computer out. Take your little baggie of liquids out. There really ought to be a penalty box for people to have to go sit in who cluelessly hold up the ultra-efficient among us.
I paid a little extra to fly biz class on Air Tran this trip. Doesn't get you much more than a wider seat and early boarding, but these things matter to me and so here I am. In flight WiFi is a great boon to the traveling blogger, there 's no doubt about that.
Happy Father's Day to all the Dads reading this. You make more of a difference than you know.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Monday, June 9, 2014
Sunday, June 8, 2014
1. The Administration was absolutely correct in attempting to secure SGT Bergdahl's release. This is the basic unit of issue of trust that military members and their families have come to expect. That the Administration continued throughout Bergdah's absence to try to secure his release is good, honorable, and right.
2. SGT Bergdahl is guilty of nothing. That's correct. He has not been accused of or charged anything, and in our system, he remains an innocent man. This--by the way--is one of the very things that we who have served are signing up to protect. We give an oath to the Constitution, and this presumption of innocence is a by-product of the rights extended ALL Americans under this document.
Now, let's get to the debatable part.
1. This canard that "we don't leave anyone behind" has become conflated with a sense that "...we should do everything necessary to get our prisoners back." This is absolute bunk. To prove it, let's do a little thought experiment. Let's say that Corporal Joe Boffamatta receives the Medal of Honor for heroism, and then rejoins his unit in Afghanistan. In the course of a firefight with the Taliban in which he personally kills 14 and saves the lives of 11 of his own men, he is captured, and is seen being beaten and led off tied up by his captors. Here we have a case of a man who is BEYOND THE SHADOW OF A DOUBT brave, and loyal and worth getting home. In negotiations with the Taliban over his release, the Mullahs say, "yes, you can have him back, but we would like the City of Secaucus, NJ in exchange. Would we take the deal? Should we take the deal? Of course not. These are silly questions. But I use them to illustrate the undeniable fact that the exchange of prisoners follows a logic of return on investment and deal-making.
2. SGT Bergdahl's conduct and the circumstances of his disappearance are important and should be investigated to the fullest extent, now that he is no longer under Taliban confinement. I believe that he committed treason, and that a trial will show this. But returning to point #2, this has NOTHING to do with whether or not the government should try to secure his release. We are presented here not with a question of whether or not we should negotiate to secure his release, but what terms such a release would be secured under. Simply put, SGT Bergdahl's freedom was not worth the release of five senior Taliban operatives. Put another way, making a deal was not wrong. Making a bad deal was wrong.
3. Let us for the sake of argument (and because it is true) assume that the folks we have locked up at Guantanamo are pretty bad actors, that the level of threat they represent is high. It is safe to assume this in my view, because keeping the bad actors--the truly bad--would be about the only thing to justify the world-wide criticism we've received for keeping the prison camp open. And so, that which we house there are prisoners we believe would be of great value to terrorist organizations. The little fish have already been released.
4. So while I applaud the Administration for continuing to secure Bergdahl's release, the deal they cut is unacceptable. Just as the nearly perfect soldier in my example above is not worth the surrender of a U.S. city, the freedom of this soldier is not worth the surrender of five very bad actors. Even if there were not a hint of misconduct on Bergdahl's part--there would be serious questions about the terms of this deal. But there IS a hint of misconduct on Bergdahl's part--enough to impact the terms of a deal, but not the desire to achieve one.
5. An interesting question would be "how many Guantanamo bad actors WOULD Bergdahl's freedom have been worth". My answer would be one. A one-for-one exchange would have been sufficient.
6. Finally, the Administration has fumbled this beyond recognition. The Rose Garden Ceremony with the parents of a soldier they KNEW would immediately come under suspicion, followed by ridiculously overblown rhetoric from Administration figures on Bergdahl's service are the actions of the Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight. Additionally, their hyperbole with respect to Bergdahl's disappearance and the quality of his service are first and foremost, the putting of lipstick on a pig, the pig of a bad deal. Bad for the Army, bad for the United States.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
In 1992 after eight years of Reagan and four years of George Bush the leftist media wanted us to believe America was ready for a change. Evidently the country was tired of prosperity at home and a pro-peace, pro-freedom agenda abroad...and like manna from Heaven along came Ross Perot.
Now you may recall Perot was a mouthy little son of a bitch but he was somewhat attractive with his "the elites are screwing us" rhetoric. Hell I even liked him for about 15 minutes but it soon became obvious he was definitely bush league (no pun intended) and needed to be President like I need to be a member of MADD. But what Perot wasn't and what he was never perceived to be was any kind of liberal. In fact liberals hated the big eared little pigmy with a passion but you wouldn't know it because they never uttered a critical word. Gee I wonder why? In the 1992 election out of about 104 million votes cast Perot got nearly 20 million (18.9% to be exact) and you can cool believe those votes didn't come out of Bill Clinton's column. Clearly George the first would have destroyed the Horny Hillbilly (nod to AC) in a one on one.
Clinton's first two years were kind of rocky to say the least (remember Hillarycare?) but after benefiting from a strong Republican Congress with good leadership and GREAT ideas (remember welfare reform?) the world was made safe for Democrat presidential candidates. He had the good sense to "triangulate" and marginalize the socialists in his party (most of them) and rode the coattails of prosperity provided to him by Newt & Co to a successful presidency in spite of all the scandals.
Without Clinton there could be no Obama and without Perot there could have been no Clinton. So thanks a lot Ross Perot, I hope that hard-on you had for the Bush family was worth it because you've helped the leftists damn near ruin this country. I hope you rot in hell.
Speaking of ruining the country have you read any Jonathan Turley lately? Well Turley is no conservative by any stretch but he is a pretty good Constitutional lawyer and a man of integrity. He was calling bullshit on Clinton back in the day for, what was it again(?) oh I remember now, blatant Goddamn two-four-barrel nitro friggin' purgury! Yeah that was it. But my man Turley thinks Nixon was a greenhorn chump when it comes to this imperial presidency thing. Plus he thinks Obama's disregard for the rule of law is approaching Constitutional crisis territory.
Chew on this dear friends, the Constitution of the Philippines was taken almost word for word from the US Constitution, but Marcos ignored and subverted it so it became meaningless...and so it goes in America. If our leaders in Congress don't grow a pair and start defending their powers as well the powers of the people as provided by this magnificent document then we are down the road to tyranny. I'd say we're about half way there as it is. Boner should push for a special prosecutor and let's get some investigations going. There is no bigger cause than protecting our freedom and liberty and sitting on the sidelines afraid you'll make a mistake and screw up the midterms is a strategy for losers and cowards.
Did you see this? One of Obama's sycophants thinks reparations for black Americans is an idea who's time has come. This crap makes it into print every once in a while and when it does I love it. This is the Democrat's birther issue and the more lucid among them know it. White American has just about had it up to their eyeballs with this racist guilt bullshit and after six longs years of foodstamps and recessions (officially the economy shrunk last quarter by 1%, private estimates as much as 2.5%) this is just running up the score. David Frum (no doubt one of CW's favorite Republican consultants) argues it's a slippery slope that would lead to all kinds of groups wanting compensation. Well no shit Mr. Frum, you must be a genius but hey I don't have to tell you that. However never let it be said I'm not a reasonable Redneck, so let me jump on the bandwagon and be the first to demand compensatory damages for Sherman's March to the Sea (not a vacation resort for all you thirty-somethings) and while we're at it let's give California back to the Mexicans and the Iowa back to the Sioux Nation. Who's with me?
That's all I got, now piss off I'm busy.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Many are watching this video today and remembering Ronald Reagan's speech at Normandy 30 years ago
If you have the time today, watch it. If you don't have the time, make it.
Most remember The Great Communicator's words about the brave Rangers. And they should.
But there is a message to us in this speech. Reagan in 1984 was talking to America in 2014. And we are not listening.
I just finished watching it, and I continue to sob like a child. So many reasons to cry.
I cried thinking about the bravery, the innocence, the carnage, the hope, the righteousness.
I cried wondering if we still had it.
I cried thinking about my country and how it was in 1984--waking up from malaise, full of hope, led by a great Captain.
I cried thinking about where we are today.
I cried thinking about the message our Captain brought that day to Normandy, a message of purpose and leadership: "We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever."
And I cried thinking about a country that is steadily turning from this sense of purpose and leadership.
It is time, friends. It is time to recapture this purpose, to regain our footing, to re-establish our leadership and to resume our role.
The world needs a powerful and strong United States. We must awake from our slumber, the slumber of excess and contentedness, of selfishness and unconcern. We must recapture the zeal, and the hope, and the purpose, and the ambition that made our country great. We must turn from a path of smallness, of garden-tending, of purposelessness, of provincialism.
We can do it.
|Not fat; just wicked cool|
No weigh in today. Dreadful week.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
The "longest day" began seventy years ago tonight, just about as we write these words. On June 6, 1944, Allied forces from the air and sea stormed ashore in France to liberate that country and to open the second front long-promised to our ally and rival, the Soviet Union. Operation Overlord was the greatest amphibious invasion in history up until that moment, and with the invention and deployment of the atomic bomb against Japan only fourteen months later, it became, in all probability, the greatest amphibious invasion of all time and forever.
It is impossible to write about the invasion of France from the soft comforts of today without making it seem banal. It has all been said, and we will leave it to others -- among them, no doubt, our incumbent president -- to wrap themselves in the greatness of that moment soundbite by awful soundbite. If you do not know the history, watch or read -- reading is better, but we no longer order people to read books -- The Longest Day, or your grandfather's diary if you are so lucky to have it. Or read this, the first dispatch of the Associated Press from that morning, and think about how much better journalism was when reporters were on our side:
ON A BEACHHEAD IN FRANCE — Hitler's Atlantic wall cracked in the first hour under tempestuous allied assault.Had it been a football game instead of an invasion on the crest of the free world's hopes, Grantland Rice might have written that first line.
As I write, deeply dug into a beachhead of northwestern France, German prisoners, mostly wounded, are streaming back. But the Boche still is putting up a terrific fight.
Shells are exploding all over the beach and out at sea as wave after wave of allied ships, as far as I can see, move into shore.
My escorting officer, Sir Charles Birkin, was slightly wounded three times in the first 15 minutes ashore and three men were killed within five feet of me.
Our heavy stuff is now rolling ashore and we not only have a solid grip on the beachhead but are thrusting deep inland.
The beach is jammed with troops and bulldozers for many miles, and now it has been quiet for 15 minutes, which apparently means the German big guns are knocked out.
Our casualties on this sector have been comparatively light.
I landed at 8:45 a.m. wading ashore waist deep in water under fire to find quite a few wounded and some killed on the beach — and Nazi prisoners, very stiff and sour-looking already coming back.
Before embarking we were told there would be 10,000 allied planes attacking today and there is every sign our air mastery is complete. So far not a single German plane has been seen.
The night-long channel crossing also was quiet until the last mile.
German prisoners said Hitler visited this beach two days ago and they admitted they were taken by surprise.
Only a few hundred Nazis manned the beach defenses on this sector. They laid down a terrific machine-gun fire, but were quickly overwhelmed.
As far as I have seen there is no sign of Hitler's vaunted Atlantic wall with its massive concrete fortifications. German artillery deeper inland is very formidable, but the beach defenses are piddling, rifle-slits and strands of barbed wire.
Monday, June 2, 2014
A: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus name the first lady as the submarine's sponsor. She is from Illinois and supports military families. Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, the secretary's spokeswoman, said it was a natural selection because Obama embodies "the qualities we hold dear in the military" – a sense of service and selflessness.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
The front page of the morning's Austin American-Statesman includes (behind the subscriber wall) an article about surging property taxes in Austin, and the "irate homeowners" now confronting their new appraisals. Let's consider the first such homeowner, quoted without any suggestion of irony:
"I'm at the breaking point," said Gretchin Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8500 this year.My first thought: "When she reads her own words in the paper Ms. Gardner is going to think: 'Oh, no. I've beclowned myself before the entire city of Austin. My friends will think I'm an idiot.'"
"It's not because I don't like paying taxes," said Gardner, who attended both meetings [of "irate homeowners"]. "I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can't afford to live here anymore."
My second thought: "No, that won't happen, because the odds are very high her friends agree with her and see nothing inconsistent with voting for all that big government and expecting their taxes to stay low nonetheless. That's what makes big government go around."
Anyway, that Ms. Gardner can say such a thing without the slightest recognition that -- oops -- all the things she voted for have now cost so much that she cannot afford to live in Austin is both comic and tragic and, in the end, a painful reminder that most voters do not have an even tenuous grip on cause and effect. Indeed, hard as it may be to believe, it gets better. Gardner goes on to say that "[s]omeone needs to step in and address the big picture." How, pray tell, are even honest and competent politicians to make sense of constant demands for new services and howls of outrage over higher taxes from the exact same voters?