11 November 2006

Thank you Veterans

WWI ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 and the day became known as Armistice Day in the United States. By 1938, Armistice Day was a national holiday, and on June 1, 1954 Armistice Day became Veterans Day to honor veterans of all of America's wars.

I was fortunate to participate in a Veterans Day ceremony yesterday and was able to hear a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient speak. One of the things he said that rang true was that November 11th shouldn't be Veterans Day. Every day should be Veterans Day.

The capper of the day for me was visiting with an old timer after the ceremony was over. He walked up to where I was passing out food and drinks and I teased him about his Airborne cap, which had an 82nd Airborne pin proudly displayed on the front. I asked him who in his right mind would jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

"Hell, when I signed up in 1941, times were hard and when I saw they offered $100 extra bucks a month for jump pay, I took it. Had no idea what the hell jump school was but I needed the cash." Said he'd backed out of the Navy, because they wanted him to fly as he had a college degree - told me that he hated the damned airplanes and wanted nothing tod o with them. When he found out what jump school was he told me, "next thing you knew I was stuck back in a damned plane!"

I learned how he was deployed into North Africa, jumped into Sicily, jumped into Salerno, fought his way across Italy, jumped into Normandy, jumped into Holland, fought at the Bulge and then wound up in Germany at the end of the war protecting the border from the Russians. He took part in all 4 combat jumps of the 82nd Airborne during WWII. All. Four.

During our conversation, I was able to recall the names of the different operations - Husky, Overlord/Neptune, Market Garden - and he was surprised, and quite pleased that someone actually knew of what happened. I shudder to think why he was surprised that anyone would remember and I was more than content to sit there and listen to this man, this piece of history, tell me about his WWII experience.

When it was time to leave, we shook hands, and I left humbled by this man's sacrifice and the sacrifice that all of our veterans do for us. I began to think that the moniker The Greatest Generation was indeed true - and not just for the troopers that were fighting, but for the people that were at home, supporting the war.

The people on the home front who accepted massive, astounding losses without calling for the head of the Secretary of Defense; without whining "not in our name"; without barganing for more 'humane' treatment of the enemy; without harping at every negative turn of events and calling for an immediate return of our troops.

The 8th Air Force had missions in the early part of the war where they suffered over 70% casualties. 70%. During the Battle of the Bulge, 80,000 of America's bravest men were either killed, captured, or wounded in a matter of days. Yet the American public continued to support the war, and equally as important, to support the troops.

The current crop of Americans at home could learn a lesson from our parents and grandparents. It's clear to me that our troops protecting us now are doing their part to make our generation the next Greatest Generation. Now if only the people on the home front could show the same stamina and resolve of the WWII generation.

In this small way, I will do my part. Will you?

Thank you Veterans.

10 November 2006

Happy Birthday Marines

General LeJeune's 1921 Marine Corps Birthday Message

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history. The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of it's existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the nations foes. From the battle of Trenton to the Argonne. Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home. Generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security. In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term Marine has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue. This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.

I believe that it is fitting that it was announced today by the President that a young man who shared a birthday with the Marine Corps will recieve posthumosly the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty in Iraq in 2004.

For details of Corporal Jason Dunham's heroic actions, go here and make sure you sign his guestbook here.

Semper fi Marine.

08 November 2006

Some election afterthoughts

Been listening to a lot of pundits and talking heads today. The reason for the Republicans' loss today has varied from one end of the spectrum to the other.

One thing I have not heard, but think is worth some thought is that there are striking similarities between George HW Bush's loss in 1992 and the Republican's loss yesterday.

HW Bush had been riding the Reagan wave, and the quick and relatively painless Gulf War I had him at incredibly high approval ratings. Yet he lost the election. Two reasons have been sited for his loss:

1. "Read my lips. No new taxes." And then he raised taxes.
2. In 1989, HW Bush signed into law the Assault Weapon Ban.

Both of these acts disenfranchised a massive part of the Conservative base.The now defunct Republican Congress that has ruled since 1994 has also disenfranchised a massive part of the Conservative base.

1. Amnesty for illegal aliens.
2. Massive, out of control spending.
3. Many Republicans (ala John McCain) have done everything they possibly could to weaken our position on the ongoing war and refused to do anything about securing our border. In fact, many Republicans have been Republicans in Name Only and have pretty much bent over backwards to kiss the ass of any liberal idea that flew in their office door.

By not acting like Republicans, the party has squandered an opportunity that has rarely presented itself in American politics. Instead of setting an agenda from a position of power, they have done whatever they thought made them seem "accommodating", "understanding", or "compassionate" to a liberal Democrat Party that could care less about anything other than getting back in power. As a result, the Republican base, who sent people to Washington to minimize the size of government, control spending, fight a war like you want to win it, and protect our borders has sat on its hands this election day.

Add in to the mix the Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, and Tom Foley scandals and you create a perfect storm, if you will that caused the silent majority to stay home or vote with their feet.

The pundits are claiming that this election was everything to do with the people wanting change.

I don't buy it.

This election was about an incensed Conservative base who stayed home.

I hope the Republicans learn their lesson, go home and lick their wounds, and come out fighting next year; and fighting to win control back in '08.

In case they aren't sure what they need to do, the list is simple:

1. Win the war by any means necessary. Stop acting as if someone's opinion in some shithole 3rd world country matters one bit when it comes to our own security.
2. Cut taxes. Permanently.
3. Lower spending.
4. Protect the Border.

07 November 2006

05 November 2006

Cowboys lose

What a horrid game. A last second go-ahead field goal blocked. Facemask. 15 yards and one more play. And the 'skins win.

That's what you get when you get over 150 yards in penalties, a defense that looks more like Swiss cheese than a steel curtain, and a 10 million dollar wide reciever who drops a perfect touchdown pass.

On the bright side, Romo played pretty damn good. Too bad the rest of the team let him down.

Hot for martyrdom

Another update on the religion of peace.

Interesting read - and directed at our media and leftists - too bad they're not listening.

I've heard this poverty nonsense time and time again from Western apologists for Islam, most of them not Muslim by the way. There are millions of passive supporters of terror who may be poor and needy but most of those who do the killing are wealthy, privileged, educated and free. If it were about poverty, ask yourself why it is middle-class Muslims -- and never poor Christians -- who become suicide bombers in Palestine."

"Stop asking what you have done wrong. Stop it! They're slaughtering you like sheep and you still look within. You criticize your history, your institutions, your churches. why can't you realize that it has nothing to do with what you have done but with what they want."

This about sums up the American left in a nutshell. It's never the fault of the "other guy", whether it's a convicted death row rapist or an out of control religion. It's always "our" fault, even if we had nothing to do with the problem other than turning our back on it.

Cooking with JR - Chili

It's been a dreary, cool weekend, and devoid of shooting, so I decided that today would be a good day to cook some chili. Please note that Texas chili does not have beans or other ghastly filler that you see in most variations of what people call chili. It's essentially meat and spices, with some onion and garlic. I've got a recipe that's won a number of competitions, and has been used for a couple of decades. It comes from the other JR, whose family has spawned a number of state and world chili champions. I've modified it a bit, but here goes.

First, you need some staples. Beer is mostly for the cook, but a spritz in the chili never killed anyone. You need pot to cook in, and some fundamental ingredients:

Chili powder, comino (cumin), cayenne pepper, salt, paprika, oregano, onion and garlic will cover most of what you need.
A couple of jalapenos are good for flavor, and I'll show you how to use them properly. A beef bouillion cube, a small can of tomato paste, and a couple of cartons of chicken broth (low sodium) will round out your ingredients. I don't use water in this recipe, but if you can't find broth, just use water.

Let's cook. First, mince about 1/2 a large yellow onion, as fine as you like. The onion will break down in the cooking.

Also, you need about 2 tablespoons of minced garlic (I buy mine pre-minced in a jar). Saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Now it's time to brown the meat. When I'm cooking for competition, I get a good cut of meat, trim it by hand, and cube the pieces into about 3/4-inch cubes. Screw that for cooking at home.

I just bought 3 lbs of chili grind. Yeah, it breaks down into little pieces of hamburger-like meat, but that's okay for eating. Try to get a lower fat grind, so you don't have to mess with draining after browning. Dump the meat in, and brown it with the garlic and onions. Drain if needed. Smells good, don't it?

Now it's time to add the first round of spices and stuff. 1 TBSP Chili powder, 1 TBSP Comino, 1/2 beef bouillion cube, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper, 1 small can of tomato PASTE, a few dashes of Tabasco Chipotle (I did this on a whim, and it's really, really good), and one jalapeno. Just drop the whole pepper in the pot.Cover the whole thing with chicken broth, and let it simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes. Beer time.

Next, get one of those little strainer thingies, fish the pepper out, and put it in the strainer. Use a spoon to squish the juice out. Discard the pulp, and replace with a fresh pepper. Now we add more spices, and things start to take shape. Add 6 TBSP chili powder, 2 TBSP comino, 1 TBSP paprika (it's for color, ya know), 1/4 tsp of oregano (don't overdo this, unless you like spaghetti sauce), and cover with chicken broth. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, or a couple of beers.
At this point, you'll notice your chili taking on a beautiful red color, with a shimmering golden sheen on the top. This is a sign of goodness to come.

I'm usually a little woozy at this point, but we're close to the end. After more simmering, squeeze the juice out of the last jalapeno, add another 1-2 TBSP of chili powder and comino, another 1/2 tsp salt (taste it first, of course), and then cook it until you can't stand waiting anymore (about another 30 minutes or so, depending on the meat). Your preference on the thickness of the chili will determine how long you cook it. Remember, chili will thicken as it cools.
Chili is best served as a lone dish, and at this point, I don't care what you put in it - just don't tell me about it. I prefer a little chopped onion and grated cheese on mine. Chili stores great in the freezer. I like to fill a few freezer bags with some, and store it. Next time you have guests for a football game and burgers and dogs, break out a bag, nuke it, and be a hero.

A note on ingredients. You can spend a LOT of time and money looking for just the right chili powder, comino, etc. Yes, you can get fresh onion and garlic. But for cooking at home, go with the bargains. Use powdered ingredients - big deal. Make sure your chili powder isn't full of comino, but if it is, cut back on the comino. By the way, the chili is almost always better the next day. Enjoy.