RallyPoint is an online forum for the military. Its members are scattered all over America. More than a few it seems are scattered over other parts of the world. I've made friends with a few of them. Some are even contacts. But I had never met one in person before yesterday. I had posted a notice about the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War at Fort Irwin, California, and Ken Ellis contacted me to find out if we could go together. We could and did.
We rallied at the Main Place Mall in Santa Ana, California, about midway between our homes. A car club of Shelby Cobras happened to be meeting there and provided a welcome diversion before setting off. Another Vietnam Veteran, John Gleason, a member of my VFW post, met there too and we took off for Fort Irwin about midway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Actually, this Army post, affectionately known as the nation's cul-de-sac, lies 30 miles off Highway 15 in the middle of the desert.
We may well-imagine sound arguments being made for several wars or the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) being worthy of the trophy as the greatest or costliest mistake in modern U.S. History. However, all of these are merely the symptoms of other mistakes, aren't they? Finding the root cause depends upon how far back you're willing to look for it..
Ultimately, it may be argued that We the People are accountable for all of the decisions made by our representatives in government, state and federal. Yes, We pay the price, don't we? We pay the taxes. We shed the blood. But the responsibility for those bad decisions vests in our elected representatives.
How does responsibility differ from accountability? Simple. Those who make the decisions are responsible in that they were elected for that purpose: They are responsible for making decisions or executing them. They may even take the blame for making bad ones. However, they never really pay the price for those decisions. They never actually suffer the consequences of them. More often than not, they are reelected so they can return to their seats of power and continue making bad decisions. Whose fault is that?
That being said, We the People electing poor representation to government is not a very satisfactory answer to the question: What is the greatest or costliest mistake in modern U.S. History? Ultimately, it is too broad. It means that We are both responsible and accountable for all mistakes. To determine which is the greatest or most costly mistake, We must narrow our vision to one specific mistake.
It's true. The highest ranking general will snap to attention and salute the lowest ranking enlisted man wearing a Medal of Honor. Why do you suppose that is? Are they honoring the man, the medal, or the act of valor that it represents?
Hero-worship is as natural as breathing. Most of us join the military fresh from childhood reverence of sports heroes. Thus, we didn't invent the practice but we certainly elevated it. I more so than most. As Chief of Awards and Decorations for the 9th Infantry Division during a portion of my tour of duty in Vietnam, I investigated many acts of valor and sat with senior officers who evaluated my recommendations including four that rose to garner the Medal of Honor.
Everyone who has ever worshiped a hero ultimately has been disappointed because every hero falters. Go ahead. Study the record of history. Even mythology tells the same tale. In retrospect, it seems that the West Point statue of Benedict Arnold's boot, commemorating his contribution to the Continental Army's victory over the British at the Battle of Saratoga before he “turned coat”, is the most rational memorial to heroism to be found. [Note: Arnold was wounded in the foot during the Battle of Quebec.]
To be fair, I've never had bad hospital food. I've never even seen it, that is not until I visited the VA Hospital in Long Beach, California.
In the interests of complete disclosure I have eaten plenty of hospital food, but never in a VA hospital. I've eaten it while a patient in civilian hospitals as well as military hospitals. I was stationed for a time at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii where I was a patient for a week with my second bout of malaria. My first hospital stay with malaria was in an Army field hospital in Vietnam where I contracted it, and the food wasn't too bad even there.
I can't speak to the food served at other VA hospitals, but my expectations aren't very high. The food being served at the Long Beach VA Hospital is prepared at the one in West Los Angeles and trucked to Long Beach. The kitchens at the Long Beach VA hospital are closed for lack of sufficient funds in the federal budget. Congress could allocate more or the President could rearrange his priorities, but they have more important matters on their minds.
Sometimes I wonder what I've left undone. I've lived a long and adventurous life, one filled with love and hate, success and failure, great joy and great despondency. Still, there seems to be something left undone. I'm still here. Why?
There is one question that hasn't been answered. Why did my wife wait so long for me? She is a beautiful woman. The perfect mate. She was thirty before we met and I have often wondered what was wrong with the men in California? Why did they leave the most desirable fruit unpicked?
She'll probably blush when she reads this. She always does when I tell her. Then it occurred to me that she may have had a premonition, one that discouraged her from encouraging just any man. She was waiting for me. Why?
Like any good storyteller, I used it as grist for my mill.
The better question may be what's right about American crime dramas? Nothing. Seriously. They use stick thin women to play detectives and beat cops who would have a hard time carrying their own weight on a fashion show runway. Whenever I see them kick in a door or rough up a thug, my ability to suspend disbelief cries out in anguish. Also, the Brits seem more enamored with acting ability than with beauty.
And American crime dramas don't have a consistent theme. American producers, directors, and writers should study their British counterparts. The Brits have a theme. They love cops who are broken human beings. The more dysfunctional the better.
Take, for example, River, a recent offering from BBC and available on Netflix. Detective Inspector John River is barking mad. If he were any crazier they'd have to keep him in a straight jacket whenever they removed him from the funny farm to investigate a case.
John sees dead people. He talks to them. They talk back. John responds physically and emotionally to them. Like I said, John River is barking mad. A nutter, as the Brits would say.
Oh dark thiry
Did you ever feel deprived because you family never lived up to a Norman Rockwell image? I did. However, one day a Lutheran pastor assured me that no one else's family did. Did yours?
It's gotten worse with age, especially in this age of political correctness. My children have little tolerance for my traditional views and they certainly don't want their children infected with them. My wife, a very successful mother, is remonstrated if she dares suggest any child rearing advice to the very children she lovingly raised.
Then there are those other relations: Siblings, nieces and nephews. Dinner conversation is a minefield for any so brazen as to broach it with them. That's why I'm going armed (or armored) with a list of 10 No-Fail Dinner Party Conversation Starters provided by that bastion of political correctness, The Huff Post.
I've also read The Democrat's Guide to Talking Politics with Your Republican Uncle to inure myself to the propaganda I can expect in spite of every effort to avoid discussing politics.
Thus I shall endeavor to abide by my wife's most fervent wish to keep peace in the family.
Good luck to all others who find themselves in my position.
Is there any question that we're living in The Devil's Pleasure Palace? Political correctness runs amok on American campuses as students demand freedom from offense and free everything else. Sex loses all its pleasure as it becomes easier to obtain. The practice of abortion destroys human life in numbers that would make a Nazi blush. Pseudo-science is used to control behavior. Atheists have gained the legal right to demand tolerance of their belief system only. The purveyors of progressive leftism, like Rousseau, Marx, Brecht, Sartre, and Lillian Hellman, beasts in their private lives who profess to love humanity most but despise people, have come to dominate American philosophical and political thought. So, what else would you call this place other than The Devil's Pleasure Palace?
Explaining this phenomenon is the goal of The Devil's Pleasure Palace by Michael Walsh.
Oh dark thirty
Some of my most vivid memories were provided by great storytellers. It's an art that comes in many forms. Oral. Film. Radio drama. Plays. Pantomime. Now there's a new one that helps ordinary people tell their life stories. It comes from an innovative organization called the StoryCorps. They produce short films illustrating stories narrated by the people who lived them.
Are you celebrating or disappointed in the outcome of Hillary's testimony at the #Benghazi Committee?
You may be celebrating if you support Hillary. She appears to many to have won. Won what?
You may be disappointed that she didn't break down in tears and confess. Confess what?
Let's take a deep breath and think.
The hearings before the House Select Committee on Benghazi is not a trial. There is no jury. There won't be a verdict. Think of it more as a pretrial to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial. In the military, we would have likened it to an Article 32 (Uniform Code of Military Justice) Investigation to determine if a crime has been committed and if so who should be charged?
Did you expect Hillary to trip up and blurt out something incriminating? Why would you think that? Hillary is an accomplished liar. She lied to herself about her husband's philandering for many years so that she wouldn't have to confront the ugly truth of her dysfunctional marriage. She lied as she was caught stealing the silverware and chinaware as she and Bill exited the White House. She lied in countless investigations to avoid being fined and punished for her complicity in the White Water and other scandals. Her tangled web of lies surrounding her mishandling of classified documents while Secretary of State is unraveling with every revelation. Did you seriously think she would confess like the culprit in an episode of the old Perry Mason Show?
The time to deliberate over the testimony and hard evidence won't begin until the hearings end. Anyone leaping to conclusions at this point is driven by opinion rather than truth.
Blogs written at Oh-Dark-Thirty
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