Monday, July 16, 2007

Via Blackfive comes the news that "Wild Bill" Guarnere is gravely ill.

Guarnere was a member of the storied "Easy Company" made famous by Stephen Ambrose's book cum movie "Band of Brothers". He was noted for his fearlessness on the battlefield and eventually lost a leg while rescuing a comrade under fire.

The Grim Reaper can only be dodged for so long, and Guarnere, like all members of our greatest generation, is advanced in years to say the least. But I'm hoping the best for him. Maybe just one more time where he can tell the young guys what it was like, or one more chance to ruffle the hair of his great-grandchildren.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Barack Obama thing leaves me puzzled. "Time" magazine, one of the biggest rags ever published, wants him elected so badly that they've abandoned all pretense of objectivity. I mean, they don't even try and pretend to be objective or non-partisan. Time Magazine wants Obama elected, period.

As I've already noted, his platform leaves a lot to be filled in. At this point it's basically "I'm black, I'm good looking, I'm black, I have a nice smile and I'm black". He also advocates an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, which is naive in the extreme. Yep--let's abandon Iraq so it can turn into the sort of lawless vacuum that Afghanistan was. A magnet for Islamic extremism. That's not an option.

And, as I noted in an email to a friend the other day, I will not ever vote for someone who refers to himself/herself as an "African-American". Just a note--African isn't a nationality. Africa is a continent. But anyway...If Obama wants to refer to himself as an American who happens to be black, then fine with me. But if you have to put "African" in front of "American", there is no way in hell that you are getting my vote. Period. Same goes for any other appellation, not just "African".

I'd vote for Condaleeza Rice. I probably wouldn't vote for Colin Powell as he's a bit liberal for me, but I find him more palatable than some of the current candidates.

Now here I am, a white male cracker, and I'm smashing three preconceptions at once: I'd vote for someone who is black, a woman, and good looking (bear in mind the myth that you have to be severe looking to be taken seriously as a woman). But I will never vote for anyone who hyphenates his/her nationality.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Oh, fer chrissake. The Democrats are all just outraged that Bush commuted "Scooter" Libby's jail sentence. He didn't pardon him--the conviction stands--he simply commuted the jail time.

In the first place, the conviction was a farce. A lynching. Libby said he forgot. You can't prove a negative. You can't prove he didn't forget. Hell, the Clintons spent eight freaking years saying "I don't recall". Worked for them. Secondly, and this wasn't even part of the case, but Valery Plame wasn't "outed". She is not/was not a covert operative, ergo she can't be "outed" any more than the director can.

Sandy Berger walked out of the National Archives with classified documents stuck in his socks and got slapped on the wrist with a misdemeanor charge. Misdemeanor??? The man (I use that word loosely) knowingly walked out with classified documents pertaining to the security of our country stuffed in his socks and the best they could do was misdemeanor charges. He should be in a cell with some guy nicknamed "Tripod".

Teddy Kennedy killed a woman and didn't even bother to report it until the next day. His punishment was to be reelected in perpetuity and to become vested in the most insanely lucrative pension system on the planet.

Nancy Pelosi, the little rich girl, has decided that she belongs in international politics despite the fact that anyone who has taken Civics 101 knows that the House of Representatives is charged with domestic affairs, period. It's that pesky three branches of government thing. It's funny to hear the Dems whine about Bush violating the Constitution when they have no grasp of it themselves. Not that Pelosi has any great examples to follow: Her father and brother were politicians and mayors of Baltimore City and operated in the grand old Tammany Hall style. Her father kept a ledger of every favor anyone had ever done for him, and when somebody asked him for help cleaning up a neighborhood, etc., he consulted the ledger to see if that person had ever done anything for him. Screw civic duty--what have you done for me?

Harry Reid...Don't know much about him except that he has never read the Constitution and fancies himself some sort of dragon slayer. He has a web site called something like "Giveemhellharry" or some such. Never been there. My understanding is that it's purely dedicated to undermining Bush. Hey, Harry, if being a Senator is such an important, all-consuming job, where are you finding the time to publish a self-serving web site?

I gather Jesse Jackson is also perturbed over the commutation of the sentence. This is the guy who has made millions of dollars playing the race card, who got his sons a lucrative beer distributorship by--what else--playing the race card and got his secretary knocked up while calling himself "reverend".

Al Sharpton is also outraged. He's the guy who represented Tawana Brawley while she made up complete lies (and he knew it) about being assaulted by white men, including a state's attorney.

Sheez. Everyone's just outraged. Liars, murderers, charlatans, racists--all self-serving--but they're just outraged that a guy isn't going to go to jail for a crime he never committed.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Some 231 years ago, a group of men gathered together and wrote out a treatise explaining why the English colonies in the continent known as America should become a single, antonymous entity. That treatise is now known as our Declaration of Independence.

There's a school of thought that holds that the movement for independence wasn't necessarily a popular movement. Most people were happy to go on farming the new continent and otherwise making a living in this new place. A group of firebrands in Boston got together and got the movement going. The English government contributed by mishandling things and seeing the colonies as simply a source of revenue--the firebrands were able to parlay that into a source of grievance. As tensions escalated, the English government responded by sending more troops and demanding that colonists vacate their houses in order to allow troops to barrack in them. Eventually a snowball fight escalated and an escaped slave named Crispus Attucks became the first "American" to die in what became the Revolutionary War. The British response to the snowball fight became known as the "Boston Massacre" and claimed several other lives as well. It's fitting that it began with a snowball fight, because it snowballed after that. The already inflamed colonists, who had begun preparing militia in a desire for autonomy and had already done things like throwing tea in harbors to protest taxation from a government they increasingly felt disconnected from, responded by bonding together and marching as an army against their own country. The first British troops died at Concord Bridge.

Eventually, we won a war of attrition. The colonists fought against the most professional army in the world, but they adopted the tactics of hiding, ambushing and even sniping--things that were anathema to a professional European army. The colonists had nearly nothing in terms of pay or logistics and they endured a hellish winter-over, but they persevered. Some because of ideology, maybe some because they didn't have anything else to do. In the end, the English got tired of fighting for some place most English people had never even seen, much less given a rat's a$$ about.

With their new autonomy from England, the colonies banded together. Thirteen at first. Those thirteen newly united colonies became the United States of America.

Happy birthday to the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
Proof that Uncle Jimbo is a better man than I. My anger issues would have boiled over the top at this forum on a day when we look to honor those who have given their lives when the country asked them to and chose instead to make it not only a political event, but a one-sided political event, ignoring the fact that better men than they went to their deaths to give these a$$holes the freedom to express their views.

Why is it that the left--the supposed liberals--are always the ones to shout down, block, steal newsletters from, etc. those whom they think are they evil ones who want to shut down our liberties?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'm glad "Anonymous" stopped by. It's definitely brought back the memories. When I was going through the SFQC I'm sure I thought it wasn't exactly fun and games, but now, 26 years later, I remember the good times and the quirky things as fun.

Anonymous on C-rations:

they used to flip the cases upside-down so we wouldn't fight for the "good" ones. It didn't take me long to figure out how to tell what was what from the bottom - I liked the ones with fruit.

They did the same thing with us--flip the cases upside down so you didn't know which ration was which. And I, too, went for the ones with fruit. The worst thing to get was a C-Ration with a chocolate nut roll, affectionately known as the "chocolate butt plug". My absolute favorite C-Ration was the shredded turkey, but I could do any of them, even beef with sliced potatoes and gravy (beef with shrapnel) and the notorious ham and egg. And, of course, shredded turkey was the rarest of all C-Rats. But fruit was the real treat. Not only was it better than that butt plug atrocity, but there was juice in the can to drink. Once I was in Group, we often were issued what is called a Long Range Patrol Ration (Lurps). They were pretty big and freeze-dried, whereas C-Rations were canned. The idea was that they were lighter than C-Rats and you could get by on one a day. They were big on carbs. Things like chili with rice, spaghetti, etc. The only problem is that it takes water and heat to soften things like rice and spaghetti. I remember one field problem where fresh water was in very short supply (plenty of salt water, though) and I'd have killed for a canned C-Rat with it's moisture. The other problem was heat. You can't really make fires, even with heat tabs, when you're trying to be sneaky. So we'd put water in them in the morning and shove them in our pants. The theory was that a day of body heat would soften things up, but I never ate a lurp that wasn't still crunchy.

Many other memories as well. Like how they had a habit of waking us up with a scratchy old copy of Sadler's record over the PA.

Man, do I remember the wakeups. Sadler, of course, did The Ballad of the Green Berets. Camp Mackall had quite the sound system back then. Maybe still does. But we woke up to music (and banging trashcan lids) every morning. Sometimes it was a recording of the 82nd Airborne Chorus which started off with a voice shouting out jump commands--"Stand in the door....GO!" We'd line up in the door of our hootch (barracks) and make as though we were getting ready to jump and pile out when the recording shouted Go!.

They used to play quite a bit of music through the sound system. Not just wakeups, but goodbyes. Every time someone quit, they'd play "Another One Bites the Dust". It was a bitter cold winter, even in North Carolina, and when we got dispersed in the woods around the camp for the survival exercise, more than a few guys threw in the hat. And even out in the woods, we could hear the song.

And how brought up air mattresses, but in the world's biggest coincidence, they all were flat after the first night. Wonder how that happened? Those were the days.

I remember that vividly. The hootches at Camp Mackall were basic, to say the least. It's designed to simulate a POW camp. The "beds" were simply sheets of plywood. I've often told people that I learned to sleep just about anywhere while in the Army, and that's mostly true. But it's difficult to sleep on a plain old piece of plywood. Periodically a jeep would show up with air mattresses, but they never lived more than a few hours. Maybe something to do with government contracting and lowest bidders. Granted, we were exhausted enough that sleep always came, but sleeping on a flat piece of wood is never exactly fun. Oddly, the worst thing in the morning was dog tags. I'd shove my clothing into my sleeping bag, but didn't want to deal with the dog tags and chain while I rolled around in my sleep, so I hung them on the wall. Each morning I had to take the freezing cold dog tag chain and put it on under my shirt. If the banging trashcan lids didn't wake me up, that sure did.

It's funny about cold and hot. That winter was a record cold winter--a guy I knew washed out of Airborne school in Georgia (yep, Georgia) on Day One due to frostbite. I remember tilting my helmet to try and deflect the wind as I stood in formation. It was that cold, even that far south. And it made life difficult. The sawdust we landed on time after time after time was frozen hard, and it hurt. When I arrived at Camp Mackall in North Carolina there was snow on the ground. Swimming in the aptly named Drowning Creek was a treat, to say the least. Someone remarked that he had to stick his finger up his a$$ and yell "snake" just to make his willy reappear. But on the other hand, it gets sick hot down there and guys spend all day at jump school with sawdust stuck to them and once in a while get to run through showers which cool them off, but just gets them wetter so more sawdust can stick to them. That winter was a tough winter, but I think it was easier than going through jump school and phase one in the summer.

That record winter, by the way, was preceded by a record hot summer. Several guys died while I was in basic training. I remember one time we were in the field and they brought out the post fire department. They lined us up and literally hosed us down with fire hoses. It was wonderful. Drinking water came from Lister bags and water buffaloes. Lister bags are permeable canvas and the idea is that as the water seeps out of the bag it evaporates, carrying of heat with it, thus cooling the bag. Wanna guess how well that works in the humid southeast? And water buffaloes are simply metal vessels that end up heating the water inside them as their dark, camouflage surfaces absorb the heat from the sun.

But I digress. The trip down Memory Lane has been great, though.
One thing some cultures don't "get" about westerners is our respect for life and our desire to continue living. Mark Bowden makes that point in "Blackhawk Down". The Somalis never understood our troops with their helmets and body armor, medics, evacuation of casualties, etc. And I recently read an article that pointed out that the Islamic extremists are of the same mindset. Of course, we don't have a paradise to look forward to that includes 72 women who don't put out...

Anyway, thanks to Blackfive, here's a story about some Iraqis who are grateful for our respect for life.
The memories come flooding back. "Anonymous" found me when he Googled "Honeybun Hill" on a whim.

Honeybun Hill refers to a long steep hill that we used to run up when I was going through the Army Special Forces Qualification Course. We usually got C-Rations, but once in a while got hot breakfasts trucked in from Ft. Bragg (the SFQC is (was?) conducted at Camp Mackall which is separate from Ft. Bragg). If I recall, the breakfasts were scrambled eggs. I could be wrong, but I don't recall pancakes. Pancakes would be difficult to pack into mermite cans, so I might be right about that. Anyway, the hot breakfasts were always accompanied by a packaged honeybun. I, for one, looked forward to them. The hill got its appelation from the fact that more than a few breakfasts got heaved onto it as we finished the the morning run, panting up the hill.

One guy I knew swore that after we got back to Ft. Bragg he drove to the bakery, bought a honeybun and then jumped up and down on it in the parking lot. Don't know. I wasn't there.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Well, I thought I'd turn out to be a Shelby GT500, but I have to admit, the old Barracudas are waaay cool.

What kind of Muscle Car are You? (pics)

1971 Plymouth Barracuda
You have a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda. You love beer. You love your car. It's fast as hell, and thats all that matters! And yes, it's got a hemi.....that's right I said a hemi!
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