Jun 24, 2004

Blogging across America - It Begins 

And so, Mike the Marine will no longer stand defense on the Eastern seaboard... screw this place... I'm outta here.

Just kidding... but not really...

Anyway, I'll be in Georgia by nightfall (short leg today) and probably Louisiana or Texas the day after that. 2nd MARDIV, 2nd MAW, and the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force as a whole can keep the East Coast - I've had it.

Cali, baby, CALI!

Jun 22, 2004

Because Frank J. desperately needs the hits 

Yeah right...

Anyway, I haven't linked to IMAO in long while, and this is just too good. To commemorate the release of Bill Clinton's book, Frank has once again produced brilliance.

* There have been many bad rumors about Clinton, but, according to him, he never inhaled the draft and did not dodge marijuana.
* Their daughter Chelsea ended up being quite smart, learning to write at an early age. This made the Clintons very happy, because it allowed her to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

I'll take this opportunity to direct your attention to my DISCLAIMER at the top of my blogroll to the right...

UPDATE: And on a more serious note, Clinton admits to perjury... in his own book. Oops.

Jun 21, 2004

Now THIS speaks volumes... 

Blogging across America - Prologue 

In one of my last acts here before I am no longer an East Coast Marine, I went to Connecticut this weekend for the baptism of a buddy's kid. Being as the wife and I are the Godparents it would be unsat for us to miss the event, though North Kakalaki and Connecticut ain't exactly close (it was roughly a 14 hour drive... ugh).

While on this trip, two extraordinary things transpired. I drank a beer, and I saw a hole in the ground...

Don't sound too interesting does it?

Except for this: the beer was bought for me by an Iwo Jima survivor, and the hole in the ground used to have the twin towers of the World Trade Center standing over it.

That's right, my bud and I were in our Charlies for the baptism and afterward ducked into the VFW with my friend's grandfather. There we met a gent who was at Iwo and when we offered to buy him a beer, he wouldn't hear of it, and instead bought us one. Talk about an honor for a Marine... sheesh.

On the drive home, I figured that I might never get to see the WTC site before some kind of monument was erected, being as I'll be on the wrong coast within a couple weeks. I wanted to see it before that happened. So, a small detour into Manhattan later and I'd gotten that done too. Not much to see, really. You can't stop on the street. You can't walk by and look in. It looks like any other building construction site you've ever seen at this point. But it was something worth doing. A couple pics of that during the driveby, and a couple happy-snaps of Lady Liberty, and we were on our way back down the coast again.

Almost made it a three-fer and went to the WWII Memorial in DC on the drive home, but at that point it was past midnight and Mike just wanted to keep the car moving south. Mike also talks about himself in the third person when he's really very tired, and being as Mike didn't get home until about 0630 this morning, Mike is still beat. Mike will see you later...

Jun 17, 2004

Has it been a week? 

Please forgive the lack of posting, as I said I was "back," but I'm a little busy right now. The packers came Monday, the movers came Tuesday, and I'm doing the cross-country thing next week. The whole permanent change of station thing is some time consuming stuff. Gotta get all the affairs in line... the orders squared away... the wife and pets packed up... the bodies hidden...

You know... the usual.

Anyway, stay tuned folks - I'll attempt some sort of "blogging across America" thing, but it'll probably be a total abortion... we'll see how that works out.

California, here I come...

Jun 10, 2004

Another great American has passed 

Ray Charles Dies at 73

Though he will be best remembered for "Georgia on my mind," my favorite has always been Ray Charles' rendition of "America the Beautiful." The fact that a man who had never seen "amber waves of grain" or "purple mountain majesties" could sing that song so powerfully... well, it damn near brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

In 1998 I was driving across the country on my way to my first duty in the Marine Corps. May God bless that radio DJ - whoever we was - who threw on Ray singing "America the Beautiful" as I was crossing Kansas... sunset in my rearview mirror... wheat fields from horizon to horizon... absolutely marvelous.

Here's to Ray Charles and Ronald Reagan...

America the Beautiful

song download, and other patriotic music, found here

Jun 7, 2004

Subliminal messages? 

Remember this photo? Well, apparently somebody at FoxNews does.

Laurie Dhue was talking about the possibility of US troops being replaced by European ones in Iraq... and that was the picture over her right shoulder. Somebody in the control booth has a sense of humor.

Jun 6, 2004

"I suppose they would have been calling General Eisenhower back for congressional hearings" 

The SecDef hit the nail on the head with this one folks. In this world of instant news and satellite communication, if the Normandy landing took place today vice 60 years ago, you can bet your sweet ass that some douchebag like Michael Moore would scream about how the whole war was fictional. Hell, Patton's whole First U.S. Army Group was nothing but radio traffic and inflatable tanks! That's proof that Americans are liars, isn't it?

Anyway, check out the rest of what Rumsfeld had to say and go to defendamerica.mil if you want a clearer picture of what's going on in the world right now.

The good Lord willing, we'll never face another Normandy. But make no mistake about it, we are in a world war right now. What will the history books say about Iraq in 2064? If the past is any indicator, what the press is saying today will be long forgotten (hint hint... read the second post down from this one).

Jun 5, 2004

Goodbye, sir. 

What's our European "exit strategy"? 

Want some perspective on coverage of Iraq in the press? This is a bit long, but worth every second you spend reading it...
Americans Are Losing the Victory in Europe
Destitute nations feel that the U.S. has failed them
by John Dos Passos - LIFE Magazine - January 7, 1946
We are in a cabin deep down below decks on a Navy ship jam-packed with troops that’s pitching and creaking its way across the Atlantic in a winter gale. There is a man in every bunk. There’s a man wedged into every corner. There’s a man in every chair. The air is dense with cigarette smoke and with the staleness of packed troops and sour wool.

“Don’t think I’m sticking up for the Germans,” puts in the lanky young captain in the upper berth, “but…”

“To hell with the Germans,” says the broad-shouldered dark lieutenant. “It’s what our boys have been doing that worries me.”

The lieutenant has been talking about the traffic in Army property, the leaking of gasoline into the black market in France and Belgium even while the fighting was going on, the way the Army kicks the civilians around, the looting.

“Lust, liquor and loot are the soldier’s pay,” interrupts a red-faced major.

The lieutenant comes out with his conclusion: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” You hear these two phrases again and again in about every bull session on the shop. “Two wrongs don’t make a right” and “Don’t think I’m sticking up for the Germans, but….”

The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.”

A tour of the beaten-up cities of Europe six months after victory is a mighty sobering experience for anyone. Europeans. Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. They cite the evolution of the word “liberation.” Before the Normandy landings it meant to be freed from the tyranny of the Nazis. Now it stands in the minds of the civilians for one thing, looting.

You try to explain to these Europeans that they expected too much. They answer that they had a right to, that after the last war America was the hope of the world. They talk about the Hoover relief, the work of the Quakers, the speeches of Woodrow Wilson. They don’t blame us for the fading of that hope. But they blame us now.

Never has American prestige in Europe been lower. People never tire of telling you of the ignorance and rowdy-ism of American troops, of out misunderstanding of European conditions. They say that the theft and sale of Army supplies by our troops is the basis of their black market. They blame us for the corruption and disorganization of UNRRA. They blame us for the fumbling timidity of our negotiations with the Soviet Union. They tell us that our mechanical de-nazification policy in Germany is producing results opposite to those we planned. “Have you no statesmen in America?” they ask.

The skeptical French press

Yet whenever we show a trace of positive leadership I found Europeans quite willing to follow our lead. The evening before Robert Jackson’s opening of the case for the prosecution in the Nurnberg trial, I talked to some correspondents from the French newspapers. They were polite but skeptical. They were willing enough to take part in a highly publicized act of vengeance against the enemy, but when you talked about the usefulness of writing a prohibition of aggressive war into the law of nations they laughed in your face. The night after Jackson’s nobly delivered and nobly worded speech I saw then all again. They were very much impressed. Their manner had even changed toward me personally as an American. Their sudden enthusiasm seemed to me typical of the almost neurotic craving for leadership of the European people struggling wearily for existence in the wintry ruins of their world.

The ruin this war has left in Europe can hardly be exaggerated. I can remember the years after the last war. Then, as soon as you got away from the military, all the little strands and pulleys that form the fabric of a society were still knitted together. Farmers took their crops to market. Money was a valid medium of exchange. Now the entire fabric of a million little routines has broken down. No on can think beyond food for today. Money is worthless. Cigarettes are used as a kind of lunatic travesty on a currency. If a man goes out to work he shops around to find the business that serves the best hot meal. The final pay-off is the situation reported from the Ruhr where the miners are fed at the pits so that they will not be able to take the food home to their families.

“Well, the Germans are to blame. Let them pay for it. It’s their fault,” you say. The trouble is that starving the Germans and throwing them out of their homes is only producing more areas of famine and collapse.

One section of the population of Europe looked to us for salvation and another looked to the Soviet Union. Wherever the people have endured either the American armies or the Russian armies both hopes have been bitterly disappointed. The British have won a slightly better reputation. The state of mind in Vienna is interesting because there the part of the population that was not actively Nazi was about equally divided. The wealthier classes looked to America, the workers to the Soviet Union.

The Russians came first. The Viennese tell you of the savagery of the Russian armies. They came like the ancient Mongol hordes out of the steppes, with the flimsiest supply. The people in the working-class districts had felt that when the Russians came that they at least would be spared. But not at all. In the working-class districts the tropes were allowed to rape and murder and loot at will. When victims complained, the Russians answered, “You are too well off to be workers. You are bourgeoisie.”

When Americans looted they took cameras and valuables but when the Russians looted they took everything. And they raped and killed. From the eastern frontiers a tide of refugees is seeping across Europe bringing a nightmare tale of helpless populations trampled underfoot. When the British and American came the Viennese felt that at last they were in the hands of civilized people. But instead of coming in with a bold plan of relief and reconstruction we came in full of evasions and apologies.

U.S. administration a poor third

We know now the tragic results of the ineptitudes of the Peace of Versailles. The European system it set up was Utopia compared to the present tangle of snarling misery. The Russians at least are carrying out a logical plan for extending their system of control at whatever cost. The British show signs of recovering their good sense and their innate human decency. All we have brought to Europe so far is confusion backed up by a drumhead regime of military courts. We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease.

The taste of victory had gone sour in the mouth of every thoughtful American I met. Thoughtful men can’t help remembering that this is a period in history when every political crime and every frivolous mistake in statesmanship has been paid for by the death of innocent people. The Germans built the Stalags; the Nazis are behind barbed wire now, but who will be next? Whenever you sit eating a good meal in the midst of a starving city in a handsome house requisitioned from some German, you find yourself wondering how it would feel to have a conqueror drinking out of your glasses. When you hear the tales of the brutalizing of women from the eastern frontier you think with a shudder of of those you love and cherish at home.

That we are one world is unfortunately a brutal truth. Punishing the German people indiscriminately for the sins of their leader may be justice, but it is not helping to restore the rule of civilization. The terrible lesson of the events of this year of victory is that what is happening to the bulk of Europe today can happen to American tomorrow.

In America we are still rich, we are still free to move from place to place and to talk to our friends without fear of the secret police. The time has come, for our own future security, to give the best we have to the world instead of the worst. So far as Europe is concerned, American leadership up to now has been obsessed with a fear of our own virtues. Winston Churchill expressed this state of mind brilliantly in a speech to his own people which applies even more accurately to the people of the U.S. “You must be prepared,” he warned them, “for further efforts of mind and body and further sacrifices to great causes, if you are not to fall back into the rut if inertia, the confusion of aim and the craven fear of being great.”

Though I found this via Rush, it appears that this story was enearthed over at a blog called Jessica's Well in October of last year. Pretty telling how the Chicken Littles out there in the press love to scream about how the sky is falling when they don't have all the information or know all the plans. And trust me when I say that these guys DO NOT have a clue. Further example from 1946:
The first winter of peace holds Europe in a deathly grip of cold, hunger and hopelessness. In the words of the London Sunday Observer: “Europe is threatened by a catastrophe this winter which has no precedent since the Black Death of 1348.”

These are still more than 25,000,000 homeless people milling about Europe. In Warsaw nearly 1,000,000 live in holes in the ground. Six million building were destroyed in Russia. Rumania has her worst drought of 50 years, and in Greece fuel supplies are terribly low because the Nazis, during their occupation, decimated the forests. In Italy the wheat harvest, which was a meager 3,450,000 tons in 1944, fell to an unendurable 1,304,000 tons in 1945. In France, food consumption per day averages 1,800 calories as compared with 3,000 calories in the U.S.

Germany is sinking even below the level of the countries she victimized. The German people are still better clothed than most of Europe because during the war they took the best of Europe’s clothing. But their food supply is below subsistence level. In the American zone they beg for the privilege of scraping U.S. army garbage cans. Infant mortality is already so high that a Berlin Quaker, quoted in the British press, predicted. “No child born in Germany in 1945 will survive. Only half the children aged less than 3 years will survive.”

On Germany, which plunged the Continent into its misery, falls the blame for its own plight and the plight of all Europe. But if this winter proves worse even than the war years, blame will fall on the victor nations. Some Europeans blame Russia for callousness to misery in eastern Europe. But some also blame America because they expected so much more from her. On the following pages the distinguished novelist John Dos Passos, who has been abroad as LIFE correspondent, reports on Europe’s suffering and what it means for America.

Yeah, too bad that whole Berlin Airlift thing made us all those enemies in post-war Germany. Oh yeah... it hadn't happened yet. The press is ever motivated by getting the first scoop and putting out up to the minute info, and that's fine. That's their job after all. But predictive analysis ain't. And these guys suck at telling the future.

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