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The View From Here

Things I see, and what I think about them. Warning: Some of my opinions may hurt your feelings. It's nothing personal, I assure you.

Updated: 2014-10-07T01:07:49.642-04:00


Remembering Nick Manoukian


A few years ago, I first told you about the story of A young Marine from Michigan, who lost his life in the Anbar province of Iraq. His name was Nicholas Manoukian, and he was 22 years old when he died. Since then, I have posted about this dedicated young man several times, particularly on Veteran's Day. You see, I promised this young man's mother that I wouldn't forget her son, and that I wouldn't allow others to forget him, either. Nicholas Manoukian is one of over four thousand Americans and untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion, of that country, and now that President Obama has said that all American troops should be out of that shattered country by the end of this year, I want to say something that I think is important. You see, we Americans have short memories. Seriously short, if you can recall our last Presidential election we were concerned about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now all we do is quietly shake our heads about them. Those on the left have moved on to Occupy Wall Street and other things, and those on the right are up in arms about gay people and wrecking the ability of our government to govern. Now, not too many people talk about these wars. I guess it isn't popular for anyone these days. Well guess what, kids? These wars aren't over, and Americans are still dying. You probably already know how I feel about the wars, but this isn't about that. I want to talk to you today about a particular young American. A young person who was probably fairly typical of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have lost their lives doing the bidding of our government. His name is Nick Manoukian. A husband and father from Lathrup Village, Michigan. He lost his life during his second combat tour in Iraq, in 2006. Remember him. Remember that this young fellow died for his country. Rmember that no matter what your politics are, this country, for the sake of it's own soul, has to remember that the actions of our government have consequences that mean more than political rhetoric. By all accounts (I have been in touch with Nick's mother, Mary, and several of his Marine Corps comrades for a few years now), Nick was a great son, and a first class Marine. He was also a good friend to those who knew him. The loss of this young man is a loss to all of us. I didn't post this on Veteran's Day this year, because I didn't want it to get lost in the general flag-waving and fist pumping that generally happens then. I want people to remember Nick Manoukian on days that aren't so special. I want you to remember this young man who left a grieving, heartbroken mother and wife & child. I want you to remember him for all of those who won't come back from those places. Corporal Nicholas Manoukian, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, 1984-2006

Where I Have Been (with addendum)


So... I haven't been around for a while. Let me tell you why.The first five months have been painful for me. Not physically, although there has been some of that, but not enough for me to bother writing about, as physical pain and I are old comrades. No, I am talking about emotional pain.My mother died on February 5th.Remember when I told you, last year that my mother had been declared cancer-free, for the second time? Maybe I didn't tell you... honestly, I don't really remember. Anyway, after beating cancer last year, she had the bad fortune to take a nasty fall in the kitchen of her home. Of course, being a pretty tough old bird, she didn't bother to tell anyone for a couple of weeks... so when she went to the hospital with her friend who was later to be diagnosed with stomach cancer, she passed out. She was checked out and MRI'ed and X-rayed and massive bleeding on the brain was found. You know the drill from here, right? She had surgery, there was lots of clotting, she started having strokes and seizures. She was in a lot of pain. After nearly three weeks, the Doctors induced a coma, hoping it would allow her to stabilize with less of the pain she was obviously in. She died less than 12 hours later.I went to the funeral, of course, though I didn't want to... it was horrible. Oh, there were mourners... neighbors and old faces from my childhood that I haven't seen in 30 years. There were also siblings that I really had no interest in seeing. I drove to New Jersey that morning, and then went back to Virginia that afternoon. I got back in time to go to my Confirmation class. The other teachers had it covered for me, so I went home with the Joe's Special that I had gotten from the best pizza place on the planet.I lived within a 5 minute walk from Joe's from age five, until I enlisted at age 17. This place still has the pizza most beloved by almighty God. No, I'm not exagerrating. Have a Joe's special and you will know what I mean.Anyway, a month (to the day) after my mother died, my father in law died. We went to his memorial service (a month after he died) in Milwaukee, Wisc., in April... and wouldn't you know it... it snowed. No, really. It freakin' snowed!So, we get back from Wisconsin, and a week later I am in Princeton, New Jersey to spend most of a week at the Princeton Theological Seminary. Why?, you ask?, because I have enrolled in the Certificate Program for Youth & Theology. We had a three day forum on youth ministry and then our cohort for the certification program met or the first time. It was incredible. Trust me. I'll talk more about it some other time, when I have the words. I wouldn't really have brought it up in the first place, except that my presence there bears on the subject of this post. The day before the retreat ended, I found out that a colleague of mine, a two-tour veteran of the Iraq war... a man who had been treated for PTSD, killed himself... on his father's birthday... two days before his sister's wedding... using the gun I trained him with and issued to him.Nice, right?I suppose I have to see the divine in this as best I can. I was in a place where I was in a tightly-knit group of people who were called to gether for God's purposes... they were able to help me get through it. I received a great amount of prayer and support from my new friends, and some really great advice from a new partner in ministry and pal that has allowed me to process all of this (thanks Rebecca!).The first several months of this year haven't been kind to me... or maybe they have... I don't know. There is a lot going on in my head right now. I suppose I'l have to get back to you.Oh, and I'm not sleeping well, which is why I am posting this at nearly one A.M. on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.OK, enough crying in my beer... I have to go to sleep. I have to teach a class on response to the active shooter tomorrow, when all I really want to do is cover my head with a pillow and take a long nap.Oh... lastly, my mother's friend... the one she went to the h[...]

Happy 235th Birthday, Marines!


On November 10th, 1775, in Philadelphia... the city of Brotherly Love, Captain Samuel Nicholas was commissioned to recruit and organize America's first Marines. Little did Captain Nicholas know that his name would live as long as American Marines continued to draw breath, from one age into another.

Captain Nicholas certainly couldn't know that 235 years later, his creation would be known as one of the most fearsome fighting force the the world has ever known.

How could he have guessed that these rough and ready soldiers of the sea would be the stuff of fame and legendary exploits like the assault on Chapuletec castle, or the storming of Peleleiu, or of the invasion of Inchon?

Nicholas surely, in his whole life, couldn't have imagined Marine tanks smashing the Iraqi Republican Guard at Kuwait International airport, or laying the smackdown on Taliban forces in Al-Anbar Province in Afghanistsn.

Since the inception of his Corps... Our Corps, United States Marines have been putting the boot to the asses of our enemies, but good. We have done it in the tropics of the Pacific, the sands of the Middle East, the frozen moutains of the asian mainland, and in the equatorial heat of Africa... truly, in "every clime and place" like we sing in our hymn.

I am as proud of my service in the Corps today, as I was when I graduated from basic training, in 1981.

Happy Birthday Marines.

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battaions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

Happy Reformation Sunday!


Today is Reformation Sunday, and unless you are adherent to the church of Rome (or aren't a Christian of any sort), that should mean something to you…. even if you didn't really know it. Reformation Day is the day that we Lutherans, and those in some other faith traditions, celebrate the beginning of the movement that changed the face of the earthly church forever.

This is the day that we celebrate the act of a radical German monk, named Martin Luther. Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk, scholar, and Doctor of The Church who believed that the church had strayed from the path because of certain practices, and for the sake of this post, I won't enumerate them, let's just say that it was more than Luther could stand. So he made a stand of his own.

Putting the church on public notice about his rebellion, Luther made himself an outlaw and a leader at the same time. His bold stand changed the world.

Martin Luther contended that the word of God should be preached in the language of the people hearing it. He preached that the Bible should also be printed in the common language so that the people could read scripture on their own. He preached that the celibacy of the clergy had nothing to do with being able to proclaim the good news of Christ. Most importantly, Luther believed in the concept of the "Priesthood of all believers", which means that no person needs the intercession of a priest to commune with God.

Luther's bold stand didn't only change the church, it also changed the political map of Europe, because as varying Kingdoms, Dukedoms, Principalities & Free Cities either sided with Luther and his followers, or sided with the Pope, nations went to war. The Reformation Wars had begun.

Take a look at a map of Europe today, and you will clearly see the effects of those wars. Northern Europe is nearly* all Protestant (mostly Lutheran), with southern Europe being nearly all Roman Catholic, with the majority of Eastern Europe still largely Orthodox Christian... all or mostly all, the result of the Reformation Wars (and the last battles of the Crusades, but that is another matter entirely).

Pretty heavy stuff for a 16th century monk, eh?

Martin Luther, and what he started when he nailed his 95 theses to the church door, almost 500 years ago, is still one of the most important acts ever taken by one man in order to do what he believed was right.

Did you enjoy your lesson?


OK, enough lecturing from me for today. Soon, we will be heading out for church (where we will belt out "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"), and then lunch, and then off to the National Cathedral for the big doings up there.

See you tomorrow,


* With the notable exception of Poland which remains staunchly Catholic to this day.

Gunfighter: On Military Spending


So... here is the thing. As I was driving home from church today, I saw another Tea Party-Don't-Tread-On-Me-bottom-feeding Republican with the usual run of stickers on her car. The stickers accused the President of being a socialist; being a muslim; and seeking to weaken the United States by destroying the military. Oh, and one of the stickers on the car identified her (or whomever the owner of the car is) as a commissioned officer in the armed forces of the United States. Can we say dangerous?It sickens me to think that not only are some of our military people this bloody stupid, but that this is an officer. A leader. A commander. A commissioned officer that thinks that this kind of rhetoric is productive, useful, or patriotic. Personally, I think that the officer to whom that car belongs should be cashiered immediately. Oh, and spare me the usual crap about "she has the right to voice his own opinon" because if you know anything about the military, you know that this is not true.It is time the military esptablishment in this country gets put back on it's leash and understands that the armed forces aren't special. The members of the armed forces of the United States aren't any better than the society they serve, simply by having decided to wear the uniform. Members and veterans of the armed forces aren't any more or less patriotic than the general run of Americans. All of these things are true... and they also apply to those who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.One of the things that I am getting tired of hearing about is the "fact" that President Obama is somehow "destroying" the armed forces. How can this be possible? I suppose it is because the President has supported legislation that would ensure that working Americans, many of whom make less money, and have fewer entitlements than members of the armed forces, are able to receive some modicum of decent, affordable healthcare. Have some military people never stopped to think that if it weren't for wearing a uniform and putting on airs, they would be in the same economic group as those in the ranks of the uninsured?So... the right-wing crackpot machine thinks that the military is being "destroyed". Maybe they believe that because the President had the courage to actually put the costs of the wars on the books. You know... actually putting the costs into the budget, instead of pretending the costs were going to be paid out of some magic bag of money... or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You did realize that this where the bulk of the "runaway spending" that the GOP complains about comes from, didn't you? Good, I am glad that I could help clear that up for you.Could it be that the right-wingers are mostly worried that the President is actually doing something that other Presidents didn't have the courage to try? Could it be that they are afraid that if if gay men and women have the opportunity to serve openly in the armed forces, that the sttraight men and women would somehow be diminished if their homosexual fellow citizens were able to serve their country, too? Hmm.Personally, I don't see whatever it is that they think that they see. I happen to see a world that holds no military threat that could possibly be poised to strike the United States in such a way that would cripple or destroy us. There are no two nations that even if they were to combine forces that could actually threaten the United States outside of a nuclear attack, and in this I include Russia and China.The truth of military spending is that this country could freeze military spendin at it's current levels for the next ten years, and our nearest rival/threat couldn't hope to gain any meaningful advantage over us. So why the hue and cry?I dunno... maybe my perspective is poor. Maybe I just don't get it. Or, maybe... just maybe, I'm right. Maybe we could quit wasting time, lives, and money in Iraq and Afghanistan and start rebuilding the parts of our forces t[...]

I've Moved!


Come see me at my new blog, Gunfighter: A Modern Warriors Life

I'm all moved in and starting to arrange the furniture.

The same stuff, from the same Gunfighter


Obama For President!


With the departure of Dennis Kucinich from the Presidential race, Gunfighter must find a new candidate to back. Knowing, as you do, how I feel about Republicans in general, it won't surprise you to know that effective immediately, I am throwing my whole-hearted support to Senator Barack Obama for the nomination of my party, and for the Presidency of the United States.My reasons for supporting Obama are many and varied, but to tell you the truth I think that the most desirable trait that Senator Obama has, that perhaps only one other Democratic candidate possesses, and that is his ability to inspire people.I suppose there are many that believe that a President has to have experience to lead the nation, but I submit that no one has that kind of experience. No one. I don't care how long you were a Senator, or a Governor, or a Member of The House of Representatives... I don't care that you built a business empire from the ground up. None of those things can truly prepare someone for the kind of power wielded by the President of The United States. That said, let's look at what a President needs:The President of The United States should be someone prepared to follow the law. S/he must know what our Constitution says and DOESN'T say, and understand that the Constitution is a living, breathing document. It is meant to be interpreted. The President must be a leader. A sitting President isn't the chairperson of some giant committee that decides policy. The President must lead... and must lead ALL of the people, not just those of his own party or political stripe.The President must be strong, but not so strong as to think that all that need be done to solve a problem is to either ignore it, or bomb it into oblivion.The President must know that s/he is a servant of the people. In a representative Democracy such as ours, dictatorial autocrats have no place.The President needs to know the workings of government, and how to get things done in an ethical and legal manner.The President should never lead this nation into the instigation of unnecessary wars.The President must be reasonable. Reasonable people, of any political bent can always find some degree of middle ground... and really, at the end of the day, isn't finding middle ground what Americans are supposed to want? Something that we all can live with? A President has to know that there is no room for Shiite-like intransigence when it comes to leading our Republic.As I said, I believe that a President has to be able to inspire people. Inspire them with goals, and with optimism, and with vision. Yes, vision. A vision of the things that this country should be, and can be again if we only have the courage and the will to move forward.I believe that the Democratic candidate who embodies these things is Barack Obama.I believe that Barack Obama has the leadership skills.I believe that Barack Obama has the ability to build coalitions to get things done.I believe that Barack Obama is a reasonable man.I believe that Barack Obama is an optimistI believe that Barack Obama is an inspiring leader, a man of vision and courage, and a man of character.I believe that Barack Obama should be the next President of The United States.Join me in joining him, won't you?[...]



(image) Has Senator Clinton lost her bloody mind?

Yesterday, while campaigning in New Hampshire, Senator Clinton did something that I thought only despicable and cynical Republicans did. She suggested that this country would be somehow more likely to be attacked by Islamic terrorists if Barrack Obama were elected President.

Senator Clinton, after having a weepy moment at an earlier campaign stop, took a stab at Senator Obama, who is the apparent front-runner, by suggesting that "I don't think it was an accident that Al Qaeda decided to test the new Prime Minister, immediately. They watch our elections... you are hiring a President to be there when the chips are down"

Pretty sad, Senator. It's only the second state and you are down to this. I'm not sure if you will win in New Hampshire or not, but I'll tell you this: You have given me another reason not to vote for you. I won't vote for you because you can't take pressure. There are 301 days left until the Presidential election, and you are cracking up already?

Great. I'm sure that you will be the scourge of evildoers everywhere. I am equally sure that they will all take you seriously as you issue dire threats with a quavering voice, wringing your hands.

I thought you said that you would be "ready on day one"... I'm not seeing it.

On the upside, your attack must really feel good for Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, whose playbook you must have stolen this attack from.

Shame on you. It isn't bad enough that you voted for the war. It isn't bad enough that you thought the "Patriot" Act was a good thing. You actually have the nerve to invoke the fear card.

You are despicable, ma'am. .. and you don't deserve ANY votes, let alone the nomination.

As I have said before, I have been and continue to be active in Democratic politics where I live, but I wouldn't vote for your for any reason. We already have had enough of Republicans.

Guilty Pleasures II


(image) Do any of you remember that irritating song from about fifteen years ago, "Shiny Happy People"?

You do?

Well I do, too. I love that song.

I have no idea what it is about, I really don't, and I don't even know all of the words, but I love it.

If you don't remember it, look to your right and click the player at mt the top of the sidebar.

It's infectious, I'm telling you.

(image) Oh, and am I the only person on the planet that thinks that Michael Stipe looks like John Malkovich?

I made soup last night... I'll post about it later once I get my pictures loaded.


Last Night In Iowa


(image) Late night, the people of Iowa did an amazing thing. They began the first step in the peaceful, democratic, transition of power from one chief executive to the next.

In case you haven't already heard about it, the Iowa caucuses were held last night, and Senator Barack Obama, of Illinois, was the clear winner for the Democrats.

I won't go into the specifics of the demographic percentages of who voted for whom and why, other than to say that, interestingly enough, in Iowa, Barack Obama gave Senator Clinton a bit of a thumping, even when it came to the votes coming from women. Apparently Obama garnered 5 percentage points of votes from women than Senator Clinton did.

Anyone who pays attention to Presidential politics are aware that winning... even decisively winning the Iowa caucus doesn't give a candidate a lock on the nomination of their party, but it sure gives the winner a big boost going into the New Hampshire primaries, which will be held next Tuesday, January eighth... with Michigan following on the fifteenth.

Together, Senator Obama and the people of Iowa have done another amazing thing in this caucus. They have shown America that at least from the Democratic perspective that this election will be about change, and they have shown that, not only by voting for a man that has said that he wants to be an agent of change in Washington (and God knows that we need it in this town!), but by signaling a dramatic change in the way young Americans think about race. Picture it... can any of you that are over 50 have ever imagined, when you were twenty five, that a Midwestern state, with a 94 percent white population, would have given a presidential primary victory to a black candidate?

Last night was one for the record books, friends.

This is a big country folks, and some states will be holding primaries as late as June, but I believe that this nominating process, at least for the Democrats will be locked up much earlier than that. I am certain that we will know who the party's nominee will be much sooner that. Who that nominee will be is still anyone's guess.

Another result of the Iowa caucuses is the ending of the campaigns of Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and Mike Gravell. The herd must be thinned.

Stay tuned.

What Do You Mean "Undecided"?


Shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve, Mrs Gunfighter and I happened upon a speech being given by Michelle Obama, Esq. to a group of Iowans, regarding the upcoming Iowa caucuses. The content of the speech isn't important here, but the aftermath of the speech goes right to the heart of this post.

After the speech, Mrs. Obama spent some time pressing the flesh, which she was quite good at, by the way, and like a good politician she made eye contact with the people and asked if they were planning to caucus for the Obama campaign. Many of the people that she spoke to said that they would, and then there were these people: The people that actually said that they still hadn't made up their minds.

Now, I live and work in the Washington, DC area, and politics is a constant part of my life... I just don't understand how anyone in the state of Iowa hasn't figured out whom they wish to support.

I don't get it. I really don't. The Republican and Democratic candidates have been pounding through that state like nobody's business, and they can't make up their minds? Or is it just a privacy thing. That I get, but to tell you the truth, if Mike Huckabee, just for instance, asked me if I could count on his vote, I would tell him no, and I'd tell him why not... and then I would politely thank him for taking the time to talk to me anyway.

Are any of you really not sure of whom you plan to support in the coming election?

How can you not know?




It's Advent, folks!

Well, Advent started a few days ago, but you knew that, right?

What's that? You are unfamiliar with the Advent season? Been a awhile since Sunday School for some of you, perhaps?. Well, good ol' Mr. Gunfighter is here with a wee reminder.

The Advent season marks the preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ. Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, it happens at the same time of what most people refer to as the Christmas season.

In different faith traditions, the season of Advent begins on varying dates, but in the Lutheran tradition, Advent starts on the first of December... just a scant few days before my birthday... not that I am hinting at any of you.

I'd never do that.

Right... Advent.

From Wikipedia (which explains this so much better than me):

Christians believe that the season of Advent serves a dual reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting that Christians today endure as they await the second coming of Christ.

This is a particularly important time in the church year, and during Sunday services in many churches (and certainly in Lutheran churches) a favorite Advent hynm is sung... that's the one you can hear now, if your volume is up and I embedded properly.

It is called "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!"

It's a big favorite of mine.

The Don Imus Thing (pt. 2)


So, Don Imus has returned to the airwaves.

I have to tell you this, his return leaves me cold.

I know, I know, he said bad things. I know. I know he is an ass. I know that I would never invite him to my home for dinner because I think he is a boor.

I get it. You already know how I feel about the subject of his comments if you read part one.

Listening to the callers on C-Span's Washington Journal, yesterday, I get the feeling that a lot of people understand WHY Imus is back on the air.

If you are one of them (and I am sure you are not... all of you are much smarter than me), I am going to explain it in very simple terms. Are you ready?

Here it is:


It's because he makes lots, and LOTS of these for his employers.

It really is a matter of simple math. The majority of the people who would call themselves fans of that assclown are people that wouldn't stop listening to his program because of those stupid comments vis a vis the Rutgers women's basketball team. Advertisers? They like controversial people... as long as their controversies don't reflect negatively on them.

So... what, then?

Imus makes money for those who would pimp him out. Isn't that the American way? Imus is popular, and some people want to listen to him spew... so what? Let them listen.

Let's not get too worked up over it, ok?

Starship Troopers


(image) When I was a kid of thirteen, I read a book that had a great, and lasting, impact on me. It was a book called "Starship Troopers" by the late Robert A. Heinlein.

You might be familir with that title as the reult of the REALLY awful movie of the same title that came out several years ago.

Well, this book was initially written as a serial for a science fiction magazine, and was otiginally published in 1959. The novel, set in the not-so-far-off future was about a war between earth and an alien species called the Arachnids... or "Bugs".

In this future, in which there was a planet-wide government, only veterans could vote. The rest of the citizenry enjoyed all o f the blessings of a free society, but the franchise was only extended to those who had actually laid their asses on the line to defend the planet.

An important thing to note in this novel was that while only veterans could vote, active duty soldiers could NOT vote.

(image) The book was really a treatise on the realtionship between government and the goverened, as well a a moral philosphy play.

You can read a much more detailed description of the book and the politics behind it, here.

In any event, as a boy, the book had a large impact on me.

When I was growing up, I was already predisposed to military service because my dad was a career military man, and my brother joined the Air force when I was 13, but this book went deeper than just some sort of literary recruiting pitch formilitary service.

(image) In chapter ten (I think it's ten), a drill instructor gave the young soldiers in his charge a class on tactics when a recruit asked him why they were being trained in tactics of a bygone era, when they (and the enemy) had all sorts of more dangerous weapons. The sergeant replied:

"you've got it all wrong, son. There ARE no dangerous weapons. Only dangerous people. That's what we are trying to teach you here, to be dangerous... to the enemy. So dangerous that if you only have one foot left, you'll still be able to kill the enemy if he gets too close" (I may have some of those words wrong, but that is the gist)

This passage and others, set me on my way. They were the beginnings of my indoctrination in the warrior culture.

I first read that book in 1976.

I have had three copies of that book in my life, all regularly re-read.

It's still important to me.

Book Review: George Washington - A Military Biography


If you are an American, and learned American history the way it was taught to me, you might be inclined to believe that George Washington chopped down some cherry tree, and then told his father "I Cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the cherry tree." (which was made up by Washington's first biographer, Parson Weems, who lived only two miles from our home)Depending on when you went to school, you might have been taught that Washington was a great man or a horrible man for having been a slave owner. Again, depending on when or where you went to school, you might believe that George Washington was an incredible blunderer or a strategic and tactical genius, who was as brilliant as Napoleon and George Patton all at once.No matter what you learned, it is likely that whatever you learned was a bunch of crap.For centuries, different people, for different reasons, have portrayed Washington as an unstained demigod, while others have reported him to be either a dummy or a nefarious character who is just shy of Satan. It's a real shame, because the real Washington, the man, is a very interesting character WITHOUT all of the embellishment.In his book, General George Washington - A Military Life, author Edward Lengel strips away the history as reported by people with agendas. He brings the facts of Washington's life, as they pertain to his military experiences.Here, we see Washington as a teenager, who longs for a life in the uniformed service of the British Crown. He first tries to emulate his older half-brother, who secures him a place as a Midshipman on a British man of war. He was thwarted in this by his very formidable mother, but his dream of serving the crown in uniform went un-extinguished. After the Death of his half-brother and his wife, nine years later, Washington inherited Mount Vernon, which became his home for the rest of his life, and embarked on the rest of his military career.At the age of 21, Washington was appointed adjutant, with the rank of Major, in the Virginia militia, and only a few years later, was appointed to the Colonelcy of the 1st Virginia regiment, as they were raised for service against the French, who were encroaching upon British claims to the Ohio Valley in the area that later became Pittsburgh.We see Washington at his very best and at his worst throughout the French & Indian wars, and the long period between those years and the period immediately preceding the American Revolution. We see the Washington as the only American born militia officer with enough military experience and combat experience, selected by the Continental Congress to lead the as yet unformed American army against the experienced troops of the British Army. (Washington, seen here as Colonel of the Virginia militia, circa 1772)During the book, Lengel isn't afraid to discuss Washington's successes nor is he afraid to skewer sacred cows when he talks about Washington's failings as a General.After reading this very frank, but very fair assessment of Washington's military career, one can only come to the conclusion that General George Washington, taken warts and all, was indeed the person that James Thomas Flexner deemed as "The Indispensable Man"Washington was neither genius, nor blunderer. He was a man, a soldier, and a politician. He was a good field commander, a real fighter, and brave in the face of the enemy. He never lost his nerve on the battlefield.The history of the military art screams that Washington's strategy in general was, unbeknownst to him, absolutely correct in that he didn't often try to do things that were beoynd his resources against a better trained, better armed, and better provisioned army.He might not have been 12 feet tall, but he[...]

An Interview


Hello all.

My new blog-pal, Anno has sent me some interview guestions to answer for her... here are my answers:

1. I just read your Thanksgiving post, and despite the fact that I've already had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with a delicious wild mushroom bread pudding, I'm salivating over your corn bread stuffing. You cook. You coach soccer. You have a demanding job, and you are a dedicated husband and father. Not to mention the fact that you write thoughtful and interesting posts that happen to be fun to read. What don't you do?

I don't yodel, nor do I play the guitar. One of those things would make me very happy. I'll let you take a guess at which one.

Oh, I don't gamble, either.

2. And with all that you do, what motivated you to begin blogging?

Becuase I am a narcissist? I blog because I like to write... and I want to be heard! (and all the cool kids are blogging, too!)

3. What are five things you hope to see happen in 2008?

1. All American troops leaving Iraq

2. George W. Bush & Dick Cheney impeached, and then indicted and tried for crimes against humanity. (Surely, illegally, and immorally causing the deaths of nearly half a million people has to be worse crime than lying about a blowjob. I mean, REALLY!)

3. Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Al Gore, or John Edwards, elected President of The United States.

4. The Price of gasoline to come down to something close to $2 per gallon.

5. Get my next tattoo (I want to do this by June).

4. Al Capone once famously said, "You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." What's your take on the role of guns and diplomacy?

I believe that guns CAN be a part of diplomacy. Sometimes diplomacy includes talking tough. You can't talk tough if you can't fight... it's seldom effective. Having said all of that, I certainly don't think that diplomacy should go anything like this: "Do what we say, or we are invading your country"

5. Any plans for the further adventures of Hamish MacDonald and Abigail Carter?

Funny you should mention them, because I was back at it last night, while I was waiting for SoccerGirl's Brownie Meeting to end. Mac and Abbie will be back, rest assured!

The Fall Soccer Tournament


I have started this post five separate times since Monday, in vain attempts to strike some sort of chord. On this, my sixth attempt, I am going to do what I should have done in the first place… tell you about our weekend soccer tournament, focusing not on the odd cultural event that these things can be, but on what this one meant to Soccer Girl, and to the family as a whole.Our Soccer Club only had one All-Star team in our division, despite the fact that various folks in the club office wanted to have at least two… tough shit, folks… Yours Truly is the League Director this season, and I don’t want two or three all-star teams drawn from nine teams… I want the best team that we can field, drawn from the nine teams… not some primadona show, where some, more exalted coaches get to take their teams as a whole to the tournament. I know some clubs do that… but sue me for being something of an egalitarian. Our All Star team was drawn by picking two of the best players from each team… except for the two coaches that refused to participate if it wasn’t going to be their way.Well, f*** ’em! (the coaches… not the kids)This was a large tournament, with 433 teams competing in varying age groups, both boys and girls. The tournament was so large that the fields were spread out over three counties!Our story starts on a cool, crisp, Saturday morning. I was decently rested, since I had the good sense to leave our happy hour gathering before the REAL fun started… We gathered all of our things, including the folding chairs, Insta-Bench, mittens, jackets, fleecey blankets, books, etc… and loaded them all into the trunk. We were a little behind schedule, so we had to step on it, in order to get to the field on time. We arrived in time to find a last remaining parking spot… OK, so it was a handicapped spot… Don’t call the SWAT team… I moved the car shortly thereafter. Anyway, we found our team, and Coach Patty took over. The girls had their warm-up while the parents scouted out the fields, which were pretty cool. It’s rare that the U-9 kids get to play on the artificial turf! I mean, these fields were BE_YOU_TEE_FULL!Soccer Girl and her chums played a good game of Soccer, but tied the first game. They tied their second game as well. After the second game, we had a few hours before the third game (they were playing 4, 25 minute, mini-games), so we went to lunch.It really was a beautiful day. This late in November, we could have expected cooler temperatures and some amount of precipitation, but instead, it was cool, crisp, and sunny for the whole day.At the end of the day, Soccer Girl’s team ended the day with three ties and a win. The teams were evenly matched for the most part, and the girls played hard and tough, without whining (except in the case of one or two). At the end of the day, we were in 5th place out of twelve teams, which was respectable, considering the short amount of time the girls had to practice together.We went home with a happy but tired eight year old (who was really stinky after her day of athleticism). After SG was fed and watered (and thankfully bathed) she went off to sleep, while Mrs. GF and I talked about our day. Since we are still in the midst of NaBloPoMo, I got online, and began my post for the day, during which I apparently fell asleep at the computer for nearly two hours… finally posting something, and then going straight to bed.Sunday morning broke bright and clear, and we were better organized for our day. Out first game was at 8:45, so we had to be at the field by 8:15... Which meant we had to be Johnny-on-he-spot getting up and out. You kno[...]

Bloggers Night Out.


To make along story short, we had a fine time last night.

We gathered at popular Capitol Hill watering hole, the Hawk 'n Dove, which was a favorite place of mine when I was a much younger man, living on The Hill back in the late 80's and early '90s.

It is always a great time when you get to meet such nice, like-minded, fellow bloggers.

Here are the great folks I got to meet last night... some for the very first time:

Devra Renner
Unquiet Heart (and cool dude, Chris!)
Mamma Loves
Flower Child
Madame Meow

I would go on at great length, but I spent all day at a soccer tournament, and I am friggin' beat.

Must sleep.



Happy Hour 3.0


Hey! Do you know what today is?

Of course you do.

Today is Friday!

Fridays are special to us, aren’t they? Special because it signals the beginning of the weekend… that blessed time where we get to sleep late, relax, and do whatever we want to do, right?


No, the weekends tend to be about getting things done around the house, working in the yard, doing laundry, and soccer, soccer, SOCCER! (how many of you just read that in your Jan Brady voice?).

Well, this post isn’t a complaint piece… not this time. This post is a reminder that this Friday, some of us in the Washington, DC area are meeting for libations at Happy Hour!

That’s right. Happy Hour(s).

If you are reading this and didn’t get the emails that have been going out, and you live in the DC area, or are willing to travel to DC to join us, please get in touch with me and I will tell you where we will be gathering.

So far, there are 9 or ten of your fellow bloggers that have indicated that they plan to attend. So if you can, or if you are willing, come on down!

Good times... good times.

Something Important...


...happened to me today.

I'd like to share it with you, if you'll take a moment to listen.

Unless you are a very new reader, you'll know that my hobby is making rosaries. I make rosaries of all sorts, but mostly of the Episcopal/Anglican variety. I have always found it to be a very personal piece of ministry... so that I could be of some assistance in the prayer life of someone else who might benefit. I have been making these things for a few years now, and for the most part, I just give them away to those in need.

As a result of having posted pictures of my work here on my blog, Many of you have been kind enough to tell me that you think that I should sell them, and recoup some of my costs... well, I have thought about that and at long last, I came to a decision a few months ago.

A few months ago, when the Virginia weather was still blazing hot, I made a trip to the Washington National Cathedral. While in the gift shop, which I and my family REALLY love, I saw some Episcopal rosaries for sale... and thought that I could do better. I got the name of the shop's buyer whom I contacted the next day. The buyer told me that the shop already had some Episcopal rosaries, and that she doubted that they could use anymore... she told me that she would meet with me in .... November.

Well, today was the day of our meeting, and even though she kept me waiting, the buyer greeted me warmly, and we got right down to it. I showed he nearly twenty samples of my work... and she bought seven of them!

You friend Gunfighter is now a paid artisan!

My work will be sold through the National Cathedral, here in Washington, DC.

I can't tell you how pleased I am.

I am over the moon.

I am giddy.

I called my grandmother, and she wept with joy.

I have never had a prouder moment.

Geeky. Yes, I know... but I am still exceptionally excited.

For my entire adult life, I have been valued for my ability to kill and destroy. Being able to be lauded for my ability to create is almost more than I can take.

Please enjoy this moment with me.


Career Day, 2007


So.... Friday was career day at SoccerGirl's school. I was a happy participant, and enjoyed doing this for the third year running.

I arrived at the school in plenty of time, so I just dawdled in the office for a few minutes while the teachers prepared the students for the day.

I was presenting to grades 3 through 5, and since this was my third year doing this, I already knew a great many of the kids that I was going to be seeing.

When it was time for me to go to my assigned classroom, I headed in the right direction, being stopped by calls of "Hi, Mr. Gunfighter!, or "Aren't you Soccergirl's Father?" One girl, who had been soccergirl's classmate i the first grade came up and gave me a hug... it was all very cute.

I may have talked about this before, but I think that it is important to revisit here: A single man could do quite well in an elementary school. As I walked down the hall of the school, I got no small amount of attention from the teachers... all of whom were women.

Elementary school is so not man's world.

Anyway, the teachers were all giving me the sunbeam smile, and I was feeling rather good about myself until I realized something: It wasn't me that was um, exciting them. It was my stuff. My stuff. You see, to keep the kids engaged, I was wearing my tactical body armor, big-ass-expandable-baton, pepper spray, handcuffs... that whole shootin' match. They kind of like it.

So I meet my first group of kids, and I talked to them in very general terms about what I do, they enjoyed the presentation, which lasted about 30 minutes, and as usual, there was a segment for questions at the end.

This is where it gets... er, interesting:

"Do you shoot people every day?"

"That stick is to beat people, isn't it?"

"Are you married?"

"Are you really soccergirl's father?"

"Can you pick me up with one hand?"

"How far does a bullet go?"

"Bullets are so small... How do they kill people?"

"Can I shoot your gun?"

"Why doesn't your jacket have any sleeves?"

"Are you allowed to drive as fast as you want to in a police car?"

It was a long day, but it was a LOT of fun!

I can't wait until next year.

A Murder In Washington, DC


The following is a short story based on information traded with a random partner via email.The assisting minister said “Go in peace, serve the Lord” To which the congregation replied “Thanks Be To God!”.Hamish MacDonald bolted into the parking lot via the back door, and headed to his car. His pager had alerted him to an incoming call from the dispatch center, which was always a bad sign… especially on a Sunday. Bad sign or not, he wasn’t going to take the call in the middle of the service… Lutherans don’t do that. Especially since today was Reformation Sunday. After the last chorus of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, the service ended and MacDonald could call back to the bosses and see what they wanted… even though he already knew what the problem was.You see, MacDonald is a cop. A homicide detective. There had been a murder.The details were few, because the crime had taken place in a sensitive location, but what MacDonald already knew was enough to give him some things to think about while he made the 25 mile drive from Woodbridge, Virginia into DC. The traffic was mercifully light as it is only on Sunday morning in this area… and since it was nearly noon, and the Redskins had 1 O’clock kickoff time, most people had already gone wherever it is they were going to watch the game from.MacDonald took the 12th street exit off I-395, and as he drove toward the National Mall, he decided that he wouldn’t stop at first district headquarters… what would be the point? He already knew that there was a body at the National Air & Space museum… he already knew that the crime had taken place, and there were no witnesses… well, at least no witnesses that had spoken up, yet.When he got to the museum, he spoke with the uniformed officers securing the crime scene, who told him that no one had entered the area since they had arrived on scene, and that the museum employee who found the body, Caren Cramer. Was waiting to speak to him in a nearby office. He could talk to Cramer later… he had a crime scene to process.“Well, no sense wasting any time” he thought… “time to go look at the stiff… er, the departed“.The Smithsonian security officers, along with a uniformed DC police officer, took MacDonald to the second floor maintenance area located just behind the interior mock-up of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), in the Apollo exhibit. The body was laying face down, in pool of blood, that looked like it came from a massive head injury. MacDonald gave a brief, silent prayer for the soul of the deceased, and got right to work. The deceased was a white male, in his middle to late thirties, with brown hair, and he was wearing a suit. There were crime scene technicians and a team from the coroner’s office waiting to finish their work, so MacDonald let them finish doing all of the things that they needed to do, from checking for fingerprints on doors and walls, fingerprinting the victim, to taking copious photographs of the scene from various angles.Once all of that was done, MacDonald and his newly-arrived partner, Abigail “Abbie” Carter, searched the body. The search turned up most of the usual stuff, twenty four dollars and sixty one cents in cash, a partially used farecard for the Washington, DC subway system, best known as “The Metro”, an inexpensive-looking cellular telephone, and a key chain with the keys to a Ford. There was also a wallet with the usual credit cards, auto insurance, health insurance, and a drivers licens[...]

Happy Birthday, Marines!


(image) Today is the anniversary of the birth of my Corps!

For 232 years, United States Marines have been kicking ass at the behest of our government, and nobody, I mean nobody does it better!

Whether is is taking artillery from the British garrison, at New Providence, In the Bahamas, or duking it out with the Chinese communists in Korea. From Belleu Wood, France, to the storming of Koh Tang Island. Yes, indeed, from the Halls of Montezuma (in Mexico) to the Shores of Tripoli (modern Libya), your United States Marines have stood ready to fight, any time and in ANY place, because we're that good!

On this day above all others, I am guilty of the sin of pride. Totally guilty and without shame, because being part of the Corps is so much a part of me that the two cannot be separated.

I will live forever. Not because I have a secret potion or special genes, but because I am connected to every Marine that ever lived, or will ever live.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Semper Fi!



Electoral Success (Crank That!)


Yesterday, Virginia voters continued a strengthening trend: The "Blueing" of a Red State.

Democrats now have a majority in the Virginia State Senate, and have eaten away much of the Republican majority in the House of Delegates.

Republicans in Virginia had better watch out, because Virginia is poised to fill the U.S. Senate seat of retiring John Warner in 2008... and it is looking ripe for the former Democratic Governor Mark Warner.

As happy as I am about this, I really need to talk about something else, today.

I am willing to bet that some of you have heard of the song called "Crank That (Souljah Boy)". As a matter of fact, some of you are probably already laughing to yourself, because you know what kind of popularity that this song has achieved. You probably already know (and have at least tried) the "Souljah Boy" dance.

I have to make a confession about my total ignorance about this phenomonon until just this past Monday. A reader of mine encouraged me to go to You Tube and do a search for "soldier boy dance". I did, and was greeted with no less than 33 pages of video clips of people doing this dance.

According to Wikipedia, this song was released in April of this year and reached number one on two separate charts.

Now, if you want to spend some time having a full belly-laugh, watch some of those videos! You will see black children doing this dance, white teenagers doing this dance, the University of Maryland Water Polo team, student councils, cheerleaders, Drum Majors, moms, GRANDmoms.... you name it, people are doing it. Just about everybody is doing this dance.

Everyone except me... and Mrs Gunfighter, too (I asked).

You know, I always liked to think that I was rather savvy about the trends in this country... popular culture holds a great deal of interest for me... but I completely missed this. WTF?

If you would like to learn now to "Crank" the Soldier Boy dance, see the instructional video here.

Oh, and I have no intention of "Cranking the Souljah Boy" at Happy Hour next week, so you can forget that!

Read This Blog!


Many of you, who have been reading my blog for a while know this person's blog. You know it because you have seen her many thoughtful, cogent comments about the foolishness that I often post about,

For those of you that haven't visited her yet, be sure to do so. If you are anything like me, you like smart. This lady is smart.

Her name, well, her nom de internet is Soccer Mom in Denial, but since that takes a long to type (for a poor typist like me), many of her readers reduce that lengthy moniker to SMID.

Good blog-pal SMID is a humble woman who has true social conscience. She cares about the less fortunate, and although she is a physically gentle person, is a true and tough warrior for social justice. I admire her for her passion and dedication to the cause.

SMID is also dedicated to her rugby-playing husband, whom she calls "Amazing Guy" and her three children, all of whom she is raising to be sensitive, culturally aware, questioning, thinking people.

She also takes a great interest in photography, something she shares with us (along with a fellow blogger, about whom I'll talk about later in the month via second blog) at Looking Into.

Thanks for sharing so much with us, SMID, you're a bit of alright.


Hey! Why are you still here?

Go to her blog. Now!