** When life closes a door, breach the wall and walk through like you own the place.
** “Without even a superficial understanding of the murky stew of clans and tribes that govern the ragged edges of the world, the United States isn’t capable of efficient political murder. If we can’t tell a Baluchi from a Pashtun, how can we decide who deserves it and who doesn’t? This is one reason why the murders of Saddam, bin Laden, and Gaddafi produced nothing other than more bloodshed.
As Wall Street would put it, the United States mispriced violence.
It’s not that I don’t understand the attraction of drones, how they give the White House a bump in the polls and Americans the illusion that they’re being kept safe, but the point is that the United States has confused ideas with people. Assassinating bin Ladin never stood a chance of driving a stake into violent jihad, just as Rome did not kill Christianity when it killed Christ. In other words, there’s no point in killing the Clausewitzes of the world but, rather, the general who’s mastered his tactics and is about ready to rout you on the battlefield.” -Baer, Robert B., The Perfect Kill (p. 310). Penguin Publishing Group.
** “The greater part of the population is not very intelligent, dreads responsibility, and desires nothing better than to be told what to do. It is perfectly happy to let itself be ruled if the rulers do not interfere with its material comforts and cherished beliefs.” — Aldous Huxley.
** An Interesting Article – The intensity of our division springs from a federal government operating far beyond the limits of the Constitution — fueling a fight for control over powers that were never supposed to exist at the national level.
** So much of what happens here involves the politics of oil. President Trump promised that in his next administration, his mantra will be “drill baby drill,” and the Federal Government will get out of the way and allow the petroleum exploration, development, and refining process to be expanded to make much of what happens in the Middle East less impactful to the world’s energy infrastructure.
Enjoy the Propaganda
During the “Gulf War,” the British SAS changed the paint scheme of their Land Rovers from green to pink. Pink becomes almost invisible beyond a certain distance in the scorching desert.
The fact was discovered when the SAS themselves came into contact with the wreckage of a pinkish aircraft they had not spotted.
According to them, the paint had deteriorated over time, transforming it into a pink mixed with metallic, which in the desert conditions was invisible at long distances.
The Land Rovers were called “Pink Panthers”.
New All Wheel Drive Rides
The new Toyota Land Cruiser is scheduled to be available in August. I’m not trying to peddle cars. I’m only throwing it out there for those of you who may be interested in new offerings. I drive a 2007 Toyota FJ and don’t plan on dumping it.
Medical practitioners go by many names. Surgeons are cowboys, while internists are fleas. ER physicians are triage monkeys, and obstetricians are baby catchers. Urologists are plumbers, and anesthesiologists are gas passers.
A Fictional Short (republished on VM)
The upper Mississippi lay behind him, and with it, the cloud of mosquitos rose above it every evening like the locusts of mighty Egypt. Though summer temperatures climbed above ninety degrees, he needed to sleep. A successful attempt required repose wearing full clothing and a muslin hood draped around his face to fend off the blood-sucking insects. Though he didn’t know what lay ahead in the West, emerging from the ‘Zone of the Mosquito’ made life far more tolerable.
The vast plains stretched for days behind and days ahead, and he reasoned that the great barrier that kept people from making the trek was not hostile Indians or natural obstacles but one of grinding loneliness. He hadn’t seen another soul since he had been three days west of Independence. Not a wagon rut, not a buffalo track, nothing but endless land and clear skies. There had been a snake that made his saddle horse and pack mules shy two days before. As strange as it may sound, he’d hoped to cross the path of another rattler if only to break up the monotony.
He heard their clang and rattle and the tramp of their horse’s shod hooves long before he saw them emerge from a copse of cottonwoods near a meandering stream. The Army moved south; men coughed and talked, pots and sabers made a familiar army symphony, and horses whinnied a welcome to his. An element of men wearing faded blue blouses and straw hats rode straight for him as he sat on a hill astride his bay Morgan.
“Good day, sir,” The man wore new yellow sergeant stripes on his faded and patched uniform. “May I ask you your business?”
“My name is James Abner Wilson, and I’m a doctor on the road west.”
“There is no road here, and this is the Indian Nation.”
“I have heard that there is peace on the prairie.”
“If there is peace at the moment, it is because we brought it.” The sergeant scrutinized Wilson’s tack. “You were in the Army?”
“I started with the Eleventh Pennsylvania. I joined the regiment under Colonel Coulter as his surgeon, and when it became part of the First Corps, I transferred to divisional surgery. I was not a fighting man.”
“The General is in need of a doctor. His quacksalver died in Wichita one week past.”
“Major General Christopher Columbus Augur. That’s him, coming out from yon woodland.”
Wilson saw a man of average size clothed in a new, fancy, brass button uniform, wearing a hound dog gaze on his face, mutton chop whiskers, and a thin, unlighted cigar clenched between his teeth. As the general drew nearer, James could see intelligence and cunning in his eyes.
“What have we here, Sergeant Dall?”
“I found this here, a former Army surgeon on his way west, and offered him our company if he wished to travel south with us.”
General Augur spoke with his cigar still clenched in his teeth. “That would be fine.” The general moved on, gilded staff in tow.
“What is happening, Sergeant?”
“Indian treaty council at Medicine Lodge. Big treaty. The government is changing its strategy. Now they plan to keep the red men on a plot of land and have them raise crops like proper white men.”
“Does the government think its strategy is sound?”
Sergeant Dall pursed his lips, then smiled. “I’m only a sergeant.”
Dr. Wilson joined the mounted soldiers, riding next to Sergeant Dall.
Dall offered, “You could join us for lunch. We have Cincinnati Chicken and hard tack on the bill of fare.”
Bacon, dipped in brine referred to as ‘Cincinnati Chicken,’ usually eaten raw on Army biscuits, didn’t appeal to Wilson, but it wouldn’t do to offend his hosts. He smiled and nodded.
“The food hasn’t changed.”
He’d ended the war as a major and saw the transformation from wartime to peacetime military. The change shocked him. The officers remaining were a blend of competent men with substantial wartime tradecrafts and deadbeats who remained due to political patronage. Gone were the conscripted soldiers. Shiftless men had replaced the impressed men. Some were escaped convicts, and a substantial number were immigrants who spoke no English—their present inclusion in the old Grand Army of the Potomac made it something different.
“What do they call this army, Sergeant?”
“This is the Department of the Platte, and we are the Second Cavalry Regiment, twenty-seven officers, six hundred twenty sergeants, and troopers under the immediate command of Colonel Randolph Dunning, who rides at the general’s right.”
A disastrous love scandal, a less-than-successful return to civilian life after a three-year military career as a human butcher, and a desire to travel and see what so many wrote about in dime novels resulted in his decision to go West. Doctor Wilson bought a mule and a pack frame, saddled his horse, slid two Colt Model 1862 revolvers into gun pocket holsters on his belt, and his Prussian Jaeger Dreyse needle gun into the scabbard on the horse. His shotgun for birds, varmints, and such stayed on the packhorse. He bought a second mule on the banks of the Missouri River at the urging of a buffalo hunter that he befriended.
“You could turn to drink.” Clem Harper, the buffalo hunter, offered, tossing a jug of corn liquor his way. “Most doctors I know are servants of pop-skull. I fear that if you cross the prairie alone you will be shot full of arrows and scalped.”
James declined politely. “I’d have to work at being a drunk, for I do not favor the taste of strong drink.”
“It do take the pain away,” Clem advised. The doctors tell me that I have a tumor, which causes me great anguish. Oh be Joyful is the only thing that cures the pain.”
“What did the doctors prescribe for you?”
“Quinine and Epsom salts.”
James dug into his bag and handed Clem one of several bottles of opium pills that he’d packed. “Take these when the liquor no longer works to dull the ache.”
The recollections of the recent past stopped when General Augur’s party stopped at a commissary wagon, and the general himself invited the doctor to dine with his staff. Sergeant Dall tipped his hat and rode off to a small gathering of dismounted cavalry, some of whom had already begun to eat.
“Good doctor, if you would attend me?”
“It would be my pleasure, General Augur.”
“The cook will prepare Chicken Marengo, which has been canned. It was the meal favored by Napoleon, and if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for this army. It is made from chicken, crayfish poached in white wine, white pickled onions, mushrooms, garlic, spices and tomato sauce.”
Wilson dismounted and sat across from General Augur in one of a number of canvas camp chairs, which were being assembled in the officer’s mess. The General had an orderly remove his left boot and showed a mangled ankle to the doctor. “What do you make of this?”
“The bone has been improperly set. Did a horse roll under you?”
“It is as you say—the very thing. My physician set it while he was in his cups. Poor bastard was also feverish with malaria, and we’d run out of quinine.”
“An ankle is a touchy matter. At the very least, it will need to be re-broken and reset. I am not an orthopedist.”
“Something for the pain, then? We have this matter of the treaty signing at Medicine Lodge, and I have no time to recuperate.”
General Augur’s eyes brightened, not quite the hound dog sadness anymore as Wilson unpacked the mule he called Jehoshaphat and handed the general three bottles of medicine he’d made himself. Augur untied the glass stopper and sniffed the first bottle. “No alcohol?”
“No. It is a prescription of my own making, but it will ease your suffering.” He’d blended fresh rosemary, sugar, laudanum, cloves, pulverized lemon peel and cinnamon. The sugar offset the natural bitterness of the opium.
“How much should I take?”
“This is enough for two weeks. Drink it along with coffee. You can even mix it with Army coffee, improving the flavor. I call the mixture the General’s Friend. I made it for General Wadsworth as his surgeon during the Gettysburg campaign and until his death in The Wilderness. I was recommended to General Wadsworth by his wife’s family in Philadelphia.”
General Augur whistled. “I always wondered how a man as old as James Wadsworth could command from the saddle day after day, campaign after campaign. It makes sense that he had a talented surgeon.”
Identify the Aircraft
Note the counter-rotating props.
Not a Lancaster