Author Archives: Bill Brandt

Worst. Thanksgiving.Promotional.Evar.

November 22nd, 2007 by lex

But pretty dern funny, though.


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Happy Thanksgiving, part II


November 22nd, 2007 by lex

The second part of the WSJ’s annual tradition, reproduced for your viewing pleasure and convenience:

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Get Your Frogman On

By lex, on January 25th, 2012

Your host is back on the Crossfit track, the time which he has for such activities having been expanded by his more frequent absence from domestic duties. Also, something really had to be done about our creeping senescence, and this is after all a new year – a time in which it is customary and usual to start beneficial things anew, or renew good things once abandoned, or abandon things malignant. I’m rather too fond of my vices to give them up entirely, so getting back in the gym seemed a reasonable compromise. The combination of which inspired has inspired me to various and divers loaded functional movements over the course of the last cuppla, which have left me aching and sore in all the usual places, reminding me no doubt about why I had given the whole thing over in the past, not once but several times.

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Pretty Much the Coolest Thing Ever

By lex, on January 24th, 2012

When Son Number One got his wings in Pensacola these last months past, I took the opportunity to go down with hizzoner and his sainted ma, for to see the Naval Aviation Museum there. That being one of my cultural touchstones, for ours is a proud history with many fine and honorable heroes who preceded us, to serve as examples.

Eugene Ely it was who first put an airplane down upon a carrier deck, just a little over a hundred years ago. Butch O’Hare shot down three Betty bombers – and damaged two others – who were targeting USS Lexington on the unopposed side, saving the ship and thousands of his shipmates, while earning our first ever Medal of Honor. He was trained by Jimmy Thach, who turned a performance disadvantage into a winning tactic, setting the example for generations of innovators. His soul has gone on to meet its reward, but his spirit is with us still.

Pappy Boyington taught the young kids how to fight in the Solomons, and later paid his rent as a guest of Imperial Japan. Joe Foss got his kills at Guadalcanal, and helped protect the grunts from adding to the butcher’s bill.

Jessie Brown broke the color line to serve a country that didn’t yet deserve him in the Korean War, and paid for it with his life. Thomas Hudner crashed his airplane alongside him, behind enemy lines, trying to save his life. He also earned the MoH.  John Koelsch gave his life so that another might live. Clyde Lassen learned his example a decade or so later.

Jim Stockdale earned his ribbon refusing to submit to the North Vietnamese. Mike Estocin understood the concept of being on “government time” over Haiphong. He went missing because of it, his fate known to God alone.

It’s a lot to live up to.

But they all came from somewhere. Ely came from Davenport, Iowa. O’Hare from Saint Louis. Thach from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Pappy from Coeur D’Alene. Foss from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jessie Brown from the hard hate of Hattiesburg, MS. Hudner from Fall River, Mass. Jack Koelsch from London, England. Lassen from Fort Myers, FL. Admiral Stockdale from Abingdon, IL. Estocin from Turtle Creek, PA.

Flyover country, mostly.  Not the kinds of places that send kids to Harvard or Yale. Apart from Koelsch. Who came from the old country for reasons of his own, and gave his life for one of his adopted brothers.

Where do we grow the next crop? How do we reach them?

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Long Day

By lex, on January 22nd, 2012

Which your host is back in charming Fallon, NV, having only left the place last Friday, but such were the puts and takes of managing pilot availabilities amidst an ever-dynamic requirements set. It was nice to be @home #whileitlasted, but it’ll be good to get back in the air again, so long as the weather cooperates, which it shows every intention not to do tomorrow. Actual Snow, if the forecasts are to be believed. I positively shiver.

But: The trends for the balance of the week are favorable.

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Unilateral Disarmament

By lex, on February 15th, 2012

This can’t possibly be true:

President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to consider cutting U.S. strategic nuclear forces to as low as 300 deployed warheads—below the number believed to be in China’s arsenal and far fewer than current Russian strategic warhead stocks.

Pentagon and military planners were asked to develop three force levels for the U.S. arsenal of deployed strategic nuclear warheads: a force of 1,100 to 1,000 warheads; a second scenario of between 700 and 800 warheads; and the lowest level of between 300 and 400 warheads.

A congressional official said no president in the past ever told the Pentagon to conduct a review based on specific numbers of warheads.

“In the past, the way it worked was, ‘tell me what the world is like and then tell me what the force should be,’” the official said. “That is not happening in this review.”

Can it?

I mean, it’s one thing to baseline the overall Pentagon budget based on budget-driven numbers whose fiscal rigor begins with “less for defense is always better” rather than on a analytic review of national security requirements – not a good thing, mind – but it’s something else entirely when a  sitting president tells the country’s strategic defense apparatus to build down our nuclear stockpile based on nothing but round numbers even as proliferation grows elsewhere.

I’m hoping that Mr. Gertz is misinformed. Because heretofore I have given the president the benefit of the doubt, operating under the assumption that he is merely in over his head, rather than actively malign.

Update: Blackfive theorizes that the president is trying to earn his Nobel Peace Prize. Or maybe get back to his senior year of college.

Good heavens.

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Cultural Isolation

By lex, on January 21st, 2012

Those of us of a certain age have strolled the green long enough to recognize that the country has changed in fundamental ways from the one that we were born into, and that not all of those changes have been beneficent. Things that would have shocked the conscience of nearly all Americans fifty years ago are now commonplace. Shared assumptions about what it meant to be a part of the American way of life no longer obtain. We have gone from the congenial myth of “E pluribus unum” to a state of acknowledged and de facto cultural Balkanization, one that divides us into semi-permanent economic classes in a way that threatens the social mobility which used to separate us from the lands we’d fled. In doing so we have created politically reliable victim classes whose only hope at economic betterment is plundering their distant and unknown neighbors.

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