Give Me Land, Lots of Land

This would appear to be the new theme song for the Fed-Gov’s Bureau of Land Management – that bane of ranchers like Cliven Bundy – as well as a whole lot of other ranchers, farmers, loggers, small landowners, and owners of tiny bits of property on the edge of or in areas of spectacular natural beauty, west of the Mississippi and between the Mexican and Canadian borders.

Yes, indeedy, folks – the maw of the Fed-Gov appears to be insatiable, although it is veiled over with the rationale of wanting to protect endangered species – many of which do not seem to be endangered so much any more – and miles and miles of unique old-growth Western forest. Some of these old-growth forests are so well-protected that they have burned down to the roots in catastrophic fires of late, as local environmental groups went into fits of spastic pearl-clutching, at the very suggestion that … well, pine-bark-beetle and drought-killed trees needed to be cleared away, and so did the duff and accumulation of flammable trash-brush. (The nature of many Western ecologies meant that being burned over every couple of decades was required for the good health of the ecology generally. Well-meant intervention seems to have made the situation worse. But never mind, say the environmentalists…)

This raises the natural suspicion among those of us who have been paying attention, as well as those who have had to make a living in parts of the West lately, that quite a lot of the endangered-species, famously-unique-old-growth-forest, and spectacular-unique-bit-of-landscape legislation which was passed a good three decades ago are now being used for other than their stated purposes. That they are being misused in the service of some international plot (Hello, Agenda 21!) to move us all into urban concrete Stack-a-prole apartment blocks where we can be observed and controlled by the functionaries of the Outer Party, 24-7 … well, I am not quite ready to order my tinfoil chapeau … but I am to the point of becoming concerned, shading to somewhat worried. I can see – rather clearly – that the ostensible care of establishment environmentalists has been used – and the degree of knowledge and malice aforesaid may be debated – in order to close off public lands to any economic use at all, even recreational use, if it is the wrong sort of recreation and by the wrong people. This has all has the whiff of a royal forest being established, for the use and recreation of the small numbers of the anointed, and the lesser orders – the ranchers, hunters, hikers and campers (or cabin-owners) being strictly forbidden on pain of death.

I cannot begin to guess how serious this latest threat to land along the Texas side of the Red River from the BLM is. Likely it will not go very far, now that the Texas AG has drawn a line in the sand. Maybe it is just a feint or even a campaign strategy by Mr. Abbott … but given recent history, and the resentments of all kinds of small-property ranchers and land-owners it’s a shrewd one. The state of Texas, in a handy turn of fate retained ownership of public lands upon becoming a state, instead of the Fed-Gov taking over and retaining vast tracts of wilderness. To this day there are only a couple of national parks within Texas, plus military bases – and for the BLM to even think of appropriating privately-owned lands on the Texas side of the Red River – is breathtakingly ill-conceived. If the BLM is serious in doing so, I guarantee that they will be resisted, furiously. It would make the brouhaha at the Bundy ranch look like a kindergarten playground squabble. It appears at this point, though, that the BLM has backed away, piously disavowing any such intent. For now, anyway, say I, cynically. Five years ago I might have written such a step up to ignorance rather than malice. Five years ago I wouldn’t have thought the IRS would be turned loose to harass political opponents of the Dem Party machine, either.

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

In the Light of This Development …

Covered here, at length, I am certain that New Mexico, or at the very least, the Hidalgo County PD needs a new motto.

How about “New Mexico – Come for the enchantment, stay for the thorough cavity searches”?

Or “Hidalgo County Police Department – The Keyster Kops!”

Or “Hidalgo County Police Department – Let Us Take You Up the Khyber Pass

Or “Hidalgo County Police Department – Illegal Anal Probs R Us!”

Seriously, if ever there was an occasion which calls for prolonged and vicious mockery, this would be it. Don’t these people have enough real and obvious criminals to deal with?

What Happens When…

… it was a farce the first time around, and then it comes around again? I speak of Anthony Wiener’s wiener, of which the candidate for the mayoralty of the Big Apple is so insensately proud that he continues thrusting it – or the pictorial evidence thereof – into the public sphere, through the medium of Twitter … which I categorically insist is a fiendishly clever means of proving celebrity idiocy beyond all doubt and ensuring life-time employment for their public relations experts. But I digress … and yes, the grade school impulse to make fun of someone with a thoroughly risible name is something one never quite outgrows.

But seriously, Mr. Huma Abedin – how stupid are you? How stupid do you think the voting public is, that you could offend with the sexts and the pics of your unclothed bod, humiliate yourself and your spouse, and for all I know, the rest of your family and your neighbors – and then turn right around and do it again! Usually reckless impulses of this pellucid-pure stupidity involve the phrase “Hold my beer and watch this!” and a Darwin Award nomination, but since this involves a member of the bi-coastal ruling elite, that famous last-words phrase likely didn’t apply.
Sigh. Look, y’all in New York, it’s all on your heads if he is to be your next mayor. On the positive side, maybe tweeting pics of the mayoral junk far and wide will just be seen as an amusing personal foible – and a welcome distraction from fussing about salt consumption and the availability of large soft drinks.

A Matter of Taste(r)

It is apparently not news to anyone that the office of the President of the US involves a degree of security – to include an official food-taster, as medieval as that sounds. Been going on for years, apparently, so having a designated expert to cover food safety with regards to the President isn’t something to have a conniption fit over. So someone has to eat a couple of bites – a whole helping? from a dish prepared for the White House table, and if that person doesn’t fall over, gasping and foaming at the mouth, then it is OK for POTUS consumption. Got it. And yes, I do understand very well that security ought to be tight when it comes to food supplies and preparation for any President … but the recent story about President Obama sitting by at a private luncheon with GOP senators and not being able to eat a bite because his food taster hadn’t vetted the food first strikes me as a matter a little deeper and much more insulting than it has been played.
Continue reading

So, Whither Occupy What Street?

As a terribly scarred and battle-hardened first gen Tea Partier, I am following the fortunes of the OWS with mixed emotions; those motions mostly being a combination of disbelief and horror. Your leaderless insurgency just sort of decided to get together, camp out in a public place and make enough of a spectacle for the media and general public to take notice. Well, that’s a goal of sorts, but didn’t anyone do any serious advanced event planning? Organizing skilled volunteers with specific skill-sets to see to billeting, portapotties and their maintenance, security, law-enforcement coordination, clean-up, outreach and education? Nobody gave consideration about yourselves and your main message (whatever that message may actually be) from pervs, rapists, assorted unappetizing/potentially embarrassing freelance whackos and a collection of thievish and destructive blights on the activist community. Was there no guidance considered to urge protest participants to make nice with business owners and members of the general public who have varying degrees of concern about the space you have chosen to take over for your purposes? Was there any prior planning (which prevents piss-poor performance, as the old military saying goes) in advance of these momentous decisions to take to the streets? No confabulations, through social media, no focused meetings of intensely interested volunteers, no hours-long conference calls, thrashing out the basics?

Sigh – it appears that the answer to these questions is not.

(As an aside – you will never get 100% consensus among rational adults about anything. Settle for 2/3rd majority, respect the dissenting 1/3rd, and move on. Give way to the minority on something else: it’s called negotiation, my dears – or in vulgar parlance: horse-trading. Prioritize what is important and which you will not compromise upon, and work out what lesser principals you will trade off to achieve that. It’s what adults in a functioning democracy do. People who have real lives and real jobs, those who do not live the Great and Shining Cause 24/7, 365 days a year, will not have the patience or endurance for epic meetings deciding upon minutia . . . however, I have noticed that a certain kind of career activitist/community organizer does have stamina sufficient for meetings of the endless and ultimately pointless sort. I’d advise you to avoid that kind of person, but it probably is a bit too late. )

I do have to hand it to the Occupy Whatever Street – the major national news media are already giving the various protest events the warm sloppy tongue-bath, even to the point of serving your public relations functions. It took the SATP a good six months of outreach and conferences with various local TV news directors and newspaper editors to get any respect at all. But, as a sort-of PR professional, I have to say that this good-will towards the OWS probably will not last, and may already be shriveling. A long-established protest site in the heart of a big city can only be made to seem cool, subversive, and glamorous for so long, in the face of ongoing noise and vandalism, reported harassment of local residents and law-enforcement personnel, and just the general rat’s nest appearance of the average OWS protest camp. This will not go over well in the long run with ordinary, hard-working, peace-loving citizens, even those in general sympathy with some of the stated goals. There are a fair number of new reports indicating that your immediate neighbors in your various venues are growing sick and tired of your presence. This is something that you should pay attention to; bad optics, from a public affairs point of view. Which brings me to my next point –

A street protest is just a starting point for a truly broad-based and ground-up political movement. Getting together in a public space all those who are moved enough to be unhappy about things as they are . . . my dear people, that is only the first step. The next one is to go home, to fully understand the issues and the various options that would perhaps alleviate those of most concern, and to continue the outreach, the consultations, the epic convention calls, the even-more-epic meetings among the most dedicated and skilled – the formulation of email lists, the cultivation of donors . . . all of that. It’s much more of a job and not as attention-catching as a simple temporary event. It’s work, and it’s hard and dedicated work. It is not fun – hardly a romp in the park, if I may be so kind as to draw that analogy. It’s work. Hard work and it will almost always take a lot more temporal and psychic energy than you might think at first. Been there – done that, ever since working to resettle Vietnamese refugees in 1975-75.

Unless you are all willing to do that work, then you are merely dilettantes in protest, having a public temper-tantrum.

I remain most sincerely yours and this entry is posted as my best professional advice

Sgt. Mom

Tuesday Miscellany

In no particular order of importance, I contemplate the following:

1. Regretfully, Morgan Freeman has now joined my personal celebrity s**t list, for pronouncing the Tea Party to be racist. Usually those who fall into my list have a long track record of offences; he has done it in one fell swoop of a lengthy TV interview. Yes, I know that most actors and entertainers are political morons – especially those who feel obliged to piss off a major portion of their fan-base.

2. So . . . thirty years ago, there was a rock on a hunting lease in West Texas with a racial epithet painted on it . . . which was painted over by the lease-holder, at the urging of his son, who is now presently the Governor of Texas. And this is all that the WaPo can find by way of criticism of the man. Hoooo-kayyy. From those wonderful people who brought us Watergate, this is a sad come-down.

3. And speaking of Watergate – it didn’t actually kill anyone, which is more than you can say for Operation Fast and Furious, or ‘hey boys’n’girls, lets have the ATF take the lead in supplying serious weaponry to the Mexican drug cartels!’ Seriously, if the Mexican government was to demand extradition of Attorney General Eric Holder, the head of the ATF, and every other numbskull who expedited the various gun-running operations on charges of criminal misconduct and accessory to murder, I’d say – have at it. Deliver them all to the border in handcuffs, with a big pink bow around their necks. Impeach now.

4. Michelle Antoinette’s little excursion to Target? Oh, please, woman – if you had any nerve at all, you’d have gone to Walmart.

5. Will Amanda Knox dethrone Casey Anthony when it comes to criminal justice tabloid fodder? Should I or anyone else not in the immediate family or social circle of either one really care one way or the other?

6. And why is it now October and we are still having to run the air conditioning?

PS – and one more thing: every time I hear something being flogged as ‘green’ and ‘environmentally sound’ or ‘renewable’ … I am fairly sure the object in question is a rip-off, and/or completely unsatisfactory compared to the non-green, environmentally unsound, and non-renewable version.

What We Have Here

. . . in the words of Strother Martin, from the old Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke, “is failure to communicate.” Although, in the case of one Private Nasser Jason Abdo, one really does wonder how much of that deliberate non-receptivity is on the part of the receiver; firstly – being eighteen years of age. Most eighteen year olds are idiots. I was one, and I remember thinking that yes, most of my peers were drooling morons. (Most of them did grow out of it, so there is hope.) Secondly – he willfully and with aforethought enlisted in the Army. Enable routine, inter-service slam here: oh, yeah, he enlisted in the Army. Any brains, you’d pick the Air Force or Navy, any balls, you’d go for the Marines. Disable routine, inter-service slam, and for the record I have known many brainy and ballsy Army troops, it’s just that . . . hey, opportunity presents and custom demands.

Anyway, our young hero decides to join the Army, go through Basic and probably tech school, and oh, wow – suddenly discovers that he has enlisted in a wartime military, where . . . umm . . . they kinda expect you to go out there and kill the enemy and blow up their stuff, routinely and regularly, in exchange for a paycheck, PX privileges and the burden of not having to decide to wear what to work each morning. This war thing, in Afghanistan – it’s a thing which has been going on since 2003. I know it doesn’t make the headlines every damn day, but really . . . if you were deciding to join the military in late 2009 or early 2010, it’s one of those things that I would have hoped that a bright young enlistee would have noticed, even if his recruiter failed to point that out. And if his recruiter had not made it relatively clear, I’d have thought Army basic training would have. So, anyway, upon receipt of notice that he is bound for deployment to Afghanistan, our your hero suddenly gets in touch with his inner Muslim and discovers that he is, in fact, a contentious objector, and the requirements of religion forbid him to kill other Muslims. Note; historically and in current events this particular stricture would come as rather a surprise to . . . say, participants in strife between Sunni and Shia, between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s . . . and in Afghanistan itself, where the local Muslims seem to kill each other, frequently, bloodily and with every evidence of keen enjoyment. And also – past times in the US military, declaring yourself to be a conscientious objector in the US military did not automatically relieve one from an obligation to serve in uniform. During WWII many conscientious objectors served as combat medics, and in fact, there were two Medals of Honor awarded for having performed heroically in that role.

So, on the basis of his suddenly-discovered pacifistic inclination, our young Private Abdo is made much the pet and prize of the anti-war movement, such as it exists in these strange days, but just as the Army is about to wash its hands of him metaphorically speaking, investigators find kiddy porn on his government computer . . . which is either very convenient for the investigators, or the abyss of stupidity on Private Abdos. I’m kind of torn on this one, but our young hero doesn’t exactly strike me as Mensa material – note above, regarding joining the Army in time of war and then being horrified to discover that participation in said war is obligatory.

And to crown the whole farrago of self-serving stupidity to go AWOL and be captured in Killeen, Texas . . . for trying to purchase guns and bomb-making materials, with the apparent intent of setting off explosions in an off-post eatery popular with the local troops. Okay, then . . . Private Abdos apparently does not grasp that whole conscientious objector concept, as we in the wonderful world of the military – and possibly even most of those on planet Earth – understand it , and in a fairly comprehensive way. This is an irony so dense that it threatens to drop through the earth’s crust, all the way through the molten core and come out the other side, and having a particularly dark and ironic sense of humor, I am getting at least a few chuckles out of this from watching the anti-war organizations dropping him as if he were made of plutonium, nearly as much as I did from the unmasking of Jesse McBeth.

(re-edited to permit comments)

I Swear…

If I see one more politico or blogger who I used to respect stand up and tell me that Paul Revere actually WAS warning the British on his midnight ride, I’m going to vote for Obama just out of sheer spiteful frustration with the WingNuttery of it all.

No, it’s NOT worse than 57 states, but come ON people.  We learned this in 8th Grade.  And it wasn’t a “reasoned” response, she was spewing word salad.

I don’t care if it’s a Dem or a Rep, if you goofed, just say so.

Monday Miscellany

So, a scattershot essay with a number of different topics that have come bubbling up to the top of my admittedly scattered attention this last week:

The Neighbors from Hell, part –I-don’t-know-how-many, there are just too many to count. See, there are bad neighbors who commit sins of omission, such as not mowing their lawn, keeping up with house maintenance, or just have an aesthetic sense that does not jibe with the others in the ‘hood. Every neighborhood seems to have a couple of those; people who are just fricking clueless. Think of them as small lumps in the happy oatmeal of life. Sometimes you can work with them, bring them around to the right way of doing things, but generally it’s not worth the effort. Just look away from them as much as you can, and call city Code Compliance only when absolutely necessary, because they just might turn into Neighbors from Hell – the other kind of bad neighbor; the aggressive, sins-of-commission kind. The ones who deliberately court offense, who declare open war upon another neighbor, and generally do their best to create Suburban Hell; I’d guess that this piece o’work is that kind of neighbor. Frankly, I’m glad she’s not ours, and extend my heartfelt sympathy to the people who are.

Life on the border, Falcon Lake edition: kinda hard to say at this point exactly has been going on there . . . save to say that the just-south-o’the-border lawless’n’drug-gang situation has been heading to the proverbial nether regions in the proverbial wicker-work carrying container for quite some time now. Seriously, it’s getting really, really bad. Blondie was freaking out this spring when my SO and his snowbird friends and I went to Progresso, Mexico for a day jaunt. How bad is it going to get in the next five months? The odds on some horrific cross-border affray which might actually make the Mainstream f*****g Media sit up and pay attention due to the penetration distance within the US, the number of innocent lives messily lost and the presence of YouTube video detailing every splatter are pretty high. Just my semi-educated guess, people. Just my guess.

Kind of nice, how everybody wants to be a Tea Partier now, isn’t it? Or at least, not be an incumbent. (November is coming – I can see it from my house!) Seriously, everyone is pretty well wise to the method of getting expensive federal government crap for your district, and expecting to get votes in response? They are bribing us with our own money, people. It’s a local and parochial benefit, at the expense of the long-term national good. Personally, I don’t think any federal or state installation should be named after a local politician still living, but that’s just me.

Which brings me to Jerry Brown getting the NOW endorsement not twenty-four hours after being inadvertently recorded as calling Meg Whitman a whore . . . Guess she isn’t the right kind of feminist. Funny, that. Reminds me of why I no longer subscribe to Ms. Magazine. Or identify myself as a capital F feminist . . . It seems as if only the properly credentialed can apply. Screw that, and identity politics generally.

All this, and the Great VFW Endorsement disaster, which I think must be close kin to the AARP ObamaCare endorsement disaster. Way to go, people . . . umm, or way to go those at the tippy-top of such national organizations who have decided it is nicer to go along to get along than pay attention to the real interests and needs of those who have joined your association voluntarily. Shoot yourself in the foot, much?

Well, that should get you off to a good Monday start. No need to thank me, I live to serve.

Sgt. Mom

PS – Apparently someone winged a book at the Mighty O-man last night at a speech – and missed by a narrow margin, but no one knows the title of the book! My guess is a copy of the Constitution, or maybe the Federalist Papers. Blondie ventures: “Maybe a copy of that craptacular autobiography and they wanted a refund!”

Memo: The One Speaks, Again

I see by the headlines this morning that the President gave a prime-time speech on TV last night . . . gee, like that hasn’t happened lately? Or what seems like every week since a year ago January. Vacation, speech, vacation speech, party at the WH, speech, vacation, trip to someplace or other, speech, vacation . . . It’s a grueling schedule, people – I for one, can barely keep up with it. Nor can I listen to the sound of that sonorous, empty-content equivalent of political cotton-candy for another minute; so thanks – I’ll just do a quick scan of the transcript . . . oh, like cotton candy, it shrivels down to a couple of teaspoons of sugar syrup, once all the hot air has been excised.

Looks like it went over like the proverbial lead balloon; kind of the cherry on the top of the bitter sundae of disappointment with our president among those who were stumbling in a golden haze of worship and adoration a bare eighteen months ago; yes, I am have been detecting the stirrings of disaffection and careful distancing of themselves from the shadow of the Glorious One – especially among the punditocracy, who were so quick to go down on their knees so many months ago. Talk about wailing and lamentations – I might have to get some earplugs soon, if creatures like Maureen Dowd, Peggy Noonan and Jon Stewart get any shriller. Over at my digs on Open Salon, the murmurings among the up-to-know obedient faithful are still as a gentle surf: they are bewildered, not quite openly rebellious yet. (And too damn many of them are still using the t******er slur . . . oh, Carrie Fisher? You are dead to me now. Never shall I spend money on one of your books or movies again.) Where was I – oh, enjoying a quiet romp through the meadows of schadenfreude, and biting back my impulse to snarl at the poor bewildered lefty darlings to grow a pair, or a spine, and ask them – well, what did you expect, you idiots?

Yes, what did you expect, supporting and voting into the highest office in the land, a charming and well-spoken cipher, with a resume of real accomplishment thinner than Callista Flockhart’s thighs, a jet-propelled affirmative action fast-burner shooting up the ladder so fast that all negative fall-out was left far, far behind, who never held a meaningful job in an industry, a small business, or in the military, a man with a lot of rather embarrassing friends and connections, a hollow man from the bowels of the Chicago political machine – than which there is none in the land possibly more corrupt or unaccountable – with no real and perceptible managerial talent, who can’t speak off-the-cuff and off-the-teleprompter in any coherent fashion . . . yes, what did you $#&$king well expect? I won’t even go into the list of the One’s other incompetencies, it’s too &$@king depressing.

I perceive though, that many who were only too happy to support him back then are now very, very sorry. I perceive also that many of us be sorrier still, in the very near future, so for those who went all starry-eyed over the One Who Some Of You Were Waiting For, I have a request. Apologize, publicly, abjectly and without reservation, for your part in having landed us with this malevolent fool. Wear sackcloth and ashes, stand in the marketplace for a day – and if you were a prominent pundit, a Hollywood personality or news-reporting professional (or any combination – it gets hard to tell, sometimes) who went all ga-ga for the O-man, then I suggest that a spot of hari-kiri would not be out of place, either. Perhaps you can expiate some of your guilt by driving a tanker truck full of dish detergent down to the Gulf Coast and spending the next few months de-oiling sea birds. I don’t care – just stay out of politics, away from the microphone and out of the voting booth for the near future, since you have demonstrated yourself to be too #$&%king gullible to have any civic responsibility expected of you.

Sincerely,

Sgt Mom

Memo: Monday Morning Miscellany

From: Sgt Mom
To: Various
Re: Some Apparently Inconvenient Home Truths

1. Oh, my – the case of the absent-minded professor, the irreproducible results and the ‘dog-that-ate-my-data.’ Yet another stake through the heart of man-made-global-warming, to add to the existing collection; I swear, in popular media culture this global-warming c**p has more lives than Freddy Kruger. Hey, aren’t we all ready to have a good long laugh at Al Gore, now? And can we at least have our incandescent light-bulbs back? Thanks, ever so.

2. Note – to aspiring politicians (I’m looking at you, aspiring candidate for governor of Texas Debra Medina, who was about to break out on the national media level, but flubbed a key question asked by Glenn Beck – who, I may add, was not exactly hostile media to fiscally conservative, independent and grassroots candidates, m’kay?) – there is only one acceptable answer to that particular question. That acceptable answer is “no.” Or “hell, no.” Although the Bush administration, and before that, the Carter administration, might have been able to put together the pieces of the intelligence puzzle a little more efficiently, or take more seriously the rantings and threats of a wierdy-beardy Islamist squatting in an Afghan cave – the US government most certainly did not coldly and callously enter into a labyrinthine plot to murder 5,000+ of their own citizens in one morning. If you well and truly believe that a conspiracy of that magnitude is doable, probable and technologically possible – than why do you chose to remain a citizen of such a monstrous country? And more to the point, if you believe in 9/11 as a government plot, why would you even want to become a part of the government? S**t, people, the X-Files was a fictional TV show, not a documentary – get a grip.

3. OK – one more time: the Tea Partiers are not knuckle-dragging, sister-humping, room-temperature IQ racists, and the more certain of you choose to bang on about this meme, the more you are blowing your credibility with the public, outside your own cozy little echo chamber that is. One more time – they are fiscal conservatives, small federal government, free market and libertarian. The Tea Partiers I know don’t give a good g***amn about the color of your skin, the color of the POTUS’ skin – and we wouldn’t care much about what Captain America thinks of us either, except that once a meme gets going, it’s a pain in the *** to uproot. See item 1, above.

Oh, yeah – and our protests are fun. Lots of smiling, friendly people, lots of laughter, music – kind of like a very laid-back neighborhood block party. And we clean up after ourselves, too.

4. And in reference to item 3 above? Yeah, for a while I went around explaining earnestly that using the word “teabagger” in a discussion of the Tea Party movement was kind of like using the word n*gger in starting off a discussion about civil rights – now? Eh, not so much. When I see it being used, I can be pretty sure the person using it is as aggressively ignorant as they are bigoted and rude, so I can safely disregard anything they have to say. Just by using it, they’ve already proved they have nothing much to say, so I can save valuable time.

5. I’d write a good scathing essay about Courtney Cook – except that it looks like pretty much most of the milblogosphere already seems to have taken some good hearty thwacks at her Salon essay. (Jeeze, what is it with Salon and Open Salon these days? Is there some kind of convention going on for shallow, narcissistic writers over there?) Passive-aggressive, self-absorbed and immature is no way to go through life, dear – just my opinion.

Sincerely,
Sgt Mom

Memo – Fort Hood Fallout

From: Sgt Mom
To: Various
Re: Ft. Hood Murders

1. To the families, loved ones, comrades and friends of those killed at Ft. Hood this last week: I am so sorry; our prayers and condolences go out to you all.

2. To our current President: Please start going to your local Toastmaster’s organization, and work on your impromptu speech-making techniques. You are acceptable when prepped and reading it off the teleprompter, but looking all over the place in a triangular pattern – up left, down right, across and up left again – it’s really distracting. Oh, and as the C-in-C you should really learn the difference between the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Maybe working with flash cards would help you remember this stuff.

3. To CAIR, and other prominent members of various mainstream Muslim-American associations: Clean house. Start shopping violent jihadi a-holes to law enforcement. Immediately, if not yesterday.

4. To various deep thinkers, bloggers and trolls of the leftish persuasion, who are inclined to write and post with variations of really, those violent, warmongering and racist, hicks all got just what they deserved; just stop. Just stop it.

5. Department of Homeland Defense: Nice set of priorities, Janet! Looks like everyone was too busy running around in circles, looking for violent Tea Party activists to pay any attention to a whacked-out jihadist. Nice job, lady.

6. Army Personnel Management cadre at Walter Reed: Yeah, I know the usual drill for dealing with a problem troop/officer – quietly send them TDY, give them a pencil-pushing job someplace where they can do the minimum amount of damage, and eventually transfer them someplace remote. Didn’t work out well this time –maybe it would have been worthwhile doing some direct attitude adjustment on Major Hasan?

7. Major Hasan: Hmm … I guess Leavenworth still has a place where they can stand up traitors against a wall and have the firing squad finish the job?

8. Police Sgt. Kim Munley: most excellent job. Need something with more stopping power than a 9mm. Just sayin’…

Sgt Mom.

It’s Not Crazy, It’s Just The Chicago Way

In the 1987 movie “The Untouchables,” Sean Connery’s character, Officer James Malone, gives a brief, but to-the-point lesson to Federal Agent Elliott Ness:

They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way!

It’s with a bit of twisted pride that I tell you that most Chicagoans know that “way” by the time they’re 16. It’s kind of built in. You either learn it, or you wind up in serious hurt. I know, outside of Chicago it seems almost psychotic. I keep telling people, there’s a reason why I retired out West. There’s an inherent psychosis that goes along with living in a city that has a million plus population. You seriously don’t KNOW you’re crazy until you get out of it. And then you kind of look back and shiver, thankful that you made it out alive and un-indicted.

John Kass in today’s Chicago Tribune, tries to explain to the rest of the country why Governor Blagojevich isn’t crazy, he’s just a Chicago Machine Politician. I’m not even going to try to excerpt it, it’s too funny/sad/true to cut up. Just go read the whole thing. And no, I don’t agree with him, I think they’re all nucking futs (sic), I don’t care how good the pizza is.

Stolen from Twitter

You can’t spell Blagojevich without J.A.I.L..

You would think that by now I’d be immune to being surprised by an Illinois Governor being arrested. But seriously, he had to know he was under investigation. Why would you talk about this stuff ON THE FREAKING PHONE!!!

UPDATE: Because someone asked: If Blagojevich is convicted, he would make the fourth Illinois Governor since 1960. That’s one every decade except for 1980.

1. Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Democrat, 2003 to Present. Arrested on two charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. Irony: Was voted in on a wave of anger about “Ryan’s Republican corruption.” Previously represented the city of Chicago as a Congressman.

2. George Ryan, Republican, 1999 to 2003, convicted of corruption in 2006. Steered contracts and leases to political insiders while he was Secretary of State and then Governor. Currently serving a 6 1/2-year prison term. Previously served as Secretary of State and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives.

3. Dan Walker, Democrat, 1973 to 1977, plead guilty to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. Charges unrelated to term as Governor. Served 1 1/2 years of a seven-year sentence. Previously served as aide to Governor Adlai Stevenson and was dead set on destroying the Chicago Machine and removing Mayor Richard J. Daley from the Cook County Democratic Committee. Wrote a blistering report about Mayor Daley’s use of force during the 1968 Democratic Convention, basically stating that the Chicago Police Department started, rather than ended the riot.

4. Otto Kerner Jr., Democrat, 1961 to 1968, 1973, convicted of bribery, tax evasion and other stuff. He was convicted of arranging favorable horse racing dates as Governor in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. He served less than a year of a three-year sentence. He was the son of Otto Kerner Sr., former Attorney Gerneral of Illinois and Justice United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Junior was a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern Illinois District and County Judge for Cook County (Chicago and surrounding area). Kerner died in 1976.

As I’ve tried to explain on a number of occasions, corruption in Chicago and in Illinois isn’t considered “wrong” by many. It’s sort of expected as “just the way things are done.” You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. It’s inherent in the system and has been for more than a century. That’s why I really have a bad feeling about Senator Obama for President. The fact that this stuff happens all around him, but never seems to stick to him, is much more worrisome than if was knee deep in the muck.

AF Cyber Command “Delayed”

According to the front page of the Air Force Cyber Command’s Website:

8/14/2008-Barksdale AFB, La. –The Air Force remains committed to providing full-spectrum cyber capabilities to include global command and control, electronic warfare and network defense. The Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force have considered delaying currently planned actions on Air Force Cyber Command to allow ample time for a comprehensive assessment of all AFCYBER requirements and to synchronize the AFCYBER mission with other key Air Force initiatives. The new Air Force leaders continue to make a fresh assessment of all our efforts to provide our Nation and the joint force the full spectrum of air, space, and cyberspace capabilities.

Which makes sooooo much sense considering that the military doesn’t have a cohesive all-around cyber defense policy. Seriously, cyber security measures can change literally from base to base. What drives those measures? You would think it would be a standard set of security practices applied to all and you’d be somewhat correct. However, what you also have to take into account is that almost every base has a different contract company taking care of their network security measures. Those measures may be based on what the contractor is willing and able to do for the price that the military is willing to pay. On some bases, you may have three to five different companies taking care of the various networks depending on the security level of the network. Not only is the security level dependent on the classification of the material on the network, but it’s also dependent, again, on the capability of the contractors.

I remember getting a call when I was in NORAD/USSPACE from a flag officer and he needed me to come over and help him with one of his computers. Since that part of the network wasn’t “owned” by NORAD/USSPACE, I literally was not allowed to help him. I simply didn’t have permissions for that side of the network. I had to file a help desk ticket for him which, according to contract, allowed up to 3 business days before it was addressed. Since he WAS a flag officer, the contractor did put a rush on it, but still.

I’ve been against the privatizing of the military’s networks since they started. Okay, so you don’t have to pay contractors retirement benefits and all the other baggage that comes along with a military person’s life, but if you don’t write the contracts correctly, the military can wind up needing a task completed by the contractor that’s not in the contract and you can’t force them to complete that task without amending the contract which would also mean, MORE money. That’s right, when a new task is added for any reason to a contract network admin or techie’s tasks, they may not HAVE to do it until the contract is reviewed to see if it falls under the contractor’s “scope of support.” And because only contractors can touch the network on some bases, folks in uniform can’t complete the task either. And since we’ve slashed the living shit out of the military’s network specialists in favor of contractors, we don’t have them to utilize anyway.

Which, if I’m being cynical, leads me to believe that someone has finally realized that having a cohesive policy across all the networks that the Air Force “controls” means that every single one of those contracts is going to have to be rewritten and I’m betting that some Senior NCO and their team has done the legwork and given General Lord and his bosses the cost analysis for those new contracts and someone with power of the purse-strings has crapped their drawers when the reality of what a workable, cohesive, policy is going to cost.

That’s if I was being cynical. It could just mean that what we’ve got is working just fine and there’s no need for a cyber command in the first place…and I swear to you I typed that with a straight face…after three tries.

Thanks to He Who Needs No Linkage for the tip.

You want to know the funniesnt thing for me about all this? I’ve got interviews with two contractors in the next week for jobs supporting the military’s network. I hope the question, “What’s your opinion about privatization?” doesn’t come up and I hope to hell I’ve got the good sense to lie about it if it does. I need a job.

The gift that keeps on giving……..

Pocket Taser Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife.

A guy who purchased
his lovely wife a pocket Taser for their anniversary submitted this:

Last weekend I saw something at Larry’s Pistol & Pawn Shop that
sparked my interest. The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was
looking for a little something extra for my wife, Julie. What I came
across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized taser.The effects of the
taser were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse
affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to
safety.

WAY TOO COOL! To make a long story short, I bought the device and
brought it home. I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and
pushed the button. Nothing!

I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button
AND pressed it against a metal surface at the same time; I’ d get the
blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs.
AWESOME!!! Incidentally, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn
spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that
it couldn’t be all that bad with only two triple-A batteries, right?

There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently
(trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking
that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh and blood moving
target.

I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a
second) and thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I
was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a
mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Is
that wrong?

So,there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading
glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one
hand, and taser in another.

The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient
your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms
and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would
purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of
water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the
batteries. All the while I’m looking at this little device measuring
about 5′ long, less than 3/4′ in circumference; pretty cute, really,
and (loaded with two itsy bitsy triple-A batteries)thinking to
myself, ‘no possible way!’

What happened next is almost beyond description, but I’ll do my best!
I’m sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one
side as to say, ‘don’t do it, dip shit,’reasoning that a one second
burst from such a tiny little ole thing couldn’t hurt all that bad. I
decided to give myself a one second burst just for heck of it. I
touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and… HOLY
MOTHER OF GOD…WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION…WHAT THE HELL!!!

I’m pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me
up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and
over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the
fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples
on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under
my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs!

The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging
to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt
to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room.

Note: If you ever feel compelled to ‘mug’ yourself with a taser, one
note of caution: there is no such thing as a one second burst when you
zap yourself!

You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand
by a violent thrashing about on the floor. A three second burst would
be considered conservative!

SON-OF-A-BITCH!!! THAT HURT LIKE HELL!!!

A minute or so later (I can’t be sure,as time was a relative thing at
that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and
surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of
the fireplace. The recliner was upside down and about 8 feet or so
from where it originally was.

My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face
felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip
weighed 88 lbs. I had no control over the drooling. Apparently, I shit
myself, but was too numb to know for sure,and my sense of smell was
gone. I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head which I believe came
from my hair. I’m still looking for my nuts, and I’m offering a
significant reward for their safe return!!

P.S. My wife loved the gift, and now regularly threatens me with it!

‘If you think education is difficult, try being stupid.’

MADD Has Gone Mad

I guess this story was around earlier this week. I just heard about it on Fox News’ Red Eye. Hey, “Man Vs Wild” is a repeat.

A cop comes into my kid’s classroom, tells him and his classmates that some of their friends were killed in a drunk driving accident, and then after an hour or so bring them to the athletic field and say, “Just kidding! No one’s dead. We just wanted to show you how bad you’d feel if it DID happen.” Oh. Helllllll no!

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) started out doing great work. Educating people on the dangers of drunk driving and getting the legal BAC lowered to a reasonable level. That was 28 years ago and I think we can say that they managed to get that job done. They probably got the job done about 20 years ago, so in order to continue rationalizing their existence, they continue to mess with people.

Look, you want to continue campaigning to get the legal BAC down to zero? Go ahead. You want time out of my son’s academic schedule to educate him on the evils of drinking and driving? Absolutely…you can do it during Gym or Health or some assembly. Bring the trashed car with the blood and brains all over it. He’d think that was cool. But seriously, you pull that kind of crap, telling kids that their friends are dead, in Idaho? You’d better be well armed. Here in Idaho, we shoot back when you kill our dogs…imagine what we do when someone hurts our kids.

Attention Local Weather Forecasters

Temps in the 30s with wind, rain and snow, does NOT qualify as “SEVERE” weather. If I can see down my street clearly to the “T” intersection (about a block and a half away) this is not limited visibility. Visibility would be more limited if we weren’t getting any weather and the smog got a chance to settle down. “Mountain passes are closed!” is not a reason to break into Regis and Kelly, it’s what’s known as “normal” for winter in the freaking mountains! A crawl across the bottom would suffice. Seeing your red, panic-stricken, hyperventilating face telling me you’ve come in early to “monitor the situation” doesn’t make me think any better of you, it makes me think you’re an idiot who migrated here from Southern California back when we were in a draught.

Seriously people, get a grip. It’s just snow and ice. You handle it by driving what we call “carefully.” Say that with me, “Care-full-ly.” Full of care. It’s simple. Slow down and be aware of the people around you. Get off the damn phone, especially if you’re talking to someone you’re on your way to see. Oh, and your four wheel drive protects you against, say it with me, “nothing.” We’ve had black ice for the past three nights. In case you haven’t learned the hard way yet, all four tires slide on wet ice just fine.

Your freaking out over every “weather event” just makes people become immune to your warnings. If we ever do get a no-kidding, rip roaring blizzard dumping a foot or three of snow on us, we’re not going to believe you when you say to stay inside.

Confessions of a Wireless Customer Service Rep, 080125

Working for Ginormous Worldwide Telecom can sometimes be a chore. Especially if you have a sense of personal responsibility.

Right now, cell phone companies sell cell phones at hugely discounted prices, sometimes even giving them away, in return for a commitment from the customer to stick around for X amount of time. If you break that commitment, there’s a fiscal penalty. There’s always the choice to buy a phone at full price with no commitment. People don’t normally choose to buy a phone at full price, they chose to take the discounted price and agree to the commitment.

Right now, cell phone companies sell service plans for X amount of minutes. You can sometimes get drastically reduced rates on your service plans if you agree to stick around for X amount of time. This, it seems to me, is a good thing. If I know I’m getting good service in my area from a company and they’re willing to sell me more minutes for less money, or even the same amount of minutes for less money, in return for a commitment, I’m all about that.

That may change one of these days. If it does, you can blame California.

If this class action lawsuit goes through, and the folks who have filed it win, you can bet that we’ll all suffer for it. There will be no more discounted cell phones and there will be no more reduced-rate service plans. We’ll all pay more because some folks who can’t read a contract before they sign it or who refuse to honor a contract after they’ve signed it, decided that they’re special and the rules that the rest of us live by don’t apply to them.

Memo: A Rich Banquet

To: Various
From: Sgt. Mom
Re: A Surfeit of Crow

1. What a deliciously rich week this has been, as regards legacy media meltdowns! I can barely keep up with it all. Every time I repair to the kitchen for another bowl of popcorn,( lightly salted with schadenfreude) there is another development. At this point it looks rather like the stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers Night at the Opera. Its as if everyone wants their fifteen minutes of infamy all at once.

2. Ted Rall has flexed his buns and squeezed out another offensive turd of a cartoon, alleging the extreme stupidity of those who join the military and claiming (if I can read his lettering correctly) that every one of them killed raises the overall IQ of the United States. To which I have two reactions: One – someone still publishes Ted Rall? And two: He hasnt met too many military people lately, has he? A fair percentage of them do attend college, one way or the other – the conventional indicia, for what that is worth. Regardless, Id bet most of them could draw better drunk than Ted Rall can sober.

3. A formerly obscure reporter for McClatchy Newspapers decides to be a total d**k to a soldier guarding an entry point to the Green Zone in Baghdad, and play the Do you know who I am? card? Note to Mr. Bobby Calvan this gambit is only really effective if the public easily recognizes your face, or in Brittny Spears case, your nether regions. Mr. Calvan then compounds this bad judgment by lovingly detailing the incident on his blog, in an account which fairly oozes with faux-macho bravado and self-regard. He is promptly slammed with nearly two hundred comments unanimously pointing out with varying degrees of wit, exactly what kind of d**k he is. As was the phrase at Mount Gleason Junior High School, he was chopped down so low he could play Sea Hunt in a loogie.Such a beat-down is rare and to be cherished; and although Mr. Calvan took down the whole post and the comment string, it was saved and replicated by others for the delectation and amusement of us all.

4. Hollywoods current string of anti-war movies are tanking like the Titanic all except possibly The Kingdom, AKA CSI-Riyadh. Well then, what did you guys expect as I pointed out here No, we will not line up and plunk down our movie ticket dollars to have our country slimed, our military family members defamed and our efforts to fight terrorists belittled, and all the glowing reviews from your media buds will not make us toddle down to the multiplex to watch your damned movie. At least the Hollywierd ‘tards can comfort themselves with the thought of how well their anti-war wankfests will play on foreign movie screens. And all their media syncophants will coo and ahh and tell them how brave they are, speaking “trooth to power”! Apparently none of these creative geniuses* paid attention to the guy from www.boxofficemojo.com who pointed out audiences seek out movies for inspiration, for laughter and to be moved.” Yes, the audiences in flyover country America have indeed figured out that the yellow stuff pissing down on us from the cinematic clouds is not rain. You want to make movies for the overseas audience? Be my guest everyone needs a hobby. But it looks like American audiences outside your little circle have a better use for their time and money than indulging you in yours.

5. And the wall of denial regarding Baghdad Diarist and Hemmingway wanna-be Scott Thomas Beauchamp finally crumbled, spectacularly! To quote P.J. ORourke just desserts! Just hors d oeuvres! A just main course of crow! Practically every veteran or serving military member took one look at the infamous posting (once their attention had been drawn to it) and thought Gee, that doesnt sound quite right Young Pvt. Beauchamp may survive the debacle relatively unscathed, but it doesnt look like gullible editor Franklin Foer will for long. Frankie, Frankie, Frankie its not the crime; its the cover-up, as I am sure anyone who recalls Watergate could tell you. Jeeze, Ill bet he falls for Nigerian spam emails asking for his bank account number. Some people are just too damn gullible to be in the news business!

Thank you all for providing this rich vein of amusement. I can hardly wait for next week.

Sincerely,

Sgt Mom

* viciously skeptical quote marks

Memo: Just to Make One thing Clear

To: The World, and Especially KDFW “News” Reporter Rebecca Aquilar
From: Sgt Mom
Re: Do-It-Yourself-Law-Enforcement

1. As you may have gathered by now, residents of Texas take a rather rough-hewn approach to law enforcement and defense of self and property. This sometimes results in the perforation and/or premature demise of assorted freelance criminal types.

2. In the long run, no one is very sorry about this. There are very few home-invasion robberies in the Lone Star State, since a fair number of would-be home-invaders are dropped on the doorstep, so to speak, by a well-prepared homeowner or tenant.

3. Count yourself fortunate that being an obnoxious pain in the ass with a TV camera attracts only scorn and derision. I trust that this episode has made it plain to you that a large chunk of the public holds your kind in contempt.

Sincerely,

Sgt.Mom

(Go to Instapundit and scroll down – Da Blogfaddah is all over this like white on rice)

And, an amusing poll to take, here, courtesy of Ace of Spades. And no, no multiple vote casting!

Addtional thought: One of the most gaulling things about this whole thing is how rude and relentless she was in questioning someone whom she would not expect to ever interview again… and contrast how deferential interviewers are when they interview someone they will have to deal with over a long period of time. Why don’t we ever see hostile interviewers hector people like Teddy Kennedy, or Al Gore, or anyone else you could name like this? It’s pretty clear that the press would cheerfully burn the little guy and suck up to the bigger ones in the name of preserving access.

Dan, Dan, Dan

What is it they say; the first time tragedy, second time farce? What do they call it when it was a farce the first time around only dressed up in the high seriousness of a Searing Sixty Minutes (dum-de-dum-dum!) Expose? Here it comes around again, with Mr. Rathers suit against CBS News for making him the scapegoat in the whole not only does the Emperor not have any new clothes he is as nekkid as a jaybird imbroglio that was the 6o Minutes scoop, concerning the so-called finding of some 1973 Texas Air National Guard.

For those of you who spent 2004 in a coma, the memos appeared to give backing to the contention that President Bush spent part of his Air National Guard service AWOL, and that his then-commander (now deceased) was exceeding wroth about this. Unfortunately for CBS News, for 60 Minutes and all of Mr. Rathers minions, those documents appear to have been inexpertly forged; a fact that became fairly obvious early on. One can only assume that Mr. Rather and his team desperately wanted them to be authentic, in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary. And that they desperately wanted to drop a just-before-Election-Day bomb on the Bush campaign, and didnt care how thin the evidence was.

Quelle tacky, Mr. Rather, quelle tacky. Kind of makes one wonder about all the other documents uncovered by Sixty Minutes over the years, which made one or two flash appearances on camera and then were gone before anyone could say, Hey, wait just a cotton-pickin minute! Ah well, just another reason that legacy media is melting faster than the Wicked Witch of the West when Dorothy threw a bucket of water on her.

Anyway, enough of a stink was raised about this at the time and now it looks like we are in for another round of slapstick. Dan Rather is going to sue CBS for mishandling the resulting s**tstorm. Cooler and more legally-oriented minds than mine are betting A) that it is just a means of squeezing some more retirement monies out of CBS and B) that if it continues, the process of discovery is going to be embarrassingly revealing and C) Pass the popcorn, its a pity they both cant loose.

Myself, I keep imaging the hostage-taking scene from Blazing Saddles only instead of Cleavon Little holding a gun to his own head and begging for mercy, Im seeing Ted Baxter (the hamster-brained newscaster from the Mary Tyler Moore Show) holding himself hostage and squeaking Lemme out of here or the newscaster gets it!

Oh, yeah pass the popcorn. Ill take mine with melted butter, but hold the salt.

(Later: More here from Captain’s Quarters)
Even later: still more giggling and requests for popcorn, here

Fallout

Well, it took about a day longer than I estimated for the Beauchamp-TNR kerfuffle-du-jour to expand to the size of the Hindenburg, metaphorically speaking, and then explode like a couple of wads of dubble-bubble chewing gum once the upper expansion limits had been reached.

Wow, look at all that sticky pink stuff all over the place some of that is stuck in places and on people who will probably never be able to peel it off of themselves and go about their business as usual. Having written and published the Shock Troops pieces is a richly deserved embarrassment, but I dont think the two most responsible parties will ever acknowledge that their own actions had a part in bringing on the landslide-quantities of fall-out. I imagine they will find some handy other party to blame it all on.

But I can almost bring myself to feel kind of sorry for young Pvt. Beauchamp, and Franklin Foer; its all a jolly good game, until someone gets hurt. And no one ever starts out intending to put themselves under the million-eyed, coldly analytical publicly-wielded CAT-scan that is the blogosphere. The inexperienced editor of stalwart and once-respected legacy media magazine probably had no idea of the firestorm that would erupt, once milbloggers and veterans began looking carefully into Scott Thomass curious accounts of vehicular canine-icide, trash-talking in the dining facility, and games with dead things.

If all one knows of the military life is the movies especially Vietnam-War movies, such an account must have seemed quite credible. Sad to know that of all the staff at a mag like TNR, there was no one on hand with any sort of experience in the military in the last twenty years or so, who could take a look and say, Look, theres something not quite right about this. Or even to do as Cpl. Blondie did, when she read about running over dogs with a Bradley. Which was to fall about laughing, and then to say, Whatta pile of bull-s**t!

And as for Private Beauchamp; I dont think even the most relentless narcissist really would enjoy having their Myspace page fisked down to the sub-atomic level, and their own person, and every shred of their writings relentlessly and coldly analyzed by thousands of strangers. But then again he put it all out there, on Myspace and in the TNR. . Made no real secret of wanting to be the next Wilfred Owen/Ernest Hemmingway, but comes off as a haphazardly educated, very bright, self-centered young idiot with an elevated sense of his own talent and not a shred of sense. He is still young enough to grow out of it; honestly a lot of people his age are idiots, but most of them improve over time, and exposure to real world of consequences.

And he sucks as a writer, too, which is even sadder. He doesnt have that certain gift; that way of seeing that a writer has to have. Oh, you can have the vocabulary, you can sling together the sentences, and it all will parse on the page, but unless you can see into other people, and sense how they think, and deal with their foibles and take on their voices, your words all fall rather flat. Intuition, empathy, whatever you call it; if you have it, you can create people on a page, you can write about a place or an event and make it so other people can see and feel it also. Good writers, good story-tellers have that, but narcissists can only fake it for a little bit, about as far as Pvt. Beauchamp did. What a waste of time and tuition, and TNRs reputation, just to mince up and re-hash outtakes from Full Metal Jacket and Platoon, for the titillation of the readers. And what a waste for the magazine. Of all the milbloggers on active-duty tours in Iraq, Mr. Foer had to select this unconvincing, unobservant fabulist, and throw his magazines authority behind him because his wife/significant other worked there. How lame. What a smack in the face to the hundreds or even the thousands of better writers among currently serving milbloggers.

Power and Control

Well, so much for active-duty Army mil-blogging, if the Army Powers-That-Be have their way. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, public affairs-wise but color me fairly unsurprised by this latest move to constrain active-duty Army bloggers. Frankly, if I am surprised at anything, its that milblogs by active-duty troops managed to escape the clammy clutches of the Public Affairs office for as long as they have. For a long while, I thought that someone up in the higher-echelons was actually being rather clever; in taking the hands-off approach. Milblogs got the word out, without being tainted by association with military propaganda; about the war, about the military, provided expert commentary and feedback, under no particular censorship other than that of good sense and op-sec as practiced by the individual.

For surely the military public affairs world must have known about military bloggers, fairly early on (say at least by 2002). I myself made a long slog up to the PA shop at BAMC about that time, offering to pass on any appeals they might have on behalf of injured troops. This was when Blondie was over in Kuwait, and our readers at the time were overwhelmingly generous to her unit to the point where I wanted to see it shared with other troops. I talked to a civilian PA type, who at least had heard of military blogs, and promised to pass on my e-mail and URL to his superiors, and that was the last I ever heard. Id have thought, based on my own experience, that as interested as the Public Affairs was in traditional media coverage of the military Id have seen a little more interest. Unless they were total boobs about this newfangled internet thingy. That wouldnt have surprised me much, but assuming some sort of hands-off policy at least gave credit for intelligence and creative thinking at the highest military PA level.

But and that is the industrial-sized, multi-purpose, all-wool-and-a-yard-wide but (Hey, who let Rosie ODonnell in here?). But the military is an authoritarian institution. Top down and paved wall-to-wall with regulations for most things. As a rough rule of thumb, those in charge are supposed to have an idea about what the lower ranks are up to yes, even you, General Karpinski. And those in charge prefer that those lower down the chain of command are doing what they have been told to do. Personal initiative is all very nice, and even lauded from those who have proved they can exercise it wisely and responsibly. For everyone else, there are rules. And it is one of those lamentable realities of the military world that almost the first reaction to a new situation or set of conditions is to make a rule or regulation about it. Leopard, spots, cant change. Reaction, knee-jerk, officers for the use of.

I thought the Army was about the most extreme in this regard; the Air Force generally operated on the initial assumption that their personnel were intelligent and responsible, and only descended like a ton of bricks when an individual decisively proved the contrary. The Army seemed to operate from the opposite set of assumptionspossibly because it either saved time or was just easier. I saw a perfect example of this during my year in Korea, at Yongsan Garrison. Out of the clear blue, the Army Powers-That-Be suddenly forbade uniformed personnel to consume food from street-vendors, unless it was something like a sealed soft-drink can, or something in a package. Probably some poor troop got a tummy-ache from a bite of bad bulgogi at a street stand, but after a great deal of vociferous complaint and requests for clarification (what constituted the sort of food that was forbidden, what exactly was a street vender? Some of the open-air vendors were pretty permanent establishments!) the Powers-That-Be grudgingly clarified their purpose; which was that they didnt want us to be eating food prepared by unlicensed vendors. Well, asked we at AFN wouldnt it be more logical just to tell people to not eat from unlicensed vendors maybe, perhaps, maybe teach our audience what a Korean Department of Health food-vendors license looked like, and how to request it politely?
Certainly not, returned the Army Powers-That-Be, rather grumpily that was not how the Army did things.

Ah, said we, in resignation Of course; it was just the easy way. Not the most thoughtful way, or the way that encouraged peoples own sense of self-preservation, or the way that preserved the livelihood of those hard-working and licensed local national food vendors, or the way that might truly protect uniformed personnel from bad food. It was just the easy way. Make a rule.