23 December 2009


Get ready for a firestorm from the left. MajGen Tony Cucolo, US Army, the Commander, Task Force Marne (I am betting he is CG, Third Infantry Division "The Rock of the Marne")headquartered in Tikrit, Iraq has announced a policy within his command that soldiers who get pregnant in theater, and those who impregnate them (if they can be identified) will face disciplinary action. I can already hear the howls from feminists.

But think about this: If a soldier shoots himself or herself in the foot, necessitating transfer out of theater and leaving the unit short-handed, he or she would face court-martial. Why then ought not a soldier who voluntarily incurs some other condition that results in a similar detriment to the accomplishment of the unit’s mission (which always takes precedence) face similar action? I thought the feminists wanted women to be treated equally and insisted that they be allowed to do anything a man can do in theater.

I hope that the National Command Authority backs General Cuculo on this one.

22 December 2009


[START vent] I was installed on Sunday to fill an unexpired one-year term. Last night was my first meeting. This morning I am asking God if He really wants me to do this--the rancor and discord was disheartening. I think at one point I was called a liar and a con man, but I'm not sure. I'll resort to Matthew 18 to sort that out. Merry Christmas!!![END vent]

20 December 2009


As I write this, it is the 41st anniversary of my arrival in Vietnam. On my Face Book page, Reformed Catholic reminded me that I had started this project last year at this time. After I got through my days in the bush with the Marines of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, I took a break. But now, I think it is time to finish up my time “down south in the Republic.”

After I returned to An Hoa from Embarkation School, I was “transferred” from Charlie Company to Headquarters and Service Company (H&S Company). Major Pat O’Toole was acting CO, Colonel Riley having been transferred while I was in Okinawa. The Battalion staff, consisted of Lt. Tom Pottenger (a TBS classmate) as Adjutant and S-1 (Personnel Officer), Major Bob Kerzic as “the Three” (S-3—Operations Officer), and I was now “the Four” (Logistics Officer). There was no officer available to fill the S-2 (Intelligence Officer) billet, so the “Two Chief,” an NCO performed that function.

I had no idea how to be the Four, but fortunately for me, Captain Castagnetti was soon assigned as Regimental S-4. Three-Five’s four was a Captain who had shepherded our little gaggle of lieutenants down to An Hoa the previous December. Those two Captains took me under their wings and I began to learn how to be a staff officer. In particular, Captain (soon to be Major) Castagnetti began to “invite” me to his bunker for a nightly “four” school. The many things I learned, from references to Marine Corps publications to tricks of the trade, stood me in good stead for the rest of my career.

A few days later, we got a new Battalion Commander. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph K. Griffis is one of those men who make a mark on a young man’s life. He was a veteran of WWII (as a very young enlisted Marine) and Korea. Joe Griffis was a hard man who knew the hard business of war. And as young men often do, we failed to realize just how lucky we were to have him as “the Old Man.” Fortunately, we had the privilege of being his boys for another 39 years.

In 1969, he wore a trademark blue bandana at his neck and insisted that every man in the battalion carry a rifle unless he was actually carrying a crew-served weapon. (That would later cause me some grief, but that is a story for another day.) He himself had acquired a M-16 carbine, another trademark.

As a result of his arrival, Maj. O’Toole came back to An Hoa and resumed his position as Executive Officer. The battalion continued to operate in The Arizona.

I did not really like being a staff officer. It was tedious and not very exciting. Then I heard that 1st Reconnaissance Battalion was looking for platoon commanders. That struck me as a perfect solution.

A reconnaissance platoon commander led recon patrols deep into enemy-controlled territory. A team of six to eight Marines with a Corpsman would be inserted into an area for several days to seek out enemy positions, snatch prisoners, and call in artillery on enemy formations. It was lonely and dangerous work, but it sure beat manning a desk. All I had to do was get the transfer.

I can best tell what happened in this way. In 1999, the 1st Marine Division Association held its annual reunion in Philadelphia. I had been a Life member since 1969 but had never attended a reunion. Robin Montgomery called me and asked me to attend so that we could vote for his platoon sergeant who was running for Vice President.

SWMBO came into town for the banquet on Saturday night. That afternoon we were in the Charlie Company hospitality suite when in walked J.K. Griffis. He was greeted warmly by a number of folks. I caught his eye.

“Sir, you probably don’t remember me, but. . .”

“Of course I do, Mac. You were my Four!” After 30 years!!! I started to introduce SWMBO when I was grabbed from behind in a monstrous bear hug.

“Mac, Mac, you sonuvabitch! I was hoping you would be here!” It was Colonel O’Toole.

SWMBO’s eyes were like dinner plates. I began to introduce her to a grinning Colonel Griffis and the XO. Pat O’Toole turned to SWMBO. “I am so pleased to meet you,” he said. “Let me tell you about the crazy sob you married.”

“He had been the Four for a week or so. One Friday morning, he reported to me with an AA form (Administrative Action form) requesting a transfer to Recon Battalion. I tore it up and told him ‘You’re the Four. Now get back to work.’”

“But he wants to argue. ‘Major,’ he says, you can’t do that. The book says you can forward it recommending disapproval, but you have to forward it.’ I said ‘The hell I can’t. You’re the Four. Now get out of here.’ There was no way we were going to lose him.”

“Well, the next Friday morning, there he is again. I tore up his AA form and we had the same conversation. The next week, I had something going on with Regiment, so I told one of the S-1 clerks to go up and tell Mac that I was busy and that he should just go ahead and tear up the AA form himself.”

“And, Mrs. Mac, the crazy sob did just that!”

Unlike most sea stories, that one was spot on. The room erupted in laughter. A couple of guys said “So. It was you. He has told that story for years!” I was home again.

A few days after the “AA form incident,” I went on R&R to Hawaii and by the time I returned, I knew that I was the Four for the duration of my tour. In retrospect, it was right for me.

© 2010 Michael R. McCarty. All rights reserved.

18 December 2009


I just heard Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D.ILL) being interviewed on POTUS (XM 130/Sirius 110). The issue was, of course, the massive restructuring of the American economy that the Democratic Party is attempting to foist on us in the form of so-called “health care reform.”

The specific topic was whether or not the missing Senate bill (set to be unveiled by Harry Reid and his cohorts 36 hours before the Senate votes on the measure) can withstand a cloture motion. Under the Senate rules, a filibuster can be ended only if two-thirds of the Senate votes for “cloture,” i.e., to limit debate. Right now, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has stated that he will not vote for cloture if the Senate bill does not contain language similar to the Stupak amendment which was added to the House bill.

Tim Farley was talking to Rep. Schakowsky about the possibility of compromise on the issue. He referred to the warning by former-President Clinton to the Democratic party that “America can't afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” (In so doing, he was paraphrasing Admiral Sergei Gorshkov, a tactical and strategic genius and one of my heroes, believe it or not. The Admiral said “Perfect is the enemy of good enough.”)

Rep. Schakowsky, demonstrating an astounding ignorance of American history complained that the real problem at hand is the rules of the Senate. In particular, she is incensed that “a Senator from a small state” can hold up what she thinks is the most important legislation of the past 70 years. (I wonder if that member of the Democratic Party base—the NAACP—would be willing to put the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act lower on the list?)

Apparently Rep. Schakowsky has never studied the Constitutional Convention of 1787. She espouses the demand of the large states that they control the Federal legislature—a demand that failed in the convention. The idea of a Senate in which the States were represented equally balancing a House of Representatives whose membership was based on population was just one of the checks and balances written into our Charter. Now, Rep Schakowsky wants to rewrite 220 years of Constitutional history so that what she deems “best” for the Nation need not be subjected to any such checks on an unbridled central government.

She should know better. Shame on her!

09 December 2009


I'm probably preaching to the choir, but Quotidian Grace is sponsoring her 4th Annual Sappy Christmas Song contest. The prizes are mundane, but the honor associated with writing doggerel and drivel is really heady. Give it a look.

08 December 2009


Well, Jumper Girl has worn me down. I am now, tentatively, on Facepage or Facebook or whatever.

The darn thing has way too many moving parts. I have hundreds of people who now want to be my “friend,” including numerous of JG’s teenage friends. I think not. I am an old dog—I do not want to learn new tricks.

But the games are fun, and I can IM (wow, catch that use of internet slang!) SWMBO which is often the only way we can communicate without teenage interruption. So, off we go, into the 21st Century. But I miss my fountain pen.

04 December 2009


For so long as any Congress is in session, especially the current one, the wallets of the American people are in danger. No one loves to spend someone else’s money like a member of Congress. Nothing gets their juices going like a big pot of our money that they can lavish on folks other than the people who earned the money and paid it in taxes.

The latest case in point is the Troubled Asset Recovery Program.

TARP, as it is known, was created to remedy the serious problems created by Chris Dodd, Barney Franks, and others of their ilk. Playing the racial prejudice game so beloved by liberals, they forced through a series of laws that mandated that banks must make mortgage loans to people who could never qualify for those loans. When questions were raised, Barney, Chris and others claimed that the objectors were simply prejudiced against poor people of color.

As a result, lenders soon held huge blocks of bad paper. As the housing market tumbled, there was no way that the properties that served as collateral for the loans could cover the value of those loans. Without some help, the holders of these “troubled assets” were likely to fail. Starting in October, 2008, and continuing through the change in administrations, the complex plan was designed to keep lending institutions afloat and to encourage lenders to continue to offer credit necessary to move the economy.

Well, it appears to have worked. Lender after lender has begun to repay the loans to the Treasury, i.e., to us, the taxpayers whose taxes were the source of the loans. Mission accomplished.

“But wait a minute,” says the Congress. “You mean that there is going to be hundreds of billions of dollars just laying around?” They are grinning like a kid at Christmas. Never mind that the whole idea of TARP was to make loans and then recover the money to repay the loans. They now want to use this “windfall” to fund “job creation” programs. Just because the money was meant for one specific program will not stop these profligates from spending it on their pet causes.

When they rail against the deficit, they are lying. If they were really interested in the deficit, they now have hundreds of billions of dollars to pay it down. Don’t hold your breath.

But there had better not be any suggestion that we have to impose a new tax to “pay” for Afghan operations. They have plenty of extra cash laying around.

03 December 2009


In his classic Street Without Joy (La Rue Sans Joie), Bernard Fall wrote of an experience he had in Saigon in the early 50s. He was at a French Officers’ Club, watching several Frog officers and their ladies at play. An old Cambodian Master Sergeant respectfully approached one of the officers with a document for signature. The Frog rudely dismissed the Sergeant, berating him for interrupting his recreation and telling him to wait until the officer was ready for him. The Sergeant waited for several hours.

At 5:00pm, the sound of the French bugle call for evening colors wafted over the trees. Fall could see the tricolor being lowered. The Master Sergeant snapped to attention, while the Frogs and their ladies ignored the flag.

Fall wrote that he knew at that moment that the French experiment in Indo-China was doomed.

Yesterday, as I drove past our local elementary school—at which SWMBO is a one-on-one aide and Bionicle Boy is a student—I noticed that the National Ensign was tattered and torn. I went into the office to see if anyone had noticed. (Marines are pretty flag-conscious, but I have come to learn that most civilians are not.) The secretary apologized and noted that she would order a replacement.

This morning, on my way to the VA, I saw the old flag still flying, albeit at half-mast. I called SWMBO and asked her to find out who had died.

Her reply e-mail was to the effect that the flag was stuck at half-mast because as it was being lowered for replacement, the halyard had become stuck. Then she added, “Next time you are tempted to complain, please don’t. 'The office' has told teachers that ‘some parent’ complained about the condition of the flag. The staff is buzzing, suggesting that ‘If the parent is so concerned, he should just go out and buy a flag himself!’”

I made time in my schedule to drop in on the Principal. He was very cordial, apologized because he had not noticed the condition of the flag, and cordially declined my offer to buy a new flag. I left satisfied by his response (and his obvious leadership).

But what does it say about our sense of nationhood when teachers belittle a fellow citizen simply because he sought to correct a situation in which the Flag Code of the United States is being violated? See, 4 USC §8k. "The world wonders. . ." (100 irrevocable lifetime macho points for anyone who can explain the final quote as it aplies to US history.)

02 December 2009


On September 11, 2001, the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by a foreign quasi-State and its allies. The United States government had failed in the primary responsibility of any Nation: thousands of innocent people were killed for no reason other than that they were Americans.

In response, a united government and Nation responded militarily. “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.” Luke 11:22. History reflects that despite repeated attempts to do so, the enemy has failed to carry out another attack on our Country. The primary reason for that is that we have employed our Armed Forces, our strong men armed (a Colonel I once served under referred to ours as “the profession of violence”) professionally, competently, and, when necessary, violently to take the war to the bad guys. That is what a Nation is supposed to do in carrying out its primary duty of “provid[ing] for the common defense.”

If we cannot defend ourselves, nothing else matters. The victor will set the agenda.

Now, the President has decided that we must do more to defend our Nation. The limp-wristed amongst our fellow citizens are aghast.

This President, "their President," was supposed to come in, order our troops and our nation to tuck its national tail between its legs, and slink home to cower in the corner. He was to immediately release all the thugs and brigands captured on the field of battle or in their secret headquarters and let them go.

The limpest wrist of them all, Nancy Pelosi, and her cohorts are dismayed that the President has finally realized that it is easy to coach from the cheap seats. Now that he is on the sidelines with the full responsibility that comes with his position, things look a lot different. Now, if a skyscraper falls, or a dirty bomb pops off inside the Loop or Times Square, or some school district suddenly finds that its inventory of elementary schools has been violently reduced by one, the responsibility is his and his alone. Harry Truman had it just right.

But Nancy and her cohorts have a new way to get their way and to endanger the Country. Her surrogate, Congressman Obey (D. Wis.), wants to “pay for the war” by imposing a new war tax on the American people. That way, he says, the people “will know” the real cost of the war and will demand that we turn tail and run.

Sadly, he may be right. But, if that is the principal that ol’ Nance and her gang want to use, they are a bit late. Where is the tax surcharge to “pay for” the trillion dollar stimulus package? The American people deserve to know the real cost of a "stimulus" that is not working. Where is the surcharge to pay “for the” the two trillion dollar “reform” of health care? The American people deserve to know the real cost of a “reform” that will not work.

Sorry, but those are being “paid for” by the heavy use of smoke, mirrors and outright deceit.

So, until the Congress decides to have one principal for paying for things, let’s not worry about the cost of the troop surge which will be approximately one percent of the cost of the stimulus and health care packages.

And the surge has one other advantage: it has a good chance of working!