Friday, March 31, 2006
Stand tall, get out the tissues and prepare to feel old.
The Royal Navy's Sea Harrier jump-jets, which played a vital role in the Falklands conflict 24 years ago, made their final flight yesterday.Wow. What a plane. What a record.
Tributes were paid to the fighter as the last five from 801 Squadron performed an aerial display at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset, their base for 26 years.
A former computer analyst at the National Security Agency was sentenced to six years in prison for taking home classified documents and storing them in boxes in his kitchen after he left the agency. ... prosecutors never said Mr. Ford was engaged in espionage ...Mmmm. And what happended to Sandy "stuffy socks" Berger?
Under a plea agreement, he would pay a $10,000 fine, surrender his access to classified government materials for three years and cooperate with investigators.And he gets to write stuff to get published, and host Democrat fundraisers too!
Maybe if he was Clinton's CIA Director, or NSC Staffer - he would be OK.
Silly fella, worked for the wrong administration.
Oh, it gets worse when you read the whole thing.
According to a poll of 1,902 undergraduates published by the Yale Herald this Tuesday, Yalies still don’t understand why it’s so terrible to have the Taliban on campus.
Only 21% of students said they were embarrassed to have Hashemi here. Even more embarrassing, only slightly less (19%) said that they were proud to have him here. Over half of the students were “neutral” — seeming to indicate that the natural tendency here is not to think until somewhat has already told you what the answer is.
The final coup de grace of ‘thought’ here is therefore to accept that everyone’s idea of morality is different, and to declare that every morality is equally valid. This has the effect of deleting morality entirely. So Yale is left with no way to tell good from evil, and I am left with Hashemi in my dining hall.Stand for nothing, you will stand for everything. Q.E.D.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
You would think you would want to wait for a couple of years of good news and progress before throwing awards at them. No. For the time period of such a bad record, you give them a Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. That'll show 'em you hear 'em!
There are some great professionals at Navy Hospital Jax. Award them. Let the hospital get its reputation back first. Sigh.
Hat tip BA.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
To hear Mr. Abbasi tell it the entire recent history of the U.S. could be narrated with the help of the image of “the last helicopter.” It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter had five helicopters fleeing from the Iranian desert, leaving behind the charred corpses of eight American soldiers. Under Ronald Reagan the helicopters carried the corpses of 241 Marines murdered in their sleep in a Hezbollah suicide attack. Under the first President Bush, the helicopter flew from Safwan, in southern Iraq, with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf aboard, leaving behind Saddam Hussein’s generals, who could not believe why they had been allowed live to fight their domestic foes, and America, another day. Bill Clinton’s helicopter was a Black Hawk, downed in Mogadishu and delivering 16 American soldiers into the hands of a murderous crowd.Regardless of what more will happen over the next 2 years and 10 months, the next President will be tested much harder; as we all will be. Remember, as unpleasant as it is to think about, this war is generational. History will not let you pretend she doesn't exist. She is a jealous, needy bitch.
According to this theory, President George W. Bush is an “aberration,” a leader out of sync with his nation’s character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an “American Middle East.” Messrs. Abbasi and Ahmadinejad have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.
Several members of President Bill Clinton’s national security team are hosting a Washington fund-raiser tonight for retired Vice Adm. Joseph Sestak Jr., the Democrat running against U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon in November.Yep. That Sandy. Mr "Stuffy Socks." Ungh.
Officials at Sestak’s campaign headquarters in Media will not comment on the event, though an invitation sent out to potential donors and obtained by the Daily Times lists Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger as a host.
Hat tip LargeBill.
The Navy is expected in the coming weeks to rename its DD(X) combat ship to DDG-1000.Now, go look at the Navy list of DD and DDG here. Besides my favorite class, the Kidds (DDG-993-996) our present DDG class, the Burkes, run from DDG-51-105. Now, being that everything nowdays has some type of guided missiles, IMAO, the "G" is redundant...but I will give the Navy a pass on that...I am sure that it wasn't that they didn't want to double up on the past recent DD numbering of the Spruance class (DD-963-997), I don't think we will have 800 and change DDX. In any case, in addition to the Burkes, all the older DDG (Converted Forrest Sherman DDG-31-34, Charles S. Adams DDG-2-24, Farragut/Coontz DDG-37-46), numbers doubled up older DDs from the early years.
What is wrong with the first DD(X) being DDG-106? What? I tell you what - too cleaver by half, cheesy, beltway amateur marketing gimmicks - that's what. For the same reason the F-18 became the F/A-18 (at least the USAF was honest enough to move back to the F-22 from FA-22), and we skipped F-24 through F-34 just because the X-35 "became" the F-35. Just as stupid as SSN-21.
It may seem clever for the Potomac Flotilla, but Shipmates let me tell you something you will agree with me over a beer at Pete's Bar; it is stupid and smarmy from the Fleet perspective.
Professionally insulting. Harumph.
UPDATE: Correction. DDG-112 will be the last I relied on an official Navy site for my previous data - and it was out of date....so how about DDG-113...same point.
THE Vatican has begun moves to rehabilitate the Crusaders by sponsoring a conference at the weekend that portrays the Crusades as wars fought with the “noble aim” of regaining the Holy Land for Christianity.Hat tip LGF.
The Crusades are seen by many Muslims as acts of violence that have underpinned Western aggression towards the Arab world ever since. Followers of Osama bin Laden claim to be taking part in a latter-day “jihad against the Jews and Crusaders”.
The late Pope John Paul II sought to achieve Muslim- Christian reconciliation by asking “pardon” for the Crusades during the 2000 Millennium celebrations. But John Paul’s apologies for the past “errors of the Church” — including the Inquisition and anti-Semitism — irritated some Vatican conservatives. According to Vatican insiders, the dissenters included Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict reached out to Muslims and Jews after his election and called for dialogue. However, the Pope, who is due to visit Turkey in November, has in the past suggested that Turkey’s Muslim culture is at variance with Europe’s Christian roots.
At the conference, held at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Roberto De Mattei, an Italian historian, recalled that the Crusades were “a response to the Muslim invasion of Christian lands and the Muslim devastation of the Holy Places”.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
OK, this is a two-fer.
(1) - Who can identify that "I want one" patch on the Iraqi soldier's arm (no cheating for those who know how). (noooooo they aren't influenced by the hated American military, are they?).
(2) - And for you old Cold Warriors; what vee-a-ma-hickle are they tooling around with?
You can get a high res here, and the description is below.
(Mar. 10, 2006) Halasba, Iraq: Iraqi soldiers stand perimeter security after an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on a convoy of U.S. Army forces and Iraqi forces on their way to deliver medical supplies to the community of Halasba, Iraq. No one was injured during the attack.
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Michael Larson. (RELEASED)
Ah, the joys of being a German.
The Third Reich collapsed 61 years ago but you wouldn't know it if you walk into the Martin Luther Memorial Church in Berlin. The stark entrance hall is lit by a black chandelier in the shape of an iron cross. The pulpit has a wooden carving of a muscular Jesus leading a helmeted Wehrmacht soldier and surrounded by an Aryan family. The baptismal font is guarded by a wooden statue of a stormtrooper from Adolf Hitler's paramilitary Sturmabteilung (SA) unit clutching his cap.I guess they could turn it into a Mosque. They need growing room.
Monday, March 27, 2006
America's universities need to fix themselves while they are still on top
THE evidence from the world's campuses and common rooms could not be much clearer. America rules the academic roost. It boasts 17 of the world's top 20 universities, employs 70% of the world's Nobel prize winners and attracts the best and the brightest from just about everywhere.
Are American universities in this position because they are so good, or because their competition is so bad? The evidence, overwhelmingly, is that the latter is the case—especially when you look at Europe. Who for instance could fail to lure talent away from French universities where all the teachers are civil servants? But no American dean should bet on this lasting for ever. Oxford and Cambridge are getting their acts together, Switzerland is attracting some academic stars and China is ploughing money into higher education.
From this perspective, America's universities bear some uncomfortable resemblances to Detroit's big three carmakers in the 1950s: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler also presumed they would always rule the roost. Shorn of international competition, America's universities are run for the convenience of producers rather than their customers. The cost of tuition at public universities is soaring. Students have successfully sued the University of California for raising their fees.
Now the Corporation of Harvard has inadvertently challenged this smugness. Ever since the university's ruling body surrendered to pressure from the faculty and ousted Larry Summers from the presidency of Harvard at the end of last month, American newspapers have buzzed with questions about academia. Are the universities as good as they think they are? Are they upholding the standards of free speech and intellectual vigour? Are they training enough scientists and engineers? Are they encouraging social mobility?
Mr Summers enraged people in all sorts of ways: questioning the rigour of some of the newer “ologies”, getting ensnared in an economist friend's conflict-of-interest case, wondering rather too pointedly why so few women reached the top of the sciences. Both combative and thin-skinned, Mr Summers is not an easy man to defend on every count. But his ouster points to two great weaknesses in American academia.
Political correctness has changed from a subject of widespread mirth to a genuine worry about freedom of speech. The depressing thing about the women-in-science controversy was not the number of academics who disagreed with Mr Summers but the number who thought he had no right to raise the issue. Universities bristle with speech codes and absurd rules: until the Supreme Court intervened this week the army was prevented from recruiting on some campuses.
The other weakness, producer power, gets less attention, but it was at the heart of the war at Harvard. Put simply, many American universities treat their undergraduates shabbily. Harvard's core curriculum has gone unreformed for ages. Star professors fob their students off with graduate students who dole out inflated grades in order to keep them happy.
Mr Summers's solution to this was to try to reinforce the power of the president—the only person who can weigh the interests of the faculty against the interests of students. An even better way would be to abolish tenure, which guarantees academics jobs for life. At least an argument has started—but there is a long way to go. This week, Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences held its first meeting since ridding itself of its enemy; it was described as a “love fest” by one of its leaders.
Good Afternoon, before I get into the guts of my remarks I want to spend a few moments acknowledging the people who made this special day possible.If you are not familiar with the USS San Francisco incident, go here, or here for the background.
To Laura McNett and Bob Crann at the Fleet Reserve Association – thanks so much for the use of the clubhouse. I cannot think of a more appropriate place to host this event. And don’t worry, I’ve had a few words with the boys and told them to go easy after the ceremony.
To all of my former shipmates, particularly Senior Chief Rob Enquist and Chief Tom Riley, and the rest of today’s ceremony participants. You are my brothers in arms.
To my fellow Veterans, I have reserved a special place in my heart for all of you. I have enjoyed interacting with you throughout my career, and I can never repay the debt of loyalty and support that you extended to me not only in my time of personal crisis, but also as I have worked through the transition to civilian life.
To all my family and friends who traveled great distances to be here today – words cannot do justice to the depth of my gratitude for you making such a monumental effort just to see me say goodbye to the Navy. I look forward to thanking you in a more personal way later today.
There are a few more people who I must mention by name. The two men sitting on the stage with me, Karl Hasslinger and Hass Moyer, and your lovely wives Donna and Katie. You all have taught me more about life, leadership, and friendship than any others. Also, my good friend Andy Hale who has just returned to the mainland from Guam. I’m truly blessed to have you as friends and I know we will continue our close relationships well beyond each others’ Navy years.
And of course, most important of all is my family: My brothers and sisters and my extended family, who are represented here today by two of my sisters, Kathy and Maureen, my Aunt Mary, and a cousin and Navy veteran himself, Neil Gallagher. My second family in Ireland, proudly represented today by the indomitable Joan D’Arcy, better known to the Western World simply as Mum. My Dad, who has cheered my Navy career from the sidelines for the past twenty years. And finally, my ladies, Avril, Laura and Tara. My speech would end abruptly if I even tried to explain out what my wife and kids mean to me. In short, you are my world, so we’ll leave it at that and I’ll get on with it –
I love the United States Navy. From the day I was sworn in as a midshipman with my good friend Bob Benford at the Duke University Navy ROTC program, the Navy has provided me one opportunity after another to lead a rewarding and fulfilling career and personal life. The Navy paid for my education at Duke that otherwise was well beyond my means as the fifth of seven children in a large Irish Catholic family from Long Island. After Duke, the Navy topped off my undergraduate education with its own special form of learning – nuclear power school. I hated it, and was happy to be shipped off to my first boat, USS BREMERTON based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Navy gives, but the Navy expects payback as well. As BREMERTON underwent an extended overhaul in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, I processed hundreds of work permits and thousands of tagouts. I think it’s fair to say that I paid back the Navy for all its education and other opportunities.
There’s no place quite like a Navy shipyard. Let me give you one example of the types of serious problems I had to deal with in this environment: Nuclear power safety regulations dictate that we must have a precise status of the reactor plant at all times, so we maintain this large, laminated status board, which stands waist high right behind where the engineering duty officer conducts his daily business in the engine room. On this status board, we keep track of hundreds of valve positions with tiny grease pencil markings: an “x” means the valve is shut, and a “o” means the valve is open. Well, we kept losing status of valve positions and we couldn’t figure out why. We were always very diligent and formal in our communications and operating procedures. Finally, one day we noticed some black grease pencil markings on the backside of one of our more portly officers. Being well-trained in the art of “root cause determination” – Brad Buswell and I soon discovered it was a big butt that was getting us in trouble. I left these experiences much wiser and more astute, and fully ready for future assignments that would call on my problem solving skills.
All joking aside, I did learn a lot during my submarine first assignment. I had a great set of teachers on BREMERTON, including my first skipper, Red Dawg McMacken, who made a special point of spending many hours one-on-one with each of his officers. The effect was contagious, and that crew on BREMERTON was the most knowledgeable of all that I ever served with.
But we really need to look back at history to place my first submarine assignment into context. The Cold War was raging, and our Submarine Force was at its zenith in size and influence. Our exciting and relevant missions played a huge part in the eventual demise of the Soviet Union. I was lucky enough to participate in several of these missions on USS HONOLULU. At this time, submarines were universally acknowledged as one of our nation’s primary assets in the battle against communist tyranny.
So as my first sea tour came to a close, I was faced with the decision to either remain in the Navy or join the rank and file of everyday civilians. As already mentioned, I had repaid my debt to the Navy for the opportunities it had given me. In the end, it was not chasing Soviet submarines that drove my decision to stay in the Navy. It was something else – it was the opportunity to lead great people like the very Sailors who have honored me by showing up today. I came to recognize that I enjoyed leading men to accomplish difficult missions in challenging environments, so I set a new goal for myself: become the Captain of a nuclear submarine.
Next up was a shore assignment on exchange with the Royal Navy, which taught me that there were different, and in fact BETTER, ways of doing business than the US Navy way. During this assignment, I fought in the final stages of the Cold War from a busy headquarters directing US and Royal Navy submarines on special reconnaissance missions. I also managed special programs with our Dutch, Danish and German allies. In my plentiful free time – remember what I said about the Royal Navy having better ways than we Americans - my new wife Avril and I traveled throughout Europe.
Revitalized after two years with the Brits, my next assignment brought me back to Pearl Harbor, this time on a boat fresh from new construction and ready for operations, USS COLUMBUS. First as Combat Systems Officer and then as Engineer, I enjoyed great success with my COLUMBUS shipmates. Thanks to great people like Glenn Robinson, Tom Wieshar, Mike Heck and Tim Sielkop, we discovered how to achieve excellence while still maintaining the focus where it belonged: on the people. After over 3 years on COLUMBUS, I knew that one day the Navy would give me the opportunity to command a nuclear submarine.
However, there were more dues to pay before this would occur. After leaving COLUMBUS, I reported to the Pentagon, where I learned a new combat skill: powerpoint warfare. While in the Pentagon, I was fortunate enough to work in a position where I had access to senior submarine Admirals, who were faced difficult decisions affecting the future of our undersea fleet. Since the Cold War had ended, many submarines fell under the budget axe as part of the so-called “peace dividend.” Despite these hardships, we still won some important battles, such as authorizing a new class of fast attack submarines, known today as the VIRGINIA class, and figuring out what to do with 4 TRIDENT SSBNs that were due for early retirement, which today are being converted to SSGNs. My Pentagon experience challenged me in many new ways, but was valuable primarily in that it brought me into contact with Captain Karl Hasslinger and a slew of other top-notch naval officers.
I soon had my best view of the Pentagon – in my rear view mirror – and Avril and I accomplished yet another cross country move – this time to Bangor, Washington for my first exposure to the ballistic missile submarine community. On USS GEORGIA BLUE with Hass Moyer as my skipper, my XO tour was a blast. Hass patiently let me learn and grow into the job. He laughed off my minor administrative blunders, and set me loose to fix the nagging problem areas while he led from the front with a big stogey in his mouth. Hass always had his priorities straight and taught me look at all issues through the prism of leadership. We had a magical chemistry on that fine ship and GEORGIA BLUE quickly became the assignment of choice for Sailors on the Bangor waterfront.
Avril and I returned to England in 2001, this time for a truly international assignment on a NATO staff. Now some of you may think NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization - NOT TRUE. We never did settle on what the acronym NATO really denotes, but here were some of the contenders:
- Not At The Office
- Not After Two O’clock
- No Action Talk Only, and my personal favorite:
- Need Alcohol To Operate
All accurately describe NATO operations.
My most exciting day in NATO came when I received the phone call informing me of my next assignment: Commanding Officer of the USS City of Corpus Christi, based in Guam. Remember what I said about difficult missions in challenging environments? Well, I got it! And the mission would soon become even more difficult: COMSUBPAC re-directed me, along with several others, to the USS San Francisco. Despite SAN FRAN’s recent troubles, it soon became clear that I had gotten a great deal. SAN FRAN had a top notch and enthusiastic crew. Sure, there was a lot of work to do, but we dug in our heels and drove forward despite some huge challenges, particularly with the ship’s material condition and the inadequacy of Guam as a submarine home port. In just over a year, we had made remarkable progress. We steamed over 7000 miles from Guam to San Diego replace our propulsion shaft in a submarine drydock unavailable in Guam. We persevered through numerous ship's casualties including several major freon ruptures, a major electrical fire, two hydraulic ruptures, and on and on. Just like the SAN FRAN Creed states, we never gave up. We fixed the material problems, disciplined ourselves to operate efficiently and effectively, and finally went to sea for extended periods to conduct special reconnaissance operations. Just after being ranked as the best submarine in the Force in engineering readiness, we set off from Guam to Brisbane, Australia in January 2005. You all know how the cruel sea punished us during this journey, so I’ll bypass the details, but please allow me to shed some perspective on the events that followed. After suffering the worst possible shock in the history of nuclear submarine operations, every single Sailor on SAN FRANCISCO – yes, every single one – did his military duty. Some did much more than their duty and acted in truly heroic fashion: Matt Parsons, Craig Litty, Billy Cramer, Danny Hager, Jake Elder, Max Chia, Chris Baumhoff, Doc Akin, Gil Daigle, and more: Key, Miller, Pierce, Powell, Smoot, McDonald. I could go on. But one hero clearly stands above all the others, he was my favorite Sailor, and the one who I miss every day, Petty Officer Joey Ashley.
In the aftermath of our tragic grounding, we, the crew of SAN FRANCISCO, forged bonds that never can be broken:
– not by investigations, nor Admiral’s Mast, nor punishments
– not by grief, nor anger, nor sadness, and
– never by distance, space, or time
Why, you may ask, are these bonds so strong? Because as Chief Johnny Johnson surely would tell you, THERE ARE NO BONDS STRONGER THAN THOSE FORMED BY MEN WHO HAVE FACED DEATH TOGETHER. And on a very personal level, there is something even more remarkable: even though it was I who brought harm upon my men through my own shortcomings, today this room is filled with my SAN FRANCISCO brothers. Shipmates, I shall never forget your courage and loyalty and I was proud to serve as your Commanding Officer.
My final year in the Navy was spent under the command, for the second time, of my good friend, Hass Moyer. Hass warmly welcomed me to his staff at the Trident Training Facility, and gave me the freedom to work on a few projects while recovering from the wounds inflicted by that deadly uncharted sea mount. Outside of work, I kayaked among the orcas, became a soccer dad, ran a marathon, and prepared for my next career. In my new job, I will continue doing what I love most: Lead people to accomplish difficult missions in challenging environments. Avril and I hope to settle down after our next move for a long time, and give Laura and Tara some stability through their school years. We intend to be active in our local community, and share our time and talents with those less fortunate than ourselves. But most of all, we intend to love each other and be happy, just like we have done throughout our wonderful 15 years of marriage.
Let me finish now where I started: I love the United States Navy. But now it’s time to move on. Master Chief Sielkop, I am ready to be relieved.
Hat tip reader T via Rontini's Submarine BBS.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
A European Union summit meeting already overshadowed by concerns over economic nationalism turned into a linguistic battlefield when President Jacques Chirac of France, "deeply shocked" by the sight of a fellow Frenchman speaking English, stormed out of the room.You insecure goof. European "Union." Ha! And to think, in 2004 there were many that wanted to take this guy and "Gasprom Gerhard" seriously. I'll take Blair and Anzar any day.
Chirac defiantly admitted Friday that he had bolted from the meeting the night before because Ernest-Antoine Seillière, the French head of the European business lobby Unice, was using the language of Shakespeare rather than the language of Voltaire.
When Seillière began addressing the EU's 25 leaders in English, Chirac interrupted him and asked why he was not using his mother tongue.
"I'm going to speak in English because that is the language of business," Seillière replied.
With that, Chirac, 73, stood up and left the room, flanked by his finance minister, Thierry Breton, and foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, officials present at the meeting said.
"I was deeply shocked to see a Frenchman express himself at the council table in English, that's why we left - so as not to have to listen to that," Chirac said as the meeting ended Friday.
One United Nations estimate says from 113 million to 200 million women around the world are demographically "missing." Every year, from 1.5 million to 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect.Read the whole thing to hear the list. Funny how the Left is so silent on this. No, not funny - eye opening.
How could this possibly be true? Here are some of the factors:
As always, she is right on target WRT the clash of civilizations. Whose side are you on?
The Islamists are engaged in reviving and spreading a brutal and retrograde body of laws. Wherever the Islamists implement Shariah, or Islamic law, women are hounded from the public arena, denied education and forced into a life of domestic slavery.
Cultural and moral relativists sap our sense of moral outrage by claiming that human rights are a Western invention. Men who abuse women rarely fail to use the vocabulary the relativists have provided them. They claim the right to adhere to an alternative set of values - an "Asian," "African" or "Islamic" approach to human rights.
This mind-set needs to be broken. A culture that carves the genitals of young girls, hobbles their minds and justifies their physical oppression is not equal to a culture that believes women have the same rights as men.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Speaking to Radio Netherlands as the first troops left for Afghanistan, the Netherlands' most senior military commander, General Dick Berlijn, referred to the difficult political debate which preceded the mission, but also to the broad level of political support that subsequently emerged:Yep, we are talking about General "you need to retire to your coal mine" Berlijn....again. That's the way to send off the troops! Wow, Patton has nothing on you!
"When our government asked parliament … to support this mission, there was overwhelming support. That is very important for our soldiers. Whether or not there is strong support in our society when we have the first casualties, is something to be seen."
If you don't think the written word is bad enough, listen to the guy.
Miles to go before we sleep, NATO. Miles to go.
An Afghan supreme court judge holds a copy of Abdul Rahman's Bible, who would not now face the death sentance for refusing to convert back to Islam from Christianity.We may have dodged a bullet on this one.....but think about this. Are there some cultures that are unredeamable? If so, what do you do with them? How do you keep them in their box without loosing your own soul?
Because, in the 21st Century, how do you come to a point of order with this:
"Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001.Very nice, the Religion of Pieces.
Senior Muslim clerics demanded Thursday that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to "pull him into pieces."
I wish Bill Maher, Richard Belzer and the young adults of my generation who comment from campuses and talk shows all over the country and mistake knowledge for understanding could see what's really happening over there. I welcome their right to disagree, but I wish they would educate themselves well enough to disagree intelligently.The clarity of a leader.
...Gen. Michael Maples, was testifying before Congress that the Taliban insurgency is growing and will increase this spring, presenting a greater threat to the Afghan central government's expansion of authority than at any point since late 2001. Under these circumstances, the current plan to replace the 2,500 U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan this spring with contingents of Canadian, Dutch, British, Romanian and Australian troops is a mistake. Given the intensifying Taliban insurgency, these allied forces should augment, not displace, U.S. forces. We should also reassess the administration's proposal to turn over the command of most U.S. troops in Afghanistan to NATO by early next year.For a variety of reasons - NATO isn't ready for varsity football. The Brits and perhaps the Canadians would press the fight - but nothing like the American would. Fact. They just don't have the resources or national will. Remember, we were attacked from AF based terrorists - they weren't. They are just helping out a friend.
The anticipated withdrawal of U.S. forces has reportedly already caused some local leaders to hedge their bets with respect to the Taliban. Economic development has been slowed because, as Kunder testified, "our contractors are being targeted, and a number of them have been killed, making it more difficult for USAID to recruit appropriately qualified staff."The people there are survivors who know how to read a change in the power structure.
We should never forget that the Taliban came to power in the chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent U.S. disengagement from the region. With the Bush administration and political Washington focused on Iraq, many Afghan leaders worry that the reduction of U.S. forces is a sign that we will again lose sight of Afghanistan. We do so at our peril. Let us not forget that the Sept. 11 plot was launched from Afghanistan, and not from Iraq.It is one thing to prove the PaperTiger-ism of NATO in Darfur - Afghanistan is another thing altogether.
As always, you need to read the whole thing.
I try to avoid ranting about the distortions of the MSM, but could not let this one pass. The author’s main point: “the average rate at which U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq has significantly fallen, the but the rates at which they are being wounded have dramatically increased.” wholly misrepresents the facts.
Under any ordinary definition of the word, Martin Sieff is lying. Viewed over any reasonable time frame (months), U.S. wounded are significantly down.
He includes a graph of the wounded:
High res here.
And I managed to get a different one that tell the story of those killed:
I don't like the whole body-count habit, but if the press is going to bring it up - they need to tell a fair story.
NB: FEB/MAR is historically a low point in wounded and killed. We should see a rise in APR/MAY. It is the long-term trend line, and The Commissar is right - wounded tell a more accurate story - that is important. If we do not see the deaths/wounded rise like we did last year as the warm weather comes - the "Iraq issue" may not be as big of a player for the Democrats this fall as they think.
Update your BlogRolls, click on over to BookWormRoom, and show Bookie you care. Did I mention update your BlogRolls?
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Should the House change hands, John Conyers would become chairman of the Judiciary Committee. ... Conyers would personify what would be the most liberal House of Representatives ever. A founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, he used the ’60s riots in his district of Detroit as a pretext to call for government-guaranteed income, and he opposed President Johnson on Vietnam as soon as he entered Congress in 1965.
The speaker of this liberal House would be San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi. Among her many left-of-center stands is her embrace of John Murtha’s call to bring the troops home from Iraq in six months. Murtha himself would likely resume his chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee. That means the man holding the Pentagon’s purse would believe “the vast majority of the Iraqi people now view (U.S. troops) as occupiers, not as liberators.”
The House Budget Committee would almost certainly be headed by John Spratt of South Carolina. He is Pelosi’s point man on the budget and an ardent opponent of Bush’s Social Security reform. Say goodbye to all hopes of taming entitlement spending. And say hello to possible tax hikes. Spratt thinks Bush’s father “did the right thing” in 1990 when he broke his “no new taxes” pledge.
The House Government Reform Committee would be chaired by Henry Waxman, from Los Angeles’ liberal west side. Last week, he accused Bush of “placing himself above the Constitution” for signing a budget resolution. Maybe Waxman could add “illegal budgeting” to Conyers’ articles of impeachment.
David Obey of Wisconsin, whom the Almanac of American Politics describes as “a true believer in traditional liberalism, Keynesian economics and economic redistribution,” is likely to return as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. At a post-9-11 Oval Office meeting, he is said to have told Bush to leave Congress’ big spenders alone because they’re such experts on legislation.
In George Miller, another San Francisco-area congressman, we’d have a shill of the public school teachers unions chairing the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Expect him to support union efforts to resist reform by suing the government.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee would be chaired by the infamously arrogant John Dingell. The 25-term representative of southeast Michigan is a strong proponent of punitive tax and regulatory measures against the oil industry.
And as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, how does Charles Rangel sound? In 2003, Harlem’s congressman claimed the Bush tax cuts “are not leading to economic growth (or) more jobs.” Since then, the economy has grown at a 3.5% clip with nearly 5 million new jobs and an unemployment rate of 4.8%.
In short, a Democrat-controlled House in 2007 won’t look anything like those run by Tip O’Neill and Tom Foley in the past. It would a radicalized, emboldened bunch out for blood — that of George W. Bush. Republicans downplay the threat at their peril — not to mention the peril of our economy and national security.
Q This is my husband, who has returned from a 13-month tour in Tikrit.Here is the video.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, yes. Thank you. Welcome back. (Applause.)
Q His job while serving was as a broadcast journalist. And he has brought back several DVDs full of wonderful footage of reconstruction, of medical things going on. And I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, for a solution to this, because it seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus -- (applause) --
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, hold on a second.
Q They just want to focus on another car bomb, or they just want to focus on some more bloodshed, or they just want to focus on how they don't agree with you and what you're doing, when they don't even probably know how you're doing what you're doing anyway. But what can we do to get that footage on CNN, on FOX, to get it on headline news, to get it on the local news? Because you can send it to the news people -- and I'm sorry, I'm rambling -- like I have --
THE PRESIDENT: So was I, though, for an hour. (Laughter.)
Q -- can you use this, and it will just end up in a drawer, because it's good, it portrays the good. And if people could see that, if the American people could see it, there would never be another negative word about this conflict.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that. (Applause.) No, it -- that's why I come out and speak. I spoke in Cleveland, gave a press conference yesterday -- spoke in Cleveland Monday, press conference, here today. I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing to try to make sure people can hear there's -- why I make decisions, and as best as I can, explain why I'm optimistic we can succeed.
One of the things that we've got to value is the fact that we do have a media, free media, that's able to do what they want to do. And I'm not going to -- you're asking me to say something in front of all the cameras here. (Laughter.) Help over there, will you? (Laughter.)
I just got to keep talking. And one of the -- there's word of mouth, there's blogs, there's Internet, there's all kinds of ways to communicate which is literally changing the way people are getting their information. And so if you're concerned, I would suggest that you reach out to some of the groups that are supporting the troops, that have got Internet sites, and just keep the word -- keep the word moving. And that's one way to deal with an issue without suppressing a free press. We will never do that in America. I mean, the minute we start trying to suppress our press, we look like the Taliban. The minute we start telling people how to worship, we look like the Taliban. And we're not interested in that in America. We're the opposite. We believe in freedom. And we believe in freedom in all its forms. And obviously, I know you're frustrated with what you're seeing, but there are ways in this new kind of age, being able to communicate, that you'll be able to spread the message that you want to spread.
Hat tip ExposeTheLeft via PowerLine.
U.S.-led forces freed three Christian peace activists held hostage in
Iraq on Thursday in an operation mounted two weeks after the kidnappers tortured and killed their American colleague.
Canadians Jim Loney and Harmeet Sooden and 74-year-old British pacifist Norman Kember from the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) were snatched in west Baghdad in November.
The tortured body of American Tom Fox was found dumped in the capital two weeks ago.
Bruce Bawer’s 1997 Stealing Jesus decried the “claustrophobic narrowness” in American fundamentalist Christianity’s conception of the spiritual and divine. Bawer further maintained that its votaries “…breath taking combination of historical ignorance and theological certitude” had engendered a reductio ad absurdum literalist understanding of religion, effectively “..dispiriting…denying and dispelling…life’s mysteries.”
By September 1998, Bawer and his male partner decided to relocate permanently to Europe, initially Amsterdam. The Netherlands sociopolitical discourse, Bawer believed, had transcended “culture war platitudes” and “…the foolishness of fundamentalism”. Bawer recalls candidly his own angry assessment of the contrasting American discourse at the time he departed for Europe:Yes I loved my country, but I also realized that I wanted to be away from it—away from the idiocy, the intolerance, the Puritanism. More and more, I felt I belonged in Europe.
While Europe Slept chronicles Bawer’s personal encounter with Europe’s ongoing Islamization since late 1998. And his riveting narrative is a testament to Bawer’s intellectual honesty. Shunning glib moral equivalences between America’s Christian fundamentalist movement, and the infinitely more radicalized and destructive Islam rapidly transforming a self-deluded Western Europe into Eurabia, Bawer was acutely aware, even prior to September 1, 2001 thatEurope was falling prey to an even more alarming fundamentalism whose leaders made their Protestant counterparts look like amateurs…Western Europeans had yet to even acknowledge that they had a Religious Right. How could they ignore it? Certainly as a gay man, I couldn’t close my eyes to this grim reality. Pat Robertson just wanted to deny me marriage; the imams wanted to drop a wall on me. I wasn’t fond of the hypocritical conservative-Christian line about hating the sin and loving the sinner, but it was preferable to the forthright fundamentalist Muslim view that homosexuals merited death.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Martyr is a word thrown around a lot by the followers of Mohammed (no peas upon him) and the rather radical followers of Al-lah. Now days though, it is helpful to review the Martyr we are used to, and should be honored; those who were killed, often in terrible ways, just because they said, "I am a Christian."
You don't have to look to far back though. Right now, Abdul Rahman is on trial in Afghanistan for doing just that, and they want to give him the death penalty.
If the AF government goes through with this - I will give a pass to any nation now in AF who wants to put their troops in a C-160 and go home. We can't leave, but that is our problems. It is a lot to expect Slovokia to put its men on the line to preserve a government that kills people just because they are Christians.
Oh, BTW, if you live near DC, Michelle has a couple of ideas for you. Here is a video about it for Michael - or anyone else that understands Dutch.
At the dawn of a new century, a newly elected United States president was forced to confront a grave threat to the nation -- an escalating series of unprovoked attacks on Americans by Muslim terrorists. Worse still, these Islamic partisans operated under the protection and sponsorship of rogue Arab states ruled by ruthless and cunning dictators...or 100 years...
Sluggish in recognizing the full nature of the threat, America entered the war well after the enemy's call to arms. Poorly planned and feebly executed, the American effort proceeded badly and at great expense -- resulting in a hastily negotiated peace and an equally hasty declaration of victory.
As timely and familiar as these events may seem, they occurred more than two centuries ago. The president was Thomas Jefferson, and the terrorists were the Barbary pirates.
Seven of the eight juramentados who had made the attack had succeeded in getting through the wire in the face of the fire. One lay dead outside the wire and seven were stretched out in the enclosure when morning came and we made inspection. The hospital was lined with terribly wounded men, slashed with barongs, and we were forced to kill many of the slashed horses who had been in the path of the charging Moros. The juramentados who had plunged through the wire in a desperate dive had left skin and clothes on the wire. They were horribly torn from head to foot by the long barbs. They were riddled with bullets, and many had heads bashed in and bayonet stabs. They lay there, with glittering eyeballs and bared black teeth. Their heads were shaven and their eyebrows were a thin line of hair.
One measure we could take would be to enforce a no-fly zone from the air base in Abéché, Chad. The president of Chad says he would be happy to have Americans do this, and it would be easy: instead of keeping airplanes in the air, we would simply wait until a Sudanese plane bombed a village, then strafe that plane on the ground afterward. (The first time, we would just damage the plane; we would destroy any after that.)That is an impossible mission. Even Lex couldn’t make a strafing run like that. If you want action like that, I want to hear about your acceptance of POWs (ours) deaths (ours and theirs and their Chinese advisors) and the deaths of civilians (because that will always happen). Also I want your support when the “known unknowns” and the “unknown unknowns” happen after you start a war – which is what you are doing. Remember, the movie The Four Feathers took place in Sudan. These people aren’t that different.
If he really thinks any of this is possible, he needs to get some military friends to help him out to better understand the reality of warfare and the physics of breaking things and killing people. NK, drop me a line, I will be happy to help out next time, and stop you from walking around with your zipper down. Your heart and head are in the right place here.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
That my friends is an official site. Look at today's (21 MAR 06) edition on the bottom right hand corner...they have a "WHAT'S BEING SAID IN BLOGS" section. And who is there, why 'lil Phibian's post.
Sad to say, perhaps it is there somewhere, but it is difficult for me to see this on a navy.mil site. Could you imagine a navy.mil blog corner that would link to (in lineal number methinks) Lex, Chap, Bubblehead, Eagle1, Skippy-san, Phib, and Yankee? That would be cool. Well, maybe not Skippy.....
Very much from the, "You think you are so bright and better than everyone else, you do it..” line of thinking – after all the Monday morning quarterbacking and ankle biting from the Europeans over Iraq, with Darfur and Sudan we have decided to do things by their playbook and see how things go. Well, as expected:
When we talk about the genocide in Darfur, the one element that needs far more attention is the disgraceful role of Western Europe. … First, the European Union often presents itself, in alleged contrast to the United States, as the guardian of human rights in the world. Whatever the issue - capital punishment, gun control, avoiding war - the EU seeks to depict itself as occupying the moral high ground. The shamelessness of this posture in light of the inaction on Darfur must be exposed.This all remind me of when I played Pee Wee football. When I started my mediocre career as a Left Defensive End after a stint as an 8yr old Offensive Lineman, we were scrimmaging one afternoon when the talented (but spoiled) 9yr old quarterback kept yelling at the offensive line and complaining that they were worthless and he was so cool, etc, etc… Well, in conjunction with the defensive line, the offensive line led by the Center (who as an adult is not a Trial Lawyer…go figure) decided to make a point. On the second down I think it was, one he hiked the ball, the offensive line would just stand still and the Backs (also in on the game) would run for the sidelines. That would give the Defence an open shot at the QB. Well, like all 9 yr old boys, we derived great pleasure in making the QB cry, and taught him a lesson about leadership and the value of the Offensive Line. True, when not laughing, the coaches yelled at us and made us run forever afterwards, but I don’t think I have ever had a better memory of Pop Warner football.
Now we need to state bluntly to Europe that the balance of the historical record lies in European hands. Europe can either join the United States in an aggressive campaign to place substantial forces in Darfur to prevent an even greater tragedy or continue on its current path and be held accountable for the consequences.
Indeed, given Europe's inaction on Darfur, the question must be asked: Is there truly a new Europe?
Unfortunately, we are doing the same thing to the Europeans, but instead of sweat and tears, the cost here are hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of lives destroyed. This serves a greater purpose: imagine a world without America. I know a lot like to. Be careful what you ask for. From the Left or Right – or both: we are very close to going back to the “hell with you all” attitude of 100 years ago. Think about it; we are. Scoring short term political points can have long term consequences.
At 0604 on March 21 HMAS Anzac (CAPT Peter Lockwood), often called the ‘Lighthorse’, began Naval gunfire in direct support of the British-led Royal Marine 40 Commando assault on Al Faw Peninsula in southern Iraq.Full story here. More info on the OP here and here. And if you really like good gun work....
Monday, March 20, 2006
Also on the reading list for Phibian are A Better War by Col. Lewis Sorley, and Andrew Krepinevich's The Army In Vietnam and the book that I should have already read, Dereliction of Duty by Col. H.R. McMaster.
If you think Rumsfeld only surrounds himself with sycophants - then General Casey wouldn't have given him this book.
Being that the Navy leadership is more concerned with dressing us like the folks on Battlestar Galatica, getting jobs with defense contractors after they retire, and chasing down LT's that have a potty mouth that wouldn't even have been noticed on any of the ships they commanded as LCDR, CDR, and CAPT - I am going to have to spend more time watching, and reading, as the Army leadership does some serious intellectual lifting as they build towards the USMC standard.
Yes, that swipe sounded cynical, but I am serious. The Army is being forced to change because it was challenged and found lacking. Good on them. The Navy has not been challenged at sea, yet is not trying to leverage the fundamental failings that the Army has relearned - so that when we are challenged we don't have Sailors die because we wished away the lessons of the past. Damage control. Manning for extended combat operations. Multi-mission capabilities. Weapons reliability in a realistic environment.....to name a few.
UPDATE: The good folks at The Corner like it too....and they cut and pasted some goodie.
Col. Nagl's book is one of a half dozen Vietnam histories -- most of them highly critical of the U.S. military in Vietnam -- that are changing the military's views on how to fight guerrilla wars. Two other books that have also become must-reading among senior Army officers are retired Col. Lewis Sorley's "A Better War," which chronicles the last years of the Vietnam War, and Col. H.R. McMaster's "Dereliction of Duty," which focuses on the early years.
The embrace of these Vietnam histories reflects an emerging consensus in the Army that in order to move forward in Iraq, it must better understand the mistakes of Vietnam.
In the past, it was commonly held in military circles that the Army failed in Vietnam because civilian leaders forced it to fight a limited war instead of the all-out assault it longed to wage. That belief helped shape the doctrine espoused in the 1980s by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Colin Powell. They argued that the military should fight only wars in which it could apply quick, overwhelming force to destroy the enemy.
The newer analyses of Vietnam are now supplanting that theory -- and changing the way the Army fights. The argument that the military must exercise restraint is a central point of the Army's new counterinsurgency doctrine. The doctrine, which runs about 120 pages and is still in draft form, is a handbook on how to wage guerrilla wars.
It offers Army and Marine Corps officers advice on everything from strategy development to intelligence gathering. Col. Nagl is among the four primary authors of the doctrine. Conrad Crane, a historian at the U.S. Army War College, is overseeing the effort.
Welcome aboard Army types! Honored to be on the 21 MAR 06 Stand-to. Oh, and your service has a great reading list and writing tradition. Support it. The Navy could learn a lot. (you didn't read that)
Mentally ill service members are being returned to combat.If you have not already, you need to read B.G. Burkett's book
The redeployments are legal, and the service members are often eager to go. But veterans groups, lawmakers and mental-health professionals fear that the practice lacks adequate civilian oversight. They also worry that such redeployments are becoming more frequent as multiple combat tours become the norm and traumatized service members are retained out of loyalty or wartime pressures to maintain troop numbers.
Sen. Barbara Boxer hopes to address the controversy through the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health, which is expected to start work next month. The California Democrat wrote the legislation that created the panel. She wants the task force to examine deployment policies and the quality and availability of mental-health care for the military.
On Monday, Capt. Thomas Carney, Mobile Bay's skipper, told reporters as he monitored the underwater hunt from his combat information center that since the exercise began on Sunday a picket line of helicopters, P3-Orions and his ship and two frigates had been able to track "some of the submarines."Like the sub guys don't have enough to laugh about. I bet he's a AAW guy by nature.
"We are trying to locate him and keep as far away from the aircraft carrier as possible," Carney said. "The best defense is to keep as far away as possible." Donnelly said diesel electric submarines are "quieter and harder to find. It's a skill that our sailors need to practice in order to maintain proficiency."
He added that the primary target in the Cold War were Soviet nuclear submarines, which were faster and noisier and spent all their time in deeper waters. Perkins said a diesel sub works in shallower waters and needs to poke its periscope above the ocean surface to replenish its air supply and recharge its batteries. He added that time is on their side in the game to outwit their underwater adversaries.
"We don't always know where the sub is," Perkins said, "but we know what their goals are, and we can just sit out there and just wait for him."
Just a few things here.
1 - The Cold War ended about 15 years ago. Shut up about it, it sounds like we haven't done anything about the submarine threat since.....mmmmm.
2 - OK, it is the Sir Robin ASW tactic. Farragut would be so proud.
3 - And they don't get much experience in conventional submarines...because....WE HAVE NUKES PRETENDING TO BE THEM......
4 - Bubblehead, back me up on this, but: (a) their goal is to sink ships. (b) if you sit out there and wait for them you just made the target motion analysis easier.
OK, if this is part of some INFO OPS or PSYOPS campaign to make the ChiComs too cocky, then all is well. Wait, we can't do that with domestic press. Oops. Sigh.
A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.
When his idyllic existance is brutally disrupted by a violent invading force, a man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression where a harrowing end awaits him. By a twist of fate and spurred by the power of the love for his women and his family he will make a desperate break to return home and ultimately save his way of life.