Saturday, April 05, 2003

I interviewed an ex-Marine named Jo Steinert. Ms. Steinert was mustered out in 1987, and I thought it would be a good idea to listen to her impressions.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii
When I was assigned to Kaneohe the best that I can say is that it sucked. Sucked pretty bad.

Oh, the food was alright, I suppose. It was mostly meats like biscuits and gravy, meatloaf. Salsbury steak. Macaroni and cheese. Biscuits and gravy. Stuff like that. Plenty of protein and fat. I'd have to say that most high school lunch rooms have better food.

They'd bake a little bit, but it was mostly biscuits or dinner rolls. The bread would come out of a bag. There'd be a sheet cake with canned frosting they'd bake up for dessert, almost always vanilla frosting. Pretty much the same type of food for both lunch and dinner.

For breakfast there was scrambled eggs and sausage links. I'd eat one of those little boxes of cereal. Eventually I just skipped breakfast all together. The PX had a little lunch counter with pre-packaged sandwiches, pretty much like what you'd find in one of those gas station coolers next to the microwave. I'd eat those every so often so I wouldn't have to go to the hall.

The facilities were depressing. Lights would burn out and the guys working there would drag their feet when it came to replacing them, so it was always dark. There was just folding tables, folding chairs. Nothing else. The tables were clean but the floor was gritty because they'd never sweep. Just as soon as I could afford to buy a car I'd go off base for fast food and I didn't eat there again.

Hickam Air Force Base
I'd have to go to Pearl Harbor and pick up paperwork every Saturday morning, so I could eat breakfast there. I never missed it. The food was so much better!

They had fish tanks along the wall with lights so you could see the fish swimming along. There were tablecloths on the table. The place had carpets, it was clean, there was some fake flowers on the table. They had salt and pepper shakers on each table instead of you having to get those little paper packets and carry them back to your seat. There were a few TV's playing against the wall so you could watch cartoons while you ate. Even the guys behind the counter were cheerful, and there was a guy who would make you an omelette any way you wanted. I remember I once asked for some eggs at the Marine base and the guy cracked two raw eggs in a bowl and handed them over with a big smirk.


"But what about the food?"

Oh, the food was MUCH better! Much better.

"You talked about how much nicer the dining area and the people working there were, but not a whole lot about the food. How was it different from the Marine base?"

Oh, well, it was.....Did I mention that you could get an omelette any way you wanted?

It was the same as at base, except they didn't bake as much. The only bread came out of a bag. I remember having to hold on to my tray with one hand while I ate so it wouldn't slide off the table when the ship would roll around.

Posco Pier, Korea
They didn't tell us exactly where it was. (It's about as far south as you can get and still be in South Korea.--James) We lived in tents that were set up on the pier. The food was exactly the same as it was in Hawaii, except that it was dirtier in the hall.

A few of us would fish off the end of the pier every day and see what we could catch. Usually it was a few eels. We'd put them in a bucket with some sea water and walk off the pier into town a little way. The Korean restaurants would pay you some money for the eels, as long as they were still alive. We'd use the cash to buy lunch when the Burger King truck came around.

"Burger King truck?"

Oh, yeah. There was this truck with a window in it, about as big as a UPS delivery truck. There was a menu on the side and you'd give your order and get your food. It was real Burger King food. They did a pretty good business, and trading the eels in for a whopper was the best thing. Really gave you a taste of home.

Colin May over at Innocents Abroad has written another excellent essay explaining the political strategy of the EU. Mr. May says that there are highly placed people in the EU who see their core mission as trying to construct another central control government, much like the old U.S.S.R. This isn't because they actually admire life under the KGB, but that they want to take dangerous, emotion spawning politics out of the equation. The money shot is this line....

"It will have the power of a polity, but it will have none of its representative institutions. And in this regard, it will make no difference whether or not the European Commission is elected or otherwise as the bodies that actually implement and formulate Europe’s regulations will never be accountable to these elected officials in any case. There will be great calls for solidarity and social justice, but none for liberty or fraternity."

I'm a Liberty-with-a-capital-"L" kinda guy. Think I'll stay here in the U.S. of A.

Prof. Reynolds links to a New York Times article that discusses the way that more faculty are protesting the war than students. In the article, the grey-bearded professors lament the fact that most students are ambivalent or even pro-war.

It would appear that the hard core of organizers in the anti-war movement cut their teeth protesting the Vietnam War thirty (or more) years ago. Most of the professors interviewed for the NYT article take a walk down memory lane, waxing eloquent about the approval and social acceptance they received waaayy back when they manned the barricades. One of them even fondly remembers being tear-gassed by police. "There was a certain nobility in being gassed."

There was certainly a reason for the proestors to feel that way......35 years ago. The Mai Lai Massacre, where American soldiers willfully slaughtered unarmed civilians, was the watershed of moral justification for opposing the Vietnam War. Scratch an elderly protestor today and you'll find someone who still has a pool of seething rage about that one incident.

But things are different now. Just reading the news reports proves that the American military has spent considerable money and effort to make sure that all casualties are kept to a minimum. In fact, our enemies have killed more innocent civilians in an effort to inflame anti-war sentiment.

Isn't this what they wanted?

Friday, April 04, 2003

According to this news report, the United Nations is just one of the NGO's that are concerned about the civilian casualties in Iraq.

I'm concerned about every innocent person caught up in violence, so I don't want to sound frivolous. But I can't help but think that the UN should have tried harder to get Saddam to disarm before we had to invade. Then there wouldn't be any reason for concern.

It would seem that a photgrapher for the LA Times has altered a photograph which the paper printed. The photographer says that he did it to "improve the composition".

Considering that the altered photo seems to portray a US soldier threatening a man carrying two children, I don't have to wonder what would "improve the composition" even further. I suppose the photographer, Brain Walski, realized that altering the photo to the point that the US soldier was actually shooting unarmed civilians would be going too far.

The LA Times has printed a retraction and put the linked page up on their website. They have fired the photographer. Way to go, Times! If you'd like to contact them and give them an attaboy then please go here. (And, whatever you do, be polite.)

So now Mr. Walski is out of a job. Well, I'm sure that some anti-American paper in England will hire him.

Original link found on Good Shit Warning! Do not open the link to GS if pictures of nekkid wimmen will get you in trouble or you're a minor!

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

So I'm over at Megan McArdel and Mindless Dreck's blog and I decided to leave a comment in response to a post Ms. McArdel made. She was wondering whay the French have gone as far as they have to annoy America even though it will certainly bite them in the backside. The comment turned out to be pretty long, so I decided to print it here. Just another example of what a lazy man I am.

Why the French are Idjits
Anybody here ever have dawgs?

I know that Ms. McArdel has a pooch. But what I want to know is: Has anyone ever had more that one at a time?

See, when you have one dawg it's relatively easy to discourage bad behavior. Soon enough, the new puppy is housebroken and is careful to resist the temptation of the delicious smellin' trash can. If you scold and spank then barking can be kept to a minimum.

Get two dawgs (or more) and it's a whole new ball game. They reinforce each others bad habits. You come home from work and there's trash spread all across the kitchen. They find one spot and decide that this is where they'll lift their leg. One dawg barks, the other one barks. You can stand there with your growly scolding voice and a rolled up newspaper and they'll still bark. You can modify their behavior, but it's tough. If you don't step in and keep on top of it then things can get out of hand.

So France started to engage in really stupid behavior, pissing off the world's only remaining super-power (and one which actually listens to what it's citizens want). There were good reasons they did this, a greater share of power in the EU being one of them. It probably wouldn't have gotten past the annoying-but-pissy stage if they didn't start to get positive feedback.

First they started to get approval from the voters back home. Then Brussels, the seat of influence for the EU, started to pat them on the back. Then the voters REALLY started to approve as mindless anti-Americanism set in. Then Germany wanted in, and those scary guys from across the Rhine even wanted to follow the French lead! Next thing you know you can't get those poodles to shut up.

The point is that it spiralled out of control. It's not really a plan, just more like a few actions that went against the odds and had really big short-term payoffs. France is like the housewife who is planning the yearly budget on the money she knows will just roll in by the millions because she won $100 on a scratch-and-win lottery ticket.

So now the US is talking about getting out the economic newspaper and rolling it up. The French say that OF COURSE there will be no consequences.

Time to spank some furry poodle butt.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Another example that reporters have no clue. The article reports that 10% of the US guided munitions miss their intended targets.

That's a 90% success rate! Don't these people realize that this is like some sort of science fiction story? When I was growing up they were talking about the impossible goal of 25%!

I'm waiting for the news media to reach a 25% accuracy rate.

Anna Bunny has a link to a news story about a 14-year-old Romanian kid that suffered a nervous breakdown after playing Counter Strike for 9 days and nights straight. What does Anna have to say about this pixel-addicted boy?


So I'm over at MTPolitics and I see that he's linked to some way kewl war photos.

Anna Bunny, how come you never told us that you had family working for the AoD?

It's nice to see that we're teaching the liberated our most important social skills.

I've said it before, and I'll keep on saying it. There are monsters who walk the earth, but we know what really scares them. These are some of the people who're gonna winkle Saddam and his two boys out of their hole and help bring them to justice.

Proof positive that it's an ancient land.

So there is some reporter named Peter Arnett. He's not a military expert, not a member of our armed forces. He's never held military rank. He's never even served in his entire life. He doesn't hold any advanced degrees on military history, or political science. He is, as I said before, a reporter.

Mr. Arnett has just been fired for doing something indescribably stupid and arrogant. He got on Iraqi TV, those mouthpieces for Saddam, and criticized the actions the United States has taken during this 2-week old war. He stated that the US government and it's military have had to rethink their strategy in the face of dogged resistance by the Iraqi armed forces. He also said that there was increasing resistance to the war at home, which has presented political problems for the Bush administration.

I never knew that one of the requirements for becoming a reporter was to have a massive nuclear brain. Apparently Mr. Arnett thinks that he has one. He's suddenly an expert on so many things, and he's so insightful that he can make these statements about how anti-war feeling in the US is at a dangerous level when all evidence proves him wrong. And the effective resistance of the Iraqi forces? Don't make me laugh.

So let's say that you have chest pains and you need to know right away if they are an indication of a life threatening condition. No problem. Just ask a reporter! Need to know how to invest for your retirement? Call up your local new room. Car trouble? Pet needs to be trained? Worried about surviving a time of civil strife? Reporter reporter reporter. Don't worry if they aren't experts in anything! They can't possibly steer you wrong because they're on TV.

Update It would appear that I'm a little late on the draw again. Stephen den Beste is all over this one.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Craig over at Lead and Gold has a pretty spot on debunking of some reporter's doomsday scenarios.

The nattering has been annoying. Things are going swimmingly in Iraq, better than we could expect considering our extreme concern for civilian casualties and our reluctance to damage the stuff the Iraqi's will need to rebuild. Our men and women in the armed forces are supurbly trained, lavishly equipped and ready to kick some butt. All of the cries about quagmire and how the Iraqi people will resist us to the last is like the birds singing in the morning: it makes a great deal of noise but it doesn't really make any sense.

Sure, there could be a surprise or two. I can't imagine what Saddam could do to win at this stage. Even if he tosses a nuke our way we'd just pull off the kid gloves and end the war sooner.