Sticks and (Rolling) Stones

SWMBO and I have agreed to split the chores around here. She, for example, mows the dooryard with the little rotary mower every four or five days when the weather is like it is now; I mow the rest of the lawn with the diesel tractor. She does the laundry; I rebuild the back porches. She complains to her friends about all the things I have to do; I blog.

She can fire me if I don’t take care of my responsibilities. She prolly can’t fire me if I mutter under my breath but things may get a bit chilly.

Muttering is time honored. There has never been a time that a soldier — or a husband — didn’t sit around a campfire and complain about working conditions.


Sometimes, “I find myself on the receiving end of little burst of off-the-record trash talk,” David Brooks wrote in the NYTimes when he took a former Vermonter to task for reporting about Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s kvetching.
Imagine that. A soldier might complain about the yo-yos in his or her chain of command. Why, I simply can’t conceive the conversations between Hannibal (the Grace of Baal)’s conscripts when they had elephant duty. Except I reckon the language would have been … salted peanuts in nature. Used salted peanuts.

“General McChrystal was excellent at his job,” Mr. Brooks wrote. “He had outstanding relations with the White House and entirely proper relationships with his various civilian partners in the State Department and beyond. He set up a superb decision-making apparatus that deftly used military and civilian expertise.”

Then he called the boss a poopyhead.

Liberals, afraid of most dangers in their minds and unaware of most dangers in real life, have this mantra:

Words and poems can break my bones
But IEDs can never hurt me.

“I welcome debate among my team, but I won’t tolerate division,” Barack Obama said, showing his pettiness, his despottery, and his complete lack of understanding of either military or family life, as he relieved Gen. McChrystal as commander of American forces in Afghanistan. As an aside, I don’t think Mr. Obama or Mr. Bush before him fired enough generals. Generals need to be nervous. Generals need to work miracles or they need to get out of the way.


So far, Gen. McChrystal did seem to be doing a better job than Gen. Bluggett. Doesn’t matter. The words around the campfire haven’t changed much.

But they will. Our army (every army) does two things very, very well: eat and gripe.

Mr. Obama had the opportunity to treat the General’s campfire griping with grace. By not doing so, he put every soldier on notice that the chain of command will punish them the first time they get caught griping.

Scary stuff, that. Scary that the Despot in Chief doesn’t understand morale in the ranks.

Mr. Brooks thinks, “The culture of exposure has triumphed, with results for all to see.”

He’s only half right.

If we all got fired for kvetching, there wouldn’t be a marriage — or a soldier — left standing.

5 thoughts on “Sticks and (Rolling) Stones

  1. The real “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” part of this man’s army is “Don’t tell us what you really think.”

  2. Who was it who said: “I complained because I had no shoes, until I tried to dance in high heels.”

    Ginger Rogers did it for a decade and made Fred look good.

    Wot’s this thread about, anyway>

    Oh, I remember: complaining.

    Well, McCrystal did a bit more than complain. He mouthed off. To you and me Obama is just an elected official, but to McCrystal, he was a petty ghawd! And you don’t belittle a petty ghawd. Even the real God says in His Word that He will not be mocked.

  3. If one of the Commandments is Thou Shalt Not Mock, then Gen. McChrystal is indeed fortunate he got off so lightly. Next time, Mr. Obama (Praise Be His Name) is likely to let go the lightning bolts.

    George, of course, never mocked an officer when he, George, was in uniform.

  4. One of the commandments ideed is, *thou shalt not mock*. They will hang you before Charlton Heston can part the Red Sea.

    “George, of course, never mocked an officer when he, George, was in uniform.”

    Whether be your comment satirical or not, I cannot tell; but let it be written and let it be said, that George was too smart to mock, privately ridicule or confidentially bad-mouth any officer or higher ranking member. George knew which side of the stockade bars was illuminated by sunlight.

    George’s response was always *Yes, Sir*. If we put that in Biblical lingo it goes, “Yeah, and Amen”.

    A Bird Colonel once pointed outward and said to me, “Geno” — me and him were tight — “the General wishes all the cigarette butts between here and the Officers’ Club to be picked up before noon today. His wish is our command.”

    I looked him straight in the eye and said, “So let it be written, so let it be done.”

    Damn that was a good flick.

    — George

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