Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Testing Times

I was schlumping through my news safari and found a "What General Are You" test on The Corner. Thanks, Mr. Goldberg.

Ulysses S. Grant

You scored 62 Wisdom, 58 Tactics, 65 Guts, and 59 Ruthlessness!

Like you, Grant went about the distasteful business of war realistically and grimly. His courage as a commander of forces and his powers of organization and administration made him the outstanding Northern general. Grant, though, had no problem throwing away lives on huge sieges of heavily defended positions. At times, Union casualties under Grant were over double that of the Confederacy. However, Grant was notably wise in supporting good commanders, especially Sheridan , William T. Sherman , and George H. Thomas. Made a full general in 1866, he was the first U.S. citizen to hold that rank.

Grant was a quartermaster during the Mexican War. A supply guy.

In his first battle as supreme commander of the Union Army Grant lead the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River, intent on destroying the Army of Northern Virginia. Combat was joined in a densely forested area known simply as "The Wilderness" and raged for six days and nights. The battle was fought first by regiments, then battalions, and finally fragments of companies and confused stragglers in burning summer heat and in nights lit by forest fires. Wounded men of both sides burned to death in the fires, and their screams figure prominently in diary and historical accounts of the battle.

When Grant finally began assembling his men on the far side of the Wilderness they were exhausted, filthy, and dispirited. In his first battle, he had lost thousands of men, and Lee had withdrawn a short distance and entrenched in the hopes that Grant would reprise the mistakes of Fredericksburg.

The Army of the Potomac had fought for four years across the same bloody strip of ground between Richmond and Washington, D.C.. Even when they managed to win a battle, the soldiers had always been ordered back to the District by their timid commanders. Much more often, the preceding springs of war had opened with grand Union offensives that ended in disgraceful shambles and ignominious defeats.

For four years, the Confederacy had whipped the Federals in battle and watched them march away.

Grant changed that. Upon reorganizing the bulk of his army, he laid a holding force on the entrenchments in front of him and issued the order to advance right, along Lee's lines. The Commander's Intent was published: the objective remained to find a flank or a weakness, and then attack with the maximum concentration of force with the objective of destroying the Army of Northern Virginia.

The Army of the Potomac raised a cheer. There were very few green recruits in the Army of the Potomac by the spring of 1864. They were veterans - many who had reenlisted after their first three year term - who knew full well what battle meant, even if the horrors to come in 1864 and 1865 eventually eclipsed what had passed before. Those men had fought under MacClellan, Hooker, and Burnside, only to be committed piecemeal to fights that would have been won had they been lead properly. They had fought and beaten Lee at Gettysberg in July of 1863, under Meade, only to watch the Confederates withdraw to fight another day.

They cheered, knowing that victory was in reach. And knowing the price that would likely be paid.

Grant fought a war of attrition because he knew that the Union could not lose the war except by refusing to use its power without restraint or remorse. He knew that the Confederacy had able leaders, but was incapable of fielding or equipping armies as was the North.

He also knew that there is nothing more contemptible in leadership than refusing to do the duty necessary to win.

The war we fight today began over thirty years ago. That a majority of us belatedly realized it was actually in progress only after the enemy managed to hit us at home is a sad testament of our complacency.

The anti-American crowd is celebrating an artificial data point today. 2000 is just a number. It doesn't mean anything at all when stacked up against the numbers of fallen over the last three decades, except this:

Those fallen men and women were fighting back.

The ones who remain in the fight are depending on us to stay the course until the job is done. For the next little while we have a leader who will do what is necessary to win. They are the most magnificent Americans of this generation. I give thanks for them every single day.

Will we do our part?

UPDATE: Bum link to the NRO Corner fixed.

I wrote the above post in about an hour, then walked away for an hour, then came back and diced/shuffled/cut/pasted/reworded for about fifteen minutes. The result: the cream got tossed out with the curds. Doesn't it just make you want to tear your hair out when you edit out the main point of a long essay?

Grant not only knew he had the tools at hand to win - he also knew, implicitly, the soul of the enemy. He knew that the landed southern aristocracy had to be destroyed. Until the self-annointed feudal lords of cotton quit leading their serfs into battle, there would always be a next battle. He and Sherman exchanged letters on this subject, and they make fascinating reading. They discussed many possible outcomes to the war, ranging from political collapse on the part of the North to a decades-long insurgency threat to be faced if the war ended any other way than unconditional surrender on the part of the south.

Democracy can work anywhere - once you've prepped the field. For it to work in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond, we still have to kill quite a few more Islamic Jeff Davis's and Nathan Bedford Forrests.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Saturday (Feels Like Sunday)

We came home from the Tabby Mountain hunting area after ten o'clock last night. I had forgotten the stove, and neither Oldest Goddess nor I had brought our gloves.

The plan was to return this morning, charging hard up Provo Canyon at six a.m., but it was not to be.

When I woke at five a.m. this morning, my morning constitutional down the hallway to the bathroom became a death march. The alarm chirped at 0530.

ME: Woot! Hunting! First things first, though, just have to mosey down the hall for a moment.

LEGS: Good morning. Hope your plans for the day don't include us. Right OR left.

ME: ?!

LEGS: We did some math last night. Now on any given work day, we expect to carry you an average of six miles on the clock over a period of eight to ten hours. Care to guess what the average has been on your four hunting days?

ME: ?!

LEGS: Be that way if you want. The working figure we have is an average of ten - with a daily vertical change value of between 1500 and 2000 feet. Why can't you road hunt like all those other people?

ME: What union are you guys with?

LEGS: Meh. How about you slip into the Nikes, mow the lawn, wash some clothes, and maybe spend some time with Mom today? BTW, you get a free pass to the bathroom - but if you touch those boots get ready to learn how to walk on your hands.

ME: Hey, I just put new insoles in on Wednesday. Doesn't that mean anything?

LEGS: When your feet come out of coma we'll ask them what they think. If we can hear what they have to say over the screaming of your knees.

ME: I promised the Oldest Goddess...

LEGS: Take a peek in Youngest Godesses' room down the hall. Oldest Goddess is sleeping there tonight, since she didn't feel like doing the stairs down to her room...

ME: Alright. You win. How about Sunday? One last trip out, and we'll camp over the tanks I found? The one at the top of the canyon? The spot that has a road right to it if you come up the other side?

LEGS: *whisperarguemumble* From Wednesday? The ledge that's three miles and seven hundred feet higher than where you parked the Mighty Burb? Journey Boy? Master of land navigation, maps, and shit?

ME: Yes. But there IS a road on the other side.

LEGS: We want thirty minutes in the shower after mowing the lawn. Oh, and feet want two hours of sock time while you read in bed tonight. Do that, and it's a deal.

ME: I'll throw in ice on the knees for Sunday night, too.

LEGS: (laughing) You think you have a CHOICE?

Friday was a beautiful hunting day. We met a wonderful bunch of folks who use the elk hunt as their family reunion week. They come from all over the Uintah Basin and set up a laager of tents, RV's, and horse trailers. After introductions, we worked out where everyone was going to hunt, the better to maximize everyone's chances of seeing animals while staying safe.

Yes, there was a bit of walking, too, but even with that it was a beautiful day. No joy on seeing much wildlife, though, but we will be out tomorrow for the last day of the hunt.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Too Much Happening...

Work. Winter coming. The elk hunt.

I am a little overtasked to make even a pretense of keeping up with my own blog. However, here's the FIRST PHOTO to appear here on Three Rounds Brisk:

And just because you don't know us (Tmj and the Oldest Goddess), here's another pic, this time of Andy and Mary getting ready to hit the field:

We spent last weekend around Strawberry Resevoir along with about ten thousand of our fellow Utahns. I went out to another area near Tabiona on Tuesday and saw one middling bull and several cow and anterless elk. Mary and I are heading back that way tomorrow, equipped with some good books (me) and homework (her) to spend a little quality time overwatching a tasty canyon I found.

More to come.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Call Of The Wild

Last night about this time I was tinkering around downstairs in The Gun Room.

It's a small space where I keep my hobbies corralled. I think the last time I thought of "doing something" with the space, it measured out at about ten by eleven feet. Big enough for a reloading bench, some book shelves, a rack for the antique guns that don't fit in the safe, and some fishing poles. Then there's the tech library, the leather stuff, and some camping gear...

Like I said, just tinkering. I purchased new scope rings for my Remington 700 back in September, and after having to resort to a drill press to get the old ones off I had walked away from the project. I finished tidying up, giving a glance at the rifle and scattered scope hardware. The elk hunt is in October - and back in the spring I had even put up a sheet of paper with "October 20" smack over the middle of my main bench, right between the Dillon Press and John Wayne's picture.

This morning my boss asked me if I needed any time off for the elk hunt. I told him that I was going to decide by the middle of next week if I wanted more than the weekend in which to hunt. That's when he clued me in - opening day is TOMORROW.

I work with and for some really great people. I was home by eleven a.m., got the scope mounted by noon, and had rounded up the essential hunt stuff by three p.m. when oldest Goddess arrived home from school. We blazed up to Salt Lake and zeroed up the Remington and my beloved old Swede at the Lee Kay Center - zeroed up quite well, thank you. An update will follow with a pic of the targets.

Oldest Goddess doesn't like recoil. She's got enough discipline to concentrate on the front sight or the crosshair until the rifle's report surprises her, though, and she shot quite well enough for me to be confident in her to hit her mark in the field.

(Tech Note: I have thousands of dollars invested in reloading equipment, tools, and components. And I buy .30'06 Winchester Silvertips in 180gr for elk. Inexpensive, superb accuracy, and they don't have as much recoil as my own 165gr load for deer.)

I do not like opening day in Utah. Something about that first glimmer of dawn coupled with the smell of musk on the wind turns normally sedate Utahns into walk-ons for the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan. We will get into the Strawberry Ridge area before lunch tomorrow and probably just concentrate on getting away from the road and up on a high spot we found last year.

Oldest Goddess drove us part of the way back from Lee Kay. ON THE HIGHWAY. In TRAFFIC. And past a nasty ACCIDENT. I was largely unmoved, except that I caught myself thinking in CAPS when I felt she needed ADVICE.

She's a great kid... who is rapidly leaving any hint of "kid" far, far behind.

Time to round up the rest of the gear and throw it in the back of the Mighty Burb.

Liver and onions for Sunday brunch, if we are lucky.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I'm with these guys for now.

The worst thing Bush has done in his tenure is sign CFR. That was probably a move he made on the advice of counselors who were positive that the Court would pick up the slack. The link takes you to Instapundit, who is quoting a George F. Will column that I mostly disagree with - but Mr. Will is mostly right on the CFR portion.

I've not noticed much slack emanating from the Oval Office since, except for the lack of leadership in attempting to corral Republican wimpishness, profligate spending, and securing our borders. Making headway on those fronts truly requires the dedicated service of statesmen, and Bush is saddled with legacy Republicans. I see it as a matter of managing finite resources; unless Frist and Hastert grow some testicles or even better resign their leadership positions to spend more time with their families, I doubt much will change on the day-to-day level.

The President has won both his elections. He is changing the world to a better place one dead terrorist, one freed country at a time. Not to put too fine a point on it, the executive branch is doing all the heavy lifting on that end. I believe that the congress isn't all that hip to having to do their jobs as legislators; they've become willing accomplices in passing uncomfortable issues to the Star Chamber instead of doing their jobs.

I believe that Bush's selections to the Court are predicated on returning the responsibility of writing laws back to the legislature. Not in overturning any particular laws, but in fixing the institution of the court before it does any more damage to our nation.

The nicest thing said about Ms. Miers so far has come from Harry Reid. I believe that Democratic opposition to Ms. Miers will be perfunctory; only time will tell how silly the Republicans might get before she's confirmed.

Odds are good Bush will have at least one more seat to fill, too. As far as Reid's initial remarks are concerned... how is it a guy from Nevada, of all places, can be such a lousy poker player? This is the longest game in politics, these court picks. Where the left in this country is concerned, it's like what Rocky said: they "ain't got nothin'left" without an activist court to write laws that can't make it through legislative debate and compromise.

The long game. No wonder the mouth foamers on both sides are out. Too many of them are thinking in terms of news cycles when the real time frame here can only be measured in decades.

Freedom for a quarter of the world and returning constitutional rigor to the best damned justice - NOT legal - system on the planet.

The effects of his judicial picks will tie or beat the impact of the war when history measures this administration. I hope I live long enough to see how it all plays out.