For a moment, as the saying used to go, when I was in. The first part of that truism was, “The military will take care of you.” – This bitter wisdom is now being discovered anew by a number California National Guard troops, who – when they were offered bonuses for re-upping ten years ago, accepted the bonus, reupped and served … and ooops, now it turns out that they weren’t qualified or eligible for said bonus, and the Big Green Military Machine wants the money back. With interest and penalties, it would appear. The Big Military Administrative Machine writes and enforces the rules to suit the needs of the machine – a thing which is screamingly obvious to anyone who ever signed a contract of any sort with the Big Military Administrative Machine. (It was always a point of bitter observation to us overseas, that as the dollar-to-local-currency exchange rate rose or dropped, the military paymaster’s adjustment for that exchange rate lagged or sped up in a manner which invariably screwed the military member living on the local economy. The Big Military Administrative Machine will have their pound of flesh, regardless… And it will not favor the individual military member.)
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30. March 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: European Disunion, GWOT, Politics

So, as I am devoting all my energy and time to finishing the first draft of another book, I have been following – with lashings of sorrow, pity, dread and the merest splash of schadenfreude – developments in Europe. Germany, which seems to be cracking under the weight of a full load of so-called refugees, Sweden, ditto, Brussels, where the concerned citizens appear to be too frightened to continue with a protest march against fear, and the governing authorities appear to be more concerned about the legendary anti-Muslim backlash than the certainty of Islamic terror unleashed in some European or English city.

The transnational progressive ruling elites have their concerns; you see … not the safety or well-being of their own native tribes, who appear to have been bulldozed by political correctitude into assuming the supine and unresisting position. Every bit of national pride and cultural confidence looks to have been kicked out of the native European tribes over the last half-century. Whether this cultural demoralization was calculated or unwitting is still up for grabs, I guess – but there you are; the enduring image is of powerless serfs, savagely disciplined by their overlords for any breach of discipline or expression of objection or dissent, only now the overlords don’t bear patents of nobility as did the old Ruling Class. The new Ruling Class may not boast of noble titles in the old sense and noblesse hasn’t obliged to anything but veiled contempt directed at those of their own countrymen lower down on the ladder than themselves.(The sense of towering entitlement and vicious social snobbery has carried on, so there is that tradition being maintained.)

So once that national pride and cultural confidence has been destroyed, what is to be next? Such qualities are intangible things, even if they were once powerful motivators of the native European national tribes. They lead to nasty things such as wars, which the transnational progressives can’t stomach, and which ordinary people aren’t that wild about anyway, and after two particularly nasty wars rubbished cities and gutted two generations of their best and brightest, why not set them aside and give peace a chance?  Or so I presume the reasoning goes.

The worrying aspect of the recent tidal flood of Muslim refugees into Western Europe is that in order to keep the peace between the migrants and the local German, or French, Danish, English or Swedish citizens, some things must be given up. In times before, it would have been the incoming refugees who would have been asked to give up; customs incompatible with the host nation for a start. In this topsy-turvy world of the new transnational Ruling Class, though – it appears so far to be the native Europeans who are being asked to give up; a sense of being safe in their own streets for a start, especially when it comes to unaccompanied women. In France and in Belgium, whole urban neighborhoods have already been given up to the rule of sharia. The matter of the Danish cartoons and Charlie Hebdo have pretty well proven to anyone paying attention that freedom of speech, or at least the right to poke fun at Mohammed and Muslims in general is being limited.  There is a plan on already for female-only railway coaches on German trains, and for woman-only hours or spaces at public pools. It has been spottily reported that groups like Sharia4Belgium actively campaigned at a street level for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to begin conforming to Islamic custom. Other sharia4 organizing groups appear to have something more than just an internet presence, in demanding that secular law be set aside in favor of sharia – religious law.

A few years ago, I read of traditional folk street festivals in the Lowlands, being broken up and participants attacked by Muslim men. I can’t find any trace of those particular stories now – they have sunk without a trace, but they all track in the same direction. Folk and religious custom, civil law, safety in the streets and on transport, freedom of expression … what next will Europeans and Americans be asked by the Ruling Class to put limits on, or to give up? And what will be the one thing which will finally set off an explosion of rebellion among ordinary Europeans? Forbidding the consumption of pork sausages, or public beer drinking in deference to Muslims, would be my bet, although your mileage may vary. Discuss.

My daughter was nearly ten years old, in that Christmastime of 1990. I was stationed at Zaragoza AB, in the Ebro River Valley of Spain, which was serving as one of the staging bases in Europe for the build-up to the First Gulf War … the effort to liberate Kuwait, which Saddam Hussein seemed to believe that he had a perfect right to occupy, loot and exterminate those opposing him in that small matter. But this is not about that war, particularly – only as it affected those of us located far along the haft of the military spear towards the sharp and pointy end.

Zaragoza was a long-established US base in Spain by then – sufficiently long enough to have grown up a second generation of children born to American servicemen and their Spanish wives. It was sufficiently well-established to have a fairly modern on-base school, which housed the elementary classes in one wing, and the high school in the other. My daughter started there in kindergarten, the very week that we arrived, in 1985, to the day that we departed, six years later, when she started the sixth grade. It was a safe posting, especially considered after my previous assignment to Athens, Greece, where terrorism aimed at American personnel and at the base generally was accepted grimly as an ongoing part of life, like hurricanes along the southern coasts. One took every careful precaution and internalized certain practices against an irregular and specifically unpredictably-occurring threat. One of my daughter’s earliest memories is of watching me from the front step of the suburban Athens apartment where we lived then … kneeling down to look underneath my car, parked out in the street. I was, of course, looking for something explody-ish with trailing wires, where such a device ought to not be attached to the underside of the bright orange Volvo sedan that I had purchased from a fellow NCO upon arrival in Athens. (The Volvo had the temporary USG or US Forces Greece license plates on it, which branded the vehicle as being owned/driven by a member of the American military, and thus a likely target for anything from crude vandalism to a bomb.  Just one of those things; it was a relief to get to Spain, where the practice was for regular Spanish license plates to be placed on automobiles owned by American service personnel.)

Late in autumn of that year the build-up began. Zaragoza AB went on a war footing, which meant that duties and hours devoted to those duties doubled, or in some cases, tripled for all personnel. Bright new concertina wire went up, all along the base perimeter; one of my memories of that period was how weirdly beautiful it looked under a layer of winter frost  in the early morning – like sunshine brilliantly glittering on matte-finished silver.

Christmas was coming.  After that, New Year’s Day, and then the deadline for Saddam Hussein to give up Kuwait. We knew that, barring a miracle, he wouldn’t. And then War, sometime in those days of the first week. Inevitable. The dark grey storm cloud on the horizon, flickering with flashes of interior lightning, blotting out the horizon and moving inexorably closer. One was made aware of it in dozens of ways, as the minutes, hours, days ticked by – even as the prosaic routines went on. My daughter had school every day, I cooked a family supper every evening, read to her at bed-time, shopped for groceries at the commissary, pressed a fresh blue uniform shirt every morning, mailed out Christmas cards, bought and wrapped presents. Because Christmas. One holds on to as many shreds and shards of normality as one can, when it comes to children.

These last few weeks, I have been feeling the same foreboding that I did, that holiday season more than twenty years ago. My daughter and I have a full schedule of weekend holiday markets and events. When we were setting up for the first of them, on a Friday afternoon, we came home to the news about the Islamic massacre in Paris. This week, as we were getting ready for another, it was the Islamic massacre of local government employees in San Bernardino. Next week … who knows? I am fairly certain that there will be another atrocity perpetrated by Daesh fanatics over the coming holiday season. It will occur in a place and at a time where it will all come as a horrifying surprise to the victims of it, to our national leadership cadre and to our major news outlets. The latter two will, of course, be horribly inconvenienced by having to throw some thin shreds of career-saving rationale or justification excusing such an unexpected event. This I know, as surely as I saw the deadline for military action in the Gulf inch closer and closer.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

 

22. May 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fun With Islam, GWOT, War

Almost four years ago I wrote about how the monuments and artifacts of ancient Egypt were possibly in peril from militant Islam – those grim and sternly bearded fanatics devoted to the principal that nothing rightfully exists before or outside of Islam. It was being suggested then that the Pyramids be covered up – certainly a considerable chore, but their fellow coreligionists energetically set about destroying the ancient Bamiyan Buddhas based on the same argument. So, one might have had good cause four years ago to worry about the relics of pre-Islamic Egypt – temples, monuments, ruined cities and tombs. How many thousands of years’ worth of relics, ornaments and paintings might be at risk? Fortunately for Egypt, it seems that soberer heads have prevailed for now: after all, someday they might want the tourists to come back again.

It is written in Psalms, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.” We die, kingdoms and empires pass in time, but the earth endures as well as those monuments and ruins left behind. Fragments of the past, of our mutual human history usually aren’t as thick on the ground as they are in Egypt, the Middle East, Greece and Italy; if not the cradle of Western civilization, then at the very least the kindergarten playground. So the rest of us have always felt a rather proprietary interest in those relics and places. These were places written of in the Bible, in the Greek and Roman classics, in a thousand epics, poems and legends – Jerusalem, Babylon, Ur of the Chaldees, Ninevah and Tyre, Athens and Sparta … and in travel accounts like Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad, and for me – Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels.

I don’t think many people over a certain age know of syndicated travel writer, adventurer and all-round eccentric Richard Halliburton, whose brilliant heyday was in the mad-and-booming 1920s and the escape-and adventure-starved 1930s. He vanished in mid-Pacific in 1939 in a calculated attempt – in the interests of another series of columns and a book – to cross that ocean in a replica Chinese junk. One of the relics of his evanescent popularity was a copy of the complete Book of Marvels, which belonged to Mom as a teenager, and which I read … or rather, ate up, omnivorously. The original copy (no dusk-jacket, worn green cloth covers, with Mom’s bookplate glued into the front endsheet) might be on my shelves somewhere; if not, it was one of those burned in the 2003 fire which pretty well cleansed this family of all but a few especially precious and portable relics. I am pretty certain that this is where I first read of legendary Palmyra, and Zenobia – the beautiful warrior queen of a desert kingdom, who led a heroic rebellion against Rome with all the usual dramatic success of rebellions against Rome when it was at its imperial height.

A beautiful city, by all accounts – adorned with all the art and architecture that a wealthy small kingdom at the trading crossroads of the known world, later added onto with whatever Imperial Rome could add and which enthusiasts of the last two centuries could excavate, restore and reconstruct – a wondrous ancient city by all accounts. Reviewing the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, to pre-Islamic relics all across the Middle East and most recently at the site of ancient Hatra and Nimrud, one simply can’t avoid knowing what is in store for Palmyra. And this hurts on such a deep level – that these marvelous buildings, frescoes, statues and all could have endured for so many years will be smashed by barbarians in a few hours or days – and furthermore, barbarians who could not, on the best day they ever had, build something as beautiful and enduring. But then, destruction is always easier than creation.

Likely it won’t end with Palmyra, either. In a recently released publication intended as a sort of Rough Guide to the brand-new caliphate, the author ended with this bit of chest-beating bravado (emphasis added by underlining) : “When we descend on the streets of London, Paris and Washington the taste will be far bitterer, because not only will we spill your blood, but we will also demolish your statues, erase your history and, most painfully, convert your children who will then go on to champion our name and curse their forefathers.”
How will Italians handle such a threat to their Coliseum in Rome, or Greeks to the Athenian Acropolis, and English to say – the Tower of London? I’d like to think they would not be entirely supine when it happens locally, especially since Greeks still bitterly despise Turks for the Muslim Turkish occupation. Interesting times, indeed; discuss.

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

Yes, I am – really. And still working through a vast amount of work that needs to be done in support of the Tiny Publishing Bidness … like the income tax return. Which I got done with after two days of number- and- account crunching last week, and dropped the whole lot off at the office of the nice gentleman who does my income taxes. He, bless him extravagantly – is very fond of me because I turn in all my stuff in February (March at the very latest!) – so he can complete it all at leisure, instead of in one frantic marathon in April … look people, this – like Christmas – happens every year. Putting it all off to the last minute will not make it go away. It won’t. Like necessary dental work, get it done and get it over with.
Most years, I have gotten my return and spent it well before the final rush begins … this year, there will be no funds returned, as I have broken even. Between the costs of buying the business from the founder of it and her heir, the various expenses associated with paying for printing and copies of books for resale, buying tables and a pop-up pavilion, display racks and a new printer … and the shed for the backyard to store much of this in … I am square with the government.
Next year will be an adventure in exploring how to strategically protect that income stream from my writing and the Tiny Publishing Bidness against the diabolical machinations of the vampire squids, but as Scarlett O’Hara so famously observed, ‘Tomorrow is another day.’ This coming year is a foreign country, to be sorted out as I venture farther into it.

I might just re-do this website again, since I have re-done the book website… the final handful of readers have been duly warned.

(Wherein I meditate upon the relationship between military members and veterans, and the commander-in-chief – present and most recent last.)
I was not a voter especially enamored of establishing a ruling class, so I was not all that enthused about Bush 2. In the 2000 elections I was considerably annoyed that it was an unedifying choice between the scions of two long-established political families. I thought it was not a good omen, redolent of hereditary politics and an established aristocracy – and that there was not that much to choose between them. At this point Al Gore had not displayed anything of his hypocritical and self-serving fixation on so-called ‘global warming’ – and I basically flipped a coin. But as it turned out, post 9-11, my daughter’s commander in chief was Bush 2, and as it also turned out, his respect and consideration for the troops in wartime was a rock of constancy. To quote the line from the TV series Sharpe’s Rifles, “There are two kinds of officers, sir: killin’ officers and murderin’ officers. Killin’ officers are poor old buggers that get you killed by mistake. Murderin’ officers are mad, bad, old buggers that get you killed on purpose – for a country, for a religion, maybe even for a flag.” Bush-2 was the second sort – he might get you killed, but it would have been for a serious purpose. (Since this is a discussion of how our presidents appear to, or appeared in the past to relate to successive commanders-in-chief, I will not be drawn into a sidebar discussion regarding the wisdom of making war in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2002.)

My daughter and I both had the same opinion of Bush 2 with regard to the military; one of affectionate and mutual respect, which he has carried on in his private life. I suppose one of the best examples of that was on the occasion of his surprise visit to Baghdad in 2003 – when he appeared, the roar of applause and cheers was unforced and spontaneous. (No, it was not a plastic turkey.) One still reads now and again of Bush 2 and Laura B. still quietly coming to meet returning troops at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, or hosting disabled soldiers at private events and marathon mountain bike rides at the ranch, and mention is made now and again of their quiet and relatively unpublicized visit to Fort Hood after the Hassan shooting spree.

Which brings us to the present commander in chief, a man who has perfected the fine art of returning a military salute with a Styrofoam coffee cup in his saluting hand. I’d join in the outrage over this, but really – the man is only behaving in the manner that we have come to expect from him in regards to the military. He appears to like the perks, the toys such as drones and Air Force 1, the deference and being able to whistle up a uniformed rent-a-crowd at any moment, but he doesn’t possess the least particle of understanding of or respect for military tradition. One gets a sense that it’s a perfunctory effort – and that military people really aren’t quite real to them; just automatons, all dressed alike, to be dispatched to Africa because of an Ebola epidemic, to Benghazi to not defend the consulate, or to hold an umbrella … whatever. While he has bestowed honors for valor on individuals at White House ceremonies, and Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden have now and again made a stab at a show of support and concern for dependent family members, the sense is inescapable that the Obama administration is just going through the minimum motions required for a favorable photo op.

Although Obama has made a superficial good showing with military-oriented events, they seem to be scheduled less and less often. I suppose it is a bit of a thrill for the junior troops come through a base and have a meet’n’greet with them. As indifferent as I was to Jimmy Carter way back then, I would have appreciated a visit from the commander in chief – I might even have been rather thrilled to do an interview for FEN, if it had been allowed. More telling, I think is the reception that Obama got, at a speech last month before attendees at the American Legion convention. That was an audience of veterans of all vintages – and the largest portion of them all but sat on their hands and listened with stone-faced courtesy. One might almost feel sorry for a speaker whose presentation meets with such a cold reception, but … well, his is the administration whose Department of Homeland Security head had to walk back from a report which painted disgruntled veterans as likely recruits for terrorist organizations, and was reported to have briefly considered John Kerry, of Winter Soldier anti-Vietnam war protest fame as Secretary of Defense. That such a nomination was even considered sufficiently enough to make it into the Washington paper of record should be proof enough of the veiled contempt in which this commander in chief holds for the larger part of those citizen-defenders who make up the US military.

11. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Domestic, Fun With Islam, GWOT, Home Front · Tags:

This year is not one of those significant anniversaries – the year-marks that end in zero or mark a quarter or a half of a century, but for a couple of reasons, this one seems to weigh more heavily on me than any of the others, save possibly the one-year-after mark. It had only been a year after a perfectly shattering, unimaginable event, quite the equal to me of what Pearl Harbor had been to my parents. Without a whisper of warning – oh, if you had an abiding interest in the matter, or were a particularly imaginative secret squirrel, you might have seen it coming – a fissure the size of the Grand Canyon suddenly split the normal, day-to-day world, and after it, everything was different. On September 12, 2001, the world looked superficially just as it had two days before, save for maybe a few more American flags, and having to get to the airport hours before your flight, not to mention the gaping hole in the skyline of lower Manhattan. But it was the new normal, and kids in middle-school or starting high school have never known anything else. What I recall from ‘before’ is as remote and faraway to them as the Dust Bowl, or the splendors of the Edwardian era. That was then, this is now.

This is the now, with ISIS, or ISIL or whatever they wish to call themselves, recruiting volunteers across Europe and the Middle East, to establish a new Caliphate in the Middle East. What our armed forces bought in blood in Iraq has been essentially given away by this administration as carelessly as if it were a no-longer-fashionable shirt put into a plastic bag and dropped off at Goodwill. The southern border is made of wet tissue paper – and this administration has essentially contrived to swamp working-class communities with illegal aliens … who at the very least are innocent of the ability to speak English, and at worst are unrepentant gangsters. It can also be assumed that just about all of them are unvaccinated against diseases both common and uncommon which are also extremely communicative. Yes, well done.

Those same borders are also open to Islamic terrorists of the same stripe as those responsible for 9-11. It is likely only a matter of time before an atrocity every bit as horrific strikes a major American city … just as it is only a matter of time before certain of our inner city black underclass breaks out in city-killing riots. The present of Detroit may very well be the tomorrow of certain other cities. The working and middle-class flee, and if the city is glamorous enough, the rich and the very poor remain behind. If it isn’t glamorous enough, only the very poor remain. Many of our cities seem to be hanging by a thread – especially the older, old-industry ones. It is only a matter of time …

And so, we wait for the other shoe to fall. And it will fall – there is no doubt on that, just as there is no doubt regarding this current administration’s ability or willingness to rise to the occasion.

It’s a German word – it means “frightfulness“ – and it was used, if memory serves and a brief internet search conforms – it was a sort of shorthand for the reprisals exacted by the German Army against civilians during both wars. If not an actual German military field policy in WWI, it had certainly become one by WWII; brutally persecute, torture and execute civilians, and make certain that such horrors became well-known through extensive documentation within the theater of operations, and outside of it. To encourage the others, as the saying goes, but on a grand scale – to make war on a civilian population, once all effective military have departed the area – in hopes of cowing everyone who sees and hears of what brutality has been meted out on the helpless, and especially the helpless.
Was it an explicit policy of the German armies to apply the principle of schrecklichkeit – by that name or another – in the field in those wars?

Whether or not dictated from the highest levels, it did have the desired effect of discouraging armed resistance … at first, anyway. Acts of extreme cruelty against civilians were definitely committed, beginning in Belgium in 1914 – and had a short-term effect in that Belgian resistance to the German juggernaut was, to put it mildly, discouraged with Teutonic efficiency. However, the long-term result was a black mark against Germany, in its conduct of that war which resounded for years and was revived again with the record of Nazi atrocities in the second.

Which brings me to reports of the horrors being committed by the Islamic radicals of ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever they are calling themselves, as they sweep into Mosul and proclaim the establishment of a renewed caliphate. I have not seen much of this reflected in the mainstream media yet – but the worst excesses are seeping out, through minor publications, blogs and social media. Of course, without all those layers of editors and fact-checkers, such excesses could be really happening, or the work of propagandists of varying degrees of sophistication … but for the fact that ISIS/ISIL make no bones about boasting of what they are doing, and sharing the pictorial and video evidence. This link was posted on Samizdata by M. Simon – and if you have a low nausea threshold, don’t go any farther than a couple of pictures. I post the link only so that readers will have an idea of exactly how horrible this situation has become. I await for the inevitable lefty-luvvie comparison to Abu Ghraib, of course.

There are likely two rationales for practicing the 21st century Islamic version of schrecklichkeit in Northern Iraq; the ISIS/ISIL fighters are extreme sadists with the blessings of an ideology which encourages them to do what they enjoy most – torturing and murdering infidels – and bragging about it. And secondly, this demoralizes those unfortunate enough to be in their way, and discourages resistance. For a time, anyway. But schrechlichkeit has a short shelf life, once those whom it is practiced on realize that there is no way out, and only one way to fight back. Eventually, as the Allies discovered in the Pacific in WWII – there comes the understanding that those who have so relished inflicting cruelty on the helpless deserve no mercy at all, and will receive none, once the tables are turned upon them. Surrender is not an option at this point – and in future neither will mercy.
Discuss.
(Cross-posted at Chicagoboyz.net)

Iraq Embassy Evac

A Ramirez cartoon, lifted from a commenter at Rantburg who posted it in a discussion of the evacuation of the US Embassy in Iraq.

12. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fun With Islam, GWOT, Rant, World · Tags: ,

I always thought that overthrowing Saddam Hussein and assisting the Iraqis in setting up something that kinda-sorta-resembled a western-style democracy was a gamble, but one worth taking. Taking out the Saddam trash – especially a gangster régime which had gleefully made regional and international trouble for decades – and replacing it with a strategically-located sort-of-ally … better than allowing him to remain in place, anyway. His sons were even viler; if possible, than he was, and after ten years of air patrols in the no-fly zones, protecting the Kurds in the north … we were very close to being worn thin. The situation couldn’t last much longer … anyway; I thought Iraq had a good chance of eventually turning out like a kind of Middle East South Korea. After a few decades, they’d be able to handle themselves. We’d keep the odd base or two, lurk meaningfully in the vicinity.

Only, our Fearless Leader, the Golfer in Chief, decided to bag any kind of SOFA (status of forces agreement) declared that Afghanistan was more important, and then that Gitmo should be closed and that everybody would like us then.

So, it is most depressing to look at the headlines this week – especially the decapitated motorists, the lines of refugees streaming south out of Mosul and Tikrit. Thanks, Obama – thanks for throwing it all away.

It has amused me for years, how ordinary civilians, media figures and scriptwriters for movies and TV shows can believe so strongly that the military is one big monolithic secret-keeping machine; something which happens on a base, post, or on the front lines will never, ever see the light of day in the larger world and that the military commands can keep something quiet for years or decades. If it is something tippy-top secret, and know to only a few – well, yes, in that case. But quite often something – a program, a wild idea, a mission—remains unknown largely on account of lack of interest on the part of the larger world or the establishment news media organs. The military is actually far from being the big monolithic secret-keeping machine, once you get away from the deliberately highly-classified, ultra-secret-squirrel stuff.

During George Bush’s second term, the reporter Seymour Hersh was given to go around giving lectures to anti-war audience claiming that all kinds of horrible massacres were being perpetrated by American troops; massively violent stuff on the order of My Lai in the Middle East, involving scores of victims and whole companies of U.S. Army and Marine troops. Bodies stacked up by the bale, according to Mr. Hersh, who was at least careful enough not to commit these incredible tales to print. Mr. Hersh, I think, has the monolithic military secret-keeping meme on the brain. The atrocities which he was alleging to have happened among front-line troops in Iraq just could not have happened, not without a lot of personnel inside of the military family knowing. The truth is that the possibility of keeping something out of general knowledge in the military world expands geometrically with the number of people involved, directly or peripherally. And nothing much happens in the military world stays secret for long; yes, the knowledge of certain matters may not seep out into the ken of the greater public and the news establishment professionals – but that’s because military members are routinely briefed about OPSEC (operations security) and they don’t spill to outsiders, much. Something that may be common knowledge to those inside the family, as it were, may go for years without attracting undue attention or interest on the part of those outside of it.

Mr. Hersh and other fantasists might well have had an easier job in peddling incredible stories of military malfeasance in pre-internet days; it would take months and years for allegations to make the rounds and for those inside the military family to even become aware of them and respond – and then, of course, it was already over. History had been engraved in stone, as it were; set there by being repeated over and over. Any debunking was too late and too little. But the internet and a generation or two of tech-savvy and social media troops have tightened the OODA loop considerably. It took a good few decades for many of the established memes regarding Vietnam veterans – sullen draftees, drug-abusing, unstable, baby-killing losers – to be debunked by researchers like B. G. Burkett, and even now that meme refuses, zombie-like to lay down and die. It twitches now and again, over the last ten years or so, but refreshingly, military members and veterans today are instantly aware and more than willing to swing into social media action to debunk sensational accusations and to unmask fraudulent veterans – or even to speak out when there is a controversy such as Bowe Bergdahl’s status as a POW or as a deserter. Which brings me around to the thing about secrets. Among the milblogs like Blackfive there was no secret about there being something hinky regarding the circumstances of his disappearance from his duty station in Afghanistan. It wasn’t a big thing, but it came up now and again; one of those open secrets among the milblog family and commenters. Very likely, everyone that he served with and under knew that he was a flakey, unmotivated soldier, and after he went under the wire, a deserter as well. But it was one of those open secrets – which, because the Obama administration didn’t care to look before they leaped into a deal, a distraction and a show and tell in the Rose Garden, has now come back to bite – heavily.

Couldn’t happen to nicer people, I would say; except that whatever does happen next, in the wake of freeing five upper-level operators from Guantanamo, will very likely not land on the Obama administration or it’s high-level flunkies. Most likely, it will land on the rest of us, starting with those in the uniformed services.

(Crossposted at Chicagoboyz.net)

This is what I used to call her, in blog posts at ncobrief.com during the run-up to the 2008 primaries; Hillary Clinton; who seemed so … inevitable. She would be there, a power to behold and take seriously in the presidential primaries. “In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!”
Well, I am certain that some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters have loved and despaired, in the resulting contest between ebony and ovary in the 2008 primaries. Eh – I didn’t care at the time, still don’t care and can’t be made to care. I will note for the record that my daughter was taking college classes then, and both of us were annoyed beyond all reason by the assumption that because we were both women, and politically involved, that we were OF COURSE all about Hillary. Our support was taken as a matter of fact. THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT! This possibility was apparently intended to make us both go wobbly in the knees and vote with our vaginas instead of our brains.

I might have considered Her Inevitableness with a little more seriousness if – after departing the White House, she had formally divorced the charming serial-abuser she was married to, and devoted herself earnestly to a political career on her own hook and her own efforts. But even if to all intents and purposes Her Inevitableness and the Big He appear to mostly live separate lives, the prospect of the wife of a former president in turn being nominated, elected and installed in the White House just gives me the heebie-jeebies; this is not Argentina and she is not Evita. As a small-l libertarian and strict constitutionalist, any whisper of a hereditary political elite in this country gives me the cold chills – and yes, I was at least as upset about the Bush family appearing to have a lock on high political office as I was about the Gores, and the Kennedys. It’s not a good thing, even if such political dynasties like the Adams family have been around from the very beginning. We should not be doing a hereditary nobility here, end of discussion.

Of course, Her Inevitableness arrives with more baggage that Delta Airlines anyway, and she does not seem to have much of her husband’s easy charm and liking for the necessary rounds of schmoozing required. She has always come off to me in interviews as stiff, forced and uncomfortable – and shrill in making speeches. But those are superficial qualities, and not necessarily the kiss of death politically. Richard Nixon wasn’t particularly personally charming either, and watching old footage of Lyndon Johnson and imagining being in the same room with him makes me want to take a shower. No, what will be the biggest piece of old baggage in Her Inevitableness’s luggage van will be Benghazi and the deaths of four Americans there at the consulate, including the Ambassador. What exactly was going on at the consulate, and why it appears that there was no real effort made at rescue is still pretty murky. Her impatient response at the subsequent hearings will come back to bite, as much as the establishment media offers air cover for Her Inevitableness. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans – what difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.” Six months after the event and she appeared not to know if it was a protest, or just one of those impulsive things, cared less if it was – and was certainly getting tired of being asked about it. Some job she did there; I am pretty certain that the matter of Benghazi will not die, but come roaring back again. There were too many people involved; eventually some of them will talk.

(cross-posted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

mideastchart

Any questions?

(Found at Classical Values)

Well, if that wasn’t one for the record books – a selection of Egyptian relative moderates taking back their country from a Muslim Brotherhood hard-liner through a protest-coup-counterrevolutionary thingy. Not quite certain how stable the reactionary moderate coalition actually is – or even if they are very moderate at all, or only in comparison to the Muslim Brotherhood gang o’thugs, but still – interesting. It did seem as of Morsi and his Brotherhood, even though freely elected in the wake of General Mubarak’s forced departure – were about to run Egypt straight off a cliff at speed, and perhaps this new coalition can only slow down the acceleration a little. As little as I know, I am fairly certain that the current American administration knows even less; late will the lights be burning tonight at Foggy Bottom, as the denizens of the State Department try and come up with some kind of reason, rationale and talking points. Of course, as a former Secretary of State remarked, “At this point in time, what difference does it make anyway?”

So, the good middle-of-the road and middle-class citizens of Egypt had a good bracing dose of what Islamic rule would mean and so spat it out of their mouths. The women, the Copts, the intellectuals, the middle class, the military, those who made their living through tourism, and I-don’t-know-how-many others, all rebelled at being ridden over rough-shod by increasingly stricter Islamists, just as the younger and more defiant Iranians have, although the Iranians are still simmering, while the Egyptians seem to have – at least for now – put their Islamic fundamentalists back into the bottle and jam in the cork tight. But Egypt, which once was the breadbasket for the Roman Empire – is reduced to importing food. The profitable tourist trade is wrecked beyond redemption, for who will want to come and look at the Pyramids, the temples of Luxor, and the museums full of antiquities, save the daring-to-the-point-of-suicidal Western backpacker types, who commonly don’t want to spend much money on expensive hotels, guides, transport and souvenirs.

And where are we – as Americans in all of this? Alas, nowhere – and thanks to our very dear President Kardashian, who has effortlessly managed to alienate and piss-off just about every party in Egypt, save Morsi and the Brotherhood who probably despised him anyway. It’s an interesting kind of gift, being able to alienate allies, while sucking up unsuccessfully to enemies. I’d deeply enjoy the taste of two scoops of schadenfreude, with a bit of chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted almonds … but alas, we ordinary Americans will probably be cleaning up the damage from the Obama administration for decades after the principal architect of this Mid-east disaster has retired to a mansion in Hawaii and a series of well-paid speaking engagements.

The purely ironical part is that President Kardashian was so very, very popular with the usual Euro-lefty crowds, and in the Middle East – and now the bloom is so very much off the rose. I can hardly wait for the snippy Guardian-editorialists and readers, and all of their fellow-travelers to begin to whine about why did we stupid Yanks elect him to office in the first place.

(And for whatever NSA peon tasked with monitoring this blog, or perhaps me personally; we’re having turkey-burgers for supper, and I can make some extras. Let me know if you want a plate. Come by at 6ish or so – you know the address.)

White House Down

Comment would be superflous, so I’ll just say I found this little gem in the comment thread here.

A day may come when the courage of men fails,
when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down,
but it is not this day!
This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,
I bid you stand, Men of the West!
– Aragorn’s speech, before the Black Gates

It always comes back to Tolkien, doesn’t it? A man who lived through the hell of the WWI trenches, who recalled from first hand a time when you could use the term ‘Great Britain’ without ironical quotes around it, a time when there were very real social issues and pathologies to criticize and to try and deal fairly with – but also a time when the common people took enormous pride and confidence in what they were, in their country, in themselves, in their institutions – and in turn, the various institutions looked toward the general welfare of the commonality. I like the 19th century for that very reason, both the British and American versions. It’s a kind of mental refuge to me, these days. For all its pathologies and shortcomings – citizens of both countries had cultural self-confidence. In the main, a self-confidence based on real accomplishment is a hell of a lot more attractive than a pitiful, helpless and apologetic bleating about ones’ societal and cultural shortcomings.

Really, whom would you look to; someone like Isaac Kingdom Brunel, or Lord Gordon … or a cringing and eternally self-abasing creature like Uriah Heep? Never mind that the first two are real, the third a literary creation; there are plenty of vicious, ostentatiously humble Uriah Heeps now active in political life, and plenty of them – a sufficiency of them, actually – infiltrated into academia and in the media. They’ve been doing their destructive work for decades, always with the best intentions, and ostentatiously for the good of us all. They preen themselves on this, and make good careers out of it.

Only, somehow and mysteriously, it has had such malign results as the vicious and very well documented murder of a British soldier by Islamic jihadi muppets in front of a large crowd, in the capital city of what was once a proud empire. Wrap your mind about that. A public street adjacent to a military base; they bash him with a car first, and then carve him up with knives, swagger about the street declaiming on their purpose, shouting Islamic slogans … and wait for the armed officers of the law to appear. Who did arrived, twenty minutes later, when the victim had doubtless bled out – some news reports have it that his head was cut off, which would certainly remove any urgency in responding with medical aid. Meanwhile the murders, with bloody hands swagger about, explaining why they did it. Three women come forward, and I accept that this took enormous courage on their part – given that this horrible event took place out of the clear blue. I also accept that the initial witnesses to this atrocity were shocked, disbelieving … but that any impulse on the part of members of the public to intervene in any meaningfully effective way was likely squelched on the instant of being considered. The duty of any good British citizen these days, or so I have gathered, is to to be passive, and never to resist being robbed, raped or murdered, since such resistance is likely to injure or inconvenience the robber, rapist or murderer. This precept of non-resistance has been enforced over the last few decades by prosecution and convictions obtained against those who actually did resist outrages against their own or others’ property and persons. The end result was what we saw this week in Woolwich; no resistance, no rescue. Thus are a free people reduced to serfitude. Pity, that – but I am certain that the ruling classes like it very much that way.

(Crossposted at Chicagoboyz.net)

Having now developed what seems to be an annoying allergy-cough in the last couple of months, I have had reason to visit the Fort Sam Houston primary care facility more times lately than I had in years. I think I must have had about a dozen primary care providers in that time, who came and went without me ever laying eyes on them. In the time since I last had reason to seek medical care or a prescription renewal, BAMC itself compounded, split and compounded again like a cell undergoing mitosis – to the point where they moved the primary care clinic and the laboratory facilities which supported it out of the massive brick Skinner-box maze and onto a free-standing and very modern clinic building on Fort Sam itself. Where, in another couple of years, I wouldn’t be the least surprised to see undergo a mitosis of its own…

Anyway – walking into that building through the main door means that I walk past the serried array of pictures of the chain o’command, which includes a picture of our current president. The sight of this almost makes me start coughing again. Perhaps in light of the hearings this week regarding l’affaire Benghazi, I should begin coming in through the other door. I might actually begin to cough so hard that I throw up, whenever I see the current C’in’C’s picture, posted there.

I am actually glad to be retired at this point and that my daughter also completed her enlistment a good few years ago. Given current conditions, we are both glad to no longer be on active service, and past the point of being recalled. No, this administration must be a horror, to be any rank at all over E-2 or GS whatever in the State department … and I speak as one who did my first hitch during the Carter Administration. Say what you will about ol’ Jimmuh (and I can say a lot about that sanctimonious, double-dealing anti-Semitic creep) at least, you never got the feeling that he as the Commander in Chief would sell out military members and State Department functionaries for the sake of keeping his own political reputation bright an squeaky-clean. (He only went for that after he departed high office.) And if Jimmuh himself wasn’t the answer to a voter’s prayer, the top echelons of his government were stocked with responsible and experienced grown-ups. At least they mounted a military strike force to free the hostages taken in Teheran, whereas our current administration couldn’t even find it within themselves to do that.

Just as a personal aside, rumors had it during their administration that the Clintons – especially Hillary – didn’t much care for the military. And despite Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden making a show of attending to the moral and well-being of military family members, I very much suspect that the Obamas actually despise the military ranks. I should not at all be surprised to find out that things such as ending Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, permitting women in direct combat roles – even the rumors of Christians being disciplined for evangelizing inappropriately – were intended rather to sabotage morale and discipline among the military. Knowing that in the event of things going all pear-shaped, the highest levels in the chain of command will hang you out to dry, have a photo-op with the next of kin over your coffin, and then lie to cover up their own incompetence and lack of imagination … well, that is just the cherry on the top of the whole rancid sundae.

Blondie and I hit Sam’s club this afternoon for some holiday oddities and endities, and as we were heading out to the parking lot, Blondie remarked that everyone seemed rather … subdued. I couldn’t really see that the other customers were any more depressed than usual, wheeling around great trollies piled full of case-lots and mass quantities than any other Sunday, as I am still trying to throw the Cold From Hell – now in it’s third week of making me sound as if I am about to hack up half a lung. But that is just me – good thing I work at home, the commute is a short stagger to my desk, where I do the absolute minimum necessary for the current project, and another stagger back to to bed, take some Tylenol, suck on a cough drop and go back to sleep for several hours. The cats like this program, by the way – a warm human to curl up close to, on these faintly chill December days.

I am sick, and we are coming up on the second anniversary of Dad dying … the day after Christmas itself, if his last and terrifyingly sudden illness wasn’t enough to blight the season for a good few years to come. The murder in our neighborhood a couple of weeks ago, the massacre of school-children in Connecticut on Friday … although we didn’t personally know anyone involved or affected at first hand, those events still cast their own blight. The results of the November election also cast a very long shadow. We – those libertarians and fiscal conservatives – know that there is a financial cliff coming, and no means left now to avoid running over it. Even the most cheerful among the libertarian/conservative bloggers are saying essentially, ‘let it burn.’ Let it all happen and be done with, and when it is over, then we can begin the long chore of rebuilding. No, the mood of holiday good cheer is very hard to maintain, amidst all of these personal and national disasters. Among the few happy shreds that I can take away from these last few weeks of 2012 is that at least this year I can afford to buy presents for my nearest and dearest, which wasn’t always the case in recent years.

But I know what Blondie means about people lacking enthusiasm for Christmas. It seems as if we are all just going through the motions this year – a demonstration of reassurance to children that everything is absolutely OK, and this will be the most perfect Christmas evah! Never mind the New Year, hanging like a dark cloud and rendering the standard expressed wishes for a happy one fairly hollow. The New Year will not be happy; of that we can be certain. It actually rather reminds me of the last Christmas that we spent in Spain – 1990. This was during the run-up to the First Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein was given a deadline of January 15th, 1991 by the UN to vacate Kuwait … or else. And all that winter, we watched American forces pass through Zaragoza, heading ‘down-range’ to Saudi Arabia. We watched the base being surrounded by high-banked rolls of concertina wire, and new security measures put into place, as the minutes and hours and days ticked by. That was the year that I put off buying a Christmas tree until the very last minute and had to settle for a two-foot tall plastic one. I do not recall what I bought for Blondie as a Christmas present; very likely a Lego assortment of some kind. And our Christmas that year was celebrated under much the same kind of cloud … because there was a holiday, and children who expected presents and jollity and the decorated tree and all, and parents obliged because of course that was what was expected and who knew what would be happening by the next Christmas … but every one of us did so knowing of the deadline, and knowing what would happen when the deadline passed.

With this current situation, there is no set and specific deadline to dread – only the certainty that no good will happen once it is passed.
Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

Well, boys and girls, I think we have our October Surprise, freshly fresh and newly fit … even though it is a little bit whiffy from being left over from events occurring in September. You remember that little ruckus in Benghazi last month, on the anniversary of 9/11? Local American consulate burned and trashed, American Ambassador and three others dead … such deaths described by our chief executive and commander-in-chief as being unfortunate bumps in the road, as his administration swanned merrily on in an attempt to be the Little Friend of all the (Muslim) World … or at least, not seriously disrupt the narrative or the Obama reelection campaign.

Four people dead, any number surviving a vicious firefight at an American consulate in an Arab country, and yet barely a whisper in the mainstream media – no interviews with survivors, no logical and authoritative sequence of events – only the arrest and detention of a third party ostensibly the cause of it all. And now it turns out that the firefight and escape was being monitored at the highest levels in real time, and that rescuers were standing by but never got approval to move. It also turns out that the Obama administration flunkies were pounding the ‘protest by outraged local nationals inflamed over an obscure movie trailer on YouTube which got out of hand’ – never mind that that hardly anyone had ever even seen or heard of the trailer in question. What was Ambassador Stephens doing in Benghazi, essentially alone and relatively unprotected on the 9/11 anniversary? Is there something fishy going on with American weapons supplied to the Libyan rebels now being clawed back for transfer to … some other rebel group in the mid-east? Have high-ranking American military commanders in-theater who wanted to go ahead with a rescue effort against Administration orders been relieved of command? Questions, questions, questions

It’s just too bad that it’s not a Republican administration at this time – we’d have had answers to all these questions, days if not weeks ago.

It appears that once again, Sgt. Mom has to bring out the Mallet of Loving Correction that she has shamelessly copied from John Scalzi, and explain the whole concept of ‘freedom of thought’ and it’s fraternal twin, ‘freedom of expression’ to the inhabitants of those (mostly but not always) quarters of the world usually known as ‘Islamic-run hellholes.’
See here, we in the western world are known for a good many things – some of them good, some of them bad – but one of them is a sense of logic, and another is the freedom to speak our thoughts, suppositions and criticisms on any matter. Openly, freely, and through any medium available to us … without fear of prosecution by the forces of law and order. Unless, of course, we are inciting violence … umm, which to put it plainly, you guys seems to have a problem with. Actually, some of our own very dear Established and Housebroken Lapdog Media have a problem with that too, but that is an issue for another day.

And the range of topics which we may freely discuss and criticize includes practically anything, and everything; the current television season of the Alphabet Networks, the fiscal policies of our current administration, the horrible dress sense of the Kardashians, and the messy love lives of celebutards and neighbors … and religion does not get a pass. Scientology doesn’t get a pass, Catholics and Evangelical Christians don’t get a pass, Mormons don’t get a pass, and Islam especially doesn’t get a pass, much as you appear to wish otherwise. Yes, I know that the lickspittle media, our equally lickspittle State department, and Administrations past and present all made polite noises about the so-called Religion of Peace, and that Ibrahim Cooper and his CAIR-bots go off on a royal toot, and that Saudi Arabia have bought themselves into various academic establishments and existing mosques at the drop of a Danish Mo-toon … but Islam as currently practiced in such charming locales as Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Iran, Lebanon, Thailand, Indonesia, Detroit and certain cities in Britain and France is not in the least attractive to those of us in the Western tradition.

I don’t care how many museum exhibits, or how many TV documentaries about the marvelousness of the Golden Age of Islam get thrown at us like so much expensive confetti. The misogyny, the brutal practice of sharia, the Jew-hatred, the ignorance, the backwardness, the prosecution of other faiths, all speak louder than the occasional public relations offensive. … So we have critical things to day about it. Especially after seeing the stacks of dead bodies left in the wake of militant Islam. A lot of us can’t help noticing, and wondering – if Islam is so damn peaceful, how come all the dead bodies? For the sake of good manners, most of us refrain from saying so bluntly to those of our acquaintance who we know are Muslim … but what does our good manners get us?

You see, my dear little Libyan and Egyptian chickadees; we are going to discuss this, and we are going to be critical – on line and in home-made movies, in lectures and in books. Have tantrums all you like. Go so far as murdering ambassadors, blowing up tourists, inciting riots and inciting the murder of artists, writers, bloggers, Christian activists for exercising our rights of free speech – even speech offensive to you – and at some point in the near future, we might not be quite so polite. Those media, academic and political figures who have been the worst toadies … they might very well stop being polite also. Not holding my breath on that one, though.

Something on the internet is disrespectful to Islam? Have a cup of coffee, Mohammed, and get over it.

11. September 2012 · Write a comment · Categories: GWOT, History · Tags:

The anniversary of 9/11 crept up on little cat-feet this year. Not to say that I have forgotten about it entirely – but it is receding into the past, faster and faster. It is taking it’s place in history with other tumultuous and tragic events. So many anniversaries – of the start of WWII, and of WWI as well, of Gettysburg, the sinking of the Titanic, the destruction of Galveston by a hurricane, and the Nueces Massacre. Children who were babies and toddlers on the day that the towers fell in a vast gush of smoke and debris are now in middle school, on the cusp of being teenagers.

That world before is and increasingly a thing of the past, as far away in time for them as the high summertime of Edwardian England is to me. For those who lost parents, friends, coworkers and neighbors, the memory will linger much longer, until the end of their own lives. For those of us who were merely alive on that day, and spent it glued to the television or the radio, cold with horror and dread, feeling all the certainties of our world splinter invisibly, the horror will fade – has probably already begun to fade. In another decade, perhaps two or three or more, September 11th will be just another fall day, and only enthusiasts for historical trivia will remember the significance unprompted.

But time has not yet come. Today, we remember again.

And leave. That’s the discussion going on over at Rantburg, today, where Steve White has laid out the case, here, (http://rantburg.com/poparticle.php?ID=339729&D=2012-02-26&SO=&HC=4)
and I have to say he’s made a strong argument. Oh, there are things that can still be done … like drop in a SEAL team or a Hellfire missile the next time a tall Taliban poppy raises his head, or gives support and shelter to a beturbaned goon with ambitions to knock down multi-story office buildings half a world away.

I honestly thought – and still think that there are workable solutions for the problem that is Afghanistan. But if we aren’t going to apply any of them – and it is very plain that under this current feckless, amateur-hour, drop-down-on-knees-and-apologize-in-heart-beat administration, will not – then perhaps it’s time to say so long and thanks for all the fish.

It seems that there is a bit of bother on in military circles … or rather in the media circles which concern themselves with the conduct of the military … going on with regard to the Marines who were recorded some years ago pissing upon the bodies of some dead Taliban fighters.

The Taliban, like other gentlemen of similar Islamic persuasion in prosperous and peace-loving locations like Somalia, Chechnya and Iran are, of course, known the world over for their upright moral principles. They are famous for this, as well as their strict adherence to the practices of the Geneva Convention when it comes to captured military and interned civilians like Daniel Pearl, and their gentle and respectful treatment of female and child noncombatants. It seems like every other day or so, the Afghan and Pak Taliban are burning down another school, or throwing acid into the face of another woman whose appreciation of the charms of an individual enthusiast for the Religion of Peace is somewhat lacking.

Gosh, I just don’t know what got into our Marines. I clearly recall seeing WWII-era pictures of the aftermath of fighting in the Pacific, where a truck or half-track hood was adorned with a Japanese skull. Now, that was serious desecration. This? I am reliably informed that there are pervs who will pay good money to be pissed on by a professional. Well, the perv is usually alive and wearing a codpiece, high-heels and a ball-gag, but that’s a small detail.

Anyway – Bad Marines. Don’t let us catch you doing this ever again, or it’s no dessert for you for a week. And if you do, don’t take pictures of it for pete’s sake. And if you do take pictures for you and your buddies to snicker over … don’t show them off in public for about twenty years.

If, on the other hand, you want to piss all over Michael Moore, or that creep at the Daily Kos, or Bill Ayers or someone like that – feel free. Claim they were on fire, and you just wanted to do your duty as a good citizen.

Or so is one trenchant comment on this discussion thread, with regard to Obama’s more-than-embarrassing confusion while visiting the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, between a living recipient of the Medal of Honor and one who was awarded it posthumously . . . You know that the MOH is not handed out like tricker-treat candy, and to be the one presenting it to a soldier/sailor/airman/Marine who has survived . . . one would have thought a few details, like the name of the first living recipient since the Vietnam War would have stuck in the presidential mind. (Note to the president: the living MOH recipient is SSgt Salvatore Giunta, and he was and is a 173rd Airborne troop.) Really, one would have expected better of the mind of one so frequently lauded by a lickspittle press as being so intellectually superior. Back in the day, Sam Houston was absolutely legendary for his recollect of the name, service and exploits of just about every man who had ever enlisted and fought under his command in Texas; he, of course, had at best only a thousand or so to keep in mind. Still – one would like to think that the names of those awarded the MOH during his administration could be kept in mind, if not by the commander in chief himself, at least one of his flunkies.

Stuff like this – the names of heroes – is one of those things that military members are expected to know. It’s kind of a core-knowledge thing. We used to have a special category of spots to air on military TV and radio about heroic deeds, and the names and faces of those who went above and beyond, and that’s the kind of history included in our basic training, promotion testing, and professional development courses.

So – here we have a CinC who either can’t be bothered to get it straight – or doesn’t care, and goofs it horrendously in front of a lot of people who did and do care, very much . . . and possibly could have served with the late SFC Monti. It says a lot for the self-discipline of the 10th Mountain Division troops that there seemed to have been no overt reaction, other than a lot of poker-faces going rather more poker-faced. Very likely this would be seen by ordinary civilians as . . . well, really, one of those silly and quite understandable goofs. But to military members, this kind of mistake is not seen in that light at all. At best – inexcusably careless, and at worst contemptuous of those who serve in the US armed forces.

I’m channelling Mark Twain this morning – or maybe it was Clarence Darrow:
“I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.”

This morning, I am reading the obituary with a great deal of satisfaction. I would have liked to have seen his head on a pike in front of the White House, but I’ll settle for what we can get. And our “friends” in Pakistan do have a lot of explaining to do, don’t they?

Just for fun – another Downfalledit – Hitler Learns about Bin Laden

Having witnessed one form of American rebellion flame up from small individual local protests into a political movement that is about as unstoppable as a wild-fire with a Santa Anna wind behind it, now I am wondering if I am not seeing another, in the current ruckus kicked up about the TSA.
It has often seemed of late that just about every simple pleasure of air travel – and there used to be a good few, even when it just seemed as if flying by commuter air was just a Trailways bus with wings – has been precisely and surgically removed. Cram-jammed flights. A seat about the size of one of those chairs in a kindergarten – and about as comfortable. No meal service. No movies save on long-distance hauls. Fewer direct flights . . . And then, post 9-11 – security. No meeting someone at the gate upon arrival. No seeing someone away, by accompanying them to the departure gate. Emptying your luggage of nail-clippers, lighters, and any sort of liquid. Wearing shoes that can easily be slipped off. Getting to the airport at least two hours early to be sure to make it through the security line to start with. And now this: the unedifying choice between having to go through the stark-naked scanning machine, or a humiliatingly intrusive pat-down search.

Frankly, if I am to be seen in the altogether, or to be intimately groped by another person, I’d like it to be consensual and after a good dinner, a couple of drinks and a movie.

We put up with all of this in the name of “safety” – but my sense is that it has hit a wall of not only diminishing returns, but our own patience. The final straw, as it were. The far frozen limit. The TSA makes a great show of searching for things and of avoiding seeming to ‘profile’ those who might actually be terrorists intent on airborne mayhem. It’s not the tool, fools – it’s the person with the will, training and intent to use the tool – but oh, my – we can’t be caught singling out those specific persons. Might upset them, and then what might they do? So, in order to prove that we are not ‘profiling’ –screaming three year old kids, elderly nuns in full habit, semi-invalids in scooter-chairs, teenage girls, respectable middle-aged business persons with no record of brushes with the law whatsoever, get to be treated like convicted felons on intake to a long term in the state pen. There have been reports lately of terrorists smuggling explosives by stuffing them into body cavities; given how the TSA goes into full reaction mode to counter past terrorist tactics, I can only expect the next step is to administer colonoscopies and issue speculums. Complaints about unprofessional behavior by the TSA agents have become legion. I don’t have any myself – having only flown once in the last five years, but travelers who do have some real doozies to tell, and some of them even have video.

It’s going to be real interesting, seeing how this avoidance of air travel might go, in the next couple of weeks. With the economy the way it is, probably not as many can afford or want to fly, but I have a feeling that unhappiness over the back-scatter screening and intrusive pat-down searches have driven travelers to the limit of saying ‘heck with that, might as well drive.’ Interesting to see what the airlines may do, if travel falls off that far. Any bets?

So, now in the multitudinous fall-out from the Ground Zero Mosque, or Cordoba House or Park51, or whatever the heck it’s being termed – is a threat by a Florida whack-job minister to burn Korans as a public demonstration of something or other on Saturday. Cheesncrackers, people, just when I thought this whole issue couldn’t get any more demented. Is there someone I have to sleep with, in order to live on a planet with sane people, preferably ones with a sense of proportion and humor, not to mention toleration for those who don’t agree with them in every aspect of existence?

Frankly, I’d like to set the good Iman Rauf and the good Reverend Jones down on the other side of my official Sgt. Mom desk for a nice discussion of principles. And those would be principles which would apply to both of them, and yes, I expect to be the one doing the talking.

Yes, there is nothing in this supposedly free country which would prevent the Reverend Jones from incinerating copies of the Koran, as a demonstration of his lack of appreciation for Islam and his ingratitude for the many blessings that the strict practice of Salafist Islam brings to the modern cultural table. And yes, there is also nothing which would legally prevent a mosque/community/cultural center from being established adjacent to that place where there were 5,000 people (give or take) crushed or incinerated when a pair of hijacked airplanes were deliberately crashed into two tall and shining skyscrapers nine years ago to the day by representatives of the Religion of Peace.

So, established – they each can do this thing which they want to do, for whatever reasons. And Andres Serrano can take pictures of a crucifix in a vial of his own pee, and Chris O-whatever can adorn a painting of the Virgin with mounds of elephant dung, and Danish cartoonists can do cartoons about how fear of drawing a picture of Mohammad leads to self-censorship, and Salman Rushdie can joke around with Satanic Versifying and all of that is perfectly OK in a free country, or it ought to be.

But where is the line to be drawn, then? And if you are offended by one or the other, than what is the acceptable response? Letter to the editor, an angry post on a blog, a boycott? Threatening violence? Should the fear of violence lead one to self-censor? What about a fear of offending people? Why is it OK to offend one particular class of people by your actions in support of religion or art, but tip-toe around giving offense to the other? Exactly what is the standard at work here, and who decides to apply it? And hey, isn’t the poor old bourgeois getting a little tired of being constantly epatered?

Just as a final aside – the copies of the Koran that Reverend Jones is planning to flambé – are they English translations of the Koran, in which case it doesn’t really count as a Koran, per se, because the only Koran that counts as a Koran is the one in Arabic. Revelations straight from The Big Guy to Mohammad has been my understanding. Everything else is just a translation, and so it really isn’t the Koran, except for when it is. And I think Pastor Jones looks amazingly like the historic John Brown, of Pottawatomie, who tried to kick-start a slave insurrection, pre-Civil War. If The Reverent Jones really wants to cover his posterior for this little venture into protest, he ought to announce the Koran-B-Que as a piece of performance art and apply for a NEA grant. Your mileage may vary. Discuss.