Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Draws to a Close

I noticed something unusual as I looked out my window yesterday afternoon around 1430 hrs or so. Southbound traffic on US 70 (towards Roswell: technically westbound, as US 70 is an east-west numbered highway even though it runs north-south in this neck of the woods) was stopped dead. Not moving, not even at a crawl. And there didn’t appear to be much, if any, northbound traffic. I assumed there must have been an accident, and it must have been one helluva accident, at that, because traffic still hadn’t moved an inch an hour and a half later. Further investigation reveals the following (from the Portales News-Tribune):

Travel throughout eastern New Mexico slowed to a crawl Saturday as a major winter storm dropped snow across the region.

Numerous roads in Curry, DeBaca and Roosevelt counties were closed Friday and Saturday due to low visibility, drifting snow and accidents. The closures and treacherous road conditions jammed motels in Portales, Clovis and Fort Sumner as the storm continued into Saturday night.

U.S. 70 west of Portales was closed mid-afternoon Saturday and U.S. 60 from Clovis to Vaughn was closed as well. Accidents and slick conditions Friday night forced the closure of N.M. 206 south of Portales as well as N.M. 268 north of Melrose and N.M. 209 from Clovis to Tucumcari.

State police and state highway officials were unsure Saturday afternoon when roads might be reopened.

US 70 appears to be open this morning…traffic is moving, albeit slowly, and the 18-wheelers are trailing huge billowing clouds of blowing ice/snow. The parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express across the highway is full-up, doubtlessly fall-out from the closure of US 70 yesterday. It appears to be a holiday windfall for P-Town’s businesses.

I’m glad I don’t have to go out today. As I’ve mentioned before: the Green Hornet just hates snow and ice.

So…I continued reading about Saddam’s hanging most of the day yesterday, and there was a lot to be read, if one was so inclined. Josh Trevino, writing a guest post at (Trevino: Tears for the Devil) noticed the same thing I did: the Loony-Left fringe just can’t stop ranting and raving. And whereas I simply linked to one such rant, Trevino provided numerous quotes from the leading Lefty blogs to substantiate the point. Here are three quotes Trevino found in various dKos diaries:

· [P]lease tell me what f------ moral standing does the US (or any other country for that matter) have to go into another country and do what we just did to Saddam? The fact that it is the US - that "shining beacon of freedom" is even worse. What does that say? What message does that send? And who made us World Police anyway? This is a mockery of justice.

· Why would I write an obituary for Saddam Hussein? Because he was a human being. He did some horrible things while he was alive, but he was still human. By murdering him we have become no better than he was.

· The administration will, in due course, stand to account for a war crime committed in Iraq by executing the Iraqi dictator.

Trevino provides many more such examples; these are just a taste of the madness. “Mockery of justice.” “War crime.” We’re “no better than he was.” Sheesh. Do those people really believe this crap? I mean…really? I just have to laugh whenever I hear one of these people describe themselves as members of “the reality-based community.” I’m tempted to rant about the self-evident dangers of consuming too many illegal drugs here, but that can’t be the sole reason. YrHmblScrb consumed his fair share of those same drugs in the way-back and it doesn’t seem to have affected his sense of reality. Or maybe they did. Depends on your point of view (and the amount of said drugs taken), I suppose.

On the other hand, Scott Ott made me chuckle with this bit:

Woodward Releases Embargoed Chat with Saddam

(2006-12-30) — Reporter Bob Woodward said today he would soon allow his Washington Post editors to publish a secret interview he did in 2005 with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in which the dictator questioned U.S. President George Bush’s rationale for invading Iraq.

Mr. Woodward, who recently permitted his employer to publish a similar covert interview with the late former President Gerald Ford, said Mr. Hussein agreed to the no-holds-barred chat on the condition that the transcript be embargoed until after he “retired from public life,” which he did earlier today.

“I have always thought that President Bush did the right thing when he ordered the invasion,” Mr. Hussein told the star reporter. “However, I never understood why he made WMD such a big deal. Those canisters are so easy to hide and ship, and the lab just looks like any other lab after we scrub it.”

An alternate reality, to be sure, but one that’s a helluva lot more plausible than that on display in the diaries at dKos.

I took time out from yesterday’s Insignificant Bowls to watch President Ford’s state funeral in real time. And I was impressed. While the Brits have the pomp and circumstance thing pretty well nailed (no one does it better), we Americans aren’t exactly slouches in this department. The rituals were executed with solemnity and precision, the backdrops of the US capitol were awe-inspiring, and the speeches were suitably impressive. Vice-President Cheney’s speech was particularly good. An excerpt:

Jerry Ford was always a striver -- never working an angle, just working. He was a believer in the saying that in life you make your own luck. That's how the Boy Scout became an Eagle Scout; and the football center, a college all-star; and the sailor in war, a lieutenant commander. That's how the student who waited tables and washed dishes earned a law degree, and how the young lawyer became a member of the United States Congress, class of 1948. The achievements added up all his life, yet he was known to boast only about one. I heard it once or twice myself -- he said he was never luckier than when he stepped out of Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids with a beautiful girl named Betty as his bride.

The whole speech is worth a read, and is one of the best speeches I’ve seen the Veep deliver.

Betty Ford was a model of strength and composure, like Nancy Reagan before her. Where these women obtain their strength in such sad times remains a mystery to me. And an inspiration.

About those Insignificant Bowls…there was quite a bit of good football on display yesterday. Navy lost a heartbreaker to Boston College in the final three seconds of the game, Texas came back to beat Iowa (most of which I missed because I watched the funeral, instead), and in (arguably) the best of the three games, unranked Georgia mounted a second-half comeback win over Virginia Tech that was one for the books. I hope the Significant Bowls turn out to be as good.

Today’s Pic: A view of a valley on State Route 66 between the towns of Keno and Medford, Oregon. Kermie always held his breath (as well he should have) whenever I took pics like this one. Something about two-lane mountain roads and paying sufficient attention to the task at hand… May, 2000.

If you're going out this evening: Party-Hardy, but please...Be Safe.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Watch That First Step...It's a Doozy

I’ve spent the better part of the morning reading about Saddam’s final moments and commentary thereto. Hot Air has a comprehensive round-up of media comment, articles and witness reactions. Plus video of the SOB’s final moments, minus the actual drop.

It seems the Loony Fringe can’t look upon the act of rendering justice simply for what it is: justice. No, they absolutely must rant and rave. Bush Derangement Syndrome: the most debilitating psychological affliction of the 21st century, bar none. Sometimes I feel sorry for these people, but most of the time I wish they’d just STFU. We received (and rejected) their message a long, long time ago.

Confederate Yankee takes the time to fisk the post I linked above. The fisking is well-done, to be sure, but dang, CY, was it worth the trouble you went to?

The Insignificant Bowls are just about over and the Real Deal begins Monday. The one Insignificant Bowl I’ve watched (so far) was a blow-out…Cal simply dominated the Aggies, to my chagrin. It looks like I missed a good game here, though. A record comeback, and all that. Dang!

I might watch Navy and BC today, just out of boredom lack of anything better to do…

Another milblogger will arrive on the scene shortly. SN2 e-mails me with a link to his nascent blog, which looks like it will be a good one. (Full-disclosure: I’m biased, of course.) I’ll give all y’all the link when he lets me know he’s “ready for prime time.”

Today’s Pic: That’s No Way to Treat a Lady! The Green Hornet and El Casa Móvil De Pennington, looking all forlorn and out of their elements. Or in the elements, as the case may be. There’s about three inches of snow on the ground and we’ve been having flurries all morning. It’s cold, too. I thought we had a deal, Laurie? Why haven’t you come and collected your miserable weather yet?

Today, about an hour ago.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

Add to shopping list: candles. I went to bed early last evening, so I got up early, too…0400 hrs, to be exact. I lit off the coffee and sat down to do a bit of early morning surfing. The coffee finished at 0410 or thereabouts. I poured the first cup and was checking out this site I’d seen advertised on the Tee Vee last evening and boom…out go the lights. At 0430 hrs. Dark. Really dark. I opened the southwest facing shades and the whole park is dark; I open the northeast facing shades and see the whole frickin’ town is dark. Not good, as it’s around 36 degrees outside and without power I have no heat.

Well, to make a long story short, the power came back on the east side of Hiway 70 at 0515 hrs and on our side at 0545. I now have heat and Tee Vee, but no internet as of yet. That’ll probably take another hour or so. It’s interesting how long a full pot of coffee will retain heat, and conversely, it’s amazing how quickly an RV loses heat!

All that said, I will buy a couple of candles when I go out to Wally-World later today. It ain’t fun stumbling around the house with a flashlight.

The net’s back up at 0625 hrs…and what’s the first thing I see?







Oh, Goody.

Never let it be said my offspring* can’t take a hint. DHL delivered not one, but three tee shirts from Think Geek yesterday. Very cool!

* The adult offspring. My nine year old went into the “everything YOU know is wrong” stage (where I’m concerned, anyway) much, much earlier than most kids… like at age seven. But I suspect he had a lot of help.

So…about that site I saw advertised last evening and was surfing before I was so rudely interrupted. It’s called “Eons,” and it’s a site dedicated to Boomers, or “50-plus,” as their advertising copy sez. Here’s the mission statement:

Eons is a 50+ media company inspiring a generation of boomers and seniors to live the biggest life possible. Founded by Jeff Taylor, founder of, Eons was launched in July 2006.

Well, OK. I joined (it’s free) and am now one of eight Eons members in Portales. Interestingly, the gender split is dead even: four each males/females.

I wonder about the viability of a site dedicated to geezers, a community that is generally technology-averse. I’ll explore a bit and let all y’all know what happens…if anything happens at all.

So…the NYT sez we’re (or they: the Iraqis) in “a rush” to hang Hussein. Captain Ed has an answer to that train of thought:

So let's get this straight. What is really important isn't the hundreds of thousands of people that Saddam had killed on his whim. It isn't lengthy public record of his "vile atrocities". It isn't the long string of living victims that had to bear witness under difficult circumstances to those who could not appear in court. What really matters, the Times insists, is that the process did not "nurture hope".

Well, the purpose of trials is not to nurture hope -- it's to determine the truth regarding guilt or innocence of the accused. In this, the tribunal succeeded, although as the Times notes, the issue was not in much doubt. The trial also succeeded in giving voice to many of Saddam's victims, something the Times must have missed in its zeal to find hope-nurturing elements in a genocide trial. The tribunal also established solid legal precedents for a fledgeling (sic) judiciary that has to establish itself mostly from scratch.


In any case, the Times proves itself laughable once again by proclaiming a three-year process towards Saddam's execution as a "rush" and complaining about a verdict and sentence that even they admit were completely justified by the evidence at hand. Perhaps next time, the editorial board should not be in such a "rush" to opine.

I sure as Hell don’t even begin to understand the editorial page of the NYT. They truly baffle me.

The Captain gives us a link to Jules Crittenden’s thoughts on this subject. Don’t miss it.

Dang! It’s snowing hard outside as I bang this out. We just might see some serious snow today…

Today’s Pic: A dirt road “short-cut” somewhere between here and Albuquerque. The ex-girlfriend and I took her Jeep Cherokee down this road for about 30 miles or so. She had something she wanted to show me, but I forget exactly what. The scenery, however, was certainly worth the detour. January, 2004.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The New Year Approaches at Flank Speed

Curt at Flopping Aces asks “Can Cindy Sheehan get anymore nuttier?” You need to read Curt’s post before you follow the link to Moonbat-Central. I assume Curt is posing a rhetorical question, but I think you and I both know the answer is “yes.” Yes, indeed. Her nuttiness has no boundaries at all. But blaming President Ford for creating what she calls “Bloody George” is so far over the top it boggles the mind.
But wait! There’s more… Kim Priestap at Wizbang adds “…Cindy's logic is so idiotic and void of any rational thought what so ever, that we're all dumber for just having read it.” And John Hinderaker says “We haven't said anything about Cindy Sheehan for a long time. What's interesting is that neither, for the most part, have the Democrats. Mainstream liberals have dropped her like a hot potato as her nuttiness has increasingly been revealed.”
Mainstream Libs may have dropped her, but the Serious Moonbats haven’t. Mother Sheehan is still an icon to some. As Mom used to say… “You’re known by the company you keep.”
(2006-12-28) — With just 23 months before the next presidential election, former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, announced today that he would seek the Democrat nomination for president in 2008, 2012 and 2016, but refused to comment on his plans for 2020.
“Americans are looking for a candidate with experience running for president,” said an unnamed campaign spokesman. “In 2018, when John Edwards is 65, he’ll have spent 16 years seeking the office and have four campaigns under his belt. We think that will position him well for victory in 2020.”
Heh. Double-heh. Read the whole thing!
It should be a quiet New Year’s Eve in P-Town and vicinity, what with New Year’s Eve falling on a Sunday this year. Longtime readers will understand why I say this. In the past I’ve railed against our Blue Laws, i.e., you cannot even buy a glass of wine with your dinner on Sunday, let alone anything else alcoholic. What cruel twist of fate for the younger crowd! I assume the Club out at the base will have a party, but I don’t really know for sure. Besides that, it’s not a safe assumption that the military will Party-Hardy in this day and age. Witness the "Culture of Responsible Choices." (Hat tip to Mike for that.)
Excuse me, but I’m going to be sick now.
Ah. Better. Back to the subject at hand… I’m not at all disconcerted with the fact the bars won’t be open on New Year’s Eve, being as how I’m “of a certain age.” Truth be told, I rarely ventured out onto the bar circuit on New Year’s Eve even when I was younger. The Ol’ Man used to call New year’s Eve “Amateur Night,” and he had it right. Best just to stay in and party with a few close friends. And with that, I give you…
Today’s Pics: A couple of shots from New Year’s Eve, 1998. This was the last time I threw a party of any sort, and it was a good one. My house, 12/31/1998, Rochester, NY.
Once again, I apologize for the poor quality of the pics. First-generation digital camera, and all that.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Another Passing

RIP, President Ford. The New York Times has a lengthy and very well-done obituary (they get some things right). If you’re too young to remember President Ford and the terrible times we went through under his leadership, brief as it was, then there’s no better place to start than this obit. Ford was pretty much the right guy at the right time. And Chevy Chase made a freakin’ career out of imitating him, to the great delight of most folks, Dems and Repubs alike.

The Financial Times (UK) has a good obit, as well. And it’s a lot shorter.

I used to think President Ford was the root of most evil, especially after he pardoned my own personal bugaboo-in-chief, Richard Nixon. But that was back in my moonbat days, when I was much younger and a lot more stupid (like Twain, I repeat myself). Captain Ed raises the subject of the pardon, as have many other folks on both sides of the ‘sphere. Ed makes some good points, but I disagree with his conclusion. Unlike Ed, I think Ford did the right thing. We’ll see and hear a lot about this subject in the coming days.

I haven’t been keeping up with James Taranto’s “Best of the Web” feature in the WSJ’s Opinion Journal of late. And I’ve missed some good stuff…like Taranto’s nine-part (as of yesterday) series Responding to Rangel. Taranto is printing letters from WSJ readers, mostly military folks, who beg to differ with Charlie Rangel’s meme about the military only containing the poor and the stupid. Some Hella good reading there.

The guys at Powerline post a reader-submitted picture of Jon Kary in Irak. What a lonely, lonely man. Deservedly so.

The WSJ has an excellent primer on the unfolding war in Somalia, if you’re interested. The situation is way beyond “Blackhawk Down,” and threatens to become a major regional conflict.

Today’s Pic: A collage of things Ol’ Kermie and I saw through the windshield of El Casa Móvil De Pennington in May, 2000. Mostly in and around northwest Wyoming. As always, click for larger.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


James Brown died yesterday. “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” was also known as “The Godfather of Soul.” And both sobriquets were well-deserved, at the very least. James Brown delivered the funk long before Berry Gordy made Motown into a household word. And James Brown rocked my world by opening up new musical horizons for me around 1958 or so. That was the year I first heard “Please, Please, Please” on an all-black radio station in Atlanta, Georgia. That song (released in 1956) simply wowed me with its sheer musical power, end-of-the-world vocals, and doo-wop backup singing. I’d never heard anything like it, and come to think on it, I don’t believe there’s another song that evokes heartbreak like that song does. James’ “The Cape” routine is simply classic, and was his signature performance in concert. You can see an all-too-brief, early version of The Cape performance (I’d say somewhere in the late 50s) in this 31-second clip. Wow.

RIP, James. And thank you.

Here’s a bit of good news: Court Upholds Saddam’s Death Sentence.

BAGHDAD, Dec. 26 -- An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld a ruling to execute deposed leader Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity and said he could hang within 30 days.

"From tomorrow, any day could be the day of implementation," chief judge Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin said at a news conference in Baghdad.

Rumor has it Iraqis are lining up for the privilege of being Saddam’s hangman. The story is behind the NYT’s TimesSelect wall, but Hey!...I believe it. Maybe there will be a lottery…

And here’s Good News and Bad News…British Soldiers Storm Iraqi Jail, Citing Torture.

BAGHDAD, Dec. 25 — Hundreds of British and Iraqi soldiers assaulted a police station in the southern city of Basra on Monday, killing seven gunmen, rescuing 127 prisoners from what the British said was almost certain execution and ultimately reducing the facility to rubble.


When the combined British and Iraqi force of 1,400 troops gained control of the station, it found the prisoners being held in conditions that a British military spokesman, Maj. Charlie Burbridge, described as “appalling.” More than 100 men were crowded into a single cell, 30 feet by 40 feet, he said, with two open toilets, two sinks and just a few blankets spread over the concrete floor.

A significant number showed signs of torture. Some had crushed hands and feet, Major Burbridge said, while others had cigarette and electrical burns and a significant number had gunshot wounds to their legs and knees.

The fetid dungeon was another example of abuses by the Iraqi security forces. The discovery highlighted the continuing struggle to combat the infiltration of the police and army by militias and criminal elements — even in a Shiite city like Basra, where there has been no sectarian violence.


Residents said that people were afraid to challenge the officers because they were backed by powerful militia groups, including the Mahdi Army, which is led by the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr, though the extent of his control is unclear.

The good news, of course, is the effectiveness of al-Sadr’s murderous militia and accompanying death squads have been reduced, if not eliminated. The bad news is that al-Sadr himself still holds significant power. If ever anyone needed killin’…it’s that SOB al-Sadr.

I’ve been playing with the format of the blog over the last couple of days, moving to a new template (“Minima-stretched”) and fine-tuning a few other thingies. The objective is to make the blog more readable and user-friendly. Have I succeeded, or are the changes a step backwards? Enquiring minds wanna know…

Late Start, Part VII

Another late start today…but Hey! It’s the holidays, right? And today is Boxing Day. The help is authorized to lollygag about before getting down to business, especially today.

Today’s Pic: Apropos of nothing, here’s the USS Bainbridge (DDG-96) about five months prior to her commissioning. She’s docked at the Bath Iron Works on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine, where she was undergoing the final stages of her construction and testing. June 23, 2005.

Back in a few…

Monday, December 25, 2006


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born, this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

T'was the day before Christmas...

Because it’s Christmas Eve, here’s your reminder: don’t forget to track Santa!!

What do IT consultants do at home in their spare time? Why…they decorate for the holidays, of course! 20,000 lights, synchronized to music. Pretty cool, it is!

There was an interesting article in the NYT yesterday about the openness of the U.S. House of Representatives. Titled “The Way to Keep House,” and written by Scot M. Faulkner, the chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1997, the article opens with a brief history of some of the sleazy practices that were wide-spread the last time Democrats controlled the House. But, past sleaze isn’t the thrust of the article. Mr. Faulkner hopes the incoming House leadership will take action to make the House more open to the eyes of the American public.

In addition, Democrats should make all House meetings viewable online. The House should install two digital cameras in every committee and subcommittee room, with one facing the rostrum and another facing the witness table. The Republicans rejected an earlier version of this proposal in 1995, saying, in effect, “Not that public!”

This expansion of public access would erode the power of K Street lobbyists who use “insider” information gleaned from committee meetings to justify their fees. If everyone can see the same thing at the same time, much of the lobbyists’ cachet will evaporate. And if Democrats truly want to exercise oversight of the executive branch, something we haven’t seen for a while, Web- and pod-casting will make sure Americans can watch oversight hearings in their entirety without news producers mediating the proceedings.

C-SPAN was way ahead of Mr. Faulkner in at least one regard. On December 14th, Brian Lamb wrote Speaker-Designate Pelosi a one and a half page letter that contained only two requests, and here are a few excerpts from that letter (pdf):

After your party's November 16th leadership elections, you held a news conference in which you pledged to lead a congress committed to openness. In that spirit and as you and lour leadership team work through the many organizational decisions needed for the 110 Congress, we'd like to make two requests of you which we were unsuccessful in pursuing with the incoming Republican majority twelve years ago:

Allow House floor proceedings to be covered by C-SPAN cameras.
Release individual House votes electronically immediately after voting periods have closed.

Independent media cameras have long been permitted in congressional committees, yet for nearly 30 years, television cameras in the House chamber have operated under the control of the Speaker. This compromise was crafted long ago to convince wary members to allow congressional sessions to be televised, and in the ensuing years it has become an anachronism that does a disservice to the institution and to the public. During debate, congressional technicians are limited to taking static, head-on shots of the representative who's speaking at the podium. Rules and established practices prevent congressional cameras from taking individual reaction shots or from panning the chamber, leaving viewers with an incomplete picture of what's happening in the House of Representatives.


On March 19, 1979, when the House was televised for the first time, Representative Al Gore made a speech on the floor that welcomed Congress to the television age. He predicted that members would become so comfortable with the presence of television that they would soon move to open the floor proceedings to coverage by the independent media.

Under your leadership, Speaker-designate Pelosi, we hope that Al Gore's long ago prediction will finally become reality. Please let us know what we can do to advance your consideration of these two important requests.

And here’s Madame Speaker-Designate’s response, in its entirety (once again, a pdf file; emphasis mine):

Dear Mr. Lamb:

Thank you for your thoughtful letter in which you ask that C-SPAN be permitted to cover House floor proceedings with its own cameras and that the House release individual House votes electronically immediately after voting periods have closed. I have asked the Clerk of the House to consider the latter request and report to the House Leadership on whether such a release is technically feasible and, if so, whether it can be accomplished in a manner that preserves the accuracy of the vote tally.

As to your first request, I believe that the dignity and decorum of the United States House of Representatives are best preserved by maintaining the current system of televised proceedings. Under the current practice, every word spoken in an exchange between Members or between the Chair and a Member is broadcast live. This programming informs the American people and ensures an accurate historical record. It has served the American people and the House and Senate well since the advent of televised proceedings nearly 30 years ago.

C-SPAN provides a valuable service in our democracy. I applaud you and the entire C-SPAN cable network for your efforts to inform the American people on the critical issues and challenges that face our great country.

Best regards,

Hmmm. When it comes to openness, it appears Madame Pelosi agrees with her Republican predecessors of 1995: “Not that public!” At least she left the door open for one of Mr. Lamb’s proposals.

You’ll note Mr. Lamb didn’t request the capability to televise every hearing held by House committees and sub-committees. I assume there are simple logistic reasons behind this, after all, the House lists 25 separate committees on its web site…and that doesn’t include sub-committees, ad hoc committees, and leaves out the Senate altogether. C-SPAN couldn’t possibly cover all hearings, even it expanded from its current line-up of three discrete channels to the 40+ required to broadcast all committee hearings. And cable companies simply wouldn’t carry the coverage were it available, anyway. Hell, I can’t even get C-SPAN3 on my system today, let alone C-SPAN17, the House Armed Services Committee Channel, were it to exist.

Enter web-casting. If the Muffys of the world can set up web cams in their bedrooms, the House (and Senate) can surely set up two digital cameras in each hearing room as Mr. Faulkner suggests and webcast all proceedings, live. It wouldn’t be all that difficult to make the proceedings permanently available on-line, either. If YouTube and Google can archive petabytes of video, why can’t the US government?

Unless, of course, the answer is “not that public!”

Today’s Pic: Another brrrr-invoking view of the neighborhood from this past Wednesday. The fifth-wheel in the foreground is the residence of one of the Eastern NMU student cowgirls, who’s back home on Christmas break. 12/20/2006.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Two More Shopping Days...

“You can do smoky burn-outs in these cars. It’s fun!” So sayeth my good friend and GM engineer Greg Prior, speaking about the Cadillac STS-V in a short video clip. You can see Greg in the 51-second video here; look on the right side-bar for the video titled “Michigan.” Greg knows from whence he speaks: he was the chief engineer and program manager for the Northstar SC, a 469 hp supercharged version of GM’s 4.4 liter Northstar V-8. If you’re an automotive techno-geek, you can read all about the Northstar SC here. That article also features a few quotes from Greg.
{sigh} If I still lived in Detroit I would have driven one of those STS-Vs by now. It wasn’t unusual at all for Greg to show up at my house in the dead of night (unannounced) and say “Hey! Are you busy? Wanna go for a ride?” We’d then proceed out to my driveway and get into one spiffy car or another…whatever Greg happened to be working on at the moment…and jet off into the night. “Former Happy Days,” indeed.
Not a Frickin’ word…not ONE…about this from the Leftie blogs. And “this” would be: Al Qaeda Sends a Message to Democrats. You didn’t see it on the news yesterday, either. I wonder why? Jules Crittenden has a round-up of right-side blog comment on the subject…
Talk to Iran? Here’s another good reason (in today’s Telegraph [UK]) to answer an emphatic “No!” to that ridiculous suggestion…
As in Iraq, the history of Iran's involvement in Afghanistan has been complex, but rarely benign. During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, the Iranians supported one of the fiercest Mujahideen groups. More recently, the Iranians helped hundreds of al-Qa'eda fighters to escape from Afghanistan following the coalition's military campaign to remove the Taliban from power in 2001. Recent intelligence reports have indicated that many senior al-Qa'eda leaders — including two of Osama bin Laden's sons — are still living in Teheran under the protection of the Revolutionary Guards, where they are being groomed for a possible takeover of the al-Qa'eda leadership.
Nor is Iran's involvement in the region confined to Afghanistan. The Iranians also have close links with Pakistan, where they have been identified as one of the countries that bought blueprints for making nuclear weapons from A. Q. Khan, the so-called "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb.
The thrust of this Telegraph op-ed is that Iran is seriously involved in Afghanistan, and its Revolutionary Guards are playing a significant role in the attempt to destabilize the country. As it’s so often said: read the whole thing.
There’s GOOD News from Afghanistan, too.
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was killed Tuesday by a U.S. airstrike while traveling by vehicle in a deserted area in the southern province of Helmand, the U.S. military said.
Osmani was the Taliban’s chief military commander in southern Afghanistan and played a “central role in facilitating terrorist operations” including roadside bombs, suicide attacks and kidnappings, the U.S. said.
Osmani reportedly was just below Mullah Omar in the Taliban hierarchy. Good riddance.
Today’s Pic(s): Two shots of rafters on the Rio Grande, just outside of Taos, NM. May, 2004. As always, click for larger.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Re-Run

I’m just totally devoid of anything to say today, be it trivial or meaningful. So…just to fill space, here’s a re-run from last year, posted on 12/26/2005. And for what it’s worth: I still don’t remember a danged thing about Christmas, 1997.

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I had to pop out to do a little grocery shopping. All the way to Wally-World and back I was thinking about Christmas' Past and the strangest thing struck me. I cannot, for the life of me, remember a single thing about the last Christmas The Second Mrs. Pennington and I spent together (1997). Nothing. Zip. Nada. I think it’s because the cataclysmic events that unfolded over the eight months following that Christmas completely obliterated all memories of times immediately preceding. It was, after all, the Winter of Her Discontent, and I was completely oblivious. Quite another story.

It is more than passing strange, however. That Christmas was my youngest son’s First Christmas. Even though he was only ten months old at the time I’m sure he had a great old time tearing into boxes and playing with the wrapping paper, as very young children do. But I don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember the tree. I don’t remember taking any pictures. I don’t remember what I gave or received that Christmas. I don’t remember a damned thing, except for the fact we were in Rochester. That’s the sum total!

I did recall, in great detail, the year we spent Christmas night on a British Airways flight from Detroit to London. Our flight left sometime around six or seven in the evening on Christmas Day, and we were at the airport a good three hours before that. There were three of us: TSMP, our great good friend Kim, and myself. It was Kim’s first trip outside the US, and she was as excited as is humanly possible. The flight was nearly empty because, who, after all, travels on Christmas Day? Just us bargain hunters. TSMP and Kim stayed awake most of the flight. I, on the other hand, found an empty row and slept. Don’t you just love empty airplanes on transatlantic flights? It doesn’t happen a lot these days, from what I read.

We arrived at Heathrow around 0700 and were completely through customs and baggage claim in about an hour. The Captain, although he was either a Buck Sergeant or a Staff Sergeant stationed at RAF Lakenheath at the time, met us at Arrivals. We loaded up the luggage and piled into his ratty old British Ford Cortina with the broken heater and leaky floor and did the patented B&P nickel tour of London for Kim’s benefit.

Sidebar: I use the term “B&P nickel tour” in a very personal sense. TSMP and I lived in London from 1980 - 1983 and we had a LOT of visitors. After the first wave of visitors had come and gone we developed our own little two-hour driving tour of London that hit all the high spots: Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, et al. We also threw in a few of our favorite places. It was great fun reliving that tour!

So. After the tour we grabbed lunch and went to the hotel for a little nap before our evening out. And thus began the ten-day England Christmas Tour of 1990-something. I don’t remember the exact year, actually. But I sure remember that trip…one of my BEST Christmases (and New Year’s), ever.

The Best Thing about our arrival in London on Boxing Day was the heretofore unmentioned party we went to that evening. TSMP, SN1, Good Friend Kim, and I went to my Brit Buddy Rob’s place, where we partied into the wee small hours. The most interesting thing about that party was that Rob and I picked up exactly where we’d left off more than ten years earlier. It was as if we’d seen each other only yesterday. It’s like that with great, good friends.

In Yesterday's Mail

Today’s Pic: This year’s BEST Christmas Card, from blog-friend Lou. You may have seen this painting before…as a “Painting of the Week” over at Lou’s place. What a wonderful sunny scene! Thanks, Lou!! As always, click the pic for the larger version; sorry about the parallax distortion.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Blog me now, blog me hard!"

My lead item in today’s earlier post was that dumb-ass provocative op-ed in the WSJ by one Mr. Joseph Rago, an assistant editorial features editor (how does he get all that on a business card, I wonder? Or does he just use “assistant editor?). I quoted this paragraph, which, by the way, may not be The Mother of All Run-On Sentences, but is certainly the Great Aunt:
Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion...
Well, here’s the first draft of that paragraph, courtesy of Iowahawk:
Every conceivable -- and inconceivable -- belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; a cacaphonous miasma of perfunctory langorous bellicosity; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; cascading, tremulous arpeggios of useless prosaicity; complexity and complication are eschewed; directivity and candor and perspicacity belied; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence, which, when one thinks about it, is in itself ironic, creating an infinite, unintended laff-riot loop of ironic non-irony; arguments are totally solipsistic; their obviously drunk and/or crack-addled writers traffic only in pronouncement, and are loathe to employ professional-grade opinion tools like Roget's Thesaurus, or the dramatic sentence-ending ellipsis . . .
But wait! There’s more!
The way we write affects both style and substance.
The loquacious formulations of late Henry James, for instance, e.g., owe in part to his arthritis, which made longhand impossible, and instead he dictated his writing to a secretary. This is why we remember him fondly as journalism's "Great Dictator." We can also learn much from the effluvient garrolous pronunciamentos of my biggest journalistic influence, the opinion giant Irwin Corey. In this aspect, journalism as practiced via, and vis-a-vis, blog, appears, per se, to be a change for the worse, ad nauseum. Res ipsa loquitir: that is, i.e., the inferiority of the medium is rooted in its new, distinctive literary form, viz., et al. Its closest analogue might be the (poorly kept) diary, or the "honey do" chore list of a (harridan) housewife, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope, or bathroom stall; e.g., "for a good heh, read the whole thing," or somesuch, though these things are not meant for public consumption. The reason for a blog's being is: Here's my opinion, right now.
The right now is partially a function of technology, which makes instantaneity possible, and also a function of a culture that valorizes the up-to-the-minute above all else. Ooh baby, I've been a bad topic. Blog me now, blog me hard! But there is no inherent virtue to instantaneity. Good opinion, like good wine, takes time to ferment and develop a rich, full bodied flavor with hints of oak and apricot; and, like a virtuous maiden, a good opinion waits for the right time and the right reader, and will not just throw herself like a cheap dimestore slut at the first lothario who adds her to his "little black blog book" of RSS feeds.
The “first draft” of the entire op-ed is available at the link, and it would really help if you read the original first (if you haven't already). But: put your coffee/tea/beer down before reading… you have been warned.

Careless Informality

So…yesterday I linked a Rich Lowry column on slagging the MSM and a couple of bloggers’ reactions to same. It turns out there was a column wherein the MSM slagged the blogs, and in the WSJ, at that. Mr. Joseph Rago, a WSJ assistant editorial features editor, says:

Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion...

Well, OK, but other than that, what else is wrong? C’mon Mr. Rago…tell us how you really feel! There’s one thing about blogs, however…the prose may be “carelessly informal” but it rarely drives one to the dictionary twice in the space of one short paragraph. But Hey! I’m not a journalist

When I went to the dictionary to look up “solipsistic” (see above) I found this: Words of the Year 2006.” Interesting list. It contains:

The top voted-on words for 2006 (196,848 total votes) (#1: truthiness)
The top 10 looked-up words on for 2006 (#1: love)
The top 10 looked-up new words on for 2006 (words only found in Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English) (#1: sequitur)

I never realized one could vote on a Word of the Year. I have to pay more attention… (Thanks, Rago! You’re contributing to my continuing ed-u-ma-kay-shun!)

If it’s Thursday, it must be Susan O, unrequited love! (Hey Rago! Bloggers are self-referential, too. Ain’t that irritating!)

Slow news day…this is the second item on memeorandum’s line-up at 0610 hrs this morning: Trump to Rosie: You’re Sued! Just how is Trump/Rosie more important than Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Christmas video (which, btw, is not so much funny as sad-but-true)? (Note to Rago: you forgot to mention bloggers are so superficial!)

Make of this what you will:

There were 2,833 babies called Mohammed born in 2006 and 1,422 called Muhammad. The total exceeds the number of Georges (3,386) or Josephs (3,755).

That’s in England and Wales, not the US. Mohammed and/or Muhammad do not crack the US Top 100 baby names for 2005...they were numbers 622 and 652, respectively. “Jesus,” on the other hand, ranked as 2005’s 73rd most popular name in the US. Nothing beats The Baby Name Wizard’s Name Voyager when it comes to naming baby, though. Nothing. (Ya gotta admit, Rago, bloggers give you more fun stuff than the MSM do.)

All that ice and snow we got here on the High Plains over the past two days remains on the ground. This morning’s sunrise was beautiful and somewhat ethereal, especially in conjunction with the patches of ice fog visible from my east-facing windows. We’re supposed to go into the high 40s today, so the snow will go…no White Christmas this year. (Yeah, I know, Rago. No one gives a dang about the weather in an obscure New Mexican town.)

Today’s Pic: I tried to post this pic night before last, but Blogger wouldn’t cooperate. I went outside after the second or third wave of freezing rain passed over P-Town and attempted to get some photos of ice forming on the tree branches. I was semi-successful. The result is above, and it’s…uh… “interesting.” 2030 hrs, 12/19/2006. (OK, Rago, it’s original, if nothing else.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes...Turn and Face the Strain...

Interesting. The President sits for an interview with the WaPo and acknowledges, for the first time, we aren’t winning in Iraq.

President Bush acknowledged for the first time yesterday that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq and said he plans to expand the overall size of the "stressed" U.S. armed forces to meet the challenges of a long-term global struggle against terrorists.

More interesting, to me, is Dubya’s acknowledgement that the military is “stressed” and needs to grow to meet current and future challenges.

A substantial military expansion will take years and would not immediately affect the war in Iraq. But it would begin to address the growing alarm among commanders about the state of the armed forces. Although the president offered no specifics, other U.S. officials said the administration is preparing plans to bolster the nation's permanent active-duty military with as many as 70,000 additional troops.

A force structure expansion would accelerate the already-rising costs of war.

There’s a lot in this article that’s speculation, but there’s more than a little bit of substance, as well. One of the issues the military establishment had with Rumsfeld was his insistence on transformation as he visualized it: “light and mobile,” as opposed to “strength in numbers,” or brute force. There is a middle ground, but apparently Rummy resisted any increase in permanent end-strength of the Army and Marines. That appears to be changing with Rumsfeld’s departure. It will take time to build up the Army, and it’s gonna take a lot of money, especially when one factors in the costs of replacing worn out or blown up equipment. And that’s not even considering the aging inventories of combat aircraft in the Air Force and Navy, a substantial problem in its own right.

The cost is the sticky bit. How do we pay for this expansion? I submit it’s past time to recognize war has costs above and beyond normal government expenditures. We’ve been doing this war on terror thing on the cheap for the past five years, and Dubya ain’t doing us any favors by prosecuting the war in this manner. It’s time for additional revenue, whether it’s in the form a ten cents per gallon “temporary” gas tax, war bonds, or an income tax surcharge. Pay as you go… Ya know?

Rich Lowry wrote a column yesterday at National Review that is getting a LOT of comment from the right side of the ‘sphere. Here are a couple of reasons why:

The mainstream media is biased, arrogant, prone to stultifying group-think and much more fallible than its exalted self-image allows it to admit. It also, however, can be right, and this is most confounding to conservatives.

In Iraq, the media’s biases happen to fit the circumstances. Being primed to consider any military conflict a quagmire and another Vietnam is a drawback when covering a successful U.S. military intervention, but not necessarily in Iraq. Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war.

Partly because he felt it necessary to counteract the pessimism of the media, President Bush accentuated the positive for far too long. Bush allowed himself to be cornered by his media critics. They wanted him to admit mistakes, so for the longest time, he would admit none. They wanted him to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, so for too long he kept him on. They wanted him to abandon “stay the course,” so he stuck to it. In so doing, he eroded his own credibility and delayed making the major strategic readjustment he needed to try to check the downward slide in Iraq.

Lowry makes some danged good points and I agree with his premise, for the most part. A couple of perceptive folks on the right provide some needed balance and perspective to Lowry’s comments, though, and Jules Crittenden is one of those guys:

He (ed: Lowry) is talking about trees, and a couple of thickets. What he misses is the forest. The pervasive underlying assumptions and perspective that taint many Associated Press reports and those in other major newspapers and broadcasts.

Chief among them is the notion that we remain a nation at peace, with a bit of a global crime problem, engaged in elective wars, and the notion that adversarial reporting should proceed full steam ahead regardless of any immediate or potential consequences (google New York Times treason).

Another example is the pervasion disinformation campaign that suggests Saddam Hussein was an manufactured threat, ignoring the actual history, what was believed by every major intelligence agency at the time, the image he was successfuly projecting, and the very real consequences of the collapse of sanctions. Another example is the fast and loose use of terms such as "torture," eagerness to amplify any U.S. misdeed, and the unequal standards of coverage applied to matters such as harsh U.S. interrogation techniques, as opposed the relative lack of horror and matter-of-fact coverage of true atrocities committed by Islamic terrorists.

All of that said, an important point Lowry makes is that you don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Every one of the news organizations that are routinely bashed by me and others also provide important information.

Captain Ed adds: “I suspect that Lowry has it more right than many of us in the blogosphere would like to admit.” I agree.

All three articles are worth the read. And by the way…I agreed with Laurie when she said Jules Crittenden gets her vote for “Best New Blog” in the recently concluded 2006 Weblog Awards. The guy’s good.

Picked this link up from a commenter at Lex’s place. I think I’ll do a bit of shopping here… (Note to SNs 1&2: When it comes to Christmas gifts you could do much worse than selecting an item or two from this site.)

The weather has changed considerably since I put the photos up this morning. Those crystal-clear skies have been replaced by a wooly gray overcast and almost-howling winds…on the order of 28 mph or so, steady, with gusts in the 30+ mph range. It’s not warmed up a lot, but enough so that I’m being alternately entertained and startled by the tink-crack-THUNK sounds of ice falling on the roof of El Casa Móvil De Pennington. Looks like an entertaining sort of day, weather-wise.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells...

Today’s Pics: Ice in the trees and snow on the ground! Pretty seasonal, eh? As much as I dislike snow I have to admit it is beautiful…especially early in the morning in bright sun after a dark and stormy night (ahem). Maybe a half-inch of snow on the grond, total. A south-southwest view of El Casa Móvil De Pennington, the Green Hornet, and a little piece of the neighborhood. 0730 hrs, 12/20/2006.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It Could Have Been Worse...

…and it still just might. Get worse, that is. As noted below we got our ice storm last evening, which is still in progress as I write and is supposed to continue all day and into the night. The roads are clear, judging from the speed of traffic on US 70, which is visible from my window. Still and even I’m glad I’ve got nowhere to go and I’m stocked up on every form of consumable known to man. I could sit here for three or four days if push came to shove. But it won’t.

I lost my ‘net connection last evening, coincidence or not, as the ice storm moved in. And I sat in fear for most of the evening, wondering if the forecasted one-quarter to one-half inch of ice was going to materialize. First there was the fear of a power outage and associated cold once my furnace quit working; second was the fear of crashing limbs and such. El Casa Móvil De Pennington sits in the shade of a very large tree with overarching limbs of significant girth. The very last thing I wanted to hear in the dead of night was the crash of a limb hitting my roof… Thankfully the forecasted amount of ice never happened and from all appearances, it won’t.

My fingers are crossed.

Today’s Pic: Just enough ice on the Green Hornet to make things unpleasant should I have to go somewhere. Today, 30 minutes ago.


The following is from the comments to my “Some People’s Kids” post, which you'll find somewhere below. I wanted to bring this comment up "front and center" because Cadet Z makes some good points…plus the fact I’m told this whole episode has drawn way more attention in the Air Force than it deserves.

Here’s Cadet Z:

I'm a prior-enlisted Academy cadet. I'm sitting in my room right now taking a break from studying for finals and missing my three stripes hard core (they definitely got me more respect than the shoulder boards I wear now). Being very close to the primary sources of the topic, I thought I would fill in some detail—along with my humble opinions of course. First of all, (ed: deleted) is a pretty solid kid. His only fault seems to be his enthusiasm in pursuing a ride in jet through the wrong channels. Apparently, no one told him how he was supposed to go about it, so he took it up directly with the unit. This is the email the major was replying to:

From: (Deleted)
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 7:01 PM
To: (Deleted)
Subject: RE: Cadet request for F-15 ride
Here's the guy who keeps calling up and bugging the scheduling shop about getting a flight.

-----Original Message-----
From: (Deleted)
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 4:59 PM
To: (Deleted)
Subject: Cadet request for F-15 ride

Lt. XXX,

I am a cadet at the Air Force Academy trying to arrange a flight with the 333rd Fighter Wing between 21 December and 5 January. I have my Secret Clearance and Physiological Training Card and can coordinate any AOC approval or necessary medical clearance (Form 1042). My presence does not impose any limitations on the mission; I'm just along for the ride. Any further guidance or authorization you can provide on this matter is much appreciated. Email is the best way to contact me (, but my cell phone number is XXX.XXX.XXXX.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very Respectfully,
C3C (Deleted),

United States Air Force Academy

Misguided? Sure, but clearly respectful and not deserving the response he received. Of course, it is worth considering that nothing warrants such unprofessional conduct on the major’s part. He should be the one with the maturity to handle the situation properly regardless of the (nonexistent) provocation. Another cadet, far more “misguided” than XXX, elicited this infinitely more appropriate, thoughtful, educated and educational, response from a man with the power to end his career:

From: Roche James Dr SAF/OS
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 10:11 AM
To: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Subject: Re: Removal of Academy Leaders

Bob, good to hear from you. Colonel Eskeridge is a highly regarded officer and I have no animus toward him. He will be reassigned without any adverse consequence. In fact, we are working to minimize the impact on his family. However, Gen Jumper and I want a new leadership team in place, and we will do so. Your comments about Colonel Gray are not only wrong, they don't reflect particularly well on you. Assignment of leaders in military organizations is not a popularity contest. Rather, it reflects the vision of the senior leadership of the Service. I know Colonel Gray, Gen Jumper knows Colonel Gray, and you don't. Now, say again all after who is and who is not qualified to make assignment decisions? While I admire your loyalty to Colonel Eskeridge, and I enjoy a challenge-up, or "briefing room rules" environment, one of us is responsible to the President, the Congress, and the American people for the Academy -- and, it's not you (at least not for a few years). Gen Jumper and I have made our decisions. We expect all concerned now to implement them cheerfully, as is the long-standing expectation for military professionals.

And, Bob, that includes you.


Dr. James G. Roche
Secretary of The Air Force

By comparison, the major sounds like a five year-old throwing a temper tantrum. Okay I take that back. He sounds like a five year-old throwing a temper tantrum without the comparison. Do you think this contrast says anything about the character of people who are successful leaders? Granted, my mind may be full of useless idealistic classroom discussion, the writings of great generals, and limited personal experience, but I think it does.

That last one was of course the response to the cadet you mentioned earlier, here’s the original email along with the Chief’s response. General Jumper is a little harsher than the Secretary, but even he doesn’t stoop nearly as low as the major.

From: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 10:30 AM
To: Jumper John Gen AF/CC
Subject: Removal of Academy Leader

Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force,
General John P. Jumper,
Sir, I am a fourth Class Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. I do not agree with your idea for removal of all top officials at the
United States Air Force Academy. I do not believe it is necessary for all four of them to be removed, and replaced. I especially have a problem with the replacement of Col. Bob Eskeridge. The person who is supposed to replace Col. Eskeridge, is not qualified for the position. Her only qualifications are that she is a female, and an Academy Graduate. She has never been a group commander, while Col. Eskeridge has been a group commander twice. Furthermore, this woman has been working at the Academy during the same period as all these cases. She has been in the position of the 34th Training Group, serving as the Deputy Group Commander. By allowing her to take over Col. Eskeridge's position, it seems as though you are promoting her. Also, the person who will be filling the job she is moving from, will be her superior, having also served as a group commander, but because of the hierarchy at the Academy, she will instead be his superior. I would like to see Col. Eskeridge retain his current position. I do not believe he is a problem, in any way. He is a role model for all Cadets, as a military officer. I have not heard a single complaint or bad word spoken about Col. Eskeridge. Please reconsider your decision to remove Col. Eskeridge from his position.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Very Respectfully,
Cadet Fourth Class Robert M. Walsh
Cadet Squadron 21 "Blackjacks"
United States Air Force Academy

From: Jumper John Gen AF/CC
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 12:33 PM
To: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Subject: RE: Removal of Academy Leader

Cadet Walsh, I sincerely hope that this is a hoax of some type because I would hate to think a Cadet Fourth Class would presume to instruct me on Air Force leaders I have known and served with for longer than you have been alive. I strongly suggest you devote your energy toward being the best possible 3-degree that you can be, to be a part of the solution that the new leadership is being sent there to oversee, and to keep yourself and your attitude off my radar scope.


First of all, thanks for the well-written clarification, Cadet Z, and thanks for dredging up those old notes to/from Cadet W, SecAF, and the CoS. Secondly, I cannot and will not argue with the points you’ve made because they are irrefutable from both logical and moral points of view. Nor will I defend the manner and tone in which Major XXXX took your classmate XXX to task. Major XXXX violated a number of leadership tenets by sending that e-mail, not the least of which is “praise in public, criticize in private.” I’m sure the good major fervently wishes he had a “do over” button. Him and a lot of other mostly good folks I’ve known who fell victim to their tempers and let reason slide by hitting “send” before cooling off.

All of the above is written from a cold “just the facts, Ma’am” point of view. The “real” world, however, is not a leadership lab. People have bad days, missions get scrubbed, your wife rags on you about getting the dryer fixed, the Ol’ Man is on your ass about overdue check rides, your best eval guy PCSed last week, and then your new LT calls and tells you some kid from the Academy keeps calling up, asking for a ride. And keeps calling, despite the LT’s numerous fuggit-about-its (I quote: “Here's the guy who keeps calling up and bugging the scheduling shop about getting a flight.”). It’s the end of the day, and so…

No defense: Just sayin’

Finally…the major was wrong, no doubt. But I (and a helluva of other folks) laughed when we read the e-mail. No small part of the humor in the major’s message, at least for me, was a direct repudiation of the politically correct mindset that has permeated our society, extending even into the Air Force, fer gawd’s sake. It wasn’t always so, ya know. I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to imagine LeMay or Patton writing the same e-mail (if they had had it) when they were majors. And for the record: I received similar, and perhaps worse, dressing-downs on the rare occasions I screwed up during my AF career. But that was back in the day before we became so sensitive.

(Just a note: I wish you would have “sanitized” the quoted e-mails from the 333FS as you did with XXXX’s note, Cadet Z. Those guys’ names are now “in the clear,” and I wish it wasn’t so. I would have deleted your comment upon receipt last evening if I could have and republished it in sanitized form later. But…we had an ice storm last evening and my ‘net connection went south until this morning. Cat’s out of the bag…)

Update, 12/19/2006 1135 hrs: A long time reader e-mails me thusly:

"Just because Cadet Z. was too shortsighted or impulsive to scrub the names of the parties, doesn't mean you couldn't scrub them, even after a bit of time had elapsed.

Just my 2 cents :)"

Noted. And fixed. Thanks.