We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, December 18. 2020
It's all about attitude.
“It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
― Dale Carnegie,
For those of you who have known me for years, you know I usually post a reflection on the major Jewish holy days. My Christian friends here, along with my Jewish friends, appreciate those reflections. This year at Chanukah's eight days I've posted It's All About Attitude.
This year, at Chanukah, in my many years I do not recall seeing so many unhappy people, some for good reasons, but even then and for most unhappy due to lack of focus on the wonderful world, country, and people taken for granted, and losing sight of the strength within that comes from attitude. Hence my eight posts over eight days of eight lights for Chanukah of It's All About Attitude.
Chanukah is often referred to as the festival of lights. That is bowdlerized by many who don't pay attention to its narrative of fighting for freedom and turn it into a leftist narrative of whatever cause they are touting. I believe that our freedom comes from within, giving us the strength and smile to fight for a good and free life for ourselves and for others. That's why this year instead of my reflections about Chanukah I've posted eight times (for each light on the menorah) about It's All About Attitude. May you all have a great day, every day.
Thursday, December 17. 2020
Wednesday, December 16. 2020
It's all about attitude.
Today’s post is dedicated to joy. The joy we access from the light within each of us. We all know what brings us joy. And sometimes we forget to choose it. There are too many other things to do, we’re afraid that too much joy might make us lazy or complacent, we don’t like the vulnerability that comes with experiencing joy. Whatever your reason, today is a reminder that joy is just one decision away. The decision to experience and express it.
Tuesday, December 15. 2020
Monday, December 14. 2020
Sunday, December 13. 2020
Saturday, December 12. 2020
Thursday, December 10. 2020
Tuesday, December 8. 2020
Tuesday, November 10. 2020
Sunday, September 27. 2020
Yom Kippur, the most important Jewish holiday, begins tonight with fasting until tomorrow night. It is often referred to as the Day Of Atonement. It might better be referred to as the last chance for atonement before the new year begins. The prior Hebrew month of Elul is about considering our transgressions, especially toward others, and making amends. Indeed, every day would be a better start on the future by correcting our bad behaviors and confessing and asking forgiveness from those we may have harmed in any way. That is why this holiday is also referred to as Day Of Return, returning to the guidance of G-d in living the proper ways.
I just returned from ten days hiking in Utah's national parks. Glorious. Photos later. One of my thoughts was about sheep.When under the shepherd's care, they are protected from wolves. When wandering away, the sheep are less safe and wolves have an easier time of it. G-d is our shepherd and we are safer and have better lives when remaining under or returning to G-d's care.
Thursday, August 27. 2020
Saturday, July 4. 2020
Friday, June 19. 2020
Monday, May 25. 2020
One can hardly conceive of the enormous grief held quietly within General Kelly as he spoke.
On Nov 13, 2010, Lt. General John Kelly, USMC, gave a speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, MO. This was four days after his son, Lt Robert Kelly, USMC, was killed by an IED while on his 3rd Combat tour. During his speech, General Kelly spoke about the dedication and valor of our young men and women who step forward each and every day to protect us.
During the speech, he never mentioned the loss of his own son. He closed the speech with the moving account of the last six seconds in the lives of two young Marines who died with rifles blazing to protect their brother Marines.
"I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are, about the quality of the steel in their backs, about the kind of dedication they bring to our country while they serve in uniform and forever after as veterans.
Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22 ND of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 "The Walking Dead," and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.
Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines. The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda.
Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and whom he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000.
Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island. They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America's exist simultaneously depending on one's race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born.
But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.
The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like, "Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass. You clear?"
I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like, "Yes Sergeant," with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, "No kidding ‘sweetheart’, we know what we're doing."
They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq.
A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way - perhaps 60-70 yards in length, and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck's engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.
Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn't have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.
When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different.
Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different.
The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event - just Iraqi police. I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I'd have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.
I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, "We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing."
The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were injured, some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, "They'd run like any normal man would to save his life." "What he didn't know until then," he said, "And what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal."
Choking past the emotion he said, "Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did." "No sane man." "They saved us all."
What we didn't know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.
You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before, "Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass." The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.
It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were - some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.
For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines' weapons firing non-stop the truck's windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the (I deleted) who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers - American and Iraqi-bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.
If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber. The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.
The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight - for you.
We Marines believe that God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow to man while he lived on this earth - freedom. We also believe he gave us another gift nearly as precious - our soldiers, sailors, airmen, U S Customs and Border Patrol, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines - to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on this earth can ever steal it away.
It has been my distinct honor to have been with you here today. Rest assured our America, this experiment in democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the "land of the free and home of the brave" so long as we never run out of tough young Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.
God Bless America, and SEMPER FIDELIS !"
Sunday, April 19. 2020
My town, Encinitas, CA, has a hard left City Council and a recent majority that elected it. Today was a significant protest about its fear-mongering and controlling lives excessiveness shutting down the beach and walkways above the beach. I'm down there every day walking long distances, and walkers have been keeping distances and many wearing masks. I hope come November, the fear mongerers and sheepies get sent home.
Wednesday, April 8. 2020
Whether with family or friends or alone, in good times or dire, at Passover, still after thousands of years we recall the Exodus, and we thank G-d for helping us to find the strength within and together to persevere in determination to be free and to practice faith. Tonight is the first seder (order of prayers, recollections, food, and songs) for Passover. May all celebrate freedom and faith with perseverance.
Thursday, April 2. 2020
Friday, February 7. 2020
Monday, January 27. 2020
Bob Turner and I have been friends during our college years and after in Vietnam military service and since and colleagues on defending the cause and rightness of South Vietnam's defense from communist takeover. Turner's career as the nation's leading professor of national security law and his contributions are summarized in the press release on his retirement from the University of Virginia law school.
It's worth reading. Please do, to recognize the lifetime of sacrifice, focus, and hard work to protect the security of the United States.
Fortunately, as Bob announces in his Facebook post today: "After more than 32 years on the UVA faculty, I will be retiring on Friday. I am not ceasing my work on issues I care about, and indeed should have more time to focus on them...."
Thank you Bob, from a lifelong friend, and from a grateful nation.
Friday, January 24. 2020
Back in the late '60's until the '80's I told friends that if they wanted to be really, although relatively quickly, informed about most sides of a complex issue, then they should be regular watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS. Unfortunately, his successors there have not kept to that high standard, devolving into just another partisan gab.
I had personal correspondence with Jim Lehrer back in the days when I wrote many times a day for posts and publications. One such sticks in my mind. I'd just visited the traveling Vietnam memorial wall, and commented that it brought up so many feelings and memories that I had nothing to say, I was dumbstruck. Until that time, I hadn't known that Lehrer served as a Marine officer. He wrote back to me that he had the same reactions and feelings as I.
In the linked obit, Jim Lehrer's standards of journalism are listed. I would add one more: if you've nothing really worth saying, don't say it.
Please read the Lehrer lessons for journalists, and share it with other aspiring or entrenched journalists.
Tuesday, December 17. 2019
Thursday, December 12. 2019
My son Jason is at a conference in Berlin. He visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp, about 20-miles from Berlin. The camp was the admin HQ for the Nazi camps, training site for SS to run the camps, and where methods of murder were experimented with before arriving at the efficiency of gas chambers. It was later used by the KGB and East German communist regime for ongoing oppression. The memorial to the crematorium:
My son is a sunny southern California boy. The 3-degree Celsius (37-degree Fahrenheit) and stiff wind was uncomfortable, and it not yet the height of winter. Imagine the suffering of inmates from the cold, hunger, torture, death labor: tens of thousands dead, including political prisoners, Soviet and then German troops.
Thursday, December 5. 2019
(First King Of Portugal, Alfonso I, reign 1139-1185; also called Alfonso the Conqueror for expelling the Muslims and securing independence of Portugal)
Portugal is a current go-to for Europeans and increasingly for Americans (including BirdDog). Rightfully so. The Portuguese people are renowned for their generosity to strangers. Except to Moors. They expelled them three centuries before Spain did.
The land is fertile, green -- even a kelly green to rival Ireland --everywhere, its cork trees supply the world, grape vines and olive trees are all over. Lisbon's verdant and luxurious Avenida Liberdade makes Paris' Champs-Elysees look like a version of cheesy Times Square.
The food along the way is mouthwatering, the baking rich yet light, the Portuguese table wine -- especially the whites, and of course aged Ruby Port, (as in Spain's reds) fragrant, crisp, rounded, and almost sensuous to the palate. The prices for these kingly repasts are relatively economic. I almost always had various octopus recipes, although not Kosher. I did avoid the giant tiger-prawns as large as small lobsters, and the pork roasts and bacons were appealing even to my Kosherist eye and nose. The national dish, a mix of cod and eggs and seasoning is superb. (Warning: as in any tourist country, never go into any restaurant with photos at the entrance or with hamburgers on the menu. Touristy mediocre food, and not much less cost, actually a much higher cost due to missing out on affordable great food.)
The weather was a mild 60F in the daytime but intermittently raining, not pouring, so the winter in Portugal's Med climate is fine for touring, plus far less tourists to bump into.
Now, on with some photos (OK, a lot of photos):
Continue reading "Portugal for 11 Days over Thanksgiving"
Monday, November 11. 2019
(Page 1 of 47, totaling 1171 entries) » next page