Tuesday, May 23, 2006

US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle

I long ago lost any fascination I ever had with modern naval vessels, having floated four different times during my initial five and a half years on active duty. However, a sailing ship still gets my attention, and this one most of all.

She tied up at the Quantico pier (yes Quantico has a pier), earlier this morning. I understand she is on her way to DC for the Coast Guard Commandant’s change of command. I had seen her once before, on the same mission back in 1990, ghosting up the channel near Ft McNair in a light fog. What a sight to behold. I’m thrilled that the Coast Guard keeps her afloat and sailing. It almost makes me want to go back to sea.

I took a brief tour of her, ably guided by Lt Mark Braxton. She is a beautiful ship, and the crew pays close attention to keeping her that way. Everywhere I went the crew—mostly cadets—were hard at work getting her ready for the change of command. I was warmly greeted by the XO and the Captain. The admiral’s cabin and the wardroom are fine examples of old-world nautical craftsmanship, something we’ll never see again beyond the ultra-expensive private yachts. It was a memorable afternoon.


PS: A good read on life on a modern (?) sailing vessel can be found in The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby. (Yes, that ship is now a floating restaurant in Philadelphia.) When I saw the cadets aloft on the yardarm, I thought of Newby's tale. Better them (and him) than me!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Beer And The Redhunter

Had a most enjoyable evening last night with none other than Tom the Redhunter. A zesty fellow, he regaled me with tales of friday night battles against the Code Pinkos at Walter Reed. We resolved to gather more frequently, and invite all NoVa bloggers to join in.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

So Long, NoLa

They had the opportunity to change, but they threw it away.

Instead of taking a long hard look at their problems, they chose to embrace the past, and in so doing have sentenced themselves to a new life of corruption, incompetence, and gross malfeasance.

I will not give a single cent to any more reconstruction or relief efforts. NoLa-ans have made their bed. Now they can go lie in it. Have fun!

Fairfax Police Shooting

This is a rough subject, but I have a few words to say on it. Questions are surfacing, from several quarters, about why so-called assault weapons are legal, the ban on them having lapsed last fall. I expect calls for a re-instatement of that ban to surface soon, and despite the emotions involved those calls need to be addressed firmly.

The question I have relates not to the weapons but to the shooter. What was he doing out on bond? He clearly was a danger to himself and society. I have extracted this timeline from an article in the WaPo, dated 19 May 06, “Shooter Languished Between Delusions, Despair,” by Paul Duggan:

“On April 16, Easter, he said, the parents took Kennedy [the shooter] to Woodburn, an outpatient facility. After being examined and sent home with medication, Kennedy was back at the center two days later. That time, the acquaintance said, Woodburn officials called other psychiatric facilities to find a bed for him and arranged for him to be admitted to Potomac Ridge…

“He stayed at Potomac Ridge for about seven hours April 18 before climbing out a window in the early evening. After carjacking a Toyota by bluffing that he had a gun, he drove from Rockville back to Centreville, to the ex-girlfriend's house.

“"He just started going off on one of his weird conversations... He right away told me he stole the car. He said he had gone to some mental hospital and was being treated like an animal, and he couldn't stand being there." She urged him to surrender to police…”

“Baker [another friend of Kennedy’s] said he and two other young people at his home persuaded their troubled friend to turn himself in, and those two teenagers followed Kennedy as he drove to the [Fairfax County Police] Sully station.

“The experience of being locked up seemed to aggravate Kennedy's mental instability, said his friends and the acquaintance who has spoken with his parents. Besides his brief stay at Potomac Ridge, Kennedy spent about 66 hours in the Fairfax County jail, then a night in a Montgomery County cell after he was extradited there on the carjacking charge, before he was released on bond April 22.”

Operative phrase: RELEASED ON BOND APRIL 22. Although I’m not a member of the criminal justice system, I understand why we have bail and I also understand the constraints the system operates under. However, I think that when you have a young man who has escaped once, hi-jacked a car and exhibits all the signs of being dangerously unbalanced, you need to keep him locked up in the proper facility.

God bless the two officers who died, and God bless those who are out on patrol now. We should all ask tough questions from our local authorities on how similar cases are handled. Dangerous persons are far less dangerous to society when they aren’t free to act.