Saturday, July 23, 2016

Integrity Matters

In the brouhaha surrounding Hillary Clinton and her willful disregard for security procedures, her apologists say that she caused no harm, it was inadvertent, and that America's security wasn't damaged.  The rules exist for a reason, and every soldier knows that he violates those rules at his peril, and the potential peril of the nation.

Old NFO tells a story about a young Marine captain who inadvertently violated the rules concerning the handling of classified material.  One could argue that the young officer's indiscretion was forgivable and could make the argument that no information was compromised.  That's not the point.
On the day our ships were leaving the Mediterranean, we met the new amphibious squadron near Gibraltar and made preparations to transfer security codes and other sensitive material to the incoming Marine battalion. The young captain was on duty and went to the operations office to pick up the code book. He was alone in the office. He removed the code book and placed it on the desk while closing the safe. In a rushed moment, he stepped across the passageway to retrieve something he needed from his quarters. Seconds later, he stepped back into the operations office and found the operations sergeant having just entered, looking down at the code book.
 Against all regulations, the code book had been out of the safe and unattended. It mattered not that it was unattended for only seconds, that the ship was 5 miles at sea, or that it was certain no one unauthorized had seen the code.
The young captain, to his credit, reported the incident to his commanders, and the commanders, to their credit, did what was necessary to protect those codes.
The results went by the book. The amphibious squadron stood down. Military couriers flew in from NATO. The codes were changed all over Europe. The battalion was a day late in leaving the Mediterranean. The captain, Leonard F. Chapman III, received a letter of reprimand, damaging his career. He stayed in the corps and died in a tragic accident aboard another ship.
Integrity matters, and when you're dealing with nuclear codes, or other classified material, it matters especially.  People's lives and the secrets of the United States depend on it.

Hillary Clinton's actions as Secretary of State violated the security protocols set in place to secure the secrets of the nation.  After a long, detailed investigation, the FBI concluded that she was "extemely careless" with our nation's secrets.  The repercussions are two-fold, and may reverberate across our security networks for a decade or longer.

First, she has proven that she is not capable of handling classified material.  By extension, she has also proven that she is unfit to be the Commander in Chief.  At this point, she could not pass a standard security background check.  Yet, if she is elected, she will have access to every secret that the United States possesses.

Second, FBI Director Comey has furthered the perception that there is a two-track system for judging the activities of citizens.  The rich, powerful and connected get a pass, while the lesser mortals face prosecution.  Comey stressed that people who violate the regulations are subject to administartive disciplinary processes, but those processes could not be weighed on Clinton.  All that was left was criminal prosecution, and Comey demonstrated that he had neither the will nor the integrity to make that recommendation.

So now it's left to the voters.

Friday, July 22, 2016

My Time With the AR Rifle.

I'll never forget the day I first handled and AR-type rifle.  I was a brand-new soldier at Fort Knox, KY, had been in the Arm all of 48 hours when I was assigned to Co E, 13th Bn, 4th Training Bde.  This, during the second week of June, 1973.

Sometime during the first week of training, the Drill Sergeant marched us into the arms room after morning PT.  Because my name starts with a "D", everything was in alphabetical order, and I was assigned to rack number 6, which I soon learned was a rifle.  Specifically a rifle, M16A1, a select fire, gas operated, magazine fed, shoulder fired weapon.  I wish I could say that it was a brand-spanking new rifle, but that would be a lie.  It was serviceable, rack grade, and I'd only carry it till the end of basic training.

The Drill Sergeant marched us out to the front of the barracks, and we began to learn the manual of arms.  I had been around guns all my life, being a gun nut since my pre-teen years, but I had o idea that there were so many ways to carry a rifle.  Port arms, shoulder arms, attention, parade rest, present arms, the Drill Sergeant went through the litany of the manual,   Over and over, we toiled away in the hot Kentucky sun, until lunch, when we went to sling arms, and took our rifles with us to the mess hall.

This story won't be unfamiliar to anyone who has gone through Army basic training,  After lunch, we were marched to a classroom, where we started learning the assembly, disassembly and nomenclature of the various bits and pieces.  We learned to clean, oil, and maintain it.  We were issued cleaning kits.  We were taught function tests, everything that a basic infantryman needs to know about the weapon.

For the next several days we reinforced the lessons taught. Over and over we went through the rifle, cleaned it, oiled it, carried it, marched with it.  Then, one morning, with full packs, we marched out of the company area, turned left, and went down Misery Hill toward the creek, crossed the bridge and moved into the range areas of the post.  Three days later we marched back up Misery Hill to the cantonement area.  After cleaning my rifle, I turned it in to the arms room for the weekend, then went up to the platoon bay to shower and clean up.  I found a shiny new Expert badge pinned to the dust cover on my pillow.

In early August of 1973, I gave old rack number 6 a final cleaning and turned it in to the armorer.  I was glad to be shed of it.  It was just something else that I had to keep up with. We were busy that week, cleaning gear and turning it in, so that it would be ready for the next group of trainees that would come through after cycle break.

And, for the next 25 years, on active duty, in the reserves and the guard, through a dozen different iterations, a half-dozen units, annual trainings, and deployments, I carried whichever of the rifles that the Army handed me in the various arms rooms I walked through.  I turned my last one in, in July of 1999.  After, of course, giving it a thorough cleaning.

I never had any affection for the M16 series rifles.  Oh, there were plenty of issued weapons that I liked.  I really enjoyed the M2 machine gun. Really liked it.  I liked the M3 "grease gun".  I thought that the M203 was a silly implement.  I obtained a warm affection for the M1911A1.  But, the M16 series never really took hold in my psyche.  It was a bullet-launcher, and while I understood the strengths and weaknesses of the platform, it held no appeal to me.

In police work during the late 20th century, we used a variety of patrol rifles.  Ruger Mini-14s, M1 carbines, lever-action rifles, either Marlin or Winchester.  Each had its place in a squad car, and personally, I was in a fairly rural beat.  We were still using revolvers, mainly SW66s, and I liked the ammo compatibility that a pistol cartridge lever action gave me.  I carried a Marlin 1894 with good peep sights for a couple of years.  Qualified with it on the course. I even tried once to qualify with a Remington 7600 in .30-06.  It was a good hunting rifle, but sucked as a patrol rifle because the magazines were so fiddly.

In 2003, we had a traumatic event in this area, where two good police officers died under fire from an AK type rifle.  Almost immediately, individual officers started upgrading their patrol rifles.  In early May, 2003, I walked into a local gun shop and bought a brand new Bushmaster AR.  I took it home, cleaned and oiled it, found some old GI magazines that were till in my kit, and took it to the range.

Firing it for the first time was like putting on an old jacket.  Comfortable, well understood, familiar.  I still had no love for the platforms, but I was gaining an affection.  Mine's not tricked out, it doesn't have any accessories.  It doesn't even wear optics.  I've been with that particular rifle for 13 years now, and while others have come and gone, the old Bushmaster still rides in the car with me.  Rifles come and go, they're acquired, sighted, analyzed and either kept or given away, but the Bushmaster keeps hanging on.

Over the past two decades, the AR platform rifle has become the premier rifle in the American inventory.  Millions have been sold, hundreds of thousands just like the one I have.  It's an old friend to every GI who went through basic training over the past 40 years.  It is what it is, neither good nor evil, just a tool.  But, it is a very versatile tool, a very durable tool.  That's probably why I've grown to have an affection for the rifle.  It's very good at what it does, it doesn't require a lot of tweaking, it runs right out of the box.

One day, the AR will be surpassed by something new and advanced, but for the time being, the AR rifle is beloved of Americans.  It is truly America's rifle.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Watching Grandkids III

Still hanging out with grandkids.  This morning we decided to jump in the pool, and the youngest one decided to forgo the swim vest.  He's starting to get the hang of swimming, and figured that as long as I was in the pool, he'd be okay.  My grandkids have generally started swimming unassisted at about age five, so he's right on track.

It doesn't look like he's afraid of the water, does it?

Conversation with a Grandson

Second son and I were sitting on the porch, talking about the day, when I was approached by a grandson.

Grandson:  "Do you have any hammer and nails?"

Me: "Yep.  Why do you need hammer and nails?"

Grandson:  "I'm very good at building, and I could build something."

Me:  "What do you want to build."

Grandson: "Oh, I don't know.  What do you need me to build?"

Me: "Nothing."

Grandson: "Okay, do you have the materials to build nothing?"

Me:  "Oh, yeah, I think I have plenty of those materials."

Grandson looks at me like I've lost my mind, then turns and walks away.

Second Son, suppressing a snicker: "Well, that worked out well."

The Northwest Passage

The history of global exploration, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries is interwoven with man's search for the Northwest Passage, a supposed sea route from Europe to Asia, around the north end of the North American continent.  Explorers since Henry Hudson have been frustrated by ice in the polar regions, frustrated by the fact that when water gets cold, it freezes, making navigation impossible.

Granted, the Northwest Passage has been navigable in the past.  In fact, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen first transited the passage during his expedition of 1903-06.  However, weather plays a huge part in climate, and weather is unpredictable on a large scale, as a modern day group of explorers have learned.

It seems that a climate scientist, explorer and adventurer decided that the ice would draw back far enough that the passage should surely be open.  Mother Nature, of course, showed them the folly of their science.  They're stuck in the ice.  Granted, they're in the Northeast Passage, but....
There has been one small hiccup thus-far though: they are currently stuck in Murmansk, Russia because there is too much ice blocking the North East passage the team said didn’t exist in summer months,
I'm no scientist, but I have noticed some general trends in weather, and climate.  First, if you're going to attempt that trip, go in the summer.  It's generally warmer during those months.  Second, if you think that you can predict weather, you're doomed to spending half of your career being demonstrably wrong, at least past the three or four day mark.

Since Henry Hudson, sailors have dreamed of a reliable ocean passage in the Arctic regions of our globe.  Sometimes it's navigable, sometimes it's not, and mariners seek it at their peril.  For the past 500 years, it's been a craphoot thinking that you can point a boat generally Northwest and sail across the top of the world.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Red Beans and Rice.

Alien asks, in comments:
Might you have the recipe for that dish, as in what kind of sausage, how much of what, etc. ?
I was talking about Red Beans and Rice, so I assume that he means that dish.   Red Beans and Rice is an old cajun dish.  It may be in other cultures, but traditionally, Red Beans and Rice was a Monday dish, simply because Monday was wash day,  and red beans and rice didn't take much attention.  The harried housewife could walk past the stove once every half hour or so, give it a stir, and move on.  Traditionally made with dried beans, some of us cheat and use canned beans.  Milady scoffs at my canned bean recipe, but she eats her fair share of them when it's time to eat.

There are probably as many variations of Red Beans and Rice as there are people who cook, but I'll give you my easy, quick recipe.

Red Beans and Rice.


One pound good sausage.  Whatever you like.  I've used smoked, pork, beef, kielbasa, and andouille.  It doesn't matter.  One pound of good sausage.
4 medium cans of red kidney beans.
One medium yellow onion.
1/4 cup vegetable oil.
3 cups uncooked white rice.
Brown gravy mix, or, make a dark roux.


Chop your onion and cut up your sausage into rounds.
In a large skillet, saute the onion.  When the onion is clear and sweet, add the sausage.  Let that cook for a while.  You're basically frying the sausage. Stir frequently, stay close.

In a large pot, add the cooked onion and sausage.  Add your cans of beans.  Adjust your gravy to make the beans, sausage, gravy the consistency of a thick stew.  Simmer on a low heat until meal time.  The longer it simmers, the better the flavors blend.

Or, alternatively, add cooked sausage, onions, gravy and beans to a ceramic slow cooker.  Put on low and cook for several hours.

A half-hour before meal time, cook rice according to label directions.

Serve in bowls.  A dollop of rice, add beans over it.  Serve with a prayer of thanks and the beverage of choice.

Red beans and rice is so traditional that I've known restaurants that always made a big pot of red beans on Mondays.  Generally, it was an off-menu item, but it was the specialty of the day on Mondays.

If you don't feel like actually cooking, you can use dry beans and cook the whole thing in a crock pot.  It's great for working folks, and it's really simple.  The night before, get a pound of dry red beans, wash them throoughly and put them in the crock pot.  Cover with water, but don't turn the pot on.  Go to bed.  The next morning, cut up your sausage, add some onion, make sure that everything is covered with water.  Add a litle salt and pepper.  Set the crock pot on low, and go to work.  When you get home about five o'clock, make a pot of rice.  The beans will be done, and the long cooking time helps to blend the flavors.

Red beans and rice is easy, versatile, and filling.  It's a great way to feed a crowd.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Watching Grandkids II

We've basically just stayed around the house today.  Rode bicycles, swam in the pool, ate sandwiches for lunch.  It's interesting watching a kid put together his own sandwich, under safety supervision of course.

One wanted an old standby, peanut butter and jelly.

The other was more creative.  White bread, a slice of smoked turkey, shredded (not sliced) cheese, ketchup, no mayo, lettuce (no tomato) and a couple of olives on the side.  I'd have never have figured on the olives.

I asked what they wanted for supper, and they were unanimous.  Red Beans and Rice.  I had to go to the grocers anyway, so we picked up the fixings.  I cheated and used canned red beans, but the beans, some good sausage, onion and gravy are in the crock pot.  When Milady gets home, we'll still have plenty of time to make a pot of rice before supper.

Everything is proceeding according to plan.

Personal Rifles

It seems that the head of the Oklahoma City Police has changed his mind about allowing officers to carry their personal rifles while on duty.
Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty reconsidered his previous position, he said Monday, and will allow officers to carry their personal rifles while on duty until the department buys additional weapons.
According to the AP, he had previously denied the request, based on some spurious reasoning.
Last week, Citty rejected a police union request to allow officers to carry personal rifles following the shooting deaths of five Dallas officers. He had called the proposal from the city's Fraternal Order of Police "alarmist" and said the policy would present problems for the department ensuring the quality of the equipment.
Generally, cops carry equipment that is as good as, or better, than the equipment purchased from the lowest bidder.    Additionally, officers are more apt to familiarize with their own weapons than they are to practice with agency owned firearms.

I've always carried my own patrol rifle.  And my own shotgun, and for many years, my own handgun.

Aloha Snackbar!

It seems that we shouldn't ascribe motives to people who attack others in horrific and deadly ways.
18 people were injured after a man armed with an axe went on a bloody rampage after storming a train in Germany.
 A 17-year-old Afghan refugee believed to be behind the attack was shot dead by police as he reportedly charged at them following the incident near W├╝rzburg-Heidingsfeld station.
The boy is reported to have shouted "Allahu Akbar" before the attack and investigators believed he had a become 'self-radicalised' Muslim.
One wag stated that the phrase "Alahu Akbar" can be translated as "My motives will be forever mysterious".   I, for one, don't have any trouble untangling his motives, but our President, not so much.  How many more days before he's gone?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Watching Grandkids

I have a grandson visiting this week, and PawPaw learned a long time ago that it's a lot easier to watch two grandkids than it is to watch one.  If two grandkids play together, they don't need quite so much adult attention.  So, I arranged for a local grandkid to come over.

Lunch isn't much of a challenge.  Fast food places abound.  And, the five-buck meal at Dairy Queen comes with a sundae.  Whut?  That's a deal.

Chicken strips, fries, a drink, and a sundae.  It doesn't get much better than that.  PawPaw is doing okay this week.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

No Lives Matter

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I am just sick and tired of hearing about the black lives that matter.  The basic, horrible truth is that few lives matter.  The vast majority of us won't be remembered past the third generation, simply because our kids, grandkids, and great grandkids might know us, but past that, very few people are remembered from century to century.

Sure, some people lived good, honest hardworking lives and are a credit to their time on earth.  The vast majority of us simply want to live our lives in peace, raise our kids, and worship our God.  The vast majority of us try to live good lives.  But, the simple fact is that nature doesn't care a whit about us.  Nature starts trying to kill us from the moment that we're born.

Yes, I love my family deeply and I care for my co-workers and generally want everyone to live in peace and prosperity.  That may be a defense mechanism about the horrible randomness of who lives a long life and who dies an early death.

So, I'm torn, you see.  Which is why I became a cop, so long ago.  I wanted to deny the opportunity of bad people to affect the lives of good people.  However I recognize the brutal truth that many people won't mourn me when I'm gone, and in the huge, vast universe, my life will not have mattered to people who live 200 years beyond me.

As Robert Duvall said in the movie Broken Trail, "From the sweet grass to the slaughterhouse, we live between two eternities."

Another Tragedy in Baton Rouge

It seems that some asshole began shooting police officers in Baton Rouge today.  Early reports are that a person was walking down a main road with a rifle, and when police responded to citizen calls, another person was hidden nearby.  When the officers responded, the hidden shooter opened fire.

That makes it a coordinated ambush.  Bad ju-ju.  Seven officers down, three dead at this posting.

CNN broke the story.  I'll be watching updates the rest of the day.

Time to get out the mourning band again.  I'm getting plenty tired of wearing that damned thing.