Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Something might be gaining on you

September 11, 2021

It’s been a long, long road.

While they continued to write and talk, we saw the wounded and the dying.Erich Maria Remarque, “All Quiet on the Western Front”

I didn’t have much to say on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and a decade further on down the road I feel even less inclined to hold forth on the topic. A bunch of people got dead, maimed, or insane; another bunch got rich, famous, and powerful; and the rest of us went shopping.

Did we learn anything from the attacks and what Charlie Pierce calls “our blind, feral response?” Doubtful. We check the rear view every 10 years or so, but that’s just reflexive, like glancing at a TV as you pass.

Anything good on? Nahhhhhhh. Same ol’, same ol’. Hey, who wants to go to the mall?

Iron Man is dead*

August 15, 2021

Sometimes you do the boom, and sometimes the boom does you.

Another superhero adventure is coming to a messy ending.

The Military-Industrial Complex’s Cinematic Universe isn’t as orderly as Marvel’s, probably because the writers aren’t as good. Neither are the reviews. But hey, that’s show business for you.

It seemed like such a simple story, too. United States is attacked. United States fights back. Boffo box office!

But some nimrod thinking sequels, spinoffs, and merchandise resurrected an old character called “Mission Creep.” The story went sideways but we kept buying the tickets, taking the ride.

“Look, there’s Stan Lee!”

“No, that’s Robert McNamara.”

Remember the old joke about the driver heading up an off ramp by mistake? “What the hell, you’ve come this far. …”

Well, 20 years later, here we are, upside down in the ditch, watching Mission Creep, Captain REMF, and The Incredible Schmuck posturing for the cameras in an endgame that isn’t one. Avengers Dissemble!

* Of course he’s not dead. We’ll keep trotting him out as long as there’s a buck in it.

Donald Rumsfeld dies, goes to Hell

June 30, 2021

Donald Rumsfeld will be reunited with his old pal Dick Nixon.

You go to Hell with the Devil you have, not the Devil you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Asked for comment, a spokesdemon for the Prince of Darkness said: “We had hoped to get Dick Cheney first, but as you know, the Lord works in mysterious ways, just like Don.

“Meanwhile, we have an extensive landfill down here — it is Hell, after all — and with a little of his fabled ingenuity I’m sure Don will be able to cobble together some suitable ‘hillbilly armor’ before deploying to the Lake of Fire.”

Memorial Day v2.0

June 1, 2021

“Joey, have you ever been in an autonomous Turkish drone’s crosshairs?”

Oh, good. … Paging James Cameron … James Cameron, please come to the white courtesy target zone … er, the white courtesy phone.

Memorial Day 2021

May 31, 2021

A soldier’s things.

Some never made it home. Others did, but missing some vital part of themselves. Remember the fallen, the incomplete, and the fortunate who lost nothing more than youth and innocence.

Hustling the East

April 14, 2021

One disabled vet’s recollection of his tour in Afghanistan.

In his piece on the latest proposed withdrawal from Afghanistan, Charlie Pierce recalls a wounded veteran’s bitter assessment of his time in-country.

The disabled vet was Dr. John H. Watson, soon to be introduced to Sherlock Holmes, speaking in “A Study in Scarlet.” The tale was published in 1887.

The Holmes stories, which I first read in the 1960s, may have served as my introduction to warfare in Afghanistan. Later, there was Rudyard Kipling and his “epitaph drear.” The Soviet debacle I observed from a series of newspaper copy desks. Our own I read about courtesy of journalists like C.J. Chivers. A time or two I spoke with American vets about their own experiences.

Very little of what I read or heard inspired confidence in the ability of the American military-industrial complex to effect change — “Peace through superior firepower,” as the old joke goes — in a place where so many armies had had their asses handed to them. Nobody seemed to really want Afghanistan except the Afghans, and only a few of them wanted it badly enough to fight for it.

So here we are, nearly 20 years later, with 2,400 U.S. service members in their graves and $2 trillion pounded down various ratholes. And for what? Another epitaph drear.

Will we ever get the message that no matter how hard we sell it, “democracy” will never be America’s biggest export? When it hits the doorstep it often looks a lot more like vengeance.

God is said to have made us in His image. If so, He likewise has been compelled by circumstances to live with disappointment in His creations.

From one pilot to another

November 11, 2020

Harold Joseph O’Grady, from the 1941 edition of the Seminole yearbook.

Behold The Colonel, before he was a colonel, or even a pilot.

Harold Joseph O’Grady of Foley, Florida, was a freshman at the University of Florida in 1941. By February of ’42, he was a private in the U.S. Army Air Corps, having enlisted at MacDill Field “for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.”

He stayed on a little longer than that. The old man retired as a full bird in 1972, when I was a freshman at Adams State College in Alamosa, getting grades that were even worse than his had been. And mind you, I was taking stoner classes, not elementary physics, organic chemistry, and motorized artillery.

I didn’t last long in college, either, but not because I was going to war to save the world from fascism. I was going to be a push-broom pilot, saving banks from stanks.

Oh, well. As Will Rogers observed, “We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”

Dear diary

January 7, 2020

Dear diary, what a day it’s been. …

I never know where this blog is going to wander.

Some days it wakes up late, isn’t where it should have been. On others, it strolls about, looking at the shops. It rarely buys anything, but occasionally posts a letter on its way home.

On still others, it examines the news, roots through a pile of old journals and training logs, hears an old tune in its head, thinks it’s made some tenuous, possibly spurious connection, shambles into the studio, and cranks out a podcast.

Yes, yes, yes, it’s time for a literary edition of Radio Free Dogpatch, the first of 2020.

 

P L A Y    R A D I O   F R E E   D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Shure SM58 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “As Time Passes,” from Zapsplat.com, which also supplied the sound of a pen scribbling furiously on paper. Yeah, I know, I could’ve handled that myself, but I was on the threshold of a dream. Speaking of which, The Moody Blues supplied bits from “Dear Diary,” from “On the Threshold of a Dream.” Finally, “Remember, thou art mortal” was lifted from “History of the World, Part I,” by Mel Brooks.

No dicking around with Iran, please

January 6, 2020

Jaysis. I have no idea why the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free keep coming here.

Maybe they’re thinking: “Well, they hardly ever bomb anyone inside their own borders. Even the brown people.”

And they may have something there. I refer you to the late Professor Carlin: “You don’t have to be a history major or a political scientist to see the Bigger Dick Foreign Policy Theory. … It’s a subconscious need to project the penis into other people’s affairs. It’s called ‘fucking with people.'”

But then again, we have the Bill Burr Theory of Homeland Defense and Immigration Control: “You’re gonna build a wall from fuckin’ California to Texas? You actually think you’re gonna get this done? Look at the Freedom Tower. We actually wanted that shit, and it took almost 15 years to get it done. Half the people don’t even want this fuckin’ thing. … I’m telling you, by the time they finished it, this country would be so fucked up we’re gonna be the ones going over it.”

If Professor Burr is correct, it would seem that the Bigger Dick Theory applies to domestic affairs as well. They fuck with us here, too. Maybe all you brown people should save yourselves the climb.

‘Something Went Wrong,’ Afghanistan Edition

December 9, 2019

It’s one thing to suspect it, and another thing to have it dumped in your lap by The Washington Post.

“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

Except ice cream cones taste good. This tastes like death.