Out of the blue in the week before Christmas, my daughter asked me if I had any idea of how the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, early in December, 1941, generally affected the Christmas mood that year. Of course, she knows that I wouldn’t have any personal memories of that period (as I wasn’t even born until 15 years after that event) but I grew up pretty well marinated in memories and memoirs of World War 2 – even more so when I sat down to write a novel set in that time period. Yes, the Christmas of 1941 was a nerve-wracking time for more than just Americans, even if a war in Europe had been going on for more than two years. In the Far East, countries and colonies were falling like ninepins to imperial Japanese invasion and occupation all through the first months of 1942. I have gathered so from memoirs; and also from my own memories of the lead-up to Christmas, 1990 and the buildup when operations began before the first Gulf War (the last year that we were in Spain) and how mothers and fathers put on a brave face for small children. They did their best then, as we did that year, to have an absolutely normal, reassuring Christmas, with presents and Santa, carols and a nice meal. In 1941 and for three subsequent years, parents had to explain the sudden absence of older brothers and cousins, younger uncles and fathers, and the necessity of blackouts. Probably later, they had to put a brave face on depressing headlines in the newspaper that yet another island, town or province had been attacked, and might soon surrender – just as I and other parents stationed at European bases had to explain Desert Shield; new concertina around the base perimeter, a flightline full to bursting with parked transport aircraft, the long hours that military parents and spouse volunteers were all working.

This last Christmas wasn’t so fraught as all that, but it still seemed to me to have been pretty restrained; the two Christmas markets that we participated in were almost flat-lined. Everyone seemed to be holding on to what money they had. We went to one small-town Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which was crowded … but it was a small town, out in the Hill Country, which we presumed to be fairly sheltered against disruptive shenanigans. But everything costs more, this year – we couldn’t do massive batches of fudge to give away to friends and neighbors this year but had to settle for baking a few sheet pans of bar cookies instead. UPS used to park a storage unit in the driveway of a house just inside the neighborhood and made deliveries in a golf-cart with a trailer hitched to it … not this year. (Or last, to be fair.) On the other hand, the post office was swamped; they had at least four days backlog on deliveries. This seemed to be nationwide, as it made the local news. I suspect it was not the number of parcels in the system, but that transportation systems were clogged and erratic. I have the sense of people hunkering down, looking at a dark horizon, waiting for the storm to hit. Inflation, terrorism, crime, war and civic unrest, the near-certainty of an election season that will make the history books in a bad way as a cautionary tale and a renewed panic over a wildly-communicable but relatively harmless virus – any or all in combination.

There is a brief passage towards the end of Marcia Davenport’s family epic of the Pittsburgh steel mills (a book and the movie made from it posted about here at Chicagoboyz by David Foster) which resonated with me, when I reread it late last year… “One thing was held by everybody in common, everybody from the flower-seller on his corner and the gruff driver of a rattling hack, to the artists at the opera and the sober officials up in the Hrad?any; a knowledge that every day of the good life now was a day gained from an ominous and impenetrable future. They would make and listen to their music and cook and eat their delectable food and promulgate and live by their wise laws intently aware that the rim of security and sanity was shrinking, shrinking visibly around them, every day. … it was the infinite personal perfection of life that glowed warm and treasurable against the thickening miasmas of the wilderness outside. Each homecoming now was not merely the delight of coming home, but the tense appreciation of this home to come to, this perfection balanced so delicately on the brink of a volcano.”

Ah, well – I wish that I could hope for a happy new year – but I can read the skies as well as anyone. Discuss as you wish.

02. August 2022 · Comments Off on The Light of Rutupaie Going Out · Categories: Cry Wolf, European Disunion, History, Literary Good Stuff, War

Rutupaie, the modern Richborough Castle, in Kent, England – was once the site of a notable Roman military garrison graced by an enormous marble triumphal arch visible to ships arriving in the port, a tall lighthouse, and a thriving civilian town with an amphitheater. The lighthouse and the triumphal arch are long gone, but a large portion of the circuit of twenty-five-foot-high walls still remain visible above ground. This was the terminus of Watling Streat, a keystone in the network of carefully engineered roads which covered Britain like a net. It was most likely the site of the original Roman bridgehead in the time of the Emperor Claudius, which would in large part become the province of Britannia. Rutupaie became the major port of entry all throughout the four centuries that Roman power held sway over that far and misty isle, their ships and galleys guided into safe harbor after dark by the fire atop the lighthouse.
In one of the opening chapters of the novel The Lantern Bearers, a young Roman-British soldier makes his decision to remain in Britain when the legions are finally and officially withdrawn by order of the Emperor. Having deserted his unit as they are on the point of departure for the last time, he lights the great fire atop the lighthouse, as the galleys row away on the evening tide; a last defiant fire, as darkness descends. Peter Grant, who blogs at Bayou Renaissance Man noted this week that Rosemary Sutcliff’s series of novels about the Romans in Britain and the long, slow, painful dying of Roman civilization there were being republished at a reasonable price in eBook. This reminded me again of my very favorite historical author; The finest and most evocative historical novel ever in English is either the Rider of the White Horse or her retelling of the Arthurian epic, Sword at Sunset. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s version, The Mists of Avalon, is overwrought trash in comparison.

The haunting element of Rosemary Sutcliff’s series, which beings with The Eagle of the Ninth and ends with The Shield Ring, is the slow dying of a civilization, and how ofttimes those people in it look around, and know without a doubt that things are not as they once were and might never be again, for all that they might do. They see the unmistakable evidence, know that their world is disintegrating bit by bit, even as the Roman-built cities, garrisons and farmsteads in Britain decay or were abandoned, in the wake of continuing invasions by the Saxon tribes from the mainland. These various characters are haunted by knowledge that the best they can do may not be enough to keep the light of Rutupaie on for another night. They fought gallantly and died bravely, holding off the barbarian hordes who came over the walls and swept the old Roman laws, culture and establishments, civil and actual into oblivion and all memory, save for the archeologist’s trowel and the writer’s art. The walls crumbled, the roads were grown over, the cities either vanished underneath the green turf, or were inhabited by people who built simple timber shacks among the colonnades and walls that they no longer could rebuild, repair, or replicate until centuries later.
It’s the notion of a dying civilization that haunts, especially in this year. One has the sense of standing on a crumbling wall, looking at the odds and knowing that even if you win for the day, tomorrow there will be another assault, and another after that. Many of us are now standing on that wall, or lighting the fire in that tower, resolving to resist the barbarian horde, but there is a single overwhelming difference. In the times that Rosemary Sutcliff wrote about, the enemies of the Pax Romana were barbarians from outside, intent on conquest, wanting land and riches for themselves, and to brutally quash anyone getting in their way. In our own time, the barbarian savages, hungry for power above all and motivated by the unquenchable thirst to destroy through famine, plague, economic destruction, and open warfare against all of those who stand in their way … are none but our own ruling elite. Comment as you wish.

I’ve been cynically amused over the past couple of weeks at how efficiently the Laptoperati and Twitter-fixated media Powers That Be have swung to “Russia Bad-Ukraine Brave & Noble!!! Eleventy!!” since the Russian invasion-attempted-occupation-re-occupation of the place began in a big way nearly two weeks ago. How can it now be World War III already, when we still have our Covid-19 decorations still up? Watching practically every media outlet swing into action in being all sympathies for Ukraine and all-hate on Russia is … astonishing. All the parties who would have been lighting candles, holding vigils for peace, and lecturing us about how war is not good for children and other living things, and no blood for oil have changed tune without missing a beat, hardly. Suddenly Vladimir Putin is the enemy of all that is good and decent, and everyone is rushing to declare sympathy with and support of the Ukraine, declare anything Russian to be double-plus-ungood, and throwing Russian cats out of cat shows, Anna Netrebko out of the Met, and vodka with a Russian-origin brand-name down the drain. Celebrity fools with pretensions to adequacy issue hysterical demands that Russia be thrown out of NATO, or that NATO enforce a no-fly zone over the Ukraine – never mind that Russia wasn’t a member of that organization and instituting a no-fly zone would almost instantly involve the United States. The turn-around is purely astonishing to behold; a hashtag/social media war on steroids.

It reminds me of the last time there was a grand virtue-signaling rush on social media – Kony 2012, anyone? Bring back the Chibok girls. It also reminds me of a minor running jest in Angela Thirkell’s early wartime Barsetshire novels. A pair of elderly spinsters keep renaming their pet dog after the leader or national hero of whatever nation that Hitler had just lately overrun as a pathetically useless gesture of support for plucky little (insert name of country here) which likely left the poor little dog terribly confused, as there were quite a few countries or regions invaded by the Nazis in the late 1930s and early 1940s. But that was just light fiction.
About the last time the American public went in this heavily for round of ostentatious wartime virtue-signaling, it involved re-christening sauerkraut as Liberty cabbage, throwing stones at dachshunds, and a lot of German-Americans legally changing their surnames to something less identifiably Teutonic. It also contributed to wishing Prohibition on us, which might suggest that ostentatious virtue-signaling is not a wise choice when it comes to suggesting national policy.

Was the signal sent out officially, by some version of Journolist, or is it just a matter of all the birds in a media flock pivoting and turning independently in response to hints that the Biden administration may be in deep doo-doo? My daughter just yesterday saw gas at almost $4.00 – and last week, it jumped ten cents in a single day. In San Antonio. These costs cannot continue without resentment and protest. Neither can the cost of basic groceries, or their erratic delivery to the store shelves. I can’t think that whoever is pulling the strings in the Biden administration deliberately fomented a war with Russia as a means of distracting Americans from the various disasters building; inflation in the costs of practically every commodity on the market, catastrophic crime rates in red-run cities and farming and transportation woes. We may safely assume, though. that the Biden administration powers-that-be are taking full advantage of, and even encouraging the Ukraine-Russian war to that end. Discuss as you wish.

14. February 2022 · Comments Off on This War Comes Already Pre-Nuked · Categories: Allied Treachery, Cry Wolf, European Disunion, Rant, Veteran's Affairs, War

So, the Biden (Mis) Administration, or whoever and whatever powers have the strings firmly attached to the puppet in the Oval Office seems determined to pick a fight and a war with Russia over the Ukraine. A fight in which most Americans might have some mild-to-moderate sympathies with the Ukrainians, as they were most viciously abused under Soviet rule, having the misfortune to be essentially the breadbasket of the Soviet Union and relatively unwilling to have their crops and livelihoods confiscated for the good of the Party of the Workers, and having in the interim since the fall of the Iron Curtain to have developed some pesky notions of a separate and rather rebellious national identity. The Ukraine, like Poland, is luckless geographically, in being the pathway of invading armies from either direction, so one can’t really blame them for being a little testy and proactive about another one.
But it’s not really our fight, and it seems to be one constructed in a Potemkin village fashion.
There was a story, most likely apocryphal regarding a proposed alliance sometime during the late 19th century, between (IIRC) Britain and France, likely against a bellicose Germany, wherein a high-level British diplomat and his equally high-level French counterpart began pounding out the details of the proposed military alliance. The British diplo asked his French counterpart; what would be the absolute minimum number of troops that Britain would contribute to the situation in an emergency in the case of German invasion. “Only one,” replied the French diplomat, “And we would make certain that he would be killed at once.”
That is what the Biden administration would like, apparently. They would like to be able to wave the bloody shirt, the blood-saturated BDU blouses of American military personnel as a cynical and calculated distraction from a year of epic fail. More »

We have all been naughty, disobedient, ungrateful serfs – or so say the self-nominated Covidiocy experts, especially including those of nationwide media fame and of a political stripe known for their fanatical allegiance to the current ruling class. We’re supposed to get another tongue-lashing from the White House tonight, which has already promised a winter of severe illnesses and death for those holding out against getting vaccinated against the latest Covid variant. Are they going to cancel Christmas for those who won’t cooperate? Are we now all enrolled in the variant-of-the-month club, and expected to maintain a constant intravenous drip of boosters for the endless variants? More »

20. April 2016 · Comments Off on The Stupidest Man on the Face of the Earth · Categories: Ain't That America?, Cry Wolf

… Must be the LGTBYTUVXYZ activist and alleged Christian minister who bought a specially-decorated cake from the Whole Foods store in Austin, and tried to claim that a disparaging message had been iced upon it. The shock, the horror and all of this devastating experience (Devastating, I tell you!) led him to post at length on YouTube, hire a mouthpiece and alert The Media! Very shortly afterwards. So shortly, I reckon it was done at something close to light-speed as the social media cycle goes these days.

Sigh. This in Austin, and at Whole Foods. I can only guess that an HEB bakery counter was just too infra dig, and any Christian-owned bakeries were just too damn far out in the suburbs, and like ick! Straight and white people cooties! Like – he would have to have driven simply miles to have found a commercial bakery outlet which would have delivered a product absolutely guaranteed to live up to all those sweaty social justice warrior fantasies. So pick on Whole Foods … where a video rundown of the staff likely would have looked like the sequence of Roger de Bris’ stage crew in the remake of The Producers.

Brilliant, guy – simply brilliant. And Whole Foods is going to sue; all props to them for not caving.

There may be real hate crimes being perpetuated in these somewhat United States, but anyone paying attention to news reports of them usually must conclude that if they have not been faked outright by the so-called victim, it’s some curious circumstance that has been wildly misinterpreted by hysterics. Discuss.

06. July 2014 · Comments Off on TWANLOC · Categories: Ain't That America?, Cry Wolf, Media Matters Not, Politics, Rant, Tea Time · Tags:

The inestimably acute and prolific blog-commenter Subotai Bahadur coined that acronym and has propagated it across the conservative-libertarian corner of the blogosphere ever since. It has achieved the status of an entry on Acronym Finder, for whatever that is worth. It is shorthand for “those who are no longer our countrymen” – itself an abbreviation for a slashing denunciation of those American colonists who were in sympathy with the wishes of Great Britain in a speech by Samuel Adams on American independence, delivered in a fiery stem-winder of a speech at the Philadelphia Statehouse in August of 1776 –

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

Sam Adams was a bit of a fire-eater, and the speech must have been magnificent to listen to, for certain of the phrases sound like a tocsin, a war-alarm on the ear. “Ye love wealth better than liberty,” “The tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom,” and “Crouch down and lick the hands that feed you,” which reminds me irresistibly of the establishment media as represented currently. Not to speak of “May your chains set lightly upon you,” – and “forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Yes, that’s the phrase that slashes like an old-fashioned straight-edge razor; clear and cold and across a couple of veins. “Forget that ye were our countrymen.”

Me – I have now had the experience in several different theaters of realizing that certain people, politicians, media, intellectual and entertainment figures of note, or even the establishments they work for – are no longer our countrymen. In fact, those certain people and their establishments deeply despise us ordinary, moderately-conservative, content and hard-working middle class citizens. They hate us, indeed – with a passion that convulses their souls, and drips in their every word like corrosive acid. They hate that we are individual, un-biddable, independent and proud. They hate it even more ferociously that we are not humble in the manner of the 19th century lower class Europeans in the face of nobles and bureaucrats, and they despise everything that we honor and relish, from church membership, to where we choose to shop, to adorn our homes and what we do for hobbies. They hate it that we have the franchise and exercise it, too – and even assume that it is our right and duty to be politically-involved; most recently with movements like the Tea Party. (Which, inter alia, shook and is still shaking the current ruling class down to it’s bones – hence the viciousness of the reaction to it, from the media, to popular entertainment and to the long-established political parties.) Most of all, I think – they despise us for not giving a damn what they think particularly, and rejecting practically everything that they tell us to do – ride public transportation, move into urban stack-a-prole housing, give up eating meat (or much of anything else), and continuing to believe that we can raise our own children and sort out our own lives without self-elected nannies breathing down our necks 24-7. Very likely the well-manicured and delicate hands of the new ruling class itch for a whip to give us all a good thrashing for our temerity. Indeed – they are no longer our countrymen in spirit, any more than the Tory sympathizers who departed the American colonies two hundred years and more ago are.

The most galling quality of the TWANLOC ruling class is how they constantly preen themselves on being so cultured, so tolerant, intellectual, competent and so very, very non-racist … unlike the ordinary rest of us; the veteran, the blue-collar working stiff, the stay-at-home-mom, the cashier working at the local grocery store, the owners of companies large and small. Alas, nine out of ten, the TWANLOC ruling class is not particularly cultured, tolerant or intellectual. Nine out of ten, the most vicious bigotries and stereotypes drop from their lips and into their narratives … and yet they remain blissfully unaware of their own faults and shortcomings.

So the division has widened and deepened over the last decade or so. Now we stand at a point where our international standing has never been lower, we barely have any border security at all, a number of cities which once were manufacturing power-houses are all but ruined, federal bureaucracies have been corrupted and weaponized against generally-law abiding and tax-paying citizens, the economy – despite increasingly desperate-sounding news releases to the contrary – is seemingly on the verge of tanking entirely. The anger at the TWANLOC ruling class who appear responsible for bringing this about is building. When it will come to a full boil – in that the anger will be expressed in more than comments, editorials, blog-posts and radio-call in shows – and in response to what kind of provocation is anyone’s guess. The tinder is everywhere, and the gasoline is poured. All it lacks is the spark; something like the stand-off at the Bundy place earlier this year, someone responding with a weapon to being the almost-victim of a knock-out game, a spontaneous local protest blockading a place where illegal immigrants are being processed, as in California in the last few days … that will light the spark. Likely TWANLOCs will be surprised. Likely they will excuse themselves of any responsibility for creating the conflagration. But we won’t.

(Cross-posted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

17. March 2014 · Comments Off on Airplane, Airplane, Who’s Got the Airplane? · Categories: Cry Wolf, Fun With Islam, Mordor, Wild Blue Yonder, World · Tags: , ,

I speak, of course, of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boing 777, which took off last week from Kuala Lumpur and came to earth … or sea – we know not where. The whole saga just gets weirder and weirder as reported. Possible terrorists? Piracy and ransom? Complicity of the flight crew? Transponders turned off, and flying in a zig-zaggy pattern, and then vanishing entirely? There’s a new angle almost every day or so. Increasingly those who wonder about such things are wondering if those who do know or suspect with good reason what really happened to Flight MH370 are keeping their mouths shut as well. Yes – the oceans are wide and deep, and an airplane – even a Boeing 777 – is large and full of stuff, and people.

Wherever it came down, on land or on sea and if catastrophically … well, searchers usually have found something by now, especially by following along the original flight path. But MH370 went rogue, although why, how, where and at the hands of whom is a puzzle most extraordinary – in the words of Hercule Poirot. I’ll make no pretense of being an expert in investigating missing aircraft, but I only remember one other such case of a large aircraft vanishing so thoroughly and completely in the last decade or so. (It was in Africa, under weird circumstances, flight crew of three and … no one knows what happened to it after it took off.)

Usually, three days max, and somewhere along the expected flight path – the searchers find what’s left of the aircraft, and begin to make an educated guess at what happened, even if all there is to go on at first are some floating seat cushions and a fuel slick. But this, as I say, is just weird. Everything that is reported – and what is reported is sketchy, contradictory and filtered through the news media of several different countries – only adds to the weirdness. Speculation runs all the way through the possible, the probable to the ‘thriller-novel-plot’ and into the frankly extraordinary. But the thing is that once you have seen a plot to hijack four passenger airliners and crash them into tall buildings get carried out, one knows that what was once ‘thriller-novel-plot’ and conspiracy website fodder may very well turn up among tomorrows’ headlines.

31. March 2013 · Comments Off on Fun and Games with the Norks · Categories: Cry Wolf, Fun and Games, Literary Good Stuff, Local, Military, sarcasm, War

Ok, so it looks like North Korea, in the person of Li’l Pudgy Kim has upped their game in the routine and semi-annual national unity game of chicken. (The Norks do this every six months, usually when they want to squeeze some concessions out of the outside world. It’s like an overgrown toddler throwing an international temper tantrum.). Likely, all of his generals (or uncles, even the generals who are not his uncles) have to go along and make the usual noises and poses for the cameras, in spite of the fact that for all their resplendent ribbon-salad displays – they have not fought an all-out, balls-to-the wall war since 1954. Which war was nearly sixty years and three wars ago, as Americans are counting it, which means that their equipment must be getting pretty worn-out as well as their tactical schemes and field practice for using them – outside the boundaries of a pretty tightly-controlled war game which will allow no margin for making the Kim dynasty’s pet soldiers look bad in any way, shape or form.

So, while they might have been able to buy some new stuff on the international black market – which hints that those drug sales by their diplomatic staff must really be paying off, big-time, and they might actually be able to hit what they might be aiming at, on a good day, depending on what they have purchased, and if their vendors didn’t rob them blind, and if the Chinese actually gave them some of the good stuff … still, I remain unworried. Relatively, it must be noted. Alas, while I do believe they can hit Seoul on a good day with their artillery, and kidnap lonely strangers off the beachfront towns in Japan in the wee hours, and possibly come close to hitting Japan with something high-explosive … whacking the continental United States with a ballistic missile is a bit of a chancy prospect. Even trying to smuggle something past the borders in a box-car would probably be a better shot.

But Li’l Pudgy may be just the one maniac to walk it far, far beyond where it can be gracefully walked back. Although this current administration likely will give him every assistance in doing so, being as they seem to be ready to give away the farm every time some international bad-ass gives them a hard look. Still, I’d love to know why the Norks are appearing to target Austin, Texas, as part of their threats to launch missiles in the general direction of the continental United States. Really – Austin? That little patch of blue in an otherwise red state? Holy crapola, Batman, the Leg may be in session this year, but on an Easter break. Was Li’l Pudgy mad at Samsung, or not getting an invite to SXSW this year, or is he just assuming that Austin is the storage site for our vital strategic barbeque reserves. It is good to see that apparently the local humorists are having fun with all this. (See this category on Twitchy.)

And that’s my weekend; half spent in the vegetable garden, seeing how many new varieties of tomato plants that I can sneak in without my daughter noticing, and the other half scribbling and posting on line.

PS- I just put up a new Kindle book of my blog-posts about Texas – The Heart of Texas. Think of it as a set of extended footnotes from my books; The Adelsverein Trilogy, Daughter of Texas, Deep in the Heart, and the latest – The Quivera Trail, which should be ready to roll in November. Assuming that the Norks aren’t really aiming for San Antonio, and this Austin stuff wasn’t a diversion.

08. March 2008 · Comments Off on Question of the Day (080307) · Categories: Cry Wolf, Fun With Islam, Politics

Is it just me, or does the current news of Al Queda looking to attack America again seem just a little too convenient? I mean, I assume that they’re always looking for a way to hit us again, but to have it make “the news,” during an election year?

Maybe I’m being cynical, but this just seems to be a bit too convenient for the Republicans and it’s a bad idea if that’s what they’re thinking.

I know we’re facing an ongoing threat but let’s keep that perspective. Dragging out that threat when it’s politically convenient is even more cynical, and it’s insulting.

20. July 2007 · Comments Off on I Love the Smell of Bovine Excreta in the Morning · Categories: Cry Wolf, General, GWOT, Iraq, Rant, sarcasm, War

I am following the latest milblog kerfuffle-du-jour with mild and expectant interest, and with absolute confidence that Mr. Foer of the New Republic was sold a bill of tainted goods as regards the charming reminiscences of one “Scott Thomas” and his service in Iraq. There is such a whiff of improbability about elements in the “Shock Troops” story, as if they were all proceeded by the statement, “No s**t, this really happened to this dude that this other guy told me about”!

But… severely burned and maimed woman survivor of an IED explosion being driven out of the dining facility by crude mockery? (And no one remembers this woman, or the incident, or stepped in to stop it?) Never mind about what she was still doing at a forward base… or who she was. Nine out of ten, any woman tough enough to hang with the military long-time, as a service member or contractor is tough enough to not only kick ass but to serve said ass up on a silver salver with a tasteful sliver of carved tomato and a spring of parsley.

A soldier wearing a decaying child’s skull on top of his head… presumably under his cover or Kevlar for a considerable period? Taken from a mass grave that no one else ever heard about? And no one else notices… let alone comments on the smell? I’ve been out in the hills and encountered dead animals enough to know that decomposing flesh has a particularly memorable and piercing reek. No mention is made in “Scott Thomas” story of other soldiers barfing up their socks at encountering it full-strength and at length..

And a Bradley driver making a sport of running down dogs. Wary, fast-running street dogs. With a very noisy, slow-moving tracked vehicle, which affords limited driver vision and not much maneuverability. In an environment were anything off the side of the road might be a hidden IED. Yep, sure… pull the other leg, sport, that one has bells on it.

Mind you, I am not insisting that soldiers are incapable of being crude, cruel or immune to the allure of gallows humor. I have quite good recall, as does my daughter, of many incidents in our own service, that if repeated, bald and unadorned would not reflect particularly well on anyone involved. But such stories would be congruent in details and with technical authenticity, and in a psychologically realistic fashion… and we both would be able to supply names, approximate dates, locations, units… all that stuff. Nothing happens in a vacuum in the military, as I have noted before. There are always other eyes. Perhaps the editors of NR are still unconscious of this… and a little too apt to throw themselves on a narrative which confirms their basic beliefs about the military and/or the war in Iraq. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before, (Jesse McBeth, anyone?) and no less a journalistic luminary like Sy Hersh has been cleaning up on the lecture circuit for years on material as revolting as it is thoroughly sanitized of confirmable detail. Winter Soldier, Redoux, indeed.

So… just another fabulist encountering a credulous reporter or publisher? Perhaps. Or, maybe a soldier playing the old game of “gross out the civilian”, or even “Let’s see how much incredible s**t we can get this poor sap to believe” for his own amusement… which would be my guess. There is a sucker born every minute, as the saying goes. Unfortunately too damn many of them are now working for the legacy media.

Once more into the breech, my milblogger friends; putting this kind of story under a microscope is a necessary, if unpleasant chore. Sort of like taking out the garbage to the curb. Has to be done, regularly, otherwise the house becomes unbearable. Allowing narratives like this to go unchallenged is to let our friends, our children, or our comrades to be depicted falsely in the legacy media hive-mind… as falsely as Vietnam veterans were painted for years as drug-abusing, baby-murdering, unstable misfits and freaks.

And if you give a miss to this one, don’t worry. I am sure that there’ll be another one, bubbling up to the top of the media hive-mind; just as thinly sourced, just as revolting, and just as debunkable.

Another thread here, with nice graphic!

07. January 2007 · Comments Off on Thought-crime · Categories: Ain't That America?, Cry Wolf, General, Good God, Pajama Game, Politics

I was never, even in my convinced feminist phase, much of a fan of hate crime legislation. Tacking on extra special super-duper penalties for a particular motivation in committing a crime against a person or property seemed… well, superfluous. Defacing someone’s property, lynching someone, harassing phone calls; most of the stuff of which hate crimes are made is already illegal anyway, with pretty hefty penalties already attached upon conviction.

But on the other hand, I could understand how the persons and communities against whom such crimes were routinely directed were pretty generally directed could feel particularly threatened, and could honestly feel that such legislation could provide a modicum of protection. Many of the crimes typically reported as being “hate crimes” were pretty vile, as well as being very widely reported. I could understand those fears; as a feminist woman, and member of one of those classes against hate crimes could theoretically be committed. Personally, though, the existence of misogynist comedians and the whole so-called patriarchal establishment dedicated to keeping women down so lavishly documented in MS Magazine just didn’t cause me a moment of worry. I just figured that being a bigot of whatever persuasion was punishment in itself. Ignorance and bad manners wasn’t something that could, or ought to be legislated against.

I could also understand and sympathize with legislators who passed hate-crime legislation. They run for office, and it must be extraordinarily difficult to look into the eyes of constituents who are frightened and beleaguered and tell them “no”. At the very least, our solons need to be seen as doing “something”. The same for community organizations, and local media outlets; the case against hate crime legislation was made, if it was made at all, almost apologetically. No one wanted much to be seen as being in favor of bigots and racists, misogyny and homophobia, which is pretty much where you must be if you were against such a worthy cause.
More »

22. May 2006 · Comments Off on Memo: Winter Soldier Redoux · Categories: Cry Wolf, General, GWOT, History, Iraq, Media Matters Not, Rant, Veteran's Affairs, War

To: The Usual “Give peace a chance” ‘Tards
From: Sgt. Mom
Re: Pseuds, Wanna-Be’s and War Crimes

1. Once more I take my trusty pen in hand and do my best to advise skepticism as regards your choice in “Exhibit A” in this year’s “Anti-war Veteran Sweepstakes!” (Film at 11!) Again, you seem to be hastily embracing yet another so-called veteran with a certain taste for resume-enhancing. Well, they are a useful part of your public witnesses to the horror and waste of it all… salt to taste, people, salt to taste.

2. You are, of course, entitled to believe whatever you please, of someone who makes himself out to be a former member of a trained, selective and elite band of warriors, driven to madness by the horrors he was forced to participate in during our brutal and unjustified war in Vietnam…. Oops, sorry, dozed off there, thought I was watching an old episode of China Beach… where was I? Oh, trained, elite, hard-core… ever wonder why they appear to be such mentally-unbalanced, undisciplined, unsuccessful, scummy dirt bags, after their service in supposedly elite, selective units? Well, seriously, some of us do, even if you don’t. Your latest very public anti-war veteran…oh, dear, what to say about his credibility, except that you’d better start screening these losers, or you’ll have even less of it. Hint: DD214. What they did, and where, and how long, and with what unit, and what decs and awards they got for it, it’ll all be there. Really. Try it, you’ll be blown away… err, but in the non-military, non-explosive sense.

3. Here’s the thing: for those who were not paying attention in the first class. The military is not some huge, impersonal machine; it’s a series of very tightly controlled, interlinked communities. In a startlingly large number of them, if you stick around for more than an enlistment or two, everyone in said community knows everyone else, or has at least heard of them. And no matter where you go, and what you do, there are always other people there with you: Over you in command, under you as your subordinates, on either side of you as your peers and comrades. There are always other people there, who will remember strange and unusual events, especially of the possibility of a criminal investigation is involved. And the more recent the events, the easier it is to locate all of them. The internet greatly facilitates this process, as Micah Wright will no doubt attest.

4. Here’s another thing for you to consider at your next casting call; it’s very, very hard for a non-veteran to fake military experience and qualifications, and for the average single-hitch enlistee, almost as hard to fake very specialized, elite qualifications and experience. Veterans and serving military members, especially those of long-service, are extremely observant about all sorts of tiny clues in dress and bearing, deportment and language, about all sorts of service-specific arcane knowledge. And the more specialized the service, and the more selective the intake, and the more confined to specific times and places… well, the result will be a very specific pool of people who will either back up tales of extraordinarily events, or debunk them in with extreme attention to detail. Your choice, of course.

5. Jesse MacBeth is not the first anti-war veteran to add a lot of “interesting” qualifications to his resume, and not the last, not as long as you lot line up with your mouths all a-gape like a lot of baby birds, eager to be fed a heaping helping of crappy, easily-disproved, regurgitated fake atrocity stories. Take a swig of the Kool-Aid, people, it’ll take the taste of all that crap out of your mouth. Just ‘cause you want it to be true, don’t make it so.

6. Seriously, next time you feel this impulse to speak war-veteran truth to military power, spare yourself some heartburn, and go over the DD214s with a calendar, a map, some DOD Public Affairs releases, and maybe some reality-based military veterans. Really, you’ll be all the better for it


Sgt. Mom

13. May 2006 · Comments Off on I just love this tee-shirt · Categories: Cry Wolf, General, Military

The United States Marine:

Over two centuries of romping, stomping, hell, death and destruction. The finest fighting machine the world has ever seen. We were born in a bomb crater, my mother was an M-16 and my father was the devil. Each moment I live is an additional threat upon your life.

I’m roughish looking, roving soldier of the sea. I’m cocky , self-centered, overbearing and I do not know the meaning of fear for I am fear itself. I am a green amphibious monster made of blood and guts who arose from the sea. Whose sole purpose in life is to perpetuate death and destruction upon the festering anti-Americans throughout the globe, whenever it may arise, and when my time comes, I’ll die a glorious death on the battlefield, giving my life to mom, apple pie, and the American flag.

We stole the eagle from the Air Force, the anchor from the Navy, and the rope from the Army. On the 7th day when God rested we overran his perimeter and stole the globe, and we’ve been running the show ever since. We live like soldiers, talk like sailors, and slap the hell out of both of then at the same time. Fighter by day, lover by night, drunkard by choice, and a United States Marine by an act of God.

Semper Fi.

27. January 2006 · Comments Off on Impeachment · Categories: Cry Wolf, General

As the left wing of the dems implode, one mantra d’jour seems to be that Bush broke the law with the wiretaps and that he should therefore be impeached. Let’s see of I can set the record straight on how these things really work. Numerous attorneys have looked at this and concluded that Bush was operating within his authority based on the legislation passed after 9/11 and the powers granted to the executive branch by Article II of the Constitution (forget FISA, it is irrelevent to this discussion). While it is nice from the perspective of watch guarding our civil rights that they had an army of lawyers look into whether the actions were legal, there is another purpose for such an extensive legal review that is not ever discussed in the MSM. That is that their conclusion (that the taps are permitted under law) is an opinion of counsel that mitigates against any allegation that he broke the law. Opinions of counsel are routinely used in the business world for this very reason. If I, as a business person, engage in activities that exceed the bounds permitted by law, but proceed because in my own opinion I am legal, then I have no defense (ignorance of the law is no excuse…). On the other hand, if my lawyer, who is an officer of the court, tells me that I am OK, then I have a legitimate defense. While avoiding the debate of whether or not the taps were legal (I believe they were), my point is that if the issue is heard by the Supreme Court and they decide the taps were not legal, it will not be a decision that Bush broke the law, but rather an interpretation of what the laws mean that runs counter to the NSA, White House, and DOJ lawyer’s. If he were then to proceed in a manner inconsistent with that decision, then there would be a criminal issue.

Another point that seems to have been lost in the discussion is that Congress does not have the power to pass a law that usurps the powers given to the Executive Branch under the Constitution. The upshot of this distinction is that even if it is found by a court that the administration’s activities fall outside legislation passed by Congress, the relevant question becomes whether the legislation was lawful in the first place. If this plays out in the Supreme Court, as I suspect it eventually will, my gut feel is that this secondary question will be part and parcel of the arguments.

See, watching Judge Judy does have its benefits. I would be interested in comments from any readers who are lawyers or judges.


29. December 2005 · Comments Off on Just for Fun… · Categories: Cry Wolf, Domestic

go to the NSA’s official website and read their mission statements and outline of Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). Hell, dig through the whole thing.

Tell me again the kerfuffle? I’m more confused than ever. If the signal orginates overseas from a known bad guy, we’re supposed to ignore it because the guy at this end might be a U.S. Citizen and
a righteous dude?

23. December 2005 · Comments Off on UMass Visit From Agents A Hoax? · Categories: Cry Wolf, General

I believe I blogged on this a few days back. But, little doubt, you have heard through one channel or another about the UMass student who got a visit from government agents, asking about his request for an original English language edition of Mao’s Little Red Book. Well, this from the American Library Association sheds doubt on that story’s veracity:

Student Claims Homeland Security Has Book Watch List

A senior at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth says he was visited at his parents’ home by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security who were investigating why he had requested a book by former Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong through interlibrary loan. The student, who has asked university officials to shield his identity, told two UMD history professors that the incident took place in late October or early November after he attempted to obtain a copy of the first English edition of the Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, published in Beijing in 1966 and popularly known in China as the “Little Red Book,” for a class on communism.

The story broke in the December 17 New Bedford Standard-Times as the result of an interview with UMD faculty members Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, who mentioned the incident as an example of government monitoring of academic research. Williams told American Libraries, “The student told me that the book was on a watch list, and that the books on this list had changing status. Mao was on the list at the time, hence the visit, which was also related to his time abroad.”

UMD Library Dean Ann Montgomery Smith told AL that the student had requested the book by phone from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, not through the UMD interlibrary services as originally reported.

The UMD chancellor’s office released a statement December 19 that said, “At this point, it is difficult to ascertain how Homeland Security obtained the information about the student’s borrowing of the book. The UMass Dartmouth Library has not been visited by agents of any type seeking information about the borrowing patterns or habits of any of its patrons.” Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack stated, “It is important that our students and our faculty be unfettered in their pursuit of knowledge about other cultures and political systems if their education and research is to be meaningful.”

Kirk Whitworth, a spokesman for the DHS—the U.S. cabinet department that oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the Secret Service, and Citizenship and Immigration Services, among others—said in the December 21 Standard-Times that the story seemed unlikely. “We’re aware of the claims,” he said. “However, the scenario sounds unlikely because investigations are based on violation of law, not on the books and individual[s who] might check [them] out from the library.”

An earlier report that the incident occurred at the University of California at Santa Cruz has proven false.

Posted December 21, 2005.

Hat Tip: WSJBotWT

27. October 2005 · Comments Off on HARRIET BEATS FEET BACKWARDS · Categories: Ain't That America?, Cry Wolf, Home Front, Politics

This morning the news channels are buzzing from right to left with the news that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from nomination to the Supreme Court. This is probably no surprise to the President, as the furor over her nomination has been boiling since day one of her nomination. In fact, I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone, on the right or on the left.

We will now see a completely new fight in the Senate as regards any nominee that President Bush sends up. The real drawback to Ms. Miers’ nomination was not that she is a conservative, or that she was not qualified, although that smoke screen was released early in the process. Most of the left’s criticism was that she was too conservative, but the howls of foul came from the conservatives on the hill. While both sides of the aisle were crying over her lack of conservative or liberal views, both sides were mostly concerned over her lack of a paper trail, or record of her views.

Here we go again. The President will have to make another choice, and there is the rub. The conservatives are hoping his next nominee will be to the right with a clear record as such, and the liberals will be praying (!) for a centrist or even a liberal candidate. (Don’t hold your breath Teddy!) I’m not a stealth anything, most people know that I’m a conservative. I believe that the constitution should be interpreted, not modified by the supreme court. If the left loses the white house and both houses of Congress, they should not live under the false assumption that they deserve any power in the courts.

Roe v. Wade. That seems to be the main litmus test of any court nominee, regardless of the level of judiciary. But anyone who thinks that one judge could singlehandedly overturn the ruling is living in wonderland. It just ain’t gonna happen that way. I personally am against abortion, it is murder of the baby no matter how you look at it. It was a wrong move to begin with, but it has become so ingrained in our society that it is going to take a long time and a lot of education to get that one ruling deleted.

OK, let the games begin!

26. May 2005 · Comments Off on So Much For Agreements · Categories: Ain't That America?, Cry Wolf, General Nonsense, sarcasm, Stupidity

It seems the “gentlemen’s agreement” reached by the alleged “gentlemen” of the US Senate does not hold water. In fact, instead of leaking like a sieve, it apparently elicits waterfalls on its own!

On Thursday evening, just days after a group of Senate “moderate centrists” patted themselves on their backs, (breaking at least five arms in the process) congratulating themselves profusely for having saved the empire union from certain destruction by elimination of blusters filibusters, Senate Democrats totally surprised the entire world by breaking the agreement and blocking a cloture vote on” Mr. Nice”, John Bolton, the President’s pick to kick ass represent the US at the UN – or something like that! While Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was receiving medical assistance in the cloakroom (or was it bathroom?) for having passed out in shock over the event, Majority minority leader “Dingy” Harry reid was grabbing every microphone in the corridor, while his associates and acolytes rounded up all the TV camers so he could gloat assure all of the rest of us that this was not really a filibuster.

Mr. Bolton will now have to go back to the end of the line to await his turn, and recess may be over by then, so he may not get to play at all.

Sorry for all the strikeouts, Nurse (sister) Jenny kept hitting me on the hand with a ruler.