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January 21, 2005

Starting next Tuesday, January 25, 2005, every Debate Tuesday on THE INSIDE SCOOP will be televised live on Channel 10 to the 200,000+ listeners who receive Cox Cable in Fairfax County and adjoining cities, bringing the show to an entirely new audience.
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  • The Shadow February 20, 2006 10:44 am

    In the Shadow of Nui Ba Den
    Alpha Company was in its sixth straight day of finding bunkers of the 88th NVA Regiment. The gooks were engaging and di-di-ing, fighting and delaying, knowing they had a more permanent refuge to which to retreat.
    SP4 Ross and the troopers of the pointing, third platoon came to a break in the triple canopy they had been enveloped within all morning, into a clearing where they could see the sky. Dominant to their vision was the majestic presence of Nui Ba Den, the mountain of black granite that rose a thousand meters high, covered by scrub pines and vines, and presided with sublime countenance over the surrounding, flat countryside of Tay Ninh Province, 18 miles east of Cambodia.
    The GIs were several clicks from the base of the mountain that looked lush and green to Ross, as he blotted the sweat off his forehead with his forearm. He was silently charmed by the sight of the hill, called “The Black Virgin.” In four months of working this AO, Nui Ba Den was the one constant Ross had learned to count on. In the morning, through the day, and into the night, if you could see the sky, you could see Nui Ba Den.
    The sight of the sloping, cone-like hill had a calming effect on Ross, which he didn’t think about, but just experienced. The Vietnamese called the mountain, mystical; many stories surrounded it with metaphysical folklore of the Cao Dai and Buddhist traditions.
    Ross only got a glimpse of Nui Ba Den that day as Alpha Company skirted the edge of the clearing, before submerging again into the thick jungle foliage to find more bunkers and search out the enemy that could always withdraw into the many honeycombs of caves inside Nui Ba Den, which could well accommodate over 400 men.
    A hundred meters into the canopy on a 200-degree azimuth and the pointman, SP4 Davis stopped the company column. Davis and his backup, Peterson, dropped back to talk to their squad-leader Sgt. Brooks.
    “We got bunkers up ahead,” I saw at least two,” said Davis.
    “OK,” said Brooks. “Drop packs.” LT. Burns came up. “We got bunkers,” Brooks said to Burns.
    “Break off into squad-sized recons,” said the L-T. “I’ll tell Six.”
    Davis, Peterson, Ross, Brooks, and the rest of 3-2 started to travel light, parallel and to the south of the spotted bunkers, but only got about ten meters before AK-fire broke out and the eight men hit the dirt.
    “Fuck…fall back,” yelled Brooks to his squad. “We’ll just call in Arty.”
    The artillery barrage of 155s sent in from L-Z Grant, followed by an assault of an already-vacated bunker complex, produced gook blood-trails but no bodies, and lasted all afternoon into dusk. It was already getting dark before the men of 3-2 were able to get back to the packs they had dropped earlier in the day. Alpha Company setup an NDP nearby, and holes were dug.
    Ross was dog-tired and just wanted to inflate his air mattress, have some cold C’s, and go to sleep before guard duty. He fumbled with his pack in the darkness, blindly feeling for his air mattress, which he pulled out and unrolled. He unplugged the intake hole and began breathing into it. Ross knew it would take 20 breaths to inflate the mattress; out of habit he unconsciously did the chore, getting a little light-headed in the process. It took him about 15 breaths to realize the mattress wasn’t inflating. Upon closer inspection, Ross discovered the rubberized material was shredded in its several tubular sections. Somehow it still didn’t register with Ross what the problem was.
    “What the fuck?” Thought Ross, who was dismayed at the thought of having to sleep on the hard ground and tried to find some solace by searching in his pack for the canned pound cake that he knew he had. When Ross felt around in the bottom part of the big pocket of his pack, his hand discovered stickiness, crumbs, and a metal can with entrance and exit holes in this side of it.
    Ross finally got a flashlight from Sgt. Brooks, and looked at the pack; it was bullet-riddled. The five-quart water-bladder was hit and its water had leaked out. Most of his C-ration cans had holes in them. The pressurized, pound cake can had exploded when it was penetrated by an AK-round; and now bits of pound cake coated everything on the inside of his pack. Ross’ poncho-liner looked like it had been eaten by moths.
    “My pack’s a fuckin’ KIA,” Ross said to Davis.
    “So’s mine,” said Davis to Ross. “The gooks shot the shit outa all of 3-2’s packs…that’s what they opened-up on…instead of us.”
    “Mothafuckers,” said Ross. “Now I’m really pissed.”
    In the morning, a hole cut by the 155s in the jungle’s canopy the day before allowed Ross to see a dramatic view of Nui Ba Den. The mountain was a blue-grey shadow in the sky that Ross saw as he sat on his foxhole and ate a chicken-with-rice LRRP. It was like a transcendent spirit watching over him, which reassured him that there was still sanity in the universe that prevails beyond the temporary fits of man’s madness, like the one he was now a part of. The mountain was scarred and craggy from years of constant shelling, but was a silent reminder to Ross of nature’s passive power.
    After 20 straight days of engaging and pursuing an elusive enemy, Alpha Company stood down and choppered back to L-Z Grant, where Ross could get a broad, panoramic view of Nui Ba Den in all its splendor and many moods, from morning to day and into the night, when sometimes many lights shined on its sides and made it appear to shimmer in the distance. A red light at its summit signaled the presence of a GI, radio re-transmitting station that had been there since 1964, and showed that the Americans controlled the top of the mountain. But the many moving lights on the body of the mountain were VC and NVA troops that controlled that part of the hill and were comfortable in shining their presence.
    Ross sat on top of his bunker on guard duty at night and watched the light show of Nui Ba Den and saw how the mountain was alive. Nui Ba Den had seen many wars, but somehow couldn’t be robbed of its majesty, its mystery that was conveyed to all those who experienced it.
    One folk story was that the mountain was once a woman who waited on her betrothed to return from war, and waited so long she became solid rock, a sedentary statement of permanence and peace.
    Every time Ross looked at the mountain, in his little struggle to stay alive, he subconsciously soaked in a little bit of the peace that Nui Ba Den was.

  • Bob February 5, 2006 1:33 pm

    Tracie, Everyone gets hot under the collar at times but if you agree with comparing Mark Levine to Hannity or Coulter you must be as seriously delusional as Chacon is uninformed. There is a difference between strong debate and cutting off all debate.

  • Scenic view of the Valley of the Asses February 2, 2006 10:24 am

    Get Over It
    Life’s afflictions, turned addictions
    offered upon the altar,
    time and again,
    mimicked mistakes repeated
    so many times.
    Are the lessons ever really learned?
    Get over it!
    Seeking catharsis,
    do you doubt yourself
    as the stakes just get higher
    and higher?
    That same basic flaw, insecurity unattended,
    the ego still has a hold on the nervous system.
    Get over it!
    The search for love is such an endless quest,
    no rest from wanting its intimate best,
    nor peace in living its recurring, dramatic test.
    Get over it!
    There is no shame in slipping sideways
    through parallel universes
    to avoid tumultuous trials;
    but don’t expect imperfection to be escaped.
    Rise above it!

  • Tracie January 24, 2005 10:55 pm

    How many of you are familiar with Scott Chacon? He’s making plans to run for CA’s 11th Congressional District seat in 2006. Dave, you know of him?
    He’s a “Liberal Democrat” but posted at this conservative website – – and told Bill Rice – who you, Mark, had as a guest on your “Inside Scoop” the following:
    ” just wanted to say that I really enjoy your show. The thoughtfulness you put into your show and many of your arguments is a step in the right direction for political discourse. I happen to not agree with you on much, but I listen every week because it’s refreshing to hear conservative values argued intelligently. In a world full of Rush and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, this show is a breath of fresh air as far as hearing the other side of things.
    I do think that it is sad that the only liberal you could find to go back and forth with was such an obnoxious example of hollering punditry. I found myself listening with the same disgust and contempt at Levines embarrassing display of interrupting and screaming that I normally reserve for the likes of Hannity or O’Reilly.”
    Now, Mark, you tell us why one of your “own” would make this type of remark if you don’t in fact yell and scream at your guests?