Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Passivity of Sheep

When a society is disarmed, they not only lose their ability to defend themselves and others...they lose their inclination. A society disarmed loses their instinct for self preservation and gains a fatal dependence on government apparati.

A nation with sheepdogs can devolve into a nation of sheep. It's also the difference between subjects and citizens.
The recent attack on a British soldier by assassins wielding meat cleavers while bystanders looked on raises the question: “Why didn’t anyone try to help the victim?”

Because British citizens are prohibited from carrying objects that could be used as “offensive weapons.”

While it is well known that Brits cannot carry guns, a lesser known law prohibits any subject of the Queen from carrying a knife of consequence, pepper spray or a stun gun.

According to the United Kingdom government website, the online storehouse of British government regulations, it is illegal to:

    - sell a knife of any kind (including cutlery and kitchen knives) to anyone under 18
    - carry a knife in public without good reason – unless it’s a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less, eg a Swiss Army knife
    - carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife
    - use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife, such as a Swiss Army knife)
According to the UK website, “Having an offensive weapon in a public place without lawful authority or a reasonable excuse can also lead to a fine and/or up to four years in prison.”
 Read the rest at the Daily Caller

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

I have avoided any movie portraying our involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan. A hollywood portrayal is simply not something that I expect to be anywhere in the same zip code as the ground truth. But there are two movies that I have on my hard drive, that I was waiting for the right time. They are Restrepo and Memorial Day. This being Memorial Day weekend...and being deployed away from my family....I figured I could take the plunge, after a fair amount of Clynelishe 14 year SMS. Bear with me because I'm drunk as three Irishmen as I write this. It will, I'm sure, take another hour to edit with the bonus of spellcheck.

I watched the movie Memorial Day with James [and John] Cromwell. I'm glad I was alone. I've had this movie on my hard drive for quite awhile now, but have avoided watching it for many reasons. It's ironic to be glad I was alone alone when I finally did, and miserable because I couldn't turn to my wife when I need her most. I very nearly called her for comfort, but it would be 0330 EST as I write this...and she's had a rough weekend already. I'll see her and my babies in few weeks.

This rambling missive will have more meaning to those who have experienced the tragedy of war, this particular movie simply opened a dark door and I'm compelled by emotion to reference those parts that broke me down. I lost my military bearing early on when the grandson and grandfather had the following exchange, after pulling out a footlocker of WWII souvenirs and memorabilia:
Young Kyle Vogel: It's Memorial Day.

Bud Vogel: You're damn straight it is.

Young Kyle Vogel: What am I supposed to remember?
What are our children supposed to remember on this day? Our curious, inquisitive but innocent children. How can they know the true meaning of this day of remembrance? I want to forget everything associated with my experiences, but don't we have to pass on the horrors of war, so that this day has the meaning that it's owed? What will I tell my daughters if they ask? Will it have any meaning to them? Can I convey my emotions in a way that will make sense to them? Because of their age, I'm glad that I don't have to worry about that for at least a few years. If there are things that I haven't even shared with my wife, can I share them with my children, ever? Should the horrible nature of warfare be buried as if in a grave...or do they deserve the possibly cleansing light of day?

The one person who might get it, in my family...was taken in 2010...possibly by the very ship on which he served, the Destroyer USS Metcalf, in WWII. I never asked him if he was scared, or how he dealt with it. I never asked him how he put it behind him and raised a family that would make him proud. Even before I came home, I buried my emotions regarding war and loss. They remain buried today...but they bubble to the surface on occasion. My lovely wife has comforted me on most of those, but we are separated by distance tonight.

In the movie Memorial Day, the grandfather played by James Cromwell writes a letter to Kyle, which I will post the text of here:
Dear Kylie, my old head can't hold too much anymore but, today, a whole lot came flooding back into it. You might remember this afternoon as just another Saturday at Opa's farmhouse. It wasn't. I've never liked the word "souvenirs", but I guess that's what they are. Shards of memory, shrapnel. You take them to help you remember. What you don't count on is they don't let you forget. Pain. Happiness. Friendship. Death. Smells of diesel and dead animals. Eating meals within arm's length of corpses. Men you laughed with a day before. People wonder if leaders are born or made. All I know is, you can see it in a man's eyes. Problem is, leaders end up where they're needed most. And eventually, that's war. You're special Kylie. I hope you know that. I always have. But I need you to stay strong. People look to guys like us to make decisions. If you do wear the uniform one day, remember something, when you put it on, you don't get to choose the war or what happens when you get there. There's no right or wrong in combat. Here's only what you did. You do your best, and you try to live with it. Some day they'll take me off this porch for good. When that happens, what's left that matters? Photographs, letters, empty clothes? No. It's the stories behind them, those are what matter. Stories live forever, but only if you tell them. I may sound like I've known this a long time. I didn't know it until today. I just wanted to say thank you for teaching me that. It was one hell of a souvenir. Love, Opa. P.S. Know why I like birds so much? They don't just talk their stories, they sing them.
I started watching the movie knowing that it would bring up memories that I'd suppressed, I didn't know that it would leave me missing my Grandpa so very much. When he died, we grandkids each wrote a piece of the eulogy. I've posted this before, almost three years ago, but need to do so again:
Bill Steiling was my grandfather, and one could not find a better man to fill those shoes. But as if that weren't enough...he was much more. He was my role model on how to be a man, a husband and a father. He was the rock of stability during my troubled years of adolescence, and he was the anchor to which I always knew the family was safe during my many years away. He may never have known the impact he had on my life, and I never realized it until much too late.

He taught me how to be honest and unassuming. He taught by example that the greatest rewards in life were service to one’s nation, community and above all, family. He was an infinite wealth of knowledge, but always made you feel like it was you who had come up with the answer to a problem. The spirit of giving and self sacrifice loomed no larger in any other man. Acknowledging that we are all better for it, is an understatement.

Bill Steiling was also Seamen 1st Class aboard a US Navy Destroyer, during some of the most historic battles of the 20th century. Though if you brought that up, he would probably look away bashfully and steer the conversation towards your latest accomplishments. That he comes from “the Greatest Generation” only serves to honor that term, based not merely on his service during war, but in how he raised and shepherded the family sitting here today. He will be missed dearly, but his strengths have been passed to us…….through blood or friendship….and I can think of no greater gift from him. There is also not a greater duty upon us, than to honor his memory than by continuing to pass those gifts down to our families.
Seaman William Henry Steiling

Great Grandpa teaching his Great Granddaughters
I'm a stumbling wreck right now and it has taken me around an hour to type, edit and retype this post for any sort of I'll leave it here. This Memorial Day, I remember one who made it home from war....and raised a family in the truest spirit of the Greatest Generation.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hiking in Memoriam....Trek II

Today's hike was on the serene Kamananui Valley Trail. An easy trek filled with Hawaiian history for a few miles, and then plunges into the land that time forgot. I'm not even sure exactly how far I made it. I didn't make it to the summit of the Koolau Range. The trail up the valley wall was simply too wet and slippery. Being solo, I decided not to temp fate. But it was a good, muddy, sweaty hike nonetheless.

I was all set in who I was dedicating this hike to, on this Memorial Day weekend.....but halfway through, as I was recalling memories of my friend Jim Doster...I realized that in the space of time since his death, I had forgotten one of my former Soldiers who had also lost his life. Not while he was in my unit, but in his next. I had forgotten Darrell Griffin. True, we weren't as close as Jim and I had been, Darrell being a PFC/SPC and I his Platoon Sergeant.....but I felt immediately shitty. Darrell reminded me a lot of myself at his stage of his career...and there is absolutely no doubt that he would have gone on to surpass anything I had done by the time I retired. He was already on that kind of track in the Army. So with today's hike, I remember two Fallen Warriors, and their families...and I hope you will as well.

Jim Doster was exactly like me in so many ways. I've expressed some of it before, and don't really feel like expanding on it again. Maybe later tonight, with some SMS and some privacy.

I previously wrote about SFC James Doster here and here.

I previously wrote about SSG Darrell Griffin, Jr here.

Please take a few minutes to know both Brothers-in-Arms.

I'll post a few pictures of today's hike, but sitting at Starbucks, I didn't bring my USB cable...and don't feel like e-mailing them to myself right now. They're not the point of this blog entry anyway.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hiking In Memoriam

I decided to log two hikes with the long Memorial Day weekend....and dedicate each one to a Fallen Warrior, who was close to myself or my family.

I dedicated today's hike to LTC Roy Tisdale...whom I blogged about here.  My wife was a colleague of his, and held him in the highest regard, as a friend and sterling example of the Officer Corps. Another excellent blogger that you should know also wrote about his funeral, and I will link the photos that he chose...when he covered the Memorial for LTC Tisdale.

Blue Skies Sir.....

Something definitely appropriate for LTC Tisdale that I posted last year but can't seem to embed again.

Today's hike was on the Kamiloiki Ridge Trail. Not a particularly long trek...but one where I literally had to look down at nearly every step to ensure that I didn't trip over lava rock in the overgrown grass and tumble down the side of the ridge. This, of course, made it rather difficult to look for the next blaze, marking the trail. The Kamiloiki is not maintained, so it was a bit of an adventure making sure I was still on it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Into the Breach

Dear USA,

Monday is Memorial Day. It is the day we honor our war dead, those warriors who gave what Lincoln called, "the last full measure of devotion." Enjoy your barbecues, your mattress sales, and your community pool openings, but remember you do so because those honored dead made it possible. Please do not offer your thanks to me or any other living veteran. It is not our day. We came home carrying our shields; they came home carried on theirs. Memorial Day the day we raise our glasses to absent comrades. Thank me and my living brothers-in-arms (and sisters, too) on Tuesday. But on Monday, turn your thoughts to the gardens of stone around the globe. See you at Section 60.

- Tom McCuin

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kudos to Google

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Another Door closes....


Ray Manzarek, most known as a founding member of the '60s rock band The Doors, is dead. According to a message posted on the band's Facebook page, Manzarek died of bile duct cancer while in Rosenheim, Germany, on Monday, May 20. He was 74. Wife Dorothy Manzarek and brothers Rick and James were by his side.

R.I.P. Ray...tell Jim that we still miss him.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Your gun rights read of the day

 On Gun Control and the Great American Debate Over Individualism

The firearm as emblem of personal sovereignty

Gun control was a complete non-issue during the 2012 presidential campaign, and for good reason: the rate of gun violence — like the rate of violent crime — had fallen by about half since the late 1980s. During those two decades, gun laws got looser almost everywhere, so whatever was driving down the crime rate, it wasn’t gun control. But then came the shootings at the Aurora movie theater and Sandy Hook Elementary, and suddenly nobody could think about anything else. 

Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, and New York passed restrictive laws concerning thirty-round magazines and various weapons based on characteristics — like pistol grips and flash hiders — that have nothing to do with a gun’s lethality. Congress also debated a ban on something called “assault rifles,” which, despite the impression created by the marquee massacres in Colorado and Connecticut, are used in about 2 percent of gun murders. A

s for the class of firearm that is used in more than half of gun murders, handguns, no one suggested restricting those. Nor could anybody explain how tinkering with rifles’ cosmetic features or the number of rounds they can carry was going to make safer a country that already has about 300 million guns in private circulation.

Please read the rest at Harper's

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Man's Best Friend....Always and Forever....

When Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach served as a dog handler in Afghanistan, he told the yellow lab who was his constant companion that he'd look her up when he returned home.

"I promised her if we made it out of alive, I'd do whatever it took to find her," Gundlach said.

On Friday, he made good on that vow with help from some sentimental state officials in Iowa who know how to pull off a surprise.

Since leaving active duty to take classes at the University of Wisconsin this summer, Gundlach, of Madison, Wis., had been seeking to adopt 4-year-old Casey.

The 25-year-old learned Casey had finished her military service and had been sent to the Iowa State Fire Marshal's Office, where she was used to detect explosives.

Gundlach wrote to State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds, explaining the connection he felt with the dog. He even has a tattoo on his right forearm depicting Casey with angel wings and a halo, sitting at the foot of a Marine.

"He's been putting a case together for the last two months, sending me pictures ... it just tugged on your heart," Reynolds said.

Reynolds decided to arrange a surprise. First, he got in touch with the Iowa Elk's Association, which agreed to donate $8,500 to buy another dog for the agency.

"We have a motto in our association that as long as there are veterans, the Elks will strive to help them," Iowa Elks Association president Tom Maher said.

Then, Reynolds came up with a ruse to get Gundlach to Des Moines, telling Gundlach he needed to come to the state Capitol to plead his case in front of a "bureaucratic oversight committee."

When Gundlach arrived with his parents, Reynolds told them the meeting had been delayed and invited them to join an Armed Services Day celebration in the rotunda. There, hundreds of law enforcement officers, military personnel and civilians were seated, keeping the secret — until they brought out Casey.

When Gundlach saw Casey, he put his head in his hands and cried. She licked his face, wagging her tail furiously.

"It was a total surprise," he said. "I owe her. I'll just try to give her the best life I can."

During the 150 missions they performed together, Gundlach said Casey never missed an explosive — she caught three before they could be detonated. He credits her for making it back home safely.

"I wouldn't be here ... any kids I ever had wouldn't exist if Casey hadn't been here," he said.


h/t Lightfighter

The Duplicity of Statists

“People need the nanny state occasionally.” - Piers Morgan, 11 March

“I’ve had some of the pro-gun lobbyists on here, saying to me, ‘Well, the reason we need to be armed is because of tyranny from our own government,’ and I’ve always laughed at them,” Morgan said. “I said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous! Your government won’t turn itself on you. …

“But, actually, this is vaguely tyrannical behavior by the American government.”

He continued, “I think what the IRS did is bordering on tyrannical behavior. I think what the Department of Justice has done to the AP is bordering on tyrannical behavior.”
- Piers Morgan, 16 May

Was this a sea change on the part of our Hoplophobic buddy Piers? Or has overreaching Statism merely hit Piers in the emotional gut, touched on an issue where he has a personal stake? After all, the actions of the IRS, while not affecting him personally, leads him to envision a paradigm that could affect his bottom dollar, and his ability to afford armed security.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The ever-evolving narrative of gun control

Gun Control to Gun Safety to Gun Reform....what will it be next week? The goal is the same, but the narrative keeps changing almost as often as the Liberty movement knocks it down for being the intellectual pap that it is. It's both amusing and frustrating that the gun control cabal keeps trying to pass off a thinly concealed goal with a series of intellectually dishonest scripts, that when pressed, some will be honest enough to admit the fallacies of.

One will most often find gun control supporters employing the argument-of-straw that supposes the gun rights movement favors a paradigm of zero restrictions when it comes to firearm ownership. While there are those who would state that the 2nd Amendment is the only firearm license required by the US Constitution, the would-be controllers willfully ignore that the NRA was/is a huge supporter of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS] and Project Exile.

I probably don't need to rehash previous logic based remonstrations against the rhetoric the gun control lobby invents ["high-capacity", "assault rifle", etc..], nor the petulant tirades that project a desire for violent criminal acts on the gun rights movement, in response to us acting as a bulwark against legislation that would not prevent such acts.....and infringe on a Constitutional right.

TTAG has an illuminating exchange between it's publisher and USA Today that speaks well of this logical disconnect on the behalf of the controllers:
When USA Today contacted me to write an editorial I asked the Gannet guy why his employer stopped using the term “gun control.” Why’d they adopted the language of the civilian disarmament industry (see what I did there?) and substituted the term “gun safety”? He didn’t miss a beat. “The words ‘gun control’ come with a lot of baggage,” he declared. “So does the term ‘gun safety,’” I countered. “It indicates a clear bias for gun control.” “We are biased,” he admitted. “We’re in favor of it. That’s why we use the term ‘gun safety.’” Bonus points for honesty, I guess. Only USA Today doesn’t restrict their Orwellian language choice to the editorial page. And I didn’t become an OCD gun blogger by leaving well enough alone . . .

Please read the rest

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Don't be a Douche....

Great advice at Military 1, from a former Platoon Leader to all current, or future Platoon Leaders:

We've received more than a handful of emails from people asking us to post our thoughts on leadership – mostly from seasoned NCOs who want us to use our powers for good instead of evil (at least every once in a while).

This is a tough one for us to write, because in some ways it starts with the position that we are qualified to teach leadership.  I mean you can go to the store and literally buy hundreds of books on the topic of leadership from real war heroes that should be dead a hundred times over, general officers or sergeants major who have a lifetime of service to the nation, or even business leaders, coaches, or politicians who have made a real difference in the world.  Hell, a lot of the guys that read this site have been to combat four times or more by now!  Candidly, we felt that posting an article on leadership would be more than a little presumptuous.

Nevertheless, the emails have continued coming in – as a result, I posed this dilemma to one the NCOs in the Ranger Up Militia.  "Why should we tread on ground that so many great leaders have already covered," I asked.  "Simple," he replied, "You won’t write it with the intent of making yourself look like a big deal, which means someone might actually listen."

His logic was hard to argue with, so we drew straws and for this one you're stuck with me.  I've decided to write it from a platoon leader's perspective, because no one needs more help than a 2LT, but hopefully most of my comments transcend all levels of leadership.  So here goes:

Read the rest

Friday, May 10, 2013

And all good things come to an end....the Roman Edition

As some may know, I've been deployed to the Pacific since January, and in that time I've embarked on a pretty comprehensive 'return to fighting form' program. Between running, rucking, P90X Ab Ripper, elliptical and weights....I've lost around 20 pounds and regained some sorely needed muscle mass.

It was either that or get into trouble....I mean, it is the Pacific right? OK, it was really either that or start my Masters program; did I want to be cooped up with my nose in books...I mean, it IS the Pacific right?

During my cardio and a bit of my rucking, I've been listening to podcasts....and I've just come to the end of a 179 episode adventure in Roman history. Though I've read many a book on the various phases and aspects of Roman civilization, there are always new perspectives to learn, and I can recommend no better way than Mike Duncan's The History of Rome.

It's available on iTunes [free] and Audible [probably not free], and it's well worth your time, if you are into podcasts or audiobooks. Mike Duncan delivers an astounding tour from the hopeful era of Romulus to the despair of Romulus Augustus, with a dizzying sense of academic knowledge, wry humor and impeccable timing.

And now I'm done. I have to say goodbye to the guy who's voice has been with me almost everytime I've saddled up to the elliptical for the last 3 1/2 months. It's like finishing the last episode of The Wire, or The Soprano's, or Battlestar Galactica. You're left with a feeling of ....what the hell do I do now?

So I've started on The History of Byzantium, by some British guy. A guy, who to his credit, opened his first podcast with glowing praise of The History of Rome, and the desire we all felt, of continuing the saga of the eastern empire. Unfortunately, I just about fell asleep while working out.

I may go back to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, since it's apparently still ongoing [I got into him while in Iraq in 2007/8]. But I also solicit recommendations from the assembled blogosphere.

Once again, check out The History of Rome. I can't oversell this learning experience.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Quote of the Day

From TTAG's OpEd in today's USA Today:

Relying on the same people who brought us Operation Fast and Furious to keep politics out of gun safety ads is like asking Lindsay Lohan to teach Driver’s Ed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Uh-Oh.....bad news for the Nanny-State Gun Control Cabal.....

Good news for law abiding citizens though [which includes we who recognize the right to defend ourselves with common-use tools commensurate with the threat].



Saturday, May 4, 2013

Climbing the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge Trail

A little over 2.25 miles to the top......not a great distance, but you're ascending roughly 1800 feet between here and there. Good tree cover most of the way, but precious little breeze. I was sweating more on this trail than on Mt Olympus last weekend, just due to the humid, static air.

Great views at the top, as advertised. One does well to heed the sign.

The views from the top. The next ridge over.....looks doable.

Koko Head Crater in the background.

I did earn my Good Samaritan merit badge on today's hike. I had passed a group of older ladies as I was trekking up...they were heading down. After my ascent, and probably about a mile from the start/end point, I came across them again. One of the ladies had twisted her ankle pretty badly, and they were making only a few steps at a time before taking a break. Being a good Infantryman and a gentleman to boot, I inquired if she minded that I was drenched in sweat, and piggy backed her the rest of the way down. luckily for me [and my back] she couldn't have weighed over a buck 20, so it ended up giving me a strong finish to a hike that only took a couple of hours.

I hit the weights back in the gym and am ready to relax and enjoy Single Malt Saturday!

Friday, May 3, 2013

For the next time you hear the intellectually challenged use this comparison......

I speak of course, of the oft cited "we require vehicles to be licensed and why not guns?" Setting aside the fundamental issue of one being a privilege that the State allows, and the other being a Constitutionally protected right, just come back with the following logic by Lawdog:

I see that the gun grabbers have resurrected the old "We license cars, so why can't we license guns?" meme.

I tell you what -- every time you hear a gun grabber snivel about licensing guns like cars, call him a liar to his face.

I would absolutely love to license guns just like we do cars and drivers -- for the same reason that every gun grabber who suggests it is lying through his or her snaggle teeth.

Think about it.
Read the's worth it.

h/t Sean Sorrentino

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Of Feigned Outrage and Bloody Shirts

Regarding the tragic shooting of a toddler by her 5 year old brother, Sean Sorrentino adroitly puts into perspective the circus of the gun control-media complex.
Here’s what bothers me about the story. The fuckheads on Twitter screaming bloody murder about the accidental death of a child none of them knew and none of them actually cared about before she became a prop in their political morality play.

Newsflash assholes: You aren’t fooling anyone with your crocodile tears. Tearing your hair and rending your garments while wailing might look cool in a movie, but you look really stupid when you do it over a child you’ve never even heard of before today.

Here’s what’s really going on. You assholes are pretending to care about this girl’s death so that you can use it to push for stricter gun control laws. You are using this girl’s death as a weapon to attack the gun company that makes the Crickett rifle (Warning, ThinkProgress) her brother was playing with. You don’t give a shit that tens of thousands (at least!) of these rifles have been sold to parents all across the USA. You don’t give a shit that these tens of thousands of rifles are used safely to teach children and small adults to shoot.

No, the only reason you give a shit at all about this poor little girl from a gun owning family in a flyover state is because you think you can use her death to advance your political agenda. At some point, when you were down on your knees scooping her blood up in your hands so you could grease the skids for more gun control, you should have seriously questioned your humanity.

The fact that you didn’t tells me you don’t have any left.

And what the fuck is it with all the Australian #GunControl fanatics on Twitter? Go the fuck back to your own country. If you want to cheer your masters for taking away your rights, go ahead. But don’t expect me to celebrate with you. And you better damn well not expect me to give up my rights to be just like you pussies.
An NC Gun Blog