It’s Over: Yogi Berra Dies at 90

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Sad news on the sports legends front this morning.  Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra has passed away at age 90.  One of the greatest catchers of all time, Berra was a 15-time all-star in 19 seasons, a three-time American League MVP who was the heart and soul of some of the great Yankees teams of the 50s.  Lawrence Peter Berra was born on May 12th, 1925, in St Louis, MO.  He was a childhood friend and teammate of fellow catcher Joe Garagiola, who thought that the homely Berra looked strikingly like the Maharishi Yogi pictured in a newsreel story that played between movies during one Saturday Matinee.  And the most recognizable nickname in sport was born.

Short and stocky, five-foot seven and almost 190 pounds, his frame belied a grace and athleticism rare in a catcher.  His physical strength was legendary, as was his ability to avoid striking out.  In 1950, a year in which he hit 28 home runs and batted .322, Berra struck out only twelve times in 636 plate appearances, an astoundingly low figure.  (In comparison, one 2015 Red Sox hitter, Mike Napoli, struck out twelve times in a three game series on two separate occasions.)  Berra got his teams to the World Series a mind-boggling fourteen times in his 19 seasons, winning ten World Series rings.  After his playing career, Berra was a manager and coach for many years, finally retiring in the early 1990s.

Of course, Berra was known to many outside baseball as the author of an seemingly endless list of funny sayings, such as “it gets late early out there”, and “It ain’t over til it’s over”.  Once asked by Joe DiMaggio what time it was, Berra supposedly replied “Do ya mean right now?”  That persona belied a man of shrewd baseball knowledge, and on teams with DiMaggio, Mantle, Whitey Ford, Billy Martin, and Elston Howard, Berra was considered the most baseball savvy.  He was also a talented outfielder, playing left field when Howard began his catching career.

Like so many ballplayers of his generation, Yogi Berra served his country in World War II, a Gunner’s Mate in the US Navy who manned a rocket-firing landing craft off the Normandy beaches on D-Day.  Berra remained very proud of his Navy service, and spoke often of it in his later years.

Yogi was also, by all accounts, a genuine and kind gentleman.  He was known for treating everyone well, and for his humility and his humor.  His is a loss, he was one of the greats of our national pastime, and an American icon.

SECNAV Mabus Ignores Evidence, Criticizes Marine Infantry Study, Pushes Progressive Feminist Agenda

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One has the distinct feeling that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus would have criticized a study that determined that water was wet, if he believed it would be detrimental to furthering the far-left secular progressive agenda.  He was sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, but instead supports his radical left-wing political patrons, and defends their radical social and economic agenda.   Against all evidence, foreign or domestic.

The US Marine Corps recently released a rather comprehensive nine-month study regarding male-female integrated infantry units, confirming what any objective analysis would already have made clear.  Female-integrated units were significantly outperformed by male-only infantry units in nearly every infantry task.

Mabus, however, instead of acknowledging the results and admitting that such integration is a poor idea that will erode espirit de corps, unit integrity, and combat effectiveness, instead attacked the study, making claims about the selected volunteers that were directly and categorically refuted by those Marines who ran the study.

His assertions, of course, hint strongly at the prototypical activism found in the Obama appointees.  The study wasn’t “right” because it produced results counter to the trumpeted meme of the feminist zealots.  He plans to ignore the study, as well as the advice of recently-retired career Marine combat Veteran infantrymen, and the wisdom of a three-war Commandant.  Then he will once again say he “sees no reason” for the combat exemption.

Because Ray Mabus is a liar.  He lacks integrity and character.  His word is worthless, and he is without honor.  His tenure as Navy Secretary has done and will continue to do irreparable damage, and is a stain on the Naval Services.  He is unworthy of respect, or trust.  He will sacrifice a long and brilliant combat record of the United States Marine Corps for a feminist talking point he knows will have a corrosive impact on combat effectiveness.  And he will do so without blinking an eye.

“It’s my call”, he told NPR.  I cannot, in good conscience, advise a young man (or woman) to join the ranks of my beloved Corps while ANYTHING is his call, nor could I tell a parent to trust the life of their child to the Navy or Marines while Mabus is SECNAV.  Because he cares nothing for them, only for his political patrons and his own corrupt and disingenuous skin.

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I see our humble host beat me to it by eleven minutes.  But what the hell.  I am leaving this one up here.  Mabus deserves stronger words than I used, to be sure.

Mil Times: VA Doctor Regrets Post Telling Gun Advocate to ‘Off’ Himself

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So typically VA.

Gorton was responding to a post that came through his Facebook page by an apparent gun-rights supporter, according to images posted to the website Imgur and described by the newspaper.

“I am all for gun control,” the user wrote. “If there is a gun in the room, I want to be in control of it.”

Gorton replied: “Off yourself, please.”

Gorton said he would not call himself a gun-control activist.

“I have concerns about gun violence, but many of us do,” he said.

He should have concerns about his next paycheck, because he should be fired immediately.

For what it is worth, and it is worth a ton, the VA Hospital in Philadelphia commented on the incident, as the AP tells:

“The post was totally inappropriate and does not convey our commitment to veterans. We are taking steps immediately to address the situation,” the VA told the newspaper.

Yes, it perfectly portrays your commitment to Veterans.   And is a symptom of a much larger problem.

In an unrelated matter, VA officials told Congress this month that nearly a dozen employees at the regional office in Philadelphia could face discipline over their errant handling of a backlog of benefit claims.

The VA’s inspector general had found that Philadelphia staff neglected mail, altered claims dates and reviews and made $2.2 million in duplicate benefit payments as it tried to reduce backlogs.

Unrelated, my ass.  The debacles in Phoenix and in Philadelphia and across the VA system should result in people being charged with criminal misconduct (including Federal charges relating to retribution against whistle-blowers), and if clinicians are found to have had knowledge or willfully participated in the scandals, they should have their licenses to practice medicine revoked.

The VA is an unaccountable, unresponsive, inefficient, bureaucratic nightmare, where medical care is decidedly uneven.  There are good people trying to do good work, to be sure.  But far, far too many who are of the ilk that begets the kind of despicable and dishonest mismanagement we hear about daily from the VA.  Secretary Bob McDonald, who took over for Eric Shinsecki, needs to fire people, loudly and publicly.  Heads on plates.  Gregg Gorton’s should be among them.  Along with his newly-revoked license to practice psychiatry.   If Gorton’s head is not on that plate today, perhaps Bob McDonald’s head should be served.

To Hear the Media Tell It….

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This murderer is representative of all white people, and white people should feel responsible for his actions, because we all secretly want to murder black people.

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This murderer’s motive were unclear, but they are certain he is not representative whatsoever of Islam, and anyone thinking otherwise is Islamophobic, and should be ashamed of themselves for thinking so.

Got it?  Easy enough.

Next Marine Commandant: It’s LtGen Rob Neller

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LtGen Robert Neller has been nominated to succeed Joe Dunford as the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Neller has more than 40 years of USMC service, has commanded at every level, and has plenty of combat experience.  He was also a semi-feared Captain Tactics Instructor some 29 years ago when Yours Truly was a Second Lieutenant at The Basic School.  He commanded the famous Sixth Marine Regiment in the late 1990s, and at his change of command spoke emotionally and eloquently of the traditions of our Corps, including the grim battle of Belleau Wood, where his 6th Marines (along with the 5th Marines) would win their distinctive fourragére with the famous Marine Brigade in 1918.

LtGen Neller leaps over two Generals, ACMC John Paxton, and John Kelly currently Commander SOUTHCOM.

He is also a grunt, heart and soul.  It has always been my opinion that the Marine Commandant ought to be an 0302 Infantry Officer.  The infantry is the backbone of our Corps, with every other MOS existing to support the ground-pounder.  No artillerymen, no tankers, no amtrackers.  Certainly no aviators.  Rob Neller certainly fills that requirement.

Semper Fidelis, and Godspeed, LtGen Neller.  Guide our beloved Corps through what are sure to be hard and challenging times.  Have us come out the other side as United States Marines, Marines that could fight and win Guadalcanal or the Chosin Reservoir, or Hue City, or Ramadi, if the nation required it once again.

A Scathing Indictment of the Wounded Warrior Project

Over on the porch.  Well worth the read.

I haven’t liked that organization for quite some time, mostly because of the way they portray wounded Veterans as being objects of pity.  Salamander puts it better than I have been able to.

an organization that uses the same visuals, tone and background music for those who fight our wars, that are are also used for starving African children … and at the same time squash local organizations using a huge legal budget.

Touché.

Here is some perspective, without minimizing the sacrifice.  The total US combat wounded in 13 years in Iraq and Afghanistan numbers around 52,000, with the vast majority being minor wounds with RTD (return to duty), such as mine were.  (Of the approximately 1,400 wounded suffered by 1st Marine Division in Anbar from February-September 2004, about 1,200 were RTD.  If those percentages hold for the larger number of 52,000, the total number with wounds serious enough to prevent a return to duty numbers around 7,500.)  We know that the number of traumatic amputations is fewer than 1,600.  This means, with just the last three years of donations, WWP has received enough money for almost $100,000 for each of the 7,500 seriously wounded Vets, or $457,000 for each traumatic amputee.  This is on top of the medical care and equipment provided by the VA for these Veterans.

With a CEO salary of almost half a million a year, the selling of donor lists, and this sort of reprehensible behavior:

According to a number of smaller groups, the Wounded Warrior Project…  has been spending a good deal of time and money suing other veteran-serving nonprofits on the basis that their names or logos constitute infringement on their brand.

I agree with Salamander, not a dime to WWP from me.  I will give to a smaller charity in a heartbeat.  One that does not make helping our wounded Veterans a “common business practice”, and one that does not intentionally harm others trying to give back to those who gave so much.

UPDATE:  XBradTC here. C0ncur all and endorse original message. There are many fine organizations to donate to, and it’s your money. But I would like to mention one that does have a sterling reputation, Fisher House.

$150,000 in VA Cash for Strippers and Prostitutes?

We should be thankful that it wasn’t money wasted, I spose.  The Detroit News has the story:

Bates, who was released on $10,000 unsecured bond Tuesday, told investigators he spent some of the cash on a stripper named “Ashley” at an Ohio strip club, according to court records. He said he often spent $500 a night on lap dances — and more.

“After visiting the club numerous times, Glenn Alan Bates convinced Ashley to come to his hotel room for sex, for which he paid her,” VA Special Agent Frederick Lane wrote in a court filing.

The hotel trysts were frequent and non-exclusive. Bates said he also met with other strippers and prostitutes, according to court records.

After all the stories of fraud and waste in the VA system these days, perhaps Mr. Bates should be recognized for streamlining the gummint purchasing process and getting at least some value for the tax dollars spent.

“Glenn Alan Bates stated he became addicted to the sexual encounters and he stole cash from the canteen to pay for this addiction,” Lane wrote.

No word on whether treatment for his addiction is gonna be covered by the VA or by Obamacare.

H/T

Brian P

Veterans Day

I grew up in a fairly small town, maybe 20,000 people in the town and the surrounding area. The two industries were the Navy and some farming. Being a Navy town, there were, in addition to all the active duty sailors, a goodly number of retirees and veterans who liked the area and stayed.

My class in high school had 301 graduates. Of that number, at least a dozen of us joined the Army, and I seem to recall quite a few more. Heck, even one of our cheerleaders joined the Army. That doesn’t even count the numbers of people who joined the other services, nor those who pursued a commission via ROTC.

It didn’t hurt that graduating in 1985 put us squarely in the heart of the Reagan era buildup of defense. Both money and prestige were available in amounts that just a few years earlier weren’t possible. Joining the service was very much seen as an honorable thing to do. And frankly, looking around at my small town, I couldn’t think of any other job I would want to do. I loved my small town, and still do, but also wanted to see more of the world, experience new places, people, cultures, especially exotic ones like Georgia (ours, not Europe’s).

While my job was often physically demanding, for the most part, it wasn’t particularly dangerous. And in those days, while we’d be in the field quite often for training, we very rarely deployed anywhere for more than a single month. The only year long deployment was an assignment to Korea for most folks.

I met good people and bad in the Army. The good outnumbered the bad by a considerable margin.

I am proud of my service, humble as it was. I thought it was important work, and I hope that some of what I taught younger soldiers helped them later in their careers. I hope I didn’t fail any of them too badly. I know I  failed them to some degree or another, as no leader is perfect.

I had a brief discussion yesterday with a fellow vet about “Thank you for your service.” I have to say, I always feel awkward when someone tells me that. I did what I did for my own reasons, some noble, some selfish. I got paid to do my job, and for the most part I enjoyed my job. And to some extent, it seems a pro forma thing for a lot of people to say it. But Friday while I was at Point Loma, I saw a couple of Navy Chiefs talking with a vet. A former sailor, who wanted to explain to his wife what he did, and the ship he had served on. When the Chiefs said “TYFYS” to him, I sensed a genuineness to it that I rarely see.

I almost never say it to a fellow vet. Not because I don’t appreciate the service and sacrifice they made. I do. But rather than simply tossing out that phrase, I usually want to hear things like what was your MOS or rating. When did you serve, where? What units? Did you make any interesting deployments, or unusual assignments. Got any funny sea stories? Over at the Lexicans, Bill Brandt tells the story of his tour in Germany through an extensive number of photo essays sprinkled throughout the timeline of the blog. TYFYS is nice, but sharing the pics is better.

Finally, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to serve my country. Service is not a right.  It is both a duty, and a privilege. 

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Salon, Hero Worship, and The Greenie Board

So, yesterday morning, my twitter feed exploded with people disgusted by a post on internet Lefty cheering squad Salon.com. Some limpwristed twit wrote a piece shrilly insisting we quit celebrating our servicemembers as heroes.

And of course, the blowback was immediate.

It probably is a worthy topic to discuss how we feel about our veterans in today’s society. But the twit at Salon is not the guy to do it.

A far better take, a serious discussion, can be found at The Greenie Board.