I always thought Metallica was the second best metal band at telling a story (second only to Iron Maiden). This video is pretty interesting, and just a tad creepy.
31 July 2008
Old Blue has an excellent post up on The Sandbox about how coming back to the states from Afghanistan has been a malaise-ridden experience. He summarizes society's attitude toward war in our modern era:
The apparent inattention of the American public to the war, the seeming lack of support for the task, even with the apparent support for the individual, is something that requires some getting used to. It was my life for nearly a year and a half, counting the spin-up time and the deployment itself. To find it so trivialized in the daily life here is, for some reason, mildly disturbing.
The "mildly disturbing" feeling seems to be common amongst many in the milblog community, and is likely representative of the larger group of veterans who feel alienated from the mainstream. So much attention gets focused on WWII-era homecoming parades with smooches and victory signs, but it really isn't like that these days. You get into the airport stateside with a stack of paperwork wondering why all these travelers are going about life as normal with a war on. You realize that you have to deal with bullshit like getting the electricity turned back on at your house and figuring out what to do with the registration on your car that expired. Maybe you'll get to do it with your spouse that first night back, but that's only if you're married. Silly little things that life sends your way end up becoming frustrating endeavors. I personally don't believe that people "owe me a homecoming" or coerced kudos, but the fact that life hasn't changed at all in America is psychollogically defeating. A deployment changes the way you view reality. This includes a tolerance for the melancholy of routine, a mild sense of accomplishment, and not getting too worked up about the frivolous things in daily life that our society attaches so much importance to. Things like sitting around in traffic listening to radio commercials, working all week so you can go golfing on the weekend, and looking down awkwardly when people ask you where you have been the last year just don't happen on deployment. It's all such bs. Fortunately, blogging seems to be at an interesting point in time as a very influential cross-culture. At least I can always fill up my free time doing this shit.
The CO and XO of the carrier USS George Washington have been relieved of command (h/t Stupid Shall Be Punished). WTOP reports: The announcement by the Navy came as Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, relieved the carrier's commanding officer, Capt. David C. Dykhoff, and the executive officer of duty, Capt. David M. Dober. Willard said he lost confidence in their ability to command and their failure to meet mission standards after the investigation found that unauthorized smoking by a crew member appeared to have ignited flammable liquids and other combustible material that were improperly stored.
The announcement by the Navy came as Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, relieved the carrier's commanding officer, Capt. David C. Dykhoff, and the executive officer of duty, Capt. David M. Dober.
Willard said he lost confidence in their ability to command and their failure to meet mission standards after the investigation found that unauthorized smoking by a crew member appeared to have ignited flammable liquids and other combustible material that were improperly stored.This was a pretty nasty fire that took 12 hours to put out. Many of the Shipyard workers from round here in Bremerton have been sent to San Diego to fix the ship, with damage estimates at $70M. The fact that it was started by smoking will ensure that there will be new Navy-wide regulations to curb nicotine consumption on ships. While out at sea near Guam, we had a refrigerant leak and couldn't smoke for about 30 hours while underway. It was one of my worst days in the Navy...and that's saying a lot! Here comes the morale crushing effects of the Big Navy in 3...2...
The old adage that Washington DC is "Hollywood for ugly people" certainly holds true after viewing the The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People. Frumpy, no-makeup chicks in pants suits, dudes looking like they just walked out of the frat house, and old stodgy types that look like they had their soul crushed from years of working in our nation's capitol. Damnit, East Coast, get with the program. Don't you know that West Coast females with tattoos, piercings, and fishnets are way better lookin'? Here are two examples of the best DC has got:Botox-injected female Republicans. Can you feel the romance brewing?
Apparently, bowl cuts are moving from a trailer park phenomenon to the upper echelon of DC fashion.
Also, TSO had his feelings hurt because he didn't make the cut this year for DCs most beautiful. If politics is Hollywood for fugly people, then bloggers are like sewer mutants. But I think TSO, would have put all these wonks to shame.
What do you think?
Duff Badgley: Green Party Candidate for WA Governor
- Outlaw Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs) except in counties currently with no public transport
- Divert hundreds of acres under roof at Boeing Co. from airplane production to mass production of solar, wind, wave and tidal power generating equipment
- Establish all WA trees as a ‘common good’ aiding climate, needing permit to kill
Also, a possible campaign ad for the Green Party suggestion box, which could help spread da meme:
30 July 2008
The Forrestal fire, the worst on any of the Navy's carriers, was 41 years ago this day in the Gulf of Tonkin. 134 sailors were killed due to malfunctioning weaponry followed by burning jet fuel, and it is widely viewed as one of the worst accidents in the post-WWII Navy (along with the Thresher). It took 24 hours to put out the blaze, and anyone in the Navy knows how dangerous a fire on a ship is. Coincidentally, John McCain (LCDR McCain at the time) was on the ship at the time (h/t Gateway Pundit for the vid).
Confucius often talked about respecting your elders, and he once said "Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?". Yeah, well...Confucius didn't have to put up with swarming hordes of Rascals at the mall, and ancient drivers, who can barely see over the damn steering wheel, driving 45 in the left lane when you're trying to get to work. These very same people are going to be voting in record numbers according to Politico, and expect more and more of your taxdollars to fund busloads of blue-hairs to clog up nuckel slots at casinos across the country with their social secuirty checks stapled to their head. Despite the fact that the country is at war(x2) on the other side of the world, social security spending still manages to beat out ALL DoD spending, and the presidential candidates are terrified to criticize this sacred cow. Obama wants to raise payroll taxes, and McCain favors personal accounts, but either way, seeing that money during retirement is unlikely after the ravishing mob of baby boomers waste it all on Botox and organic foods.
For all the talk about the Youth Vote this election cycle, it's all a bunch of smoke and mirrors as the AARP has every politician in every political party in their backpocket. Same old bullshit!
We are trained and we practice those things that there is immediate action, the more you debate those things is the more you waste time.
Ahnold proceeded to discuss how he was on the horn with the LA Mayor and Sheriff. That's all well and good, but after successfully defeating the Predator, Dynamo, and the corrupt Martian authorities, you'd think he have a bit more in his arsenal than just making phone calls.
Los Angeles has always been a city waiting to broil over in riotous violence or perhaps just sink into the sea. Which sucks, because it's a really cool city known for its smorgasboard of culture and hot babes. I lived there for 4 years, and it's hard to put into words, but that place is like living in the barrel of a loaded gun, and you don't know what the hell is going to set it off next. Luckily, this quake was just a little tremor.
29 July 2008
My brother clued me in on the bizarre sub-culture of retro arcade gaming by showing me The King of Kong. It's a hilarious documentary about the trials and tribulations of attaining the top Donkey Kong score (obviously, there was nary a chick to act as groupie for these poindexters). There is extensive discussion of how the top scores are recorded. However, the best character was definitely Mr. Awesome, who seems to be the Patton of the bunch, replete with military cum London police officer regalia, sporting a row of ribbons that are unrecognizable.
Apparently, he is a proud patriot with the top Missile Command score as evidenced by this YouTube clip reminiscent of "Triumph of the Will":
But the elitist authorities in the retro-gaming world won't recongnize his top score! Maybe his schtick is a bit too abrasive. After watching the below video, I can't imagine why people wouldn't like the guy:
Usually when you think of MTV, it's all about the crass commodification of culture and stupid teeny boppers getting new BMW SUVs. But IAVA put out an email alert for a show called "Homecoming" , which has rapper Kanye West visiting with Iraq vets suffering from PTSD. The picture above is Tirann Laws, who is having trouble adjusting to normal society in OKC, but isn't running around the woods like Rambo as the press often depicts vets with PTSD. Pretty powerful stuff (I'm watching it right now) that shows a younger audience the face of veterans. Read more at from the NYT here.
So some knut in Knoxville brutally massacred two people at a Unitarian church. Apparently, he did it because he didn't like liberals, the voices in his head told him to, or some combination of both (who knows, he's crazy). The forensic investigation wasn't even completed, when HuffPo already started equating this lunatic with every right-winger in America (h/t Hot Air):
Who really killed those Unitarians? Was it the preachers who spread hatred and intolerance? The politicians who court and flatter them instead of condemning their hate speech? The media machine that attacks liberals, calls them "traitors" and suggests you speak to them "with a baseball bat"? The economic system that batters people like Jim Adkisson until they snap, then tells them their real enemies are gays and liberals and secular humanists? If you ask me, it was all of the above.For a site that sounds the outrage alarm by creating a fictitious narrative of racism in the campaign, they are being a bit hypocritical by utilizing a recent tragedy in their endless quest for political power. So much for that moral authority. Would you compare all liberals to the SLA or FARC? Are all military members like this guy? Obviously not.
From the high school just down the road from me (near the trailer park), comes a story that has become all too commonplace in modern teacher-student relations. The local paper explains:
After apologizing directly to her victim for her “bad judgment,” a former South Kitsap High School teacher was sentenced in Kitsap County Superior Court Tuesday to six months in jail for sexual misconduct with one of her students.
“I should have been the adult,” said Ryann C. Springer to the 17-year-old, who was joined by dozens more students, colleagues and family members of the 25-year-old defendant in the packed courtroom. “This was a very selfish decision I made, and I want you to know that nothing was your fault — it was all my fault.”
While completing her first year teaching in SKHS’s athletic medicine department, Springer was arrested in May after the Port Orchard Police Department learned she had begun a sexual relationship with the student months prior.Hmm... It's understandable that a man would go to the joint for at least 6 months if he boffed a female student. Men are much more likely to conduct sexually assault than women, and the judge is going to take steps to correct this behavior and prevent future occurrences (and rightfully so). But how often do you hear about women sexually assaulting someone? Never...that's how often. That's probably why the victim told the judge these words laden with hilarious innuendo:
Springer’s victim then addressed the court, describing her former teacher as someone with a “huge heart” that “went out of her way to help people and make them feel better."
“She always put her students first, and I looked up to her as a role model,” the teen said through tears. “She was much more than a teacher."Sounds like the student was a "satisfied" customer of the Kitsap county school district, heh heh. Sure, the teacher probably should've been fired and forced out of town...but 6 months?!? That seems a bit harsh.
The Army Captain that penned the email heard round the blogosphere about Obama blowing off the troops in Afghanistan is currently in the shits because he made a bunch of it up to flex his political leanings. The rules for talking agitprop in uniform and on the blogosphere can be found here, but it's pretty much taboo in the officer corps to discuss politics at all. Taco from The Sandgram outranks the Army CPT in question, and has first-hand knowledge of what really happened at Bagram. He sums it up pretty well:
I read the message, thought about it for a minute and then emailed back, “This guy will be in deep “do-do” soon”, and he will have learned the first major rule of this war; anything you email back home will be forwarded to hundreds if not thousands if you have something interesting to say. See, emails have the half life of an Atom, thus, you must have a second set of eyes review what you say, because guess what cyber world…we as military members are not free to say whatever we want.
That's right. The military is a unique organization and the Bill of Rights is null and void. The running joke in the service is that we protect freedom and democracy by use of a totalitarian system bogged down in senseless bureaucracy.
If not engaging in political debauchery on the blogosphere is the standard for the military, I am certainly in the wrong, along with many others. But the Army Times hasn't written an article about me, because I've managed to follow a few simple rules. Some advice to the CPT Porter from the rest of us:
- When writing a hit piece, ensure that it is somewhat believable. Obama is probably not going to blow off the troops with camera crews everywhere. Say something like he thought the Afghans spoke Arabic, which he did once previously.
- If blogging/emailing from a government computer, tell your superiors that you are engaged in a statistical study to gage public opinion on your organization. After hours of goofing off on the internet, say that no one knows about your unit in the public, and that you told the PAO to "Get On It".
- Don't use your freakin' real name and unit when you publish bullshit on teh internets. What are you? New?
28 July 2008
It's frequent commenter Ms. Kiyum's birthday. I have no idea how old she is, because if you ask her, she'll probably drop kick you in the face. She did admit to having the hots for CNN bad-boy, Anderson Cooper (does Mr. K know about this?) and should probably start her own blog because she's hilarious.
25 July 2008
Ambassador Crocker doesn't strike me as a guy prone to bullshit about Mission Accomplished, and last year he famously told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that one word summed up Iraq...fear. So when he recently talked with reporters about how the insurgency was just about done, there is reason for optimism:
"You talk to people (Iraqis), and they just say, `Never again. We almost destroyed ourselves,' " he said in an hour-long interview. "There is almost a kind of embarrassment over it: 'How could we Iraqis do that?' "
His characterization of the state of the insurgency was striking, given its central role in the more than 5-year war and its proven ability to adjust, regroup and recruit. Crocker did not assert that the insurgency was dead, but he came close to casting it as having surrendered the initiative and lost its appeal.Of course this didn't come with a lot of hard work and life lost on the battlefield. Fallujah 2004, Najaf 2004, Tal Afar 2005, Ramadi 2006, Dora 2007, Baqubah 2007, Mosul 2008...the list goes on and on. Never forget.
To my pals in the Air Force, what the hell are you doing?!? ABC News reports that three officers were busted schnoozin' while they had custody of ballistic missile launch codes at the Minot air base in North Dakota. There's very little tolerance in the military when it comes to nukes, and some missiles that accidentally got flown cross-country resulted in the military and civilian heads of the Air Force to get shit canned. The media may try to present an objective viewpoint, but a good rule of thumb for these sort of fuck-ups is if you are reading about it in the news...it's a pretty big boneheaded mistake.
The Politico discusses initiatives within the DoD to improve energy efficiency and the politics associated with a greener military. Apparently M1151 Hummers and Strykers loaded to the gills with armor get rotten gas mileage...go figure! It's certainly not a bad idea to save cash through conservation and alternative energy, but Congressman Israel's (D-NY) proposal seems a bit too hippy for Uncle Sam (foreign oil being the biggest threat to national security in his mind). So Deputy SECDEF England fired a zinger:
Defense Department officials know there is a problem, Israel said, but they also are well aware that it can’t be fixed overnight. Israel once pressed Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England to conduct a national competition for an energy-efficient naval propulsion system. England sent back a picture drawn by schoolchildren in crayon — of a boat with oars.
Heh heh. I wonder if Israel's office is taking ideas for the Air Force:
Here's some more legitamate ideas regarding alternative energy for the USAF from Danger Room that doesn't involve a cat flying an airplane while dropping vegetable bombs.
So Obama gave some big speech in Berlin to giggling German teens and McCain had to explain his surge comments in the cheese aisle like a schmuck. It's not looking too good for McCain...but, the Obama campaign could one-up him further by just playing this karoke version of "We Are The World" with the whole crowd singing along:
Man, that's a good tune. Anyways, since both the Republicans and Democrats can get dull at times, here's the latest from the Libs with a snazzy video on freedom. Alternate viewing can be found from Alice Cooper's Freedom video.
24 July 2008
Being a blogger makes you a shameless narcissist, endlessly questing for more and more traffic and links to compensate for your pathetic existence. Sitemeter provides a way to see how people find your place, and I thought I'd share this Google search that currently leaves LT Nixon Rants as the 4th site on the first page:
"Can You Get Pregnant Through the Ass"
I'm no doctor, but I think...yes? Although, you may be looking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, ladies.
Sen. Obama's toughest issue was probably gonna be Iraq, primarily since he staked a lot of political capital in The Surge failing...and it didn't. Therefore, logic would follow that connecting Obama with Iraq in the media would lead to a dip in his poll numbers, but he actually remains the front-runner. The media has a serious boner for the guy, and they're much more likely to seize on McCain's geezerly gaffes than berate Obama for flopping on issues. Your normally snarky left-leaning bloggers wouldn't dream of spiting the Obama messiah, and the only conclusion one can reach at this point is that Obama has got 4 years of the presidency locked up. Anyone with a remotely conservative ideology on any issue is probably going to get left behind like a prom-night dumpster baby.
It's best to concoct a rule of guidelines if you're not exactly feeling the "Hope and Change", because the paradigm is a-shiftin' and the country is going to be different, and, also, I can't flee the country until my service is up in mid-2009. Of course, I'm a Lib, so I'm perpetually disgruntled anyways.
- Taxes are going to go way up to pay for all Obama's swell federal programs. Plan on establishing an offshore account in the Cayman Islands, or, if you aren't a wealthy CEO, just blow it all on booze n' hookers before the IRS can get their mitts on it.
- The proverbial "Smug" is going to be emananting profusely from liberal cities like Boston, SF, and Denver, since many there believe that the government is the patron saint of all things righteous. Avoid the gaggle of bumper-stickered Volvos by taking a one-year job in Antartica.
- Left-leaning political humor blogs (e.g. The Onion, Wonkette) are going to become really boring as they have no Larry Craig-type Senators to lampoon. Write emails to these websites encouraging them to transform their image into freaky fetish sites.
- Liberals sometimes think that anyone who doesn't subscribe to their ideology is some social miscreant masturbating to pictures of assault rifles. Play up this stereotype by walking around town with a sawed-off shotgun, a "Get the U.S. Out of the U.N." patch, and a trench coat to readily expose yourself.
- Supporting the war against Islamic extremists is more important than any one presidential administration. But Obama should be blamed for everything else wrong in the world including why there aren't more pandas and that stupid cankersore on the left side of your tongue.
- Remember, they say "Suicide is Painless" and it should always be kept on the list of options.
It's official! The last of the 5 additional combat brigades sent to Iraq in 2007 has redeployed says the military. While the additional troops isn't the sole reason for improvements in Iraq, it was crucial in providing stability. The statistics speak for themselves:
- Then:Chlorine car bombs in Fallujah...
- Now:KFC in Fallujah
- Then:Anti-Al Qaeda Sheiks assassinated in Baghdad's Mansour hotel...
- Now:Tourism forum in Baghdad's Mansour hotel
- Then:One of the worst months in U.S Fatalities (126 in May 2007)...
- Now:The least worst month (19 in May 2008)
- Then:Al-Askari Mosque has minarets destroyed by terrorists...
- Now:Mosque being rebuilt
- Then:Moqtada al-Sadr considered a powerful cleric in Iraq with backing of the Mahdi Army...
- Now:Who the fuck is Sadr?
- Then:NY Times Op-Ed that suggestgs things are going well in Iraq is incredibly controversial...
- Now:American media only talks about Iraq if Obama shows up
23 July 2008
So I was watching this Mr. Belvedere opening sequence for reasons that shall remain private, and I thought "Hey, they should put all the stupid crap from the past in one place". Well, lucky for us, they do over at RetroJunk. It was at this site that I found information on Captain N, a Fred Savage PSA, and a crazy Japanese commercial for Gyromite. Pretty cool for those that have a lingering mistrust of current cultural trends.
While reports of Colonel Sanders' delicious chicken in Fallujah and Baghdad trying to woo tourists are certainly positive, let's not forget about potential pitfalls for the young democracy. Long ago (2006), the Iraq Study Group mentioned that the competing ethnic/tribal elements in Kirkuk along with its oil riches could be a potential powder keg. The Iraqis were supposed to settle the issue of how the city would be partitioned at the end of 2007, but the U.N. got the deadline for referendum extended. That deadline is now, and a journalist has been murdered, a judge has almost been assassinated, and the Kurds have walked out of parliament...twice in the last week. The McCain/Obama political jabs are occupying media land, but let's not forget about the important shit.
When Mr. Obama's Goes to Baghdad, you know his true believers in the blogosphere are going to be hemming and hawing about it until the cows come home. Arguments about what has reduced the violence in Iraq have been "refined" to make Obama the patron saint of policy. Check out these stats, teh bloggeRZ are going nuts:Obama's interview with Katie Couric is so damn confusing and contradictory, that it'll be pretty tough for the netroots to save the day for the messiah. Maybe they'll try to sweep it under the rug. And then you've got old man McCain, doing the time warp and hearkening back to the great surge of 2006, when the increase to 20 combat brigades didn't happen until June 2007. The gaffemeister strikes again. And you wonder why so many Americans hate politics.
Anyhoo, here's a guy on NPR who knew a lot about Counter-Insurgency before it was cool (h/t to Matel in Iraq for this breath of fresh air). According to him, the reduction of the U.S. military presence and the strengthening of the Iraqi government is a good thing. What a novel idear!
22 July 2008
Iraq has seen a resurgence in media coverage as Sen. Obama has dropped into Baghdad for situational awareness. I actually think dog and pony shows like this are a beneficial matter for diplomacy, since it highlights America's commitment to our allies, shows the Iraqis that our leadership hasn't forgotten about them, and helps establish long-term relationships (our beloved founding fathers were big on this). But Obama totally bricks on a Nightline interview, according to AllahPundit, and it shows that his visit was just some lame campaign stop:
Can this election get any more stupid? HuffPo had a total stroke-piece about Obama saying he embodies everything great about America and the rest of the world would be jizzing in their pants at the thought of Obama coming to their humble nations. But if Obama is the cumulative sum of the American people, I'd have to be a little concerned.
Q: If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you support the surge?
A: No, because, keep in mind that…
Q: You wouldn’t?
A: Keep in mind… These kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult. Hindsight is 20/20. But I think that, what I’m absolutely convinced of, is that at that time we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with.
I don't wanna be a dick and get mad at the American public who paid for the clothes on my back, the computer I'm typing on, and my inevitable alcohol-related liver failure that will have to be paid for with your tax dollars after living the Navy life...but yeah...I'm gonna be an asshole (and believe me I'm not speaking from the ivory tower of intellectual thought here). The American people have been wrong on damn near everything with Iraq.
- An overwhelming majority of Americans supported the initial invasion to find WMDs that weren't there
- An overwhelming majority of Americans thought The Surge was having "No Impact" last year
- Populist blogger Kos sez that "The American people want out. They don't care that some general wants to keep our troops in." But this statement is incredibly vague, and the "general" he is refferring to is actually a 4-star Admiral
- The ignorance from the public on Iraq in even the most cursory facts (such as casualty figures) is both embarrassing and terrifying in a time of war.
Put away the Pilates ball, lady, and stop going to the gym, you health-obsessed meathead loser. Turns out the key to our healthcare crisis is for people to smoke 2 cartons of Chesterfields a week, be unashamed lardasses, and eat at Jack in the Box as much as possible (the drive thru is 24/7 for a reason). The logic is that people who kick the bucket early cost society less money in the long run. From the Seattle Times:
Let's put it bluntly: Longer lives cost more money. Those who make it to 90 thanks to exercise and six daily servings of vegetables are more likely to suffer the expensive ravages of old age. Everyone dies of something. So he who avoids a fatal heart attack at 70 is more at risk of cancer at 80. Those extra 10 years can mean extra CT scans, hip replacements and physical therapy, even for those in relative good health.
So next time some fat fuck's rolls of cellulite are drooping into your personal space on an airplane, give him or her a high five! Next time your aunt is sucking down a Virginia Slim through a trach-hole, tell her to keep up the good work! Unless you social engineering types want to implement some Logan's Run style scenario, I suggest everyone take up some unhealthy habits.
The Dutch (lightyears ahead of us puritan pukes in the states on progressive issues), have already started a "One and Universal Smokers of God" church to help us reach enlightenment. As late-great GG Allin said: Live Fast, Die Fast.
Sorry about the hiatus. I was attending the funeral for my Grandfather and Grandmother at Arlington National Cemetery (they passed away within three weeks of each other). My gramps was a Silver Star and Purple Heart (x4) recipient during WWII, and the service provided by the civilian and military staff on the hallowed ground was truly amazing. My Father asked me to publish the eulogy, and it's an excellent testament to their life. Check it out:
June 10, 1945
Oriong Pass, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
The 2d Battalion, 145th Infantry was given the mission of passing through the 3d Battalion in order to force the entrance to Oriong Pass, Luzon, Philippine Islands, which was strongly defended by a reinforced battalion of enemy. Company E, 145th Infantry, was given the mission of advancing along Highway Number 5 to secure a bridge which was dominated on either side by towering hills. As the company approached the bridge, the leading elements were met with a hail of rifle and machine gun fire. A minimum of five heavy and light machine guns, emplaced on the high ground to both flanks, were sited with deadly accuracy on the 75 yard stretch of road leading to the bridge. The company continued to advance until two squads of the leading platoon had worked across the bridge. At this time, the entire fire power of the defending enemy force was placed on the leading platoon and supporting elements of Company E. By 1430, five men had been seriously wounded or killed in the fight and the position of the squads across the bridge had become critical.
Captain R.A., Company Commander of Company E, went rapidly forward along the road shoulder toward the bridge to extricate the leading platoon from its precarious position. The enemy, from his excellent points of observation on both flanks, noted the activity and immediately interdicted the road with knee mortar, machine gun and rifle fire. Captain R.A., without hesitation, advanced to the point where his leading platoon was receiving a deadly rain of fire. Upon arriving he made a visual reconnaissance to determine the locations and strength of the enemy, and in order to gain better observation walked to the center of the road, at his full height. An enemy rifleman on the other side of the bridge directed his fire on Captain R.A., seriously wounding him through the throat and face. Bleeding copiously, he staggered a few yards and collapsed on the road 50 yards from the bridge. While lying in the road, the Captain continued to search the area ahead in order to direct the fire of his men.
As the fire fight increased in intensity, Major Stephen L. Garay, Regimental Operations Officer, left the forward Regimental Command Post, and advanced a distance of two hundred yards. Oblivious to the rifle and machine gun fire concentrated on the road, Major Garay rushed to Captain R.A.’s side and by his cool presence of mind, undoubtedly saved his life. The position of the wound prohibited the use of a tourniquet, so Major Garay, in a matter of seconds, applied a Carlisle bandage and succeeded in stemming the heavy flow of blood, until the Company aid man, Technician Fifth Grade Jesse D. Womack, came forward.
While they applied compressions, Captain R.A. passed onto the Major all the information that his reconnaissance had netted, together with his suggestions as to advisable counter-action to be taken. Major Garay and Corporal Womack then procured a stretcher and evacuated the wounded officer. The road was still under small arms fire and the problem of evacuation presented extreme difficulty. The litter was carried a distance of 125 yards to a defiladed position where plasma was administered.
Captain R.A.’s willingness to expose himself to the observation and bitter fire of the enemy and his persistence and devotion to duty in spite of a dangerous and painful wound made the subsequent withdrawal of his company possible without further casualties. Had it not been for Major Garay’s prompt action at the critical moment when Captain R.A. lay in the road on the verge of death, it is entirely probable that the wounded officer would have bled to death.
Captain R.A., 23 years old at the time, and Major Garay were each awarded the Silver Medal. I was quoting from the recommendation letters written to the commanding general of the 37th infantry division in September 1945.
There are many lessons to be learned here. You probably heard these at high school commencements, but I think since you all knew R.A., it gives these lessons additional context and depth.
Clearly we see the incredible level of courage, of persistence, of duty, of risk taking and of shared sacrifice. These are self-evident.
I want to also talk about 2 lessons, that aren’t quite as obvious.
One is the thin line between success and failure. If the bullet that went through his neck had been 1 cm farther over, a mere centimeter, it could easily have severed a major blood vessel.
If that had happened, even the heroic efforts of Major Garay would have been for naught. Bill and Emily wouldn’t be at this memorial today. And for Meryl, David, me, and the grandchildren – we wouldn’t be here, at all.
But we are here in Washington D.C., next to Arlington National Cemetery. And who knows how many other men, children, grandchildren and great-grand children are alive today because of the actions on a remote jungle road in the South Pacific on that hot and steamy day in June, 63 years ago.
Another lesson needs to be viewed in the broader context of R.A.’s life. As you know, after having enlisted in the army on December 8, 1941, he finally made it home to Dearborn in 1945. He married E.B.. He went to work at Ford, or “Ford’s,” as it was called in our house. He became an executive there. He worked with a lot of storied people in the auto industry, like the legendary “whiz kids,” one of whom was Robert McNamara. He had a heart attack there in 1972, when he was younger than I am today, and he went to work the next day. He didn’t even know it was a heart attack until months later when he finally went to a doctor. He spent 37 years at Ford. The last 8 years he worked for Ford were in, of all places, Japan. At the time, Lee Iacocca, a name you may have heard, called R.A. into his office to discuss this potential overseas assignment. Knowing R.A.’s war record, he asked R.A. if going to Japan to build a Far East supply base for Ford is something he would do. And this is where I see the lessons of professionalism, magnanimity, and perhaps even forgiveness. Japan, the bitter enemy that he helped defeat, became our parents’ home for 8 years. He helped source billions of dollars of components from there, and so, in his own way helped to rebuild Japan into what is today one of our strongest allies.
Let’s turn to E.B., because there are some great lessons here too. As you know, R.A. was a really smart guy, with 2 degrees from the University of Michigan. I think he was academically ranked third or so in his high school class at Dearborn Fordson. But I know who ranked higher than him – that was E.B..
Both E.B. and R.A. grew up in Dearborn. Their parents, my grandparents were from the “old country.” E.B.’s parents had immigrated from the Ukraine and R.A.’s parents from Italy, both around 1912. So, E.B. and R.A. both grew up with immigrant parents with next to nothing during the Great Depression. E.B. worked her way through what is now Henry Ford Community College and Wayne State University, taking the street car to get to school. She became an elementary school teacher during the war years.
After the war they got married. And they stay married for 62 years, R.A. preceding E.B. in death by a mere three weeks.
E.B. was very bright with a very strong personality and probably could have done a lot of things on her own, but she chose the role of wife, stay-at-home mom and caregiver to the family. I know when I was 11 years old and broke my arm, it was E.B. who calmly took me to the hospital. When R.A. showed up and saw my twisted arm, it put him in a state of near panic.
So what are some of the lessons from E.B.’s life? There is the lesson of self-sacrifice for the sake of R.A.’s career and the family. There’s the lesson of being a team player. A boss once told me that a great team player is a person who plays their position really well. “The Team” – R.A. and E.B. made a great pair. R.A.: Loud and enthusiastic, but with no sense of direction, always over-indulging in food, and at many times oblivious to whatever might be going on around him. E.B.: Calm, dutiful, dignified, keeping all four wheels on the cart, and keeping the cart heading down the road in the right direction. I even grow nostalgic for their bickering, every jab of her “Hartwell humor,” parried with his “Chase Road wit.”
As they approached their mid-80’s, the last few years became more and more difficult. There were numerous trips to Beaumont Hospital and both of them proved resilient through numerous medical problems: R.A. had two major open heart surgeries, cancer and diabetes. E.B. had cancer surgery and a blood ailment, which I’m not sure the doctors ever quite figured out, but it left her weak and jaundiced much of the time. About 3 years ago, as R.A.’s mental faculties started to wane and he became unable to get around without someone pushing him in a wheel chair, we finally moved him to a nursing facility just up the road from their home. E.B. would visit him every day. Finally, E.B. couldn’t make the trips unassisted herself. So the daily trips slowed to once a week when someone could take her. Still she persisted and remained resolute. On a quiet Sunday afternoon last month, R.A. peacefully passed in his sleep. We had a wonderful reunion at the visitation. Many people were there who I had not seen in years from the days in Spain and Japan, many friends, many of the old warriors from Ford purchasing. It was especially nice for E.B., because she got to visit with all these people, what turned out to be, one last time.
E.B. also passed away, just three weeks after R.A. I feel fortunate that Emily and I were with her at the end. Why she died so soon after R.A., I don’t know. Whether it was her own failing health, the stress of R.A.’s passing, or just missing R.A., I don’t know. I’ll always believe it was the last.
And so tomorrow, we will bury them together in the consecrated ground at Arlington National Cemetery. We’ll miss them both. Thank you.
When World War II came to a close, Captain R.A. had been awarded the following medals for service to his country:
Purple Heart with 3 Clusters
Bronze Star with 2 Clusters
Silver StarThe Distinguished Unit Citation
Here's some pics to provide context:
The Greatest Generation indeed! Where admirable and iconic lives are commonplace.
17 July 2008
Sorry, I have to wake up early and go to the airport, and I promise to be back with photographic proof that I wasn't at a brothel. Here's your link for the day at Something Awful:
Nintendo Power: The Lost Pages
It might be a bit esoteric in that you have to be between the age of 25-35 to catch the humor here, but good for a chuckle.
16 July 2008
Like Republican Pod People seeking to dominate American society, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam advocate tax benefits for married couples who haphazardly breed as a method of wooing working-class voters in their new book "Grand New Party". Ross Douthat is one of those Atlantic smart-kid types, and Reihan Salam had the gall to badmouth the classic movie Fletch (not winning a lot of friends over on this end). Anyways, Kerry Howley offers her impressions of the book seeking a new GOP paradigm at TPM:
Privileging one, dominant idea of the family comes with costs that R&R never really grapple with in their breezy book, and those costs fall almost exclusively on one gender. Through the tax code, R&R wish to change the relative prices of women's options, rendering childlessness more costly and early motherhood less so. They want the federal government to stake a position on the proper role of women, and that role involves a heterosexual marriage with children. While conceding that this is politically infeasible at the moment, R&R write that "we should be willing to stigmatize illegitimacy by tying a tax relief to responsible parenting." (Responsible parenting=parenting by legally married couples.) This is a policy that punishes poor women unable to find marriageable men, gay and lesbian partners unable to access legal marriage, and any other number of people who are responding rationally to their environment, doing the best they know how for the kids they have.
Please allow me to be more blunt. Children already get help from Uncle Sucker, as property taxes pay for the schooling of these filthy, little urchins. Now this "modern conservative" wants to reward "responsible" parenting with tax benefits, which would imply that the federal government should set some kind of "societal standard" about what a proper parent is. This represents the lack of respect for a constitutionally-limited republic, and shows a willingness by the new political zeitgeist to buy off votes from the public troff. Totally shameless seems to be the new norm.
The unintended consequences of government-intervention in this regard range from the average joe's taxes going up to some Brave New World type scenario to breed beneficial voting patterns for whoever is in charge. Douthat and Salam seek to capitalize on cultural conservatives values with the promise of the government cheese, but they oughta know that the best things about the American government is a constitution to keeps the King of England out of your face, laws providing for natural rights of our citizens , and strong military/law enforcement institutions to keep enemies/criminals from destroying society. Everything else is just politicians trying to rip you off.
Since the way military medicine and the VA handle PTSD after Iraq/Afghanistan deployments has become a political football, I thought I'd provide a frank account of the required post-deployment psych screening I had to get today at medical.
- Weight/Temp/Blood Pressure? For some reason, whenever you walk into a Navy medical center (even if to just use the head) they feel the need to weigh you, jam a thermometer down your throat, and take your blood pressure. What this is supposed to determine about my psychology, I'm not sure.
- Doctor Also a LT: There's a certain casual atmosphere whenever you talk to someone of the same rank in the Navy. The Doctor was also an O-3, so the jokes were free flowing and your experience may differ depending on your rank...
- Dead Bodies? The headshrinkers are very interested if you've been around dead bodies or seen people killed. This would obviously contribute to PTSD-like symptoms.
- Nightmares: I would be lying if I said I had no nightmares, often where I'm running away from explosions, but I can only run really slow. The Doc was interested in these nightmares, and I told him they were becoming less frequent. We then moved onto the next subject.
- Explosions: An inherent survival tactic in the Sandbox is being able to judge the distance and severity of an explosion or a "thud". This instinct doesn't just turn off when you're back in the real world. Often a slam of the door makes my heart knot up and raises my heartbeat for a couple of seconds. The Doc was pretty interested in this, but I told him it was going away...so we were onto the next subject.
- Depression: The Doc asked me straight up if I was a sad sack. I guess that's one way of diagnosing PTSD.
Sahwa Checkpoint in Karrada, Baghdad (photo from Botti)
Obama's statement about The Surge on his website has been disappeared like a Stalin-era political adviser, and Gateway Pundit has the scoop on something they missed (oops). It's appropriate that Obama's attitude on Iraq shift based on current realities, but it would be nice if he acknowledged his mistaken thinking that the surge was going to fail. Shit, the military blames itself for blunders all the time. Careful though, don't call Obama "arrogant", because that's code for "uppity", and that would make you worse than Hitler.
15 July 2008
I don't know shit about the economy. This is the product of having a somewhat stable profession and living a low class lifestyle. But when there's "thousands of customers", as the LA Times puts it, withdrawing money from a bank seized by regulators, I think that's not good. The IndyMacBank website has a link directly to an FDIC webpage entitled "Failed Bank Information" that encourages the bank's customers to "continue paying their loans" and not make a run on the joint.
Even the Jimmy Stewart theatrics can't save this place. This does not bode well.
I can't say I know too much about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, except that
- 1) They're the biggest religion to have begun in America,
- 2) I've met a lot of Mormons in my travels (particularly in the service) and they seem like swell people,
- 3) They founded Las Vegas more or less,
- 4) They own Pepsi and Taco Bell (later revealed by a colleague to be not true)
Anyhoo, the LDS receives the highest praise from this agnostic in their latest announcement to excommunicate the purveyor of this sleazy calender featuring shirtless Mormon missionaries.
First off, there is nothing attractive about the male figure, and, second, all attempts must be made by like-minded bloggers to eradicate this type of filth from the internet.
The protocol of proper, stimulating photography must be maintained on the internet, since this was the intended use of the technology. An example of the correct use of the internet is the Girls and Corpses site, which combines the best of both worlds (namely hot babes and zombies) into one erotic package. Score one for the good guys!
14 July 2008
Well, the Budweiser brewer has been bought out by the Europeans for the low price of $50 Billion bones (story at Breitbart). InBev is the acquiring company and they boast such tasty worldwide brews as Labatt's, Stell Artois, and Bass. I've got nothing against our new European overlords, but there is a bit of a cultural divide between Europe and her boorish American cousins. For instance, the "Real Men Of Genius" series may change to Kraftwerk enouraging beer drinkers to drive responsibly on Der Autobahn. Also, beer prices may rise slightly, which would lead to an imminent collapse of society. Budweiser has done so much for our country, Because U Deserve What Every Individual Should Enjoy Regularly. Farewell!
The Space Needle flew the Sub Pop flag, which is a fitting icon for Seattle's cultural heritage. While grunge can't solely be attributed to Sub Pop records, it was definitely a key catalyst. I spent the better part of the day lounging around at the SP20 Festival, which celebrated 20 years of Sub Pop not going out of business. I don't recognize new bands these days, but it was pretty cool (yeah, yeah, I'm getting old). I remember when grunge first started getting big, and here's a Nirvana flashback for ya (Bleach was released on Sub Pop).