27. March 2014 · Comments Off on Winston Churchill Funeral · Categories: European Disunion, Good God, History, Military, World · Tags:

Found through a comment at Neo-Neocon.
A reminder of what Britain used to be.

20. March 2014 · Comments Off on I Was Always Told … · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Good God, Military, Rant, sarcasm · Tags: ,

Not to speak ill of the dead. But in the case of Fred Phelps, of the loathsome Westwood Baptist Church (which actually had no connection whatsoever with the formal Baptist church establishment save the name, and that was doubtless a bit of self-serving publicity. I’d lay any amount of money that the regular Baptists would have liked to have paid a pretty penny to make him promise to call his nasty little sect anything but Baptist … where was I? Oh, back to the convoluted sentence…) I could be tempted to make an exception.

God is infinitely merciful, and He is the ultimate judge, so I’ll leave it to Him to decide if Fred Phelps should be eternally deep-fried like a basket of French fries in the everlasting boiling lake of Hell … but I would argue that he richly deserves that fate for several reasons: One – he and his loathsome little sect coldly and deliberately used the pain and grief of other people. This was either to torment them for their own micro-sectarian jollies, as a means of getting in front of the TV cameras – or provoking outraged mourners into laying violent hands upon their disgusting and manipulative persons for the purposes of extorting money out of them by means of a lawsuit. All three reasons are sufficiently loathsome, IMHO, to justify hellfire. This judgment is not mine to make. It was not theirs, either, but this realization didn’t seem to instill any degree of Christian humility in the members of the cult.

Two – their actions noted in the above paragraph certainly did not reflect any credit on the Protestant denominations, or on American Christians, generally. Likely, they served to drive ordinary people away from an understanding of God and his many mansions.

On the other hand, I am told that Fred Phelps was a long-time Democrat party activist. So he can and probably will go on voting. There is life after death, you know.

21. December 2013 · Comments Off on Reprise – Favorite Christmas Carol · Categories: Domestic, Eat, Drink and be Merry, General, Good God

20. December 2013 · Comments Off on Here We Go Again … · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Fun and Games, Good God, Media Matters Not · Tags: ,

… or, haven’t I been to this rodeo before? Why, yes I have, and not all that long ago, either. First I called to mind was poor artless Paula Deen, celebrity cook-book author, metaphorically burned at stake in the marketplace of public opinion. But the Great Duck Dynasty Imbroglio of 2013 reminds me very much more of the Great Chick-Fil-A Ruckus of 2012, wherein some fairly mild published remarks by the CEO of the company sent the usual right-thinking suspects into a frenzy of shrieking like demented howler monkeys. Boycott, shun, divest and/or fire was the general ukase – for they are hateful hating bigots who shouldn’t be tolerated by truly tolerant people … and then the funniest thing happened. People went out and deliberately bought lunch, dinner and breakfast at their local Chick-fil-A outlet, to the utter chagrin of the usual right-thinking suspects. Chick-Fil-A nationwide had the best darned week they ever had, as far as sales went, and lines of hungry customers stretching for blocks.
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07. August 2013 · Comments Off on Counting the Blessings · Categories: AARRRMY TRAINING SIR!!!, Air Force, Fun and Games, Good God, Rant

Among the blessing that is about biggest in my inventory of them – aside from finishing out my final military tour in Texas, which I didn’t much like at the time, since it was third on my list of choices. Dammit, the personnel who dictated broadcaster assignments were supposed to turn themselves inside out, giving retiring broadcasting personnel their first choice of a final assignment location since they could then do things like buy a house and work up local connections to facilitate the post-retirement second career which the customary long stretches of overseas/remote duty tours usually didn’t allow an opportunity to do. It turned out for the best, although I certainly didn’t see it so at the time. The main thing is that not only am I now glad that I am retired and long past being recalled to active duty (like they couldn’t get enough military broadcaster talent that they have to recall a slightly overweight lady of certain age) but I am glad that Blondie is also long past recall. And that she didn’t sign up for Reserve duty, either.

There, I said it. I am glad both of us are no longer on active duty; and I am also glad that the handful of friends that I kept in touch with post-retirement are retired. The hints and portents which have emerged from the military machine over the last year or so do not give cause for assurance; a portion of the tippy-top echelons in the service being forced by convenient circumstance to retire at the top of their game is, I think the most obvious harbinger. God knows how many other of lesser rank, or long-experienced NCOs are also seeing the writing on the wall and walking away. Certainly note won’t be made in individual cases. Military operations in Afghanistan appear to be going about as well as every other historical foreign military operation ever did – and I should like to point out here and now that I never really expected much else, even back in 2003. Keep the money flowing, and a couple of units of Special Forces to thump the obvious Talibunnies when they got too obstreperous, secure Kabul and some of the other population centers, and generally administer to the theater with a very light hand. Let the indigenes sort out their own salvation and keep them from damaging anyone else. Of course, our current administration, not known for any other political and international savvy than it needs to keep the Chicago political machine functioning, thought otherwise. Now there is a steady trickle of metal coffins coming back, to practically no notice in the news media than that in the hometowns of the deceased. (Anyone know if the current president has a private meeting with every family/next of kin to those killed in combat? The usual search engines are … unproductive of answers in this regard.)

Then of course, there is the one-two punch of allowing openly gay personnel to serve also openly and with every prospect of the same benefits and courtesies as the heterosexual, and the ever-green question of permitting women in direct, full-frontal infantry-style combat specialties. Both of these moves by the current administration were immensely popular among that portion of the civilian population which didn’t actually have to deal with realities on the ground as experienced by serving military. Believe me when I tell you this – it’s a great deal more complicated than it appears when discussed in the faculty lounge. Really-oh, truly-oh.

Allow a slightly overweight and defiantly non-combat-specialty retired career AF NCO to provide enlightenment. Firstly, at the grunt-level, my own service and specialty didn’t give a rip about what you did with your significant other in bed, as long as you weren’t doing it in the road, or on the base commander’s front lawn. No, really – we didn’t care all that much. Just – don’t demand rapturous approval of your life-style, which from my own personal observation and the best figures available, only involves about 2-3% of the general population. No, really – a dismayingly large proportion of the public thinks that a quarter to a third of the population are gay, but that’s because they are only so LOUD about it. I don’t know which percentage of that 2-3% are confrontational to the point of hysteria about demanding that the rest of us line up and clap like a gaggle of performing seals – but I suspect there are actually not many, and very few in the active and serving military.

No – some deep dark secret-revealing here; I am about 96% certain that the true reason that the military didn’t go out and embrace the rainbow agenda is that administratively, they barely had a lock on heterosexual harassment; mostly of males doing it to females, but now and again the other way around. It was about as much as they could do to keep the heteros from jumping each other and using upper rank to exploit the lower. The last thing that anyone in authority wanted to see was even more sexual harassment cases on their personal docket – or because the military is still a preponderantly male preserve – to see it turn into something like a state prison, only with snappy uniforms for all, not just the prison guards. A lot of military life is lived in confined quarters, and with a severely authoritarian structure in place. The scope for abuse of the lower-ranking is incredibly wide. Again – turning a large structure inside out and upside down for the benefit of a microscopically small but vocally outsized minority – only a community activist and former college lecturer could think it a good idea, or that there wouldn’t be problems down the line – including morale problems. More about the morale problems later.

As for women-in-combat; back in my day the Air Force was pretty ecumenical about it all. Because it was … the Air Force. Technical and brainy and all that stuff; no very great degree of upper body strength required for most of the AF specialties. After the Vietnam War (say from about the early 1980s), the only Air Force specialty confined to strictly XY Americans in good health and medical fitness for military service was that of para-rescue specialists, and if memory serves, of advance AC controllers and spotters. One required a great deal of upper body strength and a tolerance for dealing with dead bodies in variable states of decay, and the other with Special Forces-degree skills at humping a heavy pack through the brush while avoiding or dealing with hostiles who didn’t have your best interests at heart. Other wise, most of the Air Force military specialties could be performed as easily by women as men. Not so your basic grunt rifleman, although there have been women – especially Marine women who had the basic fitness, were taught the skills and could very well cope with incidental combat when it came their way. But full-time, all the time and round the clock for indefinite periods of time … er – no. This is not to downplay the courage and skills of women who have served as such in the most recent round of wars, especially those who performed heroically when the hot lead was flying; but they are a small percentage and self-selected. In the long run, about all that we can count on is that training standards will be loosened to accommodate women, the guys will resent the hell out of them, and very likely women will die … to prove a point upheld by academics and politicians who will never in a blue moon come anywhere closer to the military than a base open house.

I am also hearing rumblings regarding balancing the rights of atheists with regard to Christians in the military, and frankly I am a little perplexed at that. Looking backwards at my own career, it didn’t seem to me as if believing and practicing Christians of whatever denomination were a big enough percentage of the force to give anyone who wasn’t any kind of heartburn, even overseas. Anecdote is not data – but those of us in the habit of attending weekly services, or going as far as regular Bible study were pretty much in a minority, considered against the non-observant. Making a habit of proselytizing your peers was considered bad form – and frowned on, for one of higher rank to proselytizing those in lower ranks. I did know a couple of atheists or people who claimed to be, and there was one young man whom it was whispered, belonged to a Wiccan coven – which was no sweat off mine, since it meant that he had a social life after all. I suspect that it is the attitude of believing Christians with regard to gays that is driving the sudden upsurge of hostility to the openly devout.

These four things – the purge of the upper ranks, dropping of don’t ask-don’t tell, women in combat specialties, Afghanistan – are all affecting morale in the services, to one degree or another. Morale, in an individual or in a unit of any size, is a delicate thing; hard to build and easily destroyed. I’ve been in units which had good morale and a sense of mission, a leadership cadre whom we trusted and in turn trusted us. I’ve also been in units which didn’t have good morale, where we scraped by from day to day just hoping to escape being made a scapegoat for a leadership-created disaster. At those units, I counted the days until I rotated out. I expect there are a fair number of serving NCOs and officers now doing the same.

(cross-posted at chicagoboyz.net)

I guess that I must still be an astonishingly naïve person – for although I fully expected riots in inner cities across the US in the wake of the jury in the Zimmerman trial coming to the decision that they did – I did not expect the veritable tsunami of calculated hatred and willful ignorance washing over the mainstream media, four days later. I was astonished that the six jurors stuck to their guns, so to speak, and delivered what I consider a just verdict, although that might just be my own inner white bigotry speaking. Given what was gone over in painstaking detail in the courtroom, I can’t see that they could have come to anything else, but I guess that logic and obedience to the letter of the law are all constructs of racial superiority, and it’s all the fault of those jurors that they couldn’t bring themselves to do the will of the mob.

That mob, of course – and I include a number of black celebutards and so-called intellectual lights among them – believe with the faith of holy writ everything which was first put about in the national media regarding the case. And everything which was first put about with regard to George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and their fatal encounter on a rainy Florida evening – turned out to be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong – so wrong that it can’t possibly be anything but a deliberate attempt to mislead on a grand scale. The professional black activists pushing the matter as they have are promoting what a propagandist like Josef Goebbels called ‘the big lie’ – no matter how outrageous the falsehood is – just repeat it often enough and from the mouths of as many as possible – figures of authority especially – and eventually the lie is accepted as the truth.

It has been educational to see ‘the big lie’ in action this last year. It is also interesting and educational to see a high-tech lynch mob gearing up, and to realize that the color of the faces involved don’t seem to make it any more or less ugly and bigoted.

25. May 2013 · Comments Off on Maybe That Day Has Come · Categories: European Disunion, Fun With Islam, Good God, GWOT, Rant

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

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

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

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

(Crossposted at Chicagoboyz.net)

10. May 2013 · Comments Off on The Unbearable Lightness of Being the O’man · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Good God, GWOT, Media Matters Not · Tags: , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

Such has been the sad state of our very own dear media creatures in these United States lately that I have begun again to read the English newspapers, or their on-line iteration – mostly the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, and mostly because the worthy reporters for those establishments don’t seem to give a damn or not if they are ever invited to interview members of the Obama administration or not and thus have no inclination to soft-ball their coverage of American political matters as regards the present occupant of the White House and his administrative flunkies. Frankly, this is rather refreshing, although the Daily Mail site seems to be regularly curated by people who can’t spell, are innocently unscathed by knowledge of the customary rules of grammar and have a penchant for semi-weekly stories about well-trodden aspects of WWII posted as if they were the latest word, evah!

Anyway, one of the regular tropes on the Daily Mail are stories about neighbors from hell; sometimes about spectacular neighborhood feuds between people whom you thought might have known better (some of whom seem at best to be deranged), but most reliably about another kind of neighbor; the ‘council house and violent’ kind having it out with their hapless neighbors. I presume, from the context of the Mail, and from various other sources (movies and popular genre novels like this one, and this one) that ‘council house’ equates to the American version of public housing, or more especially ‘Section 8’ houses … and the presence of certain clients of social services in public or Section 8 are not particularly welcome among their neighbors. Not that I wish to be particularly snotty about this; but any fool can tell you that in a working-class neighborhood of house-proud home owners, the sudden presence of a family moving in with their rent paid by public funds is not often a very often a good or a welcome thing, with or without any racial element attached. Especially if the new neighbors are inconsiderate, destructive and hostile (or oughtright criminal) – and if it turns out that nothing much can be done to dislodge them, as seems to often be the case in once-great Britain. (Unlike the landlord in this story – who has a fine appreciation for a responsible kind of tenant-mix in his properties.)

One of the most recent of these stories – and one of the most depressing is this one; of a career welfare recipient with pink-dyed hair who has never, ever held a paying job or apparently a legal marriage, but who has still managed to birth and raise at government expense, no less than eleven offspring. One of her current neighbors had the most viciously accurate comment; describing her uterus as a clown-car. At any rate, this woman seems to have gotten the local council to place her and her spawn at some considerable expense in a custom-renovated house. Why Ms Heather Frost is to be deserving of this is a question unanswered or perhaps better yet, unasked by the council housing authorities, although I’ll bet a lot of her prospective neighbors are demanding to know. She doesn’t seem to have any particular qualities which would justify this tender consideration, other than being warm, breathing, indiscriminant with her favors and embarrassingly fertile. And it also appears that she and her offspring made life such a hell for one of their unlucky neighbors – an elderly widow – that the poor woman couldn’t even turn up the sound on her television without inviting regular, sustained abuse and vandalism. This wasn’t the only account of this kind of situation, oh, no – a couple of months ago, another such neighbor, this time a well-educated and relatively young university lecturer was driven to commit suicide by a similarly feral lot of neighbors. (Can’t find the link – but remember reading it.)

What a hell the local housing authorities create for working-class good neighbors, I must say; it’s almost as if they revel in assigning the hellish, destructive and improvident to live among them – as if cutting loose people like Ms Frost and her brood are a punishment for responsible homeowners who don’t have the wherewithal to respond by moving away, or hiring effective legal help. It’s purely a pity that hellish council house tenants and Section 8 recipients with form can’t all be sent to live in a neighborhood all together, where all they can do is make each other miserable, instead of blameless and quiet-loving working-class homeowners. Or better yet – right next door to those housing authorities

17. February 2013 · Comments Off on Asteroid Rain · Categories: Geekery, Good God, The Final Frontier, Wild Blue Yonder

It’s kind of creepy, seeing events in real life pattern themselves after thriller novels and Hollywood movies; proof of anything that God – or the Fates – do have an ironic sense of humor. Like certain other bloggers and commenters I am on my knees with gratitude that the asteroid/comet fragment/whatever which detonated upon hitting the atmosphere over the Urals a few days ago did not hit at the height of the Cold War. That would likely have set off a chain of unfortunate events, for which those surviving remnants of the old Soviet high command would have been very sorry afterwards … well, maybe they would have been sorry, but on the other hand, opportunities are not to be wasted. Still – a repeat of Tunguska is fascinating enough, and so is the fact that it was caught on so many dash-cams and CCTV cameras. It’ll be as hard to blame it on global warming as it would be on the US, although some are apparently trying their best. But the wittiest observation on the whole matter simply has to go to a commenter at the Belmont Club, who observed “In Post-Soviet Russia, SPACE EXPLORES YOU!”

I was a teenager when the Manson murders went down, in the autumn of 1969 – of course, the cruel and inexplicable murder of a movie star and several of her friends made all the headlines, and had lots of law-abiding citizens looking over their shoulders and being very careful about locking the doors and windows of their homes at night. It wasn’t until some time later that the associated murders of an elderly retired couple also hit the headlines of the LA Times, and other national newspapers. A blood-drenched, hippy cult with a weirdly charismatic leader had committed those murders in order – so they claimed – to trigger a devastating racial war, which they termed ‘helter-skelter’ from a Beatles song moderately popular at the time. Well, it was the late 1960ies; after assassinations, race riots and anti-war protests, ordinary citizens were pretty shell-shocked. A lot of extremely deranged people held equally deranged beliefs back then, and continued to do so for a good few years – cults and communes like Jim Jones’ Peoples’ Temple, for instance. My parents often resignedly repeated the truism about the US having been tilted at a steep angle, and all the unmoored nutcases, nonconformists and grifters sliding west and ending up in California. Having both been born there, and with recollections of how it used to be, they would grumble about how they wished such people would slide the hell back to where they came from, and stop embarrassing hard-working and relatively conservative citizens of the Golden State.

Helter-skelter didn’t happen – well, not then, anyway. Reading this week about Christopher Dorner, the ex-LAPD cop and former Navy reserve officer, with a chip on his shoulder the size of an an aircraft carrier and a string of revenge murders on his slate … now, I could see helter-skelter happening now, forty years later. A lot of things have happened over in Los Angeles, not many of them for the better. One of them is that the LAPD are nowhere near as respected now as they were formerly. It might very well be that they were no more or less competent or corrupt then than they are now, but it is the public perception of them now that sets the bitter tone. Corruption scandals like the slow train-wreck of Rampart division, the beating of Rodney King, the perception of racism among police officers which allowed OJ Simpson’s legal team to plead for acquittal on those grounds … all of those incidents and accidents have blotted the LAPD’s reputation in the eyes of ordinary citizens of all races.

So, is Christopher Dorner a good and moral man driven mad by the system, or a race-card pulling manipulator with a very hot temper? Big boastful talker or a cold and calculating planner of a campaign of murder? The various stories in the news about the matter have it both ways and every gradation in between. One can take away anything that one wishes to see in his posted manifesto; in any case, the man has gone Rambo, and gone to ground, leaving at least fifty families under police protection, and three people – who looked nothing at all like him, but merely had the misfortune to be driving pickup trucks with a likeness to his vehicle – injured by panicky LAPD officers opening fire. Where is he now? Lost and dying of exposure in the woods at Big Bear, or blending into the background in a comfortable hide-out in Compton. Heading into Canada, or into Mexico, or just laying low until the row dies down? When and if he emerges again, and encounters the LAPD – or any other law enforcement body – the chances of it ending quietly with an uncontested arrest are pretty small. And should it end quietly or not – what are the chances of riots breaking out, regardless?

(crossposted at chicagoboyz.net)

In the foundation-legend of the Swiss confederacy, Alberect Gessler was a cruel and tyrannical overlord installed by the Austrians, who installed his hat atop a pole in the public marketplace and decreed that all should bow to it … to his hat, not merely his person. Such a declaration was, I think, a way of rubbing in his authority over the common citizens – indeed, rubbing their noses in the fact that he could make them do so, and do so in front of everyone else.

Having read now and again of small businesses run by devout Christians, such event venues, a bakery doing wedding cakes, or a wedding photographer, even a bed and breakfast refusing to provide a good or a service to a gay couple, I am lead to wonder if this isn’t a kind of Gessler’s hat, metamorphosed to the 21st century. Of course, in this best of all possible worlds, anyone’s money ought to be as good as anyone elses’. And in the case of some of the complainants, loud comparisons are made, comparing the way in which small businesses dealt – or didn’t deal at all – with customers of the African-American variety, fifty years and more ago. Left unsaid, but still implied is a kind of smug satisfaction that devout Christians will be called to heel just as unrepentant racists were.

Somehow, I can’t be so certain of that outcome. Browbeating and bringing suit against the religiously observant into compliance with society’s dictates most usually has the opposite of effect intended, even if superficial compliance is eventually gained. Devout and observant Christians do make up a larger portion of the population than gays – who for all their prominence in media and entertainment, still only comprise less than 3% of the population overall – if that. African-Americans, give or take a couple of percentage points either way are at about %12, which is probably not a market segment which can be ignored by someone selling services or a product.

So, can you refuse service to a member of the public, and for what reason? Do you need a reason? Or will just a polite demurral do, such as “I am so sorry, we can’t fit that into our schedule” ? Making the question a little more complicated – will any religion do? Suppose a Jewish photographer didn’t want to photograph a Catholic quinceanera celebration, or a Muslim-owned halal caterer refused to provide food for a specifically Jewish or Christian event? Seriously, even if such a thing happened in the real world, I can’t imagine the customer getting too bent out of shape by the refusal – unless the refusal was couched in less than tactful language.

So what are we to make of stories such as those that I linked, and others of the same sort? I am pretty sure that it’s not so much a question of civil rights for a very small, but socially influential minority at issue here. Rather, it’s a metaphorical Gesseler’s Hat, for which is not sufficient to merely tolerate – all must be seen to approve, and in loud voices in the public square. Discuss.

12. September 2012 · Comments Off on See Here, Mohammad · Categories: Domestic, Fun With Islam, Good God, GWOT, Politics, Rant, World · Tags: , ,

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

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

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

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

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

05. August 2012 · Comments Off on Musings on l-Affaire du Poulet Filet · Categories: Ain't That America?, Eat, Drink and be Merry, Good God, Media Matters Not, Politics, Tea Time

Taking it into my head to go to the local Chick-fil-A last Wednesday was another one of those odd things, like getting involved in the Tea party which happened because of a friend. In this case, a purely on-line friend; the friend who inveigled me into attending an early San Antonio Tea Party planning committee meeting was a blog-friend whom I had actually met on a couple of social occasions, so when he said, ‘Hey, we need someone to write press releases and stuff, and you’re a writer and you were a broadcaster, so can ya?’ And being a stubborn independent libertarian-conservative sort, it seemed like a good idea. That the planned event very shortly turned into an all-Texas blow-out with 15,000 to maybe as many as 20,000 in attendance … well, I didn’t have anything much to do with that … I just kept my head down and sent out the press releases and made myself available for local media interviews.

So, I got caught up in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in the same manner, when Sarah Hoyt, another writer-blogger (who is in favor of same-sex marriage) wrote a long post condemning at length the way the militant pro-same-sex marriage advocates were going about it. She held that ganging up on Chick-fil-A was an appallingly bad move, being based upon not much at all save a mild remark by the president of the firm regarding favoring traditional marriage in an interview published in an relatively obscure denominational publication. She predicted that this would alienate and infuriate people across the political spectrum, and that it would backfire hugely … which seems to have been the case. It is only fitting that she would be a writer of science fiction, a genre which lends a boost to ones’ powers of accurate prophecy.

I wonder myself if the better than huge turn-out in support of Chick-fil-A isn’t at least as much of a cultural seismic shock as the various Tea Party gatherings in 2009 were to the political arena. Certainly there was the same air of friendly cheerfulness and purpose about the other customers in the Chick-fil-A outlet where I went on August 1 as I remember from the first huge Alamo Plaza Tea Party rally. No kidding – it was a fun gathering, like the world’s biggest and happiest block party. There were whole families there – and it was as if the plaza was full of good friends whom you had never met before. So was the Chick-fil-A; and from the comments and posted reports on the internet it was pretty much like that all over. The illusion that it was some kind of grotesque grotesque and hateful mass exercise in gay-bashing must be difficult to maintain, in the face of so many actual participants who saw nothing of the sort. Just so the Tea Partiers were constantly accused of being dumb, disorganized, violent red-necked racists. This meme was so constantly pushed by mainstream media over the last three years – against considerable evidence to the contrary as well as the experience of actual participants – that a good portion of the public now readily believes the worst of the Tea Party. It goes without saying, such is the weary cynicism of experience, that the mainstream news organs of course painted the militant gay advocates who responded to Support Chick-fil-A Day in the most favorable colors, in spite of vandalism, harassment and generally distasteful conduct … just as the Occupy Whatever Street activists had breathlessly positive press in spite of turning their various occupied locations into unsanitary, lawless and repellant hellholes. I’m not even surprised by this tendency on the part of the mainstream media any more.

It is interesting that this all happened just as the self-organized, social-media savvy Tea Party adherents are managing to elect more and more fiscally-responsible, free-market favorable strict Constitutionalists into political office. I disagree with those commenters who hold that the Chick-Fil-A thing was brief distraction from the series matters at hand; this might be one of those huge turning points. The chain may be just another national fast-food outlet – but their local franchise owners are deeply-embedded in their communities, where apparently they do a lot of quiet good works, and are looked upon favorably by loyal customers, and their employees. To cynically and carelessly malign and insult them, just as the Tea Party is maligned and insulted is every bit as much a blunder as Sarah suggested. Beware the cold anger of quiet and patient people who have been pushed once too many times. Those who stood patiently in line for hours for a chicken sandwich and waffle fries to make a point will also be standing in line to vote in November. Depend on it.

Crossposted on www.chicagoboyz.net)

11. July 2012 · Comments Off on The Ruins of Athens · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun With Islam, Good God, History

Actually, no – not the ruins of Athens … that’s a Beethoven piece that popped into my head – the Turkish March, from The Ruins of Athens … I’d always wondered in a desultory way, what would happen to me, if I played that classic music piece without comment, when I was stationed at EBS-Hellenikon, back in the day. I was never reckless enough to do the experiment and find out, actually. The Greeks were hair-trigger temperamental about any mention of Greece, Turkey, or the EEC (the forerunner to the EU) on the perilous airways of the American Forces Radio station where I worked – mostly on the swing and mid-shifts in the early 1980s. As exasperating and sometimes as deadly as the political stuff got during those years – and it did get deadly, for the N-14 organization and elements of the PLO were more or less targeting Americans on a regular basis – I loved Greece unreservedly. More »

08. June 2012 · Comments Off on Blogging, SWATing, and Brett Kimberlin · Categories: Good God, Politics, Tea Time, Technology · Tags: , ,

This is the text of the email that I sent to the office of Lamar Smith, who is my congressman. Any reply will be posted here.

I am inquiring if you are aware of how conservative and libertarian bloggers have been maliciously pranked in the last few months by the practice of “SWATing”?

(A bogus 911 call is made claiming that there has been a shooting (or some other act of domestic violence) at the home of a conservative blogger. Usually these “SWAT-ing” calls are made in the middle of the night. Per emergency protocol, such a 911 call triggers a guns-drawn police action at the blogger’s home which puts the blogger and his or her family at immediate risk.)

This is not only a fraud and a waste of police time, but puts both the family of the blogger, any dogs they might have in the household, and the police officers themselves in danger of physical harm.

This a deliberate attempt to intimidate conservative and libertarian bloggers into forfeiting their right to exercise free speech and political commentary. I assume that you likewise would be concerned about this practice, and would like to know if you intend to take any action in this matter.

I am one of your constituents, a military veteran, Tea Party sympathizer – and a blogger. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Update: Monday morning – well, no answer other than the usual robo-email, but it is noted that Lamar Smith is a signatory to the letter from 85 members of Congress to AG Holder demanding that he address and investigate the issue. We’ll see what develops, then!

25. May 2012 · Comments Off on Learning Curve · Categories: Ain't That America?, Good God, Politics, Veteran's Affairs · Tags: , ,

Like a number of other unpleasant experiences, a brush with a full-on, balls-to-the-wall sociopath can be a soul-scarring but life-educational experience. Generally, unless you are in a professional field such as the law, law enforcement or a working psychiatrist, you will – in the normal run of life, not run into them all that often. This is a good thing, generally – that they are rare. And a bad thing, because sheer disbelief freezes the normal, human reaction when they get heaved up to the top of one’s awareness. This is probably why they are able to do so much damage; they are as rare as man-eating sharks, and when they do pop up, the initial reaction is to think that … no, they couldn’t possibly have said/done/believed that. No normal, thinking, decent person could possibly … well, do what they do. It’s an experience so far outside ordinary experience that the first reaction is disbelief, and quite often the disbelief is prolonged because sociopaths often and at first glance (and even second) seem to be quite normal, reasonable and reality-based people.

The second quite human reaction when encountering one of these cold-blooded human sharks is fear, cold, stark fear, once you come to the realization that there are no limits to what the sociopath will say or do. Let me say that again: no limits. They will do or say anything, without remorse or second thoughts. They will tell any lie, use any person or tool they happen to have at hand, and then move on like a tornado, leaving the physical and emotional wreckage behind them. It’s frightening as hell – as I know from personal experience. It must be even more frightening for those bloggers who are now the target of a vengeful and malicious sociopath like Brett Kimberlin, one with an established track record of violence and sufficient friends in high places to enable harassment of blogger/reporters who have run afoul of him by spotlighting his criminal past.

I ran into a Kimberlinic personality once although at the time I didn’t know what she was. I described her as poisonous when I wrote about her years later. I still didn’t use her real name, although I have been retired from the Air Force since 1997, a matter of eight years after we were assigned together. I still would not want to have anything to do with her, especially after I looked up some of the identifying markers of a sociopath: Habitual liar? Check: she lied like she breathed, effortlessly. Egotistical to the point of narcissism? Check again – the whole world revolved around her. Scapegoating – whatever happens, it’s always somebody elses’ fault. Yep – check again. Remorselessly vindictive, when exposed or thwarted? OMG, check in spades. Everybody who ever had any kind of run-in with her, even administered the mildest reprimand – she would go nuclear in retaliation. I’m still a bit surprised though, that she didn’t ever think to accuse me of being a lesbian – in those days before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, it would have been the ending of my military career for sure, even if I had been able to fight it. Manipulative, absolutely no empathy, and capable of violence? Well, definitely manipulative: that was one of her shticks; getting other people to do her dirty work. I’m still in two minds about the violence, although I wouldn’t have put it past her, if she were frustrated enough. I did have a point in writing about malignant, manipulative, cold-blooded sharks-in-human form today; the most obvious one was to participate in ‘Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day’ … which I did think long and hard about doing, just as I thought long and hard about doing a post about the Danish Motoons o’ Doom, a good few years ago. He is a vengeful, violent sociopath, and people are very right to fear such. But I do not believe it is wise or right to give in to fear.

I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain!

(Later – here’s what you can do, should you feel moved – http://ace.mu.nu/archives/329575.php )

That’s the feeling, really – as Blondie and I walk the dogs of a morning, and discuss such weighty matters as who remembered to bring sufficient poopy bags, if it is safe enough to let the Weevil off leash long enough to have a brisk run up and down the long fence behind which lives another Boxer mix who carries on a sort of fence to fence tag run, how many tomatoes we are likely to get from our current planting of garden bounty, if there will be enough cucumbers to make a decent batch of pickle spears soon, what to have for dinner that evening … and the morning gleanings of various internet news sites that we favor, upon rising from our slumbers first thing of a morning.

I favor Instapundit myself – out of long habit, even if he did drop this site from his blogroll a couple of years ago, but my daughter favors a combination of TMZ and the Daily Mail website, which (oddly enough) often puts up items of American news days before it appears in our own very dear mainstream media organs. Nope, tis true, tis true: sensationalist, twee, celebrity-addled, frequently misspelled/ungrammatical/confusing/sentimental-enough-to-trigger-a-diabetic-reaction, the DM still unashamedly and without much bias that I can detect covers the news. What a concept, hey? (Leaving aside the DM’s editorial bias, whatever it might be. When it comes to Brit newspapers, I used to favor the London Times and the Spectator myself, until they put everything interesting behind a paywall, then the Telegraph, and even the Guardian – until … well, that last just went beyond the pale for me. The lefty establishment bias just got to hard to take. God knows what the Grauniad thinks of the Tea Party; I don’t have a stomach strong enough to check.)

Anyway – to see ourselves as the DM sees us. My daughter notes the increasing numbers of American commenters, who ask why they hell do they have to go to a British newspaper site to see relatively unbiased American news. I’d guess it’s probably because the DM doesn’t seem to actually have a rep in among the White House Press Whores, or among the local establishment in whatever city the interesting story of the moment comes from. So, they can tell the story and access-to-the-elite-establishment be damned. Kind of refreshing, actually: what was the old press motto? To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable – damned if it doesn’t seem that principle has been reversed, in these degraded modern days.

Anyway – we were talking about a wide-ranging number of topics, but actually, they weren’t all that wide-ranging. Mostly it was the various aspects of the Federal Gummint’s heavy and strangling hand descending on a variety of concerns and businesses: the EPA going after coal-burning power plants (what – do they want rolling blackouts?), the Department of Labor going all ‘it’s for the chiiiiiiiildren!’ in forbidding children, tweens and teens from working certain essential jobs on family farms, hammering the Catholic church for not handing out free birth control like it was Skittles, the EPA going after rabbit breeders, the Justice Department casually allowing weapons to walk from border states into Mexico, prosecuting Gibson guitar manufacturing enterprise for using certain kinds of imported wood, the TSA (who easily could be the most despised organization in the US today but for all the competition from the EPA) feeling up four-year old girls and ripping off wheelchair bound veterans, the NOAA enthusiastically ruining the livelihoods of New England independent fishermen … and the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman imbroglio, with respect to flash-mob violence and the disinclination of our own very dear Department of Justice to become involved in prosecuting those who incite racial violence. Long list it was, too. So, I don’t think I want to get fitted for a tinfoil hat just yet … but WTF do these various numbskulls think they are doing? Exactly how far do they think people can be pushed before an individual or a community entirely looses patience? I mean – do they want large numbers of Americans to openly defy the Feds, nonviolently or otherwise? Is this deliberate incitement or just dumbassery on an epic scale?

I know, cheerful thinking for a morning walk. I think I’ll go fire up the canning kettle, and put aside another dozen jars of home made pickles, relishes and sauerkraut. To the best of my knowledge, the EPA or the DOJ hasn’t come out regulating against that … yet.
(Links here. Impossible to embed links any more…

That is what I have finally reached this week, in the wake of the Rush Limbaugh-Slutgate imbroglio: the far frozen limit. I’ve never been one to flounce off in a huff, having neither the figure for flounces or possession of a late model huff-mobile. That was my Granny Dodie’s style; she was the one who was prone to throwing hissy-fits in public places at being the recipient of bad customer service. I personally always rather preferred the model provided by my other grandmother, Granny Jessie, who would simmer quietly, depart silently … and then never darken the door of the offending establishment ever again. Which, as Granny Jessie lived to the age of 96, probably resulted in a lot of establishments being vaguely puzzled as to why the heck they didn’t ever see the tiny, grim-faced old lady in the print rayon dress ever again … or maybe not. Say what you will, at least Granny Dodie’s method left the offending establishments in no doubt that they had offended grievously, which from a customer-service point of view, at least clued them in to the fact that there was a problem. And that they just might have to take steps to fix it.
More »

I was so certain that the first postings about the sudden death of Andrew Breitbart on the ‘Bigs’ last week were some kind of prank – that someone had hacked his Twitter feed, or his email, or even the website itself. Unlike many other a blogger from the conservative-libertarian side of the blogosphere, I can’t even say that I knew him, personally or by email … but I have read the ‘Bigs’ every day for months, which in blog-time must equal to years – and always derived a lot of amusement from his various projects. He fought the good fight passionately, aiming true and never backing down. His style was piratical, swashbuckling and fearless. I am fairly certain that he had a brass pair so large they probably clanged like Big Ben when he walked down the street.

So many of us who blog about politics do operate these days in – if not fear, then at least some apprehension; bloggers who tackle controversial issues do tend to attract animus from commenters, at the very least. The tall dogs in this field do draw the fleas. It’s the price of having opinions, though – and one shouldn’t mind it, too much – but still… I remember being absolutely horrified at seeing some of the threats that someone like Michelle Malkin gets all the time, and even Ann Althouse got some very scary, and very specific threats at the height of the Madison ruckus this last year. It was heartening to watch someone who was not the least bit intimidated or discouraged by that kind of reaction to go on swinging. As I said – solid brass pair. He will be missed. Conservatives and Libertarians don’t have a particularly deep bench.

Conversely, Rush Limbaugh is the other big hitter on the Conservative-Libertarian bench – and he also had a bad week. I’ve never had much interest in following him – or Glenn Beck, either. Just not my cuppa; I managed to not know who Glenn Beck was, all the way up to the first big San Antonio Tea Party rally in 2009. And it looks like el Rushbo did manage to miss the whole point of the Sandra Fluke/Georgetown Law imbroglio. Can’t blame him, really – that a thoroughly modern co-ed at a very expensive uni has the need of $1,000 worth of birth control during a single year is pretty risible. (What? She can’t find the nearest CVS pharmacy or Planned Parenthood? I thought there was an app for that…and it doesn’t cost all that much.)The real point was that the innocent and dewy-eyed 20-something co-ed was actually a thirty-ish career activist whose mission was to force a Jesuit-sponsored institution to take a course of action counter to their firmly-held principles. That she was wheeled out there and touted as the innocent and dewy-eyed 20-something co-ed in spite of considerable evidence in the public domain to the contrary … that’s the part worthy of scorn, derision and contempt.
The administration is attempting to force Catholic institutions to provide a particular health service option which is antithetical to their principles. That’s the issue – and instead, we have another round of lefty squealing about civility. Which, considering some of the things that those very same lefties said about Breitbart … is most ironical.

27. January 2012 · Comments Off on No Ship Named For Murtha · Categories: Ain't That America?, Good God, In the Navy, Military, Veteran's Affairs, Wild Blue Yonder

It appears that a great number of veterans and relatives of veterans are increasingly incensed at the news that the late Senator Murtha may have a new Navy ship named for him. The late senator was famed for nearly being nailed in the Abscam scandal, lo these many decades ago, for sucking down absolutely mind-boggling quantities of political pork for his district, and last but not least, pre-judging the Marines charged in the so-called Haditha incident.

Those veterans and relatives feel so strongly about this gross insult to military honor that they have opened a website, and a means of communication their displeasure to the Secretary of the Navy.
This is the website –


Go, therefore, and do your duty, with regard to their petition. That is all.
(sorry, means of posting embedded links has gone the same way as the ability to post pictures.)

13. November 2011 · Comments Off on With a Crowbar · Categories: Domestic, Good God, Rant, sarcasm, World · Tags: , , , ,

That is the sarcastic answer to an ancient question lately revised in the matter of the Penn State University athletic department having enabled a coach to serially molest young boys for decades – the question being, ‘How you separate the men from the boys at ____?’ Understandably, a large portion of the public is upset to furious about this, and those who are Penn grads and/or college football fans, and/or Joe Paterno fans are particularly distressed and/or seriously disillusioned.

The very saddest result from this appalling state of matters is something that I had meditated upon five years ago, when it was the matter of the Capitol Hill pages and a one Representative Mark Foley, who was forced to resign once his apparent inability to keep his hands, metaphorically speaking, off the junior staff became public knowledge outside Washington. I noted that the long-term and most damaging after-effect was how this kind of predation – after the immediate damage is done – screws up any chance of a teenager having a good mentorly relationship with an older person not their parental unit. Any cross-generational friendship will be looked at with grave suspicion – and that is so not a good thing.

We came to the point several years ago – after the various scandals in the Catholic Church – of having to consider an apparently friendly overture from an older man to a teenage boy or child as potentially the first move of a chicken-hawk. This just has to poison the pool just that much more, adding one more smidgeon of crappiness to a teenager’s lot in life, or to that of a child from a dysfunctional home. Being a teenager is an awkward age, for a variety of reasons; being physically nearly an adult but emotionally nearer to being a child, craving respect and responsibility, but really getting much of a chance for earning either, the utter pointlessness of much that is taught in a public school setting . . . and then add to the fact that the average tweener or teen is stuck with their peers, by custom and institutional practice for much of each day.

Picture it, if your own memory of middle or high school is not painfully vivid in your memory: stuck with inane conversations, pointless rivalries, even more pointless academic curricula, bitter feuds, bullying and mind-games. Feeling ill and over-grown, flushed with too many hormones, and no outlet – and even if you are one of the lucky ones who do get along with your parents – they are, after all, your parents.

For a lot of teenagers, a friendship with an adult not their parent is a lifeline, and an anchor to sanity, a connection to a real world outside the confines of high school and their peer-group, a reassurance that they can connect with the real world. I have always had a conviction that teenagers – in order to get through the worst of it – need more than anything else, the companionship and example of adult friends who have common interests and enthusiasms. It tends to take the younger generation out of an insular round of strictly teen-approved interests, encourages them to connect and to get away from that sour view expressed in my own youth of “not trusting anyone over thirty.”

One of our joint enthusiasms, when my daughter was in middle school and we lived then in Ogden, Utah, was a regular meeting of the Salt Lake City Chapter of the Dr. Who Fan Club. Thirty or forty Whovians met socially once a month at a certain member’s house to watch an episode of Dr. Who on video and chat about their mutual liking for the series. (I rather liked the Whovians by the way; they were much more cerebral and grounded than the Trekfans. One felt that they had fairly successful and interesting lives, and their appreciation for The Doctor was merely an amiable eccentricity, not an overwhelming obsession.) Anyway, it gratified me as a parent to notice my daughter’s social assurance, and that of some of the other younger Whovians. At fourteen, she was much the youngest; I think the next youngest was sixteen, and the ages of the other members ranged well up into the seventies. But everyone always had a wonderful time at meetings, interacting as equals and friends, and I thought it was marvelous for the youngest fans, in that they were tacitly reassured that there was an escape over the walls of the teenage ghetto, and an wide world full of interesting friends on the other side. And at the very least, I am sure they came away from the meetings of the Whovians with the assurance that they would not be trapped in the teenage wasteland forever.

So the mentoring aspect in society is critically important, for boys and girls alike: How the heck and from whom – are you going to work out what being an adult really is – if all you have is your teenaged idiot peers, and the crazy-house hall of mirrors that is the media? Who can you pattern yourself after? What if your parents are dysfunctional and you do not get along with them? I had friends in the military in that situation, who were able to find another mentor to pattern themselves upon, and thereby have a chance at becoming reasonably well-adjusted and functioning adults. I have mentored a friend of my daughter whose parents were perfect studies in rotten parenting skills, and any number of young female airmen along the way. Adult friends and mentors are the fallback position, the rescue, and second chance at becoming a well-adjusted and functioning adult. That sexual predators can inject themselves into this situation, can extend a pretend hand of friendship and respect, while all the while be looking for their own sexual interests – this is an obscenity. It casts a more-than-decade-long shadow of suspicion and distrust on those – mostly male –volunteers willing to involve themselves in youth betterment-programs as well as discouraging any well-inclined adult from opening themselves up to potential accusation.

So, thank you, Coach Sandusky, and by extension those personnel in the athletic department faculty at Penn State U – who covered for your insatiable need to get your rocks off by molesting children – just thanks. You’ve proved yourself to be a really putrid, manipulative and exploitative human being, if the published indictments are anything to go by. And everyone else in the chain of command that enabled this? Well, just thanks again. Hope you feel good about having kept your job secure by keeping silent. In addition to having facilitated the serial abuse of kids, you have also put another obstacle in the way of well-intentioned men and woman wanting to do their bit for the larger community in ministering to kids and teenagers with issues and problems. Again, just thanks.

(Cross-posted at Chicago Boyz)

05. June 2011 · Comments Off on Entourage · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Good God, That's Entertainment!

Only once in my life have I ever had first-hand acquaintance with the necessity of a body-guard. Not for myself, mind you – but for a fellow military broadcaster during my year at Yongsan AIG, Republic of Seoul, South Korea. Being – in a relatively minor way – something of a local celebrity is a thing that the younger broadcasters doing an on-air job as a radio or TV voice would rather glory in, at first. Ohh! You’re on radio, or television, everybody knows your name, your voice and your face, all over the ROK! After a good few years in the career field though, the older and career broadcasters would wise up and sober up – it was just a job; talking on the radio, playing records for folks and saying things to amuse them. Nothing special, just a job, albeit a little more public than most; after a while, one perfects the ability to keep the on-air personality a completely different and separate thing from the every-day-at-work NCO. Divas and their male equivalent do not last very long in military broadcasting.

Having thousands of fans, though – is nice. What’s not so nice is to become the focus for a deranged one – and it will. That’s a guarantee for anyone in the public eye, even a military broadcaster. That kind of irrationality is deeply frightening, even if it never goes any farther than disturbing phone calls. And that’s what happened to one of the young female broadcasters during my year in Seoul. She was the dee-jay for the mid-night rock and roll show: she was funny and earthy . . . and within a short time, she had a big circle of fans, both military and among the young English-speaking Korean audience. (American military radio usually does develop a local-national shadow audience.) And one of those local national fans began making increasingly disturbing phone calls to her, when she was on the air, which escalated to the point where he had vowed that he was going to get on post somehow and kill her for rejecting him. She had fortunately been taping his calls, since we had the capability to patch in a studio line to a recorder, but as it turned out, the local police were disinterested in taking any action against the deranged fan. Their attitude seemed to be that – eh, she had led him on, boys will be boys, and he hadn’t done anything but talk . . . but still – she was frightened very badly, all of her friends, and the rest of the AFKN staff – and the Air Force Security police contingent at Yongsan were furious. There was a small, but real possibility that he could manage to sneak on post, and figure out who she was, among the uniformed female staff at AFKN. Most of us walked between the AFKN building and the dormitory where we lived, a distance of about four blocks – and she would be doing this after dark. The handful of AF Security Police who lived in the dorm took it in turns to walk with her, back and forth for most of the rest of her tour. They were organized by an NCO who had just come off of the Presidential protection security team – who had beau-coups of experience being a bodyguard.

Anyway – yeah, quite often people who work in a capacity where they are out in front of the public eye do attract a lunatic fringe, and do need the services of a body guard . . . but I really have to wonder about Patti Labelle. Yep, that Patti Labelle – who passed through Houston’s airport in March, with no less than three body-guards, a raft of luggage and an even larger raft of self-importance. Apparently, a guy talking on his cell phone in the pick-up area while he waited for a ride from his family, failed to appreciate the splendor and importance of Miss Labelle, or more precisely her luggage. And Miss Labelle’s body-guards’ manner of making sure that such lesser mortals did know their proper place – with regard to the luggage of a super-star – involved leaving him bruised, bloody and with a concussion. Oh, and the airport security officers who came to investigate took the time to pose for pictures with Miss Labelle, knowing they were in the presence of a star, and knowing the properly graceful way to acknowledge celebrity.

The young man with the cell phone and lack of proper appreciation for the presence of a celebrity turns out to be a senior year cadet at West Point. And he has just filed suit – story here, from the Houston Chronicle. And just for fun – the airport security cameras caught the whole beatdown and aftermath.

22. May 2011 · Comments Off on May Monday Morning Miscellany · Categories: Ain't That America?, Devil Dogs, General, Good God, History, Israel & Palestine, Politics, Rant, World

Paid work is piling up, and neither myself, my creditors or my employers were raptured on Saturday, so . . . hey, buckle down to it and provide that good bloggy ice cream. Top o’ Sgt. Mom’s list of stuff to blog about – the discovery that the Pima County Sheriffs department is about as good at doing no-knock SWAT raids on ordinary citizens as they are when it comes to protecting local politicians doing a meet’n’greet with constituents from an obvious and frequently offending nutcase like Jared Loughner. Which is to say – not very good at all, which accounts for the stonewalling from Sheriff Dupnik’s department. SWAT . . . I’ve always been told it was an acronym for Special Weapons And Tactics. It this case “Special” is more like “Special Ed.” The fact that all this went down early in May and two weeks later, there is nothing much about what the SWAT team was after, or found in the Guerena house only reinforces my suspicion that they had the wrong damn address. It’s not the crime, Sheriff Dupnik – it’s the cover-up.

On a cheerier note, the gourmet foodie suppliers Harry and David are encouraging customers to donate quantities of their Moose Munch chocolate bars to the troops – more here. Note that if you go to the linked Facebook page, they will provide another Moose Munch bar for every ‘favoriting’ of that page. I like Harry and David, by the way. Their fruit basket assortments are to die for.

In a satirical response to President Obama’s speech demanding that Israel return to its’ 1967 borders – Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that the United States return to it’s 1847 borders. The sarcasm, it burns. Finally, courtesy of Weasel Zippers – pictorial comparison of the commando and the hipster – comment is superfluous.

11. March 2011 · Comments Off on Shaker of Worlds · Categories: Air Force, General, Good God, Memoir, Military

I was stationed for four years at Misawa AB, in the very north of Japan, from early 1977 until the very end of 1980. It’s a very rural part of Japan, relatively speaking; very cold in the winter. Misawa was a pretty smallish city, as Japan goes, about seven or eight miles from the coast; the countryside around is as flat as a pancake, and not terribly far above sea-level. There was a nice little mountain range to the north, within a short drive; very scenically wooded. Up to the mountains to see Lake Towada, over the mountains to Mutsu Bay; it was a very pleasant place to spend four years: Misawa’s mission then was as a security service base; a support system for a huge monitoring complex called the Elephant Cage, or just “the Hill.” Which was maybe thirty feet above sea level, which was enough to constitute a considerable height in that part of Japan.

The next big city to the south of Misawa City though – that would be Hachinohe; which was known for a peculiar style of carved and painted wooden horse sculpture. In the late 19th century and into the 20th, Hachinohe was horse-country, and the original Imperial Army establishment at Misawa had been a cavalry post. The next big city to the south after Hachinohe is Sendai – closest to the epicenter of the latest earthquake. It looks from the news headlines that a whole train full of passengers is now missing, from near Sendai. I visited Hachinohe once, maybe Sendai, too. Coming back from leave Stateside, I traveled by train from Tokyo to Misawa, coming home from leave, so I must have passed through there at least once.

There were constant small earthquakes, all during my time there; most usually just a small rattle and shake, rather like being inside a small frame building with a heavy truck rumbling past outside. In fact, sometimes it was hard to tell of it was an earthquake, or a heavy truck, the physical sensation was so similar. If we hadn’t heard a truck, then it was an earthquake. Slightly more emphatic earthquakes shifted furniture, sometimes . . . and at the old AFRTS radio/TV station where I worked, our usual indicator that it was a serious shake would be rolls of teletype paper falling off the shelves of the tall metal bookshelves where they were stored. If the paper rolls began toppling from the shelves, it was time to vacate the building. Which isn’t the recommended practice, generally – but in this particular case, there was an extenuating circumstance. That would be that the base water-tower sat about 100 feet away from the station, a creaky wooden water-tower standing on spindly 90 foot tall wooden supports. If there was ever a shake hard enough to collapse those spindly frame supports, there were good odds that however-many gallons of water in that tower would pour onto a rattle-trap frame building stuffed full of powered-up electronic equipment. So – mad dash by all staff, when stuff started rocking hard enough to fall from shelves.

Being from California, and having been through some small quakes and the big Sylmar shake in 1971 – I could be fairly blasé about the whole Pacific Rim of Fire/seismically active thing. Many of the other members of the unit weren’t – not at first. But with little ones, all the time – they’d get pretty blasé after a couple of months. But every once in a while, there would be much bigger one, which would grab everyone’s attention; once it was a pair of tremors on a Tuesday evening, almost exactly an hour apart; that was a quake which collapsed a department store in Hachinohe, or Sendai. Another time, a girl was briefly trapped in her barracks room, because her dresser slid across and blocked the door. Another shock caught one barracks resident in the middle of a shower; she shot straight out of the bathroom, down the corridor and out of the building, stark naked.

The one thing that struck me about the big quakes was that there really was a noise to them; an absolutely horrific noise. The one thing that I can easily compare it to is to imagine standing on the platform of a railway station, when a long fast train roars straight through the station without stopping. That’s what it sounds like – a long, rumbling and roaring sound; of course, part of this noise is the sound of things falling. In the Sylmar quake, I remember hearing the sounds of the sash-springs in the window-frames rattling like mad. And unlike all those movies of earthquakes – people don’t run and scream much. Most usually, they are getting underneath something, and trying to make themselves small, maybe shouting to someone in the same room or in the same building to do the same – but no running and screaming like a banshee.

This quake off the coast of Japan was several times the magnitude, and the pictures and video emerging are horrific. 8.8 on the Richter scale is something almost impossible to imagine – and to be compounded by tsunamis sweeping in from the sea, and the debris catching on fire – that just adds to the horror.

02. October 2009 · Comments Off on Droit de Seigneur · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Good God, Media Matters Not, Rant, That's Entertainment!

According to the invaluable but frequently erratic Wikipedia, that translates to “the lord’s right” – that is, the right of a noble lord to be the first to bed any or all of the local girls, willing or not, who caught his lordly eye. Further, Wikipedia states that although there is not much credible evidence to suggest this legal right ever existed or was practiced in Western Europe, the phrase has been used ever since, as a convenient short-hand, in reference to all those rights that a noble lord exercised over the tenantry – especially those rights and privileges which infuriated those they were exercised upon. The rights of the lord with regard to the lesser orders variously infuriated, insulted, demeaned, degraded, or at the very least inconvenienced the sturdy peasantry. And there is, I think, something of a race-memory of this in middle- or working-class Americans, for they don’t much like it when someone attempts to claim a lordly privilege. Nothing is more calculated to earn a snappy comeback from a hard working American prole with nothing to loose, then someone in a high dudgeon demanding “Don’t you know who I am?!” There are whole sub-categories of stories of independent mechanics and plumbers who reply, “Yeah, the guy who ain’t gonna get his Hummer back until next Wednesday,” or “Yeah, the a-hole who’d better call another plumber!” The original of this tale involved the English investor, visiting an American cattle ranch, in the far West, circa 1880, and accosted one of the ranch-hands, saying, “Where is your master?” and the hand replying (doubtless with a spit into the weeds and something of a John Wayne snarl) “The S-O-B ain’t been born, yet!”

So, no – traditionally claiming special privilege on account of exalted wealth or blood never went down very well over on this side of the pond, although there is an element in American society that does tend to go all wobbly-kneed when it comes to Euro-royalty. Or royalty of any sort; just look at the covers of the magazines on the rack by the supermarket check-out station. But an over-developed interest in aristocracy of the old, or the new-made kind ought not to be confused with any eagerness to allow law to be set aside for the convenience of a member in good standing of the aristocracy – as the usual Hollywood crowd is discovering to their horror in the wake of the Polonski business. I’d have called it l’affaire Polonski, but that doesn’t quite translate the sense that it wasn’t an affair, in the sexual sense. It was plain old rape (and drugging, and unconsenting sodomy) of a minor, for which the perpetrator bargained down to a lesser charge, was found guilty and skipped the country. And nope, I don’t give a rodent’s patoot that it was upty-odd- decades ago, that he’s a really sooooper-talented, and all his nice Hollywood friends with their faultless moral compasses and quasi-aristocratic assumptions are rallying around, demanding that he is a very, very special person, and entitled to clemency. Nope – that will not do. It wouldn’t do if it had been the plumber Ronnie Polonski, or the Father Polonski the Catholic priest – in fact, I think – no, scratch that; I know the reaction of the Hollywood set would have been much different, in those cases.

I think most of us have assumed for years that Hollywood was a weird, and insulated little world, all to itself, and now we see how very, very easily they assumed the trappings of privilege, and a sense of how the laws that apply to everyone else, somehow, magically do not apply to them, and their very special, talented friends. And now we see, exactly, what they would justify and excuse, and explain away. Frankly, I find it pretty sick-making. Even more sick-making, is the list of actors, directors, and other illuminati who have come out in support of their good buddy, the child-rapist. From what little I might know of some of them, I had expected a little better. Especially Whoopi Goldberg, whom I used to think funny…

Well, then – there’s another ten of fifteen entries on my private movie boycott list, some of them with movies that I still would watch. But not now, not after this sick little exercise in droit de seigneur. Really, are these people trying to make everyone in the whole damned country not watch their movies?

29. August 2009 · Comments Off on Talking about the C-C-Camelot Generation · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Good God, History, Politics

The title of this post really should read “Talkin’ ’bout the C-C-Camelot Generation” but unusual punctuation in the title freaks out the whole entry, and prevents anyone posting comments.

No – for whatever reason, I was never much enamored of the Kennedy clan, all their works and all their ways, even during the so-called Golden Age of Camelot. Blame it on Mom and Dad, who were moderate Republicans at the time, and politically aware, if not particularly active. Blame it on the fact that we weren’t big TV-watchers, in any sense of the word, blame it on the fact that generally we were resistant to going along with the flow: no, we were never spectacularly non-conformist, we just dug in our heels whenever everyone else seemed to be urging us to go along with the flow. In the words of Granny Jessie, “Would you be jumping off a cliff, if everyone else were doing it?”

Whatever the appeal of Camelot was, perhaps we just had a sense that it was glamour, in the old sense of the word, of a fair appearance created by a magic spell, of something shimmering and marvelous in appearance, cast over an unappealing, and even ugly reality, something tinsel and fake, manufactured by experts to beguile the susceptible. And so it eventually turned out to be, as the spell faded and more and more of the ugliness began to show. The Kennedys were, in the words of P.J. O’Rourke, just a rich, bad, arrogant family who thought the world would be a much better place if only they were in charge – and they ought to be in charge, of course, because they were so handsome, rich and clever. But overweening pride – or hubris, as the ancient Greeks used to call it – leads the proud to their own downfall, and so we have been watching the Kennedy drama unfold for the last forty years or so. Sophocles couldn’t have done any better, although I think only one of those spectacularly overwrought and multi-generational telenovelas could have done the Kennedy saga true justice, in every twist and turn – of trials, divorces, and sudden deaths, dizzying ascents, and the sudden hand of tragedy sweeping the chessboard, of lackeys and lick-spittle toadies, death in war, in accidents and by assassin, sex and drunkenness, dirty political deals and corruption, of unspeakable heartbreak and infidelity, of behaving like a drunken lecherous boor in public or in semi-public, and yet being able to a compliant press draw a nice tidy veil over it. It is the stuff of soap operas, to have a have a daughter with emotional or developmental problems lobotomized and ‘disappeared’ for decades, to have cavorted with movie stars, relatives by marriage, and campaign volunteers, flirted with Nazis in the days when it was (barely) politically possible to do business with Herr Hitler, to have contributed to organizations underwriting terrorism in Northern Ireland, and to walk away from an auto-wreck leaving another human being to drown.

This weekend, the regular media are full of elegies for Camelot, and the last and least of the sons of Old Joe Kennedy, who groomed them all with brutal energy to assume the highest offices in the land, but never got farther than a comfortable berth in the most exclusive gentleman’s club in the land. And so the story has come full-circle, the spell of glamour – if not broken – at least in tattered and unconvincing shreds. As hard as the Kennedy machine, and the Kennedy magic could work, they never managed to pull him much farther than that – and one senses the wheels and gears within are about stripped. The generations of Kennedys following after have barely managed to accomplish even that: not even Caroline Kennedy could talk herself into assuming a vacant seat, not after coming off like a ditzy East-coast Valley girl in television interviews. I think my last word on Ted Kennedy would be what I wrote in a comment at Chicagoboyz last week –

“That’s the failing that people – across the board, politically – can never forgive. Not so much because his initial actions, his drunkenness and stupidity put his car off the road in a relatively shallow body of water – it’s because he panicked, and thought only of himself.
And if he had any scrap of self-awareness, any sense of the obligations that are due from anyone who has a pretense of calling themselves a responsible human being, he wouldn’t have been in the position that he has been, ever since that fatal night.
He must lived the rest of his life knowing that if he had only thought heroically, thought of someone else besides himself, been a sensible, sober and responsible human being – gone to the nearest house and called for help – she might have been rescued in time. He might have been able to live down the temporary embarrassment, had a heck of a lot to explain the next morning but … He was a Kennedy, and one of those-so-called charismatic Kennedy-generation Kennedys, after all, of whom much is expected and a lot forgiven – but no. He thought first, foremost and always of himself, drunk and sober.
What we want, I think, of our politicians, is that they at least make a good pretense of thinking of the better good, and of making a more convincing show of caring abut of the people they make a great show of pretending to care about. Ted Kennedy couldn’t even be bothered, in that particular instance and that particular crisis, and so the very nakedness of that ‘don’t care-think-of-myself’ resonates after all this time.
His older brother, for all you might say about him politically – swam a good distance in a South Sea ocean, towing an injured crewman from his PT boat, after the same was sunk in a collision with a Japanese warship. JFK didn’t leave a friend/crewmate/acquaintance behind. And Teddy did. And had to bear that knowledge for all time.
No wonder he turned into a drunk – if he hadn’t already been one before.”