Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Hmmm... When was the last time we saw that kind of anger out of Slick Willie? Let's see... Oh yeah--when he pointed his finger at us and lied about his relationship with an intern. I have always admired the political skill and populist savvy of Mr. Clinton, but the truth is not in him. And, like the pathological liar that he is, he believes his own lies. You can always tell when Bill Clinton is fibbing--his lips are moving. You can always tell when he is dropping a real stinker--he gets all flushed and puts on his "holier than thou" face.

Looks like the only one in the camp of sanity with any gumption to call Clinton on his weekend fabrications is Condi Rice. Hope she starts wearing body armor--people have a habit of getting roughed up and/or killed for messing with the Clintonistas.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Remembering an Earth War Veteran

When the Good Lord calls me home, there are lots of folks I am looking forward to seeing, and lot of folks I am looking forward to seeing again. One of the groups I am looking forward to rubbing wings with the most is God's Veterans. I am looking forward to battlefield leadership discussions with Joshua and Gideon and Marse Robert. But there's also a group of warriors in heaven not necessarily known for armed combat--they are the spiritual battlefield leaders. That group, composed of lions of the Faith like Stephen and Paul and Timothy, just added another member to their Veterans of Earthly Wars club.

Edmund Stallworth was an amazing "old" man when I first met him 35 years ago. He pastored Coccoli Baptist Church in the Panama Canal Zone and was one of the most tireless Christian workers I have ever known. I don't remember any of the hundreds of his sermons for which I was present (probably because I was more focused on Miss Brenda), but I remember his actions away from the pulpit. He had a heart for Missions and traveled to out of the way villages in the mountains of Panama to preach the Gospel and bring hope and help to the poor. He involved our church's youth group in that effort, and visits to the humble shack that housed Chica Mission's services remain one of my most indelible memories.

I also remember Saturday workdays at the church (actually converted from an old Army hospital) led by the preacher and my future father-in-law. Lots of embarrassing stories from those days that still manage to find their way into family remembrances--one in particular involving my inability to stay seated on a toilet. Long story for another post. And, anytime we talk about Brother Stallworth, we always recall his leading us up a jungle trail to a mountain top on which a large cross had been placed. We marveled then, and now, at his stamina.

Brother Stallworth, though hobbled by a stroke suffered a few years ago, stayed active in service for his Lord to the very end. When my wife and her sister organized a reception to honor their parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary back in December, Brother Stallworth, pushing 90, made the trip over from Gulf Shores and made the day complete. He couldn't stay for the entire reception, because he had a class to teach back at his church that evening! Brother Stallworth passed on to Glory this week and I'm confident Jesus was smiling broadly to see him walk through the pearly gates.

Preacher, I would ask you to save me a seat in Heaven's den, but I don't think you will ever slow down long enough to go in there for a rest.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Time to Reload, and Relax

There's been a lot of handwringing in the media lately about the alliances forming around the world against these re-United States. At first the media ignored the fact that Syria and Iran formed a military alliance specifically against American Imperialism and Israeli Zionism. But now that Venezuela's Castro-Lite Hugo Chavez has been making the fascism world tour, hugging and kissing our enemies and inking defense deals with the nations most likely to recieve the next round of American cruise missiles, the media has nearly gone into a paroxysm of frantic reportage regarding the fact that the whole world, "even some of our closest neighbors" are lining up against the US. The unsaid, but clearly felt, editorial in all of this reporting is that it i s all Bush's fault and we would not be in this mess if Jack Kennedyesque democrats were in charge.

And they are right.

Frankly, I think the fact that so many of the bad guys in the world feel so threatened by us that they feel the great need to team up is a very good thing. In fact, my sincere hope is that they all jump on the bandwagon of the next fascist regime at which we begin lobbing high explosives and all declare war on us.

Makes our political calculus much simpler. My favorite military quote of all time comes from the quintesential Marine Louis B. "Chesty" Puller, who when told of the 1st Marine Division's encirlcement by ten Chinese Divisions at the Chosin Reservoir remarked, "We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them."

And don't fear the rhetoric from the press and those currently out of power that "our military is worn out and doesn't have any punches left." That is the most idiotic assessment of American military and ECONOMIC power I have heard. Sure, we are wearing out a lot of equipment--combat operations do that. We'll make more, and the nation's world-sized GDP won't even notice the extra funds required to recaptialize the force. Frankly, most of the ground equipment we have been using has been around since the Reagan (a moment of silence, please, for the greatest American president of the 20th Century) Buildup, and it is time to completely outfit our brave fighters with 21st Century hardware.

They are going to need all new stuff when we take on the Sino-Veno-Islamo Alliance.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Shhh! Smell that?"

I'm not a big fan of airports. But, I have a favorite one. Actually, it is my second favorite one. My first favorite airport is the one at which I arrive prior to getting in my truck and driving home. My second favorite airport is Memphis International in Memphis, Mississippi. That's right, Memphis is in Mississippi. At least it seems that way, with most of the population that works in Memphis moving south into sprawling new subdivisions below the state line.

Memphis International is not the best laid out airport, through which to scamper from gate to gate. The airport's ticket counter personnel aren't necessarily the best and brightest, either. But, I will bet you a punch in the jaw you won't find a better smelling airport anywhere else in the world. The heavy aroma of barbecue is the signature smell of that part of the mid-south and the Memphis airport, thanks to several barbecue restaurants scattered throughout its concourses, is the most mouth-watering, nose-twitching, stomach-growling collection of smokey scent outside of a local county fair.

The problem is I never have a long enough layover in Memphis to take the time to wait in the long lines to secure a plate of the great smelling chow.

I might just have to miss a connecting flight on purpose someday so I'll have enough time to stop and savor a meal.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Force Protection Folly

"Colonel, turn on your TV; a plane just hit the World Trade Center."

The young Marine who had poked his head into my office to make that announcement, hovered at the door while I fumbled with a remote for the set across the long office from my desk. When CNN came on, the anchor was saying something about the history of light aircraft losing their way in bad weather and running into skyscrapers accidentally. But, the TV screen showed clear sky. The only cloud in the sky in New York that morning was the cloud of smoke billowing from the top fifth of one of the towers. My first thought was that that fire was going to kill a lot of people before it got put out. The movie "Towering Inferno" came to mind.

Three or four Marines were now at my door, craning their necks to see the TV, and I waved them on into the office. One said, "They say it was a Cessna that crashed accidentally." The huge gash in the tower was clearly not from a small plane and I said so. We were all watching, stunned, when the second airliner slammed into the other tower.

The youngest Marine in the room, a corporal, said what I had been thinking, but had been hesitant to say out loud. "Sir, this is a terrorist attack." I agreed and we continued to watch, transfixed by the TV shot of two towers on fire.

It wasn't until the attack on the Pentagon was announced that the thought occurred to me that this was a full scale attack on America. I was CO of Marine recruiting in the Southeast, so there was no operational response for which I was responsible. But, I did have over 500 Marines in small offices scattered from Louisiana to South Carolina and I felt the requirement to communicate to them immediately, and I told my secretary to set up a conference call as fast as possible with my eight subordinate commanders--eight Marine majors who each would, in turn, relay my communications to the rest of the force.

When the call began, I started by telling my subordinate commanders everything I knew; which was limited by what I had witnessed on TV. I next told them that I had heard nothing from higher headquarters, yet, but would call them back as soon as I got any orders. I then told them to relay to their Marines that I wanted them to do two things: Stay focused on their jobs as recruiters, and keep their eyes open for anything suspicious. When I finished my brief comments, I asked for questions.

"Sir," one of my majors chimed in, "I just got a report from the field that the other services' recruiters have been told to get out of uniform and go home."

I didn't believe that to be the case and told them so. "Sir, I just heard the same thing from one of my guys," another major said immediately. "So did I," said a third. A fourth voice cut through the chatter and announced. "Sir, I heard the same thing, and I told my Marines to stay in uniform and stay put."

That was the most sensible order or report I had heard that morning and I said so. I added, "Gentlemen, our country is clearly under attack, and may begin to panic. We will not contribute to that panic. Tell your Marines to stay in uniform and stay very visible." That there was not one voiced worry over their Marines becoming targets is to their credit. In fact, we later all shared that we hoped to be attacked by the cowards who were instead hitting civilians.

I hope someday to meet the Navy, Air Force, and Army officers who gave the orders for their people to run and hide. I want the opportunity to call them cowards and idiots to their faces.

Some are probably generals or admirals by now--that would make it all the more satisfying.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

That's Half of a Century for You, My Dear

Thirty-five years ago today my best friend and soul mate celebrated her fifteenth birthday. I was at the party. We weren't "officially" a couple yet, but as far as I was concerned there was nobody else. I still remember (amazing, considering I am in the throes of CRS -- Can't Remember Stuff) the gift I gave her that day--a pink stuffed animal. I even remember the little four line poem I included in the card:

Violets are red
Roses are blue
If you believe that
Here's a pink donkey for you

I am a really thoughtful gift-giver.

For her 50th I wanted to break tradition and give her something really nice and special for her birthday. I began thinking about it in earnest back last spring after I quit pouting about the fact that she had completely ignored my 50th birthday in January (never mind the fact that after my 40th I had given her a direct order to never mention my birthday again). One morning the liquid caffeine delivery system was working more effectively than usual and multiple creative synapses fired in the shriveled grey matter of my brain housing group long enough for a neat idea to form and lodge prominently enough to not succumb to CRS ten minutes later. For her 50th birthday I would send my beautiful bride and her ugly twin sister on a weeklong trip to, get this, a Dude Ranch. Now, I gotta believe that all of you out there who know Miss Brenda and her ugly twin sister are smiling at the thought of the two of them and a cattle stampede.

Poor cattle.

The idea was to give them something that as twins they craved, but had not really had in 30 years--time together as "sissies." Seems every time we get together as a family, the girls complain that they don't get to spend time with each other, what with all the cooking, cleaning, and child/spouse rearing responsibilities. So, I told them a couple of months ago that a trip to a dude ranch just for the two of them was going to be my 50th birthday present to them. Miss Brenda's ugly twin sister got really excited until she realized I had said DUDE, not NUDE ranch.

They left last Sunday for the badlands of north Arkansas (the ranch's brochure said something like "Wild West Adventure Southern Style") and except for one phone call and a cryptic e-mail about bucking horses and broken arms (not any of theirs) the family has heard nothing from them. Miss Brenda will be home (where she belongs--traveling is MY job) tomorrow evening.

Good thing--the laundry hamper is overflowing and it's hard to find the sink with all the dirty dishes in the way.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Fight the Strategy, Not the Tactic

Let's get something straight. Terror is a tactic, not an entity. Our enemy is employing terrorism against us, along with other tactics, but formally calling our current fight the War on Terror is like calling the war in the Pacific against the Japanese the "War on Aerialists" because they bombed Pearl Harbor from the air, or like calling the war in Europe against Germany the "War on Blitzkreig."

Let's get something else straight. Wars are not fought between ideologies. Wars are fought between nations (def.: A people, usually the inhabitants of a specific territory, who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language or related language--Websters). When nations go to war, they cloak themselves in a righteous cause or ideology to cover the naked aggression--on both sides.

And another thing. Governments, even dictatorial ones, exist at the will of the people. History is replete with examples of nations who willingly adopted dictatorships, for the benefits of peace and security that can be derived from a strong central government. I grow weary of the farcical notion that the peoples of the nations, with which we are fighting a proxy war, yearn for democratic freedom. I'm sure a large percentage (still a minority) of the Iranian people, for example, would prefer a democratic republic over a theocratic dictatorship. But, the majority of the Persian nation are quite content with the rule of the Ayatollahs--that same majority overthrew their relatively benign dictatorial monarch in 1979 and imposed the Ayatollahs' Islamic government on themselves.

So, let's be clear eyed here. We are at war, whether we want to admit it or not, with several nations under the banner of Islam. Terror is their tactic. "Terrorist" groups like al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbollah, et. al., are those Islamic nations' expeditionary mercenary forces. Their strategy, manifest in their doctrine (the Koran), is our destruction.

In the immortal words of Todd Beamer, among those who fought back on Flight 93, "Let's Roll!"

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Info Blackout

I am an information junkie. Between four or five newspapers' online editions first thing in the morning and radio and TV the rest of the day, I stay fairly well up to date (up to the hour in most cases) on natural and human events. That is until I go spend some time with #2 son in North Mississippi. He doesn't have web access and refuses to allow anyone to watch anything on his TV that doesn't have the words ball or gun in the title. That's okay, I'm a sports fan, too. But, when I finally get home and plug back in to the Information IV, catching up on several days of interrupted data stream can be overwhelming and a bit disconcerting. I spent the long weekend at #2's place helping him get ready for the upcoming hunting season (hanging deer stands and scouting places to hunt ducks) and when I got home last night the accumulation of four days' happenings just seemed so momentous.

One thing I did watch this weekend was sports--that's for sure. I think I watched more football games this weekend than I watched all of last year. Two comments: Miami, Florida State, and Notre Dame are overrated (as usual) and I have just four words to describe the hope of a winning season for my beloved Ole Miss Rebels--BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

To hear how Steve Irwin died was just bizarre. I mean, I always expected to hear that he was killed by a snake bite or eaten by a croc, but stabbed in the heart by a stingray that he didn't even know was there--that's just not right.

But the biggest news of the weekend comes from the young'un who lights up my world. My grandson is walking! He turns 11 months old today. I am one proud grandpop!