Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The anti-Malthusian nightmare of Bulgaria

This is what happens when a nation ravaged by Communism and the empty hope of post-Christian Europe just gives up.
Eight of the municipality's nine schools have closed because there are so few children. The maternity ward has long since shut its doors.

"We have almost used up the cemetery we have now," said Todor Todorov, mayor of this town in the Rhodope Mountains of southern Bulgaria. "We're in a hurry to find terrain for a new one."
...
Bulgaria's population will decline by 34 percent from 2005 to 2050, from 7.7 million to 5 million.
...
there are just 1.5 workers for every 2 pensioners and the ratio is getting worse. ... The fertility rate - the average number of children per woman - is now 1.3 in Bulgaria, the same as in Germany. The rate needed to keep the population level is 2.2. ... 144 villages that now have populations of 0. An additional 337 villages have 10 or fewer residents.

The village of Balkan Mahala, about 12 kilometers, or seven miles, from Luky, has an official population of eight. But its residents, the members of two families, said the real number was five because one family moved away last year. There are about 30 houses scattered across the hills, with stone roofs and spacious yards, most of them abandoned.
A lot of people, especially in the UK are moving to Bulgaria because land is so inexpensive. Supply and demand. A depopulated country has lots of land. Great to have an estate, as long as you don't have to earn a living there.

Monday, October 30, 2006

In praise of the Poles

Looking over my limited but happy collection of books, I ran across a page on the Polish Army in Italy and had a giggle remembering my first contact with the Polish military. The Polish 1st Armoured Division once almost caused me to have a wreck.

On 29 OCT 44 they liberated Breda, NL with zero civilian casualities. This is the gift to that town that caused the almost-crash too many moons ago (hey, you're driving around and out of the corner of your eye you see something that tells your over-historied brain "Achtung, Panzer!"). But here is why I take today to praise the Poles. They fought in Northern Europe and Italy with great honor, only to have no place to go. So few know their story. I'll steal some from Wikipedia linked above.
By the end of July 1944 the division has been transferred to Normandy. Last elements arrived on August 1 and the unit was attached to First Canadian Army. It entered combat on August 8 during the Operation Totalize. The division twice suffered serious bombings by Allied aircraft yet it achieved a brilliant victory against the Wehrmacht in the battles for Mont Ormel, 262 Hill and the town of Chambois. This series of offensive and defensive operations came to be known as the Battle of Falaise in which a large number of German Wehrmacht and SS divisions were trapped in a huge Chambois pocket and subsequently destroyed. Maczek's division had the crucial role of closing the pocket at the escape route of those German divisions. Hence the fighting was absolutely desperate and the 2nd Polish Armoured, 24th Polish Lancers and 10th Dragoons supported by the 8th and 9th Infantry Battalions took the brunt of German attacks trying to break free from the pocket. Surrounded and running out of ammo they withstood all the incessant attacks of multiple fleeing panzer divisions for 48 hours until they were relieved.
...
After the Allied armies broke out from Normandy, Polish 1st Armoured Division pursued Germans along the coasts of the English Channel. It liberated, among others, the towns of Ypres, Ghent and Passchendale. A successful outflanking manouevre planned and performed by gen. Maczek allowed liberation of the city of Breda without any civilian casualties (October 29, 1944). It spent the winter of 44-45 on the south bank of the river Rhine, guarding a sector around Moerdijk in the Netherlands. In early 1945 it was transferred to the province of Overijssel and started to push along with the Allies along the Dutch-German border, liberating the eastern parts of the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen with towns such as Emmen, Coevorden and Stadskanaal.
...
In April 1945 1st Armoured entered the Reich in the area of Ems. On May 6 the division seized the Kriegsmarine naval base in Wilhelmshaven, where gen. Maczek accepted the capitulaton of the fortress, naval base, East Frisian Fleet and more than 10 infantry divisions. There the Division ended the war and was joined by the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade. It undertook occupation duties until 1947, when the division was disbanded.
The majority of its soldiers were not able to return to Poland and stayed in exile.
So, what retirement plan did they get? What "rights" did they demand from their government? Wait. They didn't have a government.

Why did they fight? Did they fight and die for nothing? Looking at the modern Poland that few of they have ever seen, I would say, no - but their direct impact is only to the morale, and tradition they gave the new nation few knew. In the end, they mostly served for each other and their honor. Sounds about right. Must have been enough. Should be enough. Mmmmm. Benchmark and ponder. I'm clearing datum.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday music stop

A little something for Chap. Sump'n a little more up to date.

This was Mofro at the Paradiso in Amsterdam (The Dutch again). If you don't go while you are there, shame on you.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fullbore Friday

USS Hoel (DD-533). Hey, watch it. I don't care if you are a Fletcher Class destroyer. When you do the following - you have earned the title "Full Bore."
Admiral T. L. Sprague was under the erroneous impression that Admiral William Halsey's 3d Fleet was providing protection to the north and so was taken by surprise when at 06:45 'Taffy 3's" lookouts observed anti-aircraft fire to the northward and within 3 minutes were under heavy fire from Admiral Kurita's powerful Center Force of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers.

The only chance for survival of the little group of American "Jeep" carriers and "tin cans" lay in fleeing to the south hoping that aid would arrive before their complete destruction. While the carriers launched all available aircraft to attack their numerous Japanese adversaries and then formed a rough circle as they turned toward Leyte Gulf, Hoel and her fellow destroyers Johnston and Heermann, worked feverishly to lay down a smoke screen to hide their "baby flattops" from the overwhelmingly superior enemy ships. At 07:06, when a providential rain squall helped to hide his carriers, Admiral Clifton Sprague boldly ordered his destroyers to attack the Japanese with torpedoes. Hoel instantly obeyed this order by heading straight for the nearest enemy battleship, Kongō, then 18,000 yards (16.5 km) away. When she had closed to 14,000 yards (12.8 km) she opened fire as she continued her race toward the smoking muzzles of Kongō's 14 inch (356 mm) guns. A hit on her bridge which knocked out all voice radio communication did not deflect her from her course toward the enemy until she had launched a half salvo of torpedoes at a range of 9,000 yards (8.2 km). Although Hoel torpedoes all failed to strike their target, they caused Kongō to lose ground in her pursuit of the carriers by forcing her to turn sharply left and to continue to move away from her quarry until they had run their course. Minutes later Hoel suffered hits which knocked out three of her guns, stopped her port engine, and deprived her of her Mark-37 fire control director, FD radar, and Bridge steering control. Undaunted, Hoel turned to engage the enemy column of heavy cruisers. When she had closed to within 6,000 yards (5.5 km) of the leading cruiser, Haguro, the fearless destroyer launched a half-salvo of torpedoes which ran "hot, straight and normal." This time she was rewarded by the sight of large columns of water which rose from her target. Although Japanese records deny that these torpedoes hit the cruiser, there is no evidence to indicate any other explanation for the geyser effect observed.

Hoel now found herself crippled and surrounded by enemies. Kongō was only 8,000 yards (7.3 km) off her port beam and the heavy cruiser column was some 7,000 yards (6.4 km) off her port quarter. During the next hour the ship rendered her final service by drawing enemy fire to herself and away from the carriers. In the process of fishtailing and chasing salvos she peppered them with her two remaining guns. Finally at 08:30, after withstanding over 40 hits, an 8 inch (203 mm) shell stilled her remaining engine. With her engine room under water, her No. 1 magazine ablaze, and the ship listing heavily to port and settling by the stern, Hoel's captain, Commander Leon S. Kinterberger, ordered his crew to "prepare to abandon ship." The Japanese fire at the doomed ship continued as her surviving officers and men went over the side and only stopped at 08:55 when Hoel rolled over and sank in 4,000 fathoms (7300 m).

Only 86 of Hoel's complement survived while 253 officers and men died with their ship. Commander Kinterberger described the courageous devotion to duty of the men of the Hoel in a seaman's epitaph to the action: "Fully cognizant of the inevitable result of engaging such vastly superior forces, these men performed their assigned duties coolly and efficiently until their ship was shot from under them."
Yesterday was the anniversary of her loss. Eagle1 has more on the battle. The survivors have a website here, and there are more goodies here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Worst book on Islam you can read

Sid mentioned a nice read here, that makes a strange recommendation,
Islam: A Short History, by Karen Armstrong, 2000. Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, who commanded American troops in the Middle East, once argued that "a fundamental rule of counterinsurgency is to make no new enemies." Ignorance of the religious and cultural beliefs of a society makes such mistakes inevitable -- and dangerous. Armstrong's book is a strong antidote to ignorance.
No, no, no, no. I read this book earlier this year, and if this is your guide, you are lost. I have to respond. I have dug around some and this give me a chance to hit two birds with one stone. Zinni and Armstrong. The fact that Zinni would recommend this book putseverything he says about the Muslim world in question. That fact that Karen is considered such a source of knowledge on the same should make you worry - alot.

Let's start with the book. I read it so you don't have to.

Islam: A Short History
by Karen Armstrong
Modern Library Edition
http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/

The Modern Library Editorial Board
(At the time of this book's publication)

Maya Angelou
Daniel J. Boorstin
A.S. Byatt
Caleb Carr
Christopher Cerf
Ron Chernow
Shelby Foote
Stephen Jay Gould
Vartan Gregorian
Charles Johnson
Jon Krakauer
Edmund Morris
Joyce Carol Oates
Elaine Pagels
John Richardson
Salman Rushdie
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Carolyn See
William Styron
Gore Vidal

Of note about this book; it was written pre 11 SEP 01. This is important in many ways. First, it gives an insight into what was the pre-911 mindset of the Ivory Tower elite towards Islam and religion in general, and should give some insight why it was, and in many ways still is, very difficult for self-described "highly" educated people to understand Islam - especially those who make a living telling everyone how educated they are. It is also handy that this is from the pre-German American Bund...umm...I mean C.A.I.R. days. There are some wonderfully blunt statements that would not pass the editor today. Those quickly fade though. As a passing interest and why you should educate your children about Islam because the schools won't - follow some of the links to the Modern Library Editorial Board members. Plenty of folks the Right wouldn't care for -- but the Left? Fair and balanced?

It is a short book; a small book; a quick read; a flawed creation. Well, we started strong; mentioning the fact that Allah is actually Al-Lah, the head of the pagan Arab pantheon. The moon god.
Some had come to believe that the High God (sic) of their pantheon, al-Lah (whose name simply means "The God "(sic), was the deity (sic) worshipped by the Jews and the Christians, but he had sent the Arabs no prophet and no scripture in their own language. (pp. 3)
And we define our terms correctly.
The new sect would eventually be called islam (surrender) (pp. 5)
Once again, Islam does not mean "Peace," unless of course you think peace is the absence of opposition. Then we have a good description of the "holy" city of Mecca, the Kabah, and where the Hajj and all the fun activities come from. Yes, this was pre-Islam. Sound familiar?
..the Kabah, the cube shaped shrine in the heart of Mecca, the most important centre of worship in Arabia. It was extremely ancient even in Muhammad's time...but it was still loved by the Arabs, who assembled each year for the hajj pilgrimage fro all over the peninsula. They would circle the shrine seven times, following the direction of the sun around the earth; kiss the Black Stone embedded in the wall of the Kabah, which was probably a meteorite that had once hurtled to the ground, linking the site to the heavenly world. These rites (known as the umrah) could be performed at any time, but during the hajj pilgrims would also run from the steps of al-Safa beside the Kabah across the valley to the al-Marway, where they prayed. They then moved to the environs of Mecca: on the plains of Arafat, they stood all night in vigil; they rushed in a body to the hollow of Muzdalifah; hurled pebbles at a rock at Mina, shaved their heads, and on the Id al-Adha, the final day of the pilgrimage, they performed an animal sacrifice(pp. 10-11)
Sound familiar? He didn't change much from ...
Officially, the shrine was dedicated to Hubal, a Nabatean deity, and there were 360 idols arranged around the Kabah...
...but then is starts.
...Muhammad was one of those rare men who truly enjoy the company of women. (pp.15)
Quite. Oh, the whole behind the rock and talking tree stuff? Things really start to go down hill.
Anti-semitism is a Christian vice. Hatred of the Jews became marked in the Muslim world only after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent loss of Arab Palestine.
Don't tell the Jews of Hebron.

The Danes may disagree with the following.
Muhammad was never venerated as a divine figure, .. (pp.24)
Remember the whole Religion of Peace stuff?
A century after the Prophet's death, the Islamic Empire extended from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas. ... Where Christians discerned God's hand in apparent failure and defeat, when Jesus died on the cross, Muslims experienced political success as sacramental and as a revelation of the divine presence in their lives.(pp. 29)
I am not quite certain what is more insane about this passage. The total misunderstanding of Christian basics is dumbfounding. Christ's crucification a defeat? Huh? Who taught her Christian theology? That I will let pass as I don't think Karen is a Christian - but - note how the capture by the sword is a "political success." I still have trouble reading that and not thinking that this is a brilliant ignoramus or someone who is intentionally telling a fib. Perhaps both?

How about this reading of history?
...when Muslims had established their great empire ... (they) accepted that they had reached the limits of their expansion by this date, and coexisted amicably with the non-Muslim world. ... some of the Roman Christians, who had been persecuted by the Greek Orthodox for their heretical opinions, greatly preferred Muslim to Byzantine rule.(pp. 30-31)
Like that twist? This this one on for size.
When Charles Martel defeated the Muslim troops at Pointiers in 732, this was not regarded by Muslims as a great disaster. Western people have often exaggerated the importance of Pointiers, which was no Waterloo. The Arabs felt no compulsion -- religious or otherwise -- to conquer western Christendom in the name of Islam. Indeed, Europe seemed remarkably unattractive to them: there were few opportunities for trade in that primitive backwater, little booty to be had, and the climate was terrible. (pp 50)
Ummm. Yea. Much rather be in Yemen than southern France. Yep.

Speaking of unnecessary exaggeration. The Soviets would be so proud.
Muslim scholars made more scientific discoveries during this time than in the whole of previously recorded history. (she is talking about a century to a century and a half after the death of Muhammad) (pp. 56)
Ok. They aren't perfect are they?
The three great (Islamic) empires were all in decline by the end of the eighteenth century. This was not due to the essential incompetence or fatalism of Islam, as Europeans often arrogantly assumed. (pp. 136)
The last 25% of the book is a long set of excuses for the failure of most Muslim nations to stagger into the modern world, and it is tiresome to read. I'll pick out just a very few to chew on. The blindness and misstatements are legion. You fans of the Catholic Church will love the following.
Politics had never been central to the Christian religious experience.
We also have this old bit that the formally Christian people of Byzantium, Egypt, and the Maghreb would find interesting.
.... it was Christians who had instigated a series of brutal holy wars against the Muslim world, that Islam was described by the learned scholar-monk of Europe as a n inherently violent and intolerant faith, which had only been able to establish itself by the sword.
....and that is inaccurate how? What would the Zoroastrians of Persia, the Hindu of the sub-continent and the Buddhists of the Hindu Kush say about that? Anyway, you know whose fault it all is.
... the West has certainly contributed to this development and , to assuage the fear and despair that lies at the root of all fundamentalist vision, should cultivate a more accurate appreciation of Islam in the third Christian millennium. (pp. 187)
How would you propose that, Karen?

Ungh. This is what passes as enlightened work. If you really want to get depressed, read the description of Karen at the back of the book.
Karen Armstrong is one of the world's foremost scholars on religious affairs. She is the author of several bestselling books, including The Battle for God, Jerusalem, The history of God, and Through the Narrow Gate, a memoir of her seven years as a nun. She lives in London.
Oh, dear.

This book also added more weight to why I have little faith in the value or opinion of General Zinni.

I want you to look at the friends Zinni and Armstrong have. Search for their names here, here, here, here, here, and here. Zinni has been on an anti-Bush run since they fired him for his complete failure as an envoy. Classic guy who thinks it is best to make yourself look so smart by attacking those who have found your skills wanting. Armstrong? I don't know. Self-hating former Nun? The fact that Marines read her crap makes me sad in some way.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Leftist Democrat=Right Frenchman

At least on guns, they sure sound the same.
I would like to say one thing, in what is my conception of the Republic, security is the responsibility of the State, I am against militias, I am against the private ownership of firearms, and I’m trying to make you think about that. If you are assaulted by an armed burglar, he’ll use his weapon more effectively than you anyway so you’re risking your life. If the criminal is not armed and you are and you shoot, your life will be ruined, because killing someone over a theft is not in line with the republican values that are mine. The private ownership of firearms is dangerous. I understand your exasperation for having been burglarized two times, I understand the fear that your wife and daughter may have but the answer is in the efficiency of the police and the efficiency of the judiciary process, the answer is not in having guns at home.
Translation. "I understand that I have bodyguards and enough money to have a nice alarm system. You should just accept the murder and rape - take one for the team."

Shame, the French will need their guns
sooner than they think.

Hat tip The Brussels Journal.

St. Crispins lessons

Happy St. Crispin's Day!

Remember, good leaders leading a few good men - from the front - beat a gaggle of the poorly led any day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

So, you don't like my Latin, eh?

There I am, blogg'n away and then Adrian comes by with a funny hat on.



Man, I have demanding readers. OK, maybe it is "Alea jacta est" and not "Jacta alea est." Will someone get me an old Catholic Priest?

Can we win in Iraq?

Don't tell The Commissar. First person reporting on 17 OCT.
My conclusion on the situation in Ramadi overall is that while I had been led to believe it was getting worse, it's probably actually getting somewhat better and there's every reason to believe this trend will continue as more and more Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, and Combat Operation Posts are introduced. Moreover, the lesson to be learned here is that if the insurgents and terrorists can be defeated in Ramadi they can be defeated anywhere. The guerilla war is definitely winnable. The two greatest threats are lack of patience and the possibility that the sectarian fighting elsewhere (there's none in Ramadi because it's almost purely Sunni) will render the counterinsurgency effort moot. (NB: he means full scale Civil War - which is different than sectarian fighting) Yet even if that happens, the connections and friends we've made in Al Anbar province will serve us in a post-Iraq world. Al Qaeda wants the Sunni area of Iraq as a permanent base. No matter what happens, we've already put a dent in that ambition and we've laid the groundwork for denying them that base.
Maybe Fumento is a NeoCon like Senator Durbin.

Non-Uniform Code of Military Justice

A startling admission from VADM Rempt and the MIDN Owens saga. What most of us know, but never thought would be put out there in public for all to see, is right there. VADM Rempt admits that he chooses who to prosecute for political reasons (LT Black would like to send some Williams and Sonoma special holiday Crow for some people to eat, methinks). I have no reason to think that Peter Optekar is not telling the truth, and no one has come out to refute it - but I do know that he won't get an affirmative RSVP from VADM Rempt again.
Peter S. Optekar of Hayden, Idaho, said this week that Adm. Rempt was prejudiced against Midshipman Owens from the outset, and should remove himself from the case immediately.

"He is playing with the life of a very, very fine person," said Mr. Optekar, a member of the Class of 1963.

Mr. Optekar said Adm. Rempt had dinner at his home in Idaho a few days after the trial ended in late July and said, in front of five Naval Academy grads and their wives, that he bowed to political pressure when he brought charges against Midshipmen Owens
"Peter, I had no choice; if I did not, we'd have every feminist group and the ACLU after us," Adm. Rempt allegedly said to Mr. Optekar.
Nothing more to say. It speaks for itself, and VADM Rempt is still on active duty. 'Nuff said.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I voted

The power of the absentee voter. "Jacta alea est!" - well my die at least. My vote is my vote - and none of your bee's-wax. That being said; I am not Bubblehead. I am not Ace. I am not The Commissar. I am also not Hugh Hewitt. All good men with good reasons for doing what they are doing.

Sure, I have had my moments. Still stand by every word - but such are the choices I was given.

I will say this. The Democrats and Republicans in my home of record did not give one many options. Some of you do have choices, I really didn't.

I hope you all vote. If you don't you are a sheep and have no reason to complain. More later, perhaps.

I will give you this:
(1) The city has no place fiddl'n with BRAC screw-ups with local tax payer money.
(2) If it says, "For the children.." it isn't.

New Commandant of Midshipmen is......

A woman.
Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt has selected Naval Flight Officer and academy graduate, Capt. Margaret D. Klein to serve as the 82nd Commandant of Midshipmen.

Klein, 49, a native of Weymouth, Mass. will relieve current Commandant of Midshipmen Capt. Bruce E. Grooms in December.
...
Klein, a 1981 graduate of the Naval Academy is currently serving as Chief of Staff to Commander, Carrier Strike Group Eight, embarked in the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group. She was designated a Naval Flight Officer in 1983 and served three operational tours in Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Three (the "Ironmen"”) flying in the EC-130Q and the E-6A “TACAMO” aircraft. Klein had command of the Ironmen in her final tour, during which the squadron won the Battle E and Maintenance Excellence Award.

Klein’s extensive operational experience includes service on the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group Staff during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her major command was Wing Commander of Joint Service Task Force 124 and Strategic Communications Wing One in Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
CAPT Klein, I wish you luck. I hope that as a woman you will help bring the female MIDN in line, as this year has proven that for too long there has not been adequate female leadership at Annapolis. We need a firm, honest, direct hand. The good MIDN and officers who just happen to be female are being smeared by those others who have been allowed to get away with lying, taking drugs, and taking advantage of the fact that all they have to do is yell, "They are just doing this because I am a girl....." and call the Senator from Maryland's office and off they go. Off the hook. You have been given an unique opportunity to do this right, I hope you do and wish you all the best.

As a side note; with all the problems we have seen over the last couple of years at Annapolis with double standards for athletes, drugs, alcohol, rape, allegations of rape, lies under oath, and other allegations, it would be interesting to see if there were any career consequences to the previous Commandant of Midshipmen. Oh, wait; here we go.
Capt. Grooms has been selected for promotion to Rear Admiral and assignment as deputy director, Submarine Warfare Division, N87B, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.
Hmmmm.

The Guardian just demoted me!!!

....and gave me an interservice transfer! For those who don't know, The Guardian is the UK's version of The New York Times meets The Nation. Anyway, a very nice person sent me the following email that I would like to invite my readers to take advantage of if they so desire.

Quoted in full:
Dear Sgt Salamander,

I hope you don't mind me emailing you - I spotted your blog and hoped that you might be able to help with a feature I'm working on.

I'm the commissioning editor on The Guardian newspaper in the UK, and I'm currently compiling a collection of letters, emails, blueys, e-blueys and even texts between people who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families and friends back home that we will run as a feature. It will be a totally non-political article, aiming to get across the experiences of the soldiers who are fighting or have fought in these wars, in their own words.

We will include a whole range of correspondence - everything from soldiers talking about the weather, where they're sleeping and what they have to eat, to how they're feeling and what frightens them. We'll be including material from people who are currently serving, and also the correspondence of those who have tragically died in the war. The feature will be a tribute to the lives and bravery of soldiers fighting on behalf of the US and the UK.

We've had a really amazing response so far, and everyone I've spoken to feels this feature is vitally important. A lot of families have had enough of war coverage being limited to statistics and facts, without proper acknowledgement of the enormous sacrifices and bravery of our soldiers.

Obviously, any correspondence that is passed on to me will be treated with the utmost care and respect, and nothing will be printed without express permission. Everything will also remain entirely anonymous and we won't include any material that could compromise security.

If you think you might be able contribute letters or emails, or know someone who would, I would be very grateful. Meanwhile, don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Many thanks for all your help!

Best wishes,


Becky Barnicoat
Commissioning Editor
Weekend Magazine
020 7713 4941
becky.barnicoat@guardian.co.uk
www.guardian.co.uk

Soldiers won't wait for the Navy or the Pentagon

This almost looks like a parody, but no - it is reality. A mission needs to be done - it will be done. (click pictures for higher resolution)
Water can be a scarce resource in many regions of Iraq. However, there are some areas, namely along the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, that thrive because of the direct access to water.

These liquid highways can also serve as an avenue for insurgents to traffic their goods, be it improvised explosive device materials or people. In northern Diyala Province, there is a man-made lake in the village of Hamrin that could serve as a quick getaway for insurgents.
If these guys get killed (look at the load and lack of flotation devices) the fault will not be with their Commander or the Soldiers themselves. It will be the Flag Officers that have a system such that no one can get these guys a boat they should have to get the job done. That is why helicopters have slings.
Soldiers from the squadron'’s support unit made a few repairs and changes to the boat trailer prior to it getting on the water.

"“We serviced the engine to make sure everything ran,"” said Staff Sgt. Phillip Kitchen, team chief, Service and Recovery Section, Dragoon Troop, 2-9 CAV. "The prop that was on it when we got it was destroyed, so we had to re-do the prop; sand it down, grind it down, make it better. The boat had a hole in it so we had to patch the underside of the boat so that it wouldnÂ't leak in."”
BTW, in early '07, about 4 years after the war in Iraq started, the Navy will finally deploy the Riverine forces in theatre. Its training has been exceptionally slow. It is fighting tooth and nail for money, and still is running around hat in hand. Great Sailors who want to do a critical job, but are being held back by an ossified leadership both in and out of uniform. We brought Imperial Japan to its knees in less time.

Admiral Bullard should not have been on point for this. He needed greater top-cover to deal with Congress. I know SeaARK doesn't pay retired Flag Officers as much as Lockheed, but.....Mmmmm.

I doubt that once we do get in theatre they will go to help out in Hamrin Lake and the Diyala. Hopefully the Army will get these soldiers a better boat, and they do not kill this patrol as an easy way of avoiding giving them the right equipment. If they do that, we surrender a dignificant Line of Communication to the enemy.


Point your Google Earth or other such item to 34-10N/045-00E (if you don't, look at the map here and here). That lake is 9 miles long by 2 miles wide. Worth at least one SeaARK I would think. The river that flows into it runs from north to south parallels the Iranian border, and then at the bottom of the lake flows out southwest through Baqubah and then to Baghdad. Dare I say, that is a SLOC - a Sea Line of Communication?

Good luck when you get there in '07 Shipmates, and see if you can lend these guys a hand somehow.

BZ to the Army- shame on the rest of us in the Navy. Sure you could pick on the Army for not getting them something better, but the leaders of 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning are just doing the best they can to fill a huge hole in their area of responsibility that SOME SERVICE has decided to ignore. That Easter Chick yellow Duroboat represents the warfighting priorities of the Navy. No excuses in the 1QFY08. None. Shame.
"Get there first with the most."

--- General Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA
Right now, it seems that for the Navy it is "Get their last with the least."

Don't get mad at me, I am just the messenger.

The Republican October Surprise

Though no one will ever hear about it from the MSM.
The Labor Department Friday announced that the number of jobs increased between April 2005 and March 2006 not by 5.8 million but by 6.6 million.
...
The federal budget deficit has been cut in half in three years, three years faster than George W. Bush called for. Why? Tax receipts were up 5.5 percent in FY 2004, 14.5 percent in FY 2005, and 11.7 percent in FY 2006. That's up 34.9 percent in three years. And that's after the 2003 tax cuts.

That "Bush economy" and all.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Command at Sea billets opening up

But you have to go to India. Yikes!
In the wake of recent mishaps, the Indian Navy has decided to review the training of crews, following four accidents involving its ships during the last 10 months in which of one of them - INS Prahar - sank off the Goa coast in April.
...
the stealth frigate INS Trishul which was severely damaged after a collision with a merchant vessel M V Ambuja Laxmi outside the Mumbai harbour
...
the stealth frigate INS Talwar accidentally dropped its anchor on its own anti-submarine sonardome and had to be rushed for repairs.
...
the Nilgiri class frigate INS Dunagiri collided with the merchant vessel M V Kiti off the Mumbai coast.
...
INS Prahar, a missile corvette sank in April after it collided with the Merchant vessel Rajiv Gandhi.
Ahem, BOMBAY is a busy port. A rough patch for a growing Navy. Sounds like they will use it as an excuse to address training. Always an area to improve..you know..the complicated things like not running into stuff.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Polish Navy attacks unarmed German merchant ship

Over booze and smokes?
Nobody would ever accuse Poland and Germany of having an easy relationship. But things have rarely escalated to this degree.

In an incident just now hitting the German front pages, the Polish coast guard fired on a private German cruise ship on Tuesday as it fled Polish waters with two plainclothes customs officials from Poland on board. Whether the shots were merely blanks, as the Polish claim, or whether live ammunition was used, as the head of the German cruise company alleges, remains unclear. Regardless, the incident threatens to escalate into a full-scale diplomatic tiff.
There are some parts of the world where things just keep coming up in such interesting ways. OK, kind of lame considering their history..but still.
The tale starts with a simple cruise. The "Adler Dania," was on its way to visit the Polish Baltic Sea port of Swinoujscie and hoping to sell some duty free alcohol and cigarettes to its predominantly German passengers on the way. Hardly an unheard of mission in the Baltic Sea.

Inasmuch as the ship's itinerary included a brief stop in Poland, Polish plainclothes customs officials boarded the ship in the German port of Heringsdorf to have a closer look. They waited until the ship had entered the port of Swinoujscie before making their move.

It didn't go well. According to the German captain -- as related to SPIEGEL ONLINE by the Adler shipping company's director Alwin Muller -- the two Polish customs officials presented questionable identification and demanded to inspect the ship's alcohol and cigarette supplies. The captain, Heinz Arendt, thereupon elected to turn his ship around and bolt for German waters. He was apparently concerned, in light of the customs raid, that the ship's entire stock of goodies would be confiscated were he to land at the port. It has happened before, the cruise company complains.

The two sides in the altercation have competing versions as to what happened next. Muller claims that three to four shots were fired on the ship from a hand-held weapon. A spokesman for the Polish coast guard assured SPIEGEL ONLINE that only two warning shots from a flare gun were fired.
Shots fired. Cloak and dagger. Trade disputes. Wars have started over less. In the 21 Century, you would think people wouldn't do such things. Ahhh. But do national habits really die that hard? The Germans, as is their nature, pulled their trump card.
The Polish side claims that the ship actually landed in Swinoujscie (NB: that is Swinemunde for you Germanophiles out there. Check the map, natch, to most Germans that is occupied Pomerania)-- leading the Polish press to breathlessly claim that the Polish customs officials were prevented from disembarking against their will. Reuters has even reported that kidnapping charges were to be filed against Captain Arendt. Charges have already been filed against the Germans for attempting to dodge customs and hindering customs officials from doing their jobs.

Au contraire, counter the Germans. The Polish customs officials did not have the appropriate identification. As such, the officers are being charged with being in Germany illegally and for forcing their way into parts of the ship where passengers were not allowed.

"Vee, vould like to zee your papers, pleaze!"

Kill the Navy BDU while you still can

While the new MCPON is off killing the bad ideas of the previous holder of his office - can I yell again that the Task Force Uniform has no clothes?
A new working uniform for all ranks is on its way to the fleet, possibly arriving as soon as the first half of fiscal 2008.

CNO-designated Command Master Chief (SS) Robert B. Carroll, head of Task Force Uniform, said the fleet will begin to see the battle-dress-style Navy Working Uniform “sometime in fiscal year 2008.”

A more specific answer is not possible yet, Carroll said, because there are still contracts to be awarded, as well as other details out of the direct control of the Navy that make pinpointing an exact date difficult.

However, Carroll and TFU have previously said the uniform would begin to be fielded in the fleet about “18 to 24 months” following Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mulllen'’s approval March 3 — a schedule that TFU estimates it is still on track to meet.
That POS, dark, blue pattern bunch of FOD is still not ready. In the time it took to defeat Nazi Germany......

There is an answer out there if you must have a BDU. Now. Field tested. Ready to go. And you know what, the CNO has authorized Navy personnel to wear it - I know, you can see them walking the halls down in Tampa....and they are growing every day.
As more sailors are assigned to Army ground units in Iraq and Afghanistan, more of them will look like soldiers.

Under an Army program called the Rapid Fielding Initiative, soldiers get a kit of state-of-the-art combat gear, much of it based on commercial outdoor products and designed for warmth and comfort.

With many of the 8,500 sailors serving as individual augmentees in the Middle East assigned to Army commands, sailors are getting that gear, too.

For the sailor, the new kit means wearing Army combat boots, the camouflage Army Combat Uniform, the Advanced Combat Helmet, flame-retardant gloves, ballistic spectacles, knee and elbow pads, a fleece jacket and bib pants, a hydration system, silkweight thermal underwear, lightweight load-carrying equipment and other odds and ends. The individual-issue set is worth roughly $2,000, for which the Navy reimburses the Army.

“It covers the whole thing: How do I survive? How do I be more lethal? How do I be more comfortable?” Bonheim said.
OK. For everyone else not going on an IA, take out all the fun goodies and give them the uniform items. Bingo, you are there. Right now, the screwed up plan only Rube Goldberg would like has the shipboard BDU, plus the green and/or tan BDU if you are in the field. That is 3 sets for one job (and we all know that in the end Sailors will go in the field with the set they have, the dark blue shipboard BDU, and will burn up in the SW Asia sun...and will not have a chance to get replacements in country so when they need a new set of pants they are screwed and will wind up dressing like a sailor anyway). Take the Army BDU for ours and we only have the need for one. It is common with the Army so supply isn't an issue. Keep the 8-sided cover and run with it. Talk about best business practices. Oh, and what is another reason this smart in the field?
Sailors in Army uniforms may perplex the old-fashioned, but in a combat zone, it’s practical for the team to look the same. Wearing one uniform is good for unit cohesion, Bonheim said, but it also means sailors won'’t stand out in a crowd.

“It’s a force-protection issue,” he said.
..but CDR Salamander readers knew that a year ago.

Are we really serious about this war?

I'll throw dirt at the Left all day on having a 10 SEP 01 mindset, but the right has a lot to clean up as well.

Some significant data-points on why the answer may be, "No."

Military: still the careerist mentality. From Max Boot.
What's more, some of the best and brightest American officers are being steered away from Iraqi units. Everyone in the U.S. armed forces knows that the way to the top is to command American units, not to advise foreign units — even if the latter task is more difficult and more important.

One Army officer who has served in Iraq and would be well qualified for an advisory role told me recently that he was asked to become an ROTC instructor at home but not an advisor in Iraq. Those he sees being sent to help Iraqis tend to have "marginal career prospects." "No one is diverted from a school or command," he told me. "No one is sent after a successful command."
National Defense: Saudi Arabia. Remember how many of the 11 SEP hijackers were from S.A.? Well.
Thousands of students from Saudi Arabia are enrolling on college campuses across the United States this semester under a new educational exchange program brokered by President Bush and Saudi King Abdullah.

The program will quintuple the number of Saudi students and scholars here by the academic yearÂ’s end. And big, public universities from Florida to the Kansas plains are in a fierce competition for their tuition dollars.

The kingdom’s royal family — which is paying full scholarships for most of the 15,000 students — says the program will help stem unrest at home by schooling the country’s brightest in the American tradition.
...
“These 15,000 students will really jump-start education and that will be a great addition to the Kingdom,” said Goodman. “At its base, it’s about mutual understanding.”

...and then, that gave us what in return?

Oh, remember
airport security?
Airport workers are finding themselves subject to surprise screenings as the government issues new security tactics at airports nationwide. The changes are a direct response to this year's foiled plot to blow-up America-bound airplanes.

Baggage handlers, gate agents, ramp workers and other airport employees who
in the past were not subject to any security searches before the enter restricted and secure areas are now being targeted in this latest government effort to make airports safer.
I am not impressed.

Fullbore Friday

USS Mississippi (BB-41). What a girl. What a history. What a warship. From funny covers to guided missiles.
In early 1942, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Mississippi rejoined the Pacific Fleet. She spent most of 1942 along the U.S. west coast and went to the South Pacific late in that year. In 1943, she took part operations against Kiska Island, in the Aleutians, and in the capture of the Gilbert Islands. During the latter operation, on 29 November 1943, Mississippi experienced another turret explosion, which took 43 lives. Following repairs, she participated in the capture of Kwajalein in February 1944 and bombarded Japanese-held islands in February and March. Later in the year, she was part of the force that invaded Peleliu and Leyte and defeated a Japanese task force in the Battle of Surigao Strait. Mississippi provided gunfire support for the Lingayen landings in January 1945 and for the conquest of Okinawa in March-June. The battleship was damaged by suicide planes in both operations. She was present in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945, when Japan formally surrendered and returned to the United States soon thereafter.

Mississippi was converted to a gunnery training and weapons development ship in 1946, and given the new hull number AG-128. In this role, she carried a variety of old and new guns and radars, while serving with the Operational Development Force in the Atlantic. During the mid-1950s, she was test ship for the Navy's first surface-to-air guided missile, the "Terrier". Decommissioned in September 1956, USS Mississippi was sold for scrapping in November of that year, after almost forty years of service.






I'll let the pictures speak for her.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Watching Skippy's head explode

So, you only have two life preservers. One for yourself, and one for another - but there are three of you. The other two are Rummy and Vern. What does one do?
Most intriguing is the little-known story of how Adm. Vern Clark, the independent and outspoken chief of naval operations, almost became Bush's first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2001. As Woodward put it, "Clark was the one officer who might survive Rumsfeld and preserve some sense of dignity and independence for the uniformed military." Even though Clark bonded with Bush by stressing his deep-seated religious beliefs, the nomination was cleverly scuttled by Rumsfeld, who did not want a Joint Chiefs chairman offering independent advice to the president. Instead of Clark, Bush appointed make-no-waves Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, who proved predictably compliant during the planning for the invasion of Iraq.
What to do?

Best EW3 in the Navy

I always think it is best to quote them in full.
Do you mean that using the phrases "for official use only" or "top secret" will increase your hit count?

Pretty simplistic mechanism. The phrases "for official use only" or "top secret" could simply be someone just typing them. Typing the phrases "for official use only" or "top secret", what a quaint notion 'typing'. Does that show my age? Would the kids still use a sentence like 'Typing the phrases "for official use only" or "top secret"' or would they use something like - 'Entering the phrases "for official use only" or "top secret"' or maybe 'keyboarding the phrases "for official use only" or "top secret"'. Seems too simple, I mean anyone could use the phrases Typing the phrases "for official use only" or "top secret" and have no access to anything remotely considered confidential. I mean I could type the phrases "for official use only" or "top secret"...
If you are wondering what is going on, head on over to Bubblehead's place. Poor widdle fewwa needs some TTLB luv'n.

Myopic military quote of the year

For all you Dr. Strangelove fans: Cheyenne Mountain has been put into mothballs. This quote made me cringe....I hope you have the same reaction.
“It was the place that made us feel good during the Cold War, especially after the Cuban missile crisis and the Russians had developed intercontinental ballistic missiles,” said Lt. Gen. William Odom, a former National Security Agency director.

Keating said the new the control room, in contrast, could be damaged if a terrorist commandeered a jumbo jet and somehow knew exactly where to crash it. But “how unlikely is that? We think very,” Keating said.
How many millions of souls have been taken due to people in uniform saying such things?

Wouldn't we be all better off without the spin? Sigh.

Are Republican negros also gay?

IowaHawk forwards on Howard Dean's latest letter that asks all the right questions and gives a solid overview of the Democrat plan to win - as only IowaHawk can.

Norway plays Meathead to France's Archie

The rush for the door continues.
Norway's centre-left government said on Wednesday it would not send special forces to Afghanistan, rejecting NATO calls for reinforcements to southern Afghan regions where foreign soldiers face growing resistance.

Last month officials from the U.S.-led NATO military alliance called on Norway to boost its presence in Afghanistan from its current 480 troops, and diplomats had said that Norwegian officials signalled they would abide.
The pampered, spoiled Norwegians prove, again, the fact that they are fair weather allies. This also proves the mortal danger the Left poses to Western Civilization.
The decision followed heightened tensions between the parties in Norway's Labour-led coalition government as politicians from the Socialist Left Party (SV), a junior coalition partner, opposed sending more soldiers.
This is how failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They really don't understand, or want to understand, that Europe is the next trenchline back. Their retreat will bring even more of the battle to their front yard. How is it again that Europe is going to do such a great job in Afghanistan?

SEAL and SWCC - at last their own rating

This has been a subject of puzzler puzzl'n since my days as an Ensign: why should a SEAL have to study something that has nothing to do with being a SEAL just so he can get promoted? Well, that at last has been fixed.
Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command commemorated the creation of the new Special Warfare Operator (SO) and Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) ratings in a ceremony Oct. 2 in Coronado, Calif.

The new ratings replace previous source ratings, which had been used to distinguish SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) by job classifications.

‚“When candidates made it through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school (BUD/S) and Basic Crewmember school, they were required to switch over to one of the chosen source ratings, such as gunnerÂ’s mate and boatswain‚’s mate,‚” said Ronald Cooper, executive director for Naval Special Warfare Center for SEAL and SWCC.

For many years, the idea of having SEAL and SWCC ratings was discussed.

‚“It‚’s been talked about for at least 20 years that I know of,‚” Cooper said. ‚“The problem was, the NSW community always advanced well under the previous rating system. It was always a concern about limiting our advancement if we went to a new rating. Once we resolved that, the new ratings were looked at a little more favorably.”
Big Navy: Bravo Zulu; you hit the 10 ring on this one. Took a couple of decades too long, but whoever finally made this happen should have a beer or a dozen sent their way.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

US Military: on the cutting edge of Liberalism

Hey, I didn't say it, Rowan Scarborough did (well quoting, ahem, you-know-who).
The U.S. armed forces has become a prime engineer of liberal social experiments, while condoning double standards for how men and women are punished for sexual misconduct, say people fighting what they consider political correctness on campus and in the military.
"The military is not a conservative organization," said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness (CMR). "It is on the cutting edge of liberal social change."
Ah, yes. The gift that keeps on giving. Women in the military. There is a very accurate pull quote though, one that is right on the target.
She accused the Army of violating its own regulation against embedding female soldiers in support companies that deploy with land combat units. She said the Pentagon too often agrees with "ideological feminists" who "want to change the culture of the military in rather radical ways."
"Women in the military are not the problem," she said. "It's the policy-makers." There are, she said, "many generals making policy in the Pentagon who have daughters in the military."
We just do what we are told - and try to keep our opinions out of the wrong ears.

Like a puppy's head under the couch

...is about as well as you can "hide" or "make invisible" a 600 foot, 14,000 ton warship! Eagle1 snagged this mindless bit of contractor fluff from Popular Science.
Whether it’s dropping off a SEAL team or launching missiles inland, the Zumwalt is going to have to slip in unnoticed. It will be quiet—the diesel engine’s noise will be stifled by an inch-thick rubber coating that Syring likens to elephant skin—and stealthy. The spinning dishes and antennas common to today’s ships easily register on enemy radar, so the DDG1000 will instead feature communications hardware that lies flat, embedded in the skin of the deckhouse. This sleek design, combined with a hull that slopes inward from sea level up, rather than outward like most ships, will scatter the energy from an enemy’s radar. According to Syring, on scanners the Zumwalt will look like a fishing boat.
Ungh. But Jim, shipmate. The NORKs, Iranians et al will not need radar to see that thing lurking off the coast. IT IS 600' LONG, about 100' tall and 80 FEET WIDE for Neptune's sake. That is only 10 feet shorter than the Pocket Battleship SMS Graf Spee. You are not hiding that from anyone with a pair of eyes and a cheap pair of binoculars. Put down the PPT hardcopy, drive down to Norfolk and get underway on something. It may read well for the PS group, but do you gecredibilityiblity with those who know the sea by saying stuff like that? Did we not learn anything from the C-802 hit on the Israeli Navy? Please, put two of your multi-billion dollar ships that close together, that close to my shore like the photo above. Please. And keep telling yourself you are invisible. Please. Believe your own BS. Please. -- And I will shame you to the world -- The article does have a cool photo spread though, worth a look.

Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs

This will be no shocker to regular readers. The irreplaceable Mark Steyn has a new book out, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. I have young daughters, BTW.
Linda Frum interviewed Steyn for the National Post:
LF: Your book is very gloomy. After I read it, I glanced over at my three-year-old daughter and was filled with fear for her future.
MS: Well, I'm in this for the three year-olds. My youngest child is six now, but my little girl and your little girl, when they're our age, they will find a large number of places in what we think of as the free world, the developed world, far less congenial than we would. I mean, you and I would think nothing of hopping on a plane, going to London, Paris or Berlin. Those are going to be very uncomfortable places for a young, middle-aged Western woman circa 2020, 2030, and it's precisely because we've taken for granted this very unusual period in history. We take it for granted that it's a permanent state of affairs. It isn't. It requires incredible vigilance and incredible effort to preserve it.
I've already ordered mine. Yep, the end of the world as we know it.

Via "HotAir" you can watch a video of an interview last night on Fox with him.

Hat tip Michelle.

VADM David Brewer - Bravo Zulu

Now this is what Flag Officers can do for their nation when they retire.
"To everybody in this community, you can expect one thing: I am not a reformer; I am a transformer. I am going to transform this district into — not a No Child Left Behind Act district. That is a low star. This is a global, global economy. This is a world in which our children have to compete globally. We're going to shoot for world-class."

-- David L. Brewer III
David Brewer has a distinguished military career, and now he's transforming into the latest hope for the public schools of Los Angeles. In a rather extraordinary political move, The LA Board of Ed has made their choice for the new Superintendent of the LA Unified School District and as the LA Times reports, they're very excited about him:
And he is making all the right enemies.
The top local teachers union official was in no mood to celebrate. "The idea that he has no grounding in K-12 is disturbing," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. "And the idea that UTLA and the broader community were not consulted. I don't want to hear that his wife and family were teachers. That doesn't do it."

"A classroom is different from a battlefield," he added. "The goals and objectives are completely different. And it's disconcerting to a certain portion of teachers who are fighting against military recruitment on campus."
Just a side note from the love fest. If I could offer one bit of advice to VADM Brewer; your reputation while on active duty was a bit tainted due to your appearance of favoritism towards those of your same ethnic group. Affirmative action, or positive discrimination - neither is benign in a zero-sum game. I hope for your sake in LA that you avoid such appearances. I doubt many confronted you directly, but in the background the talk was there. Good luck, sir. LA needs good leadership and management.

Hat tip Chap.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Glad I am not an Australian

...because their BIG Northern neighbor is getting worse....and worse....

Dr. Rusty Shackleford has had enough.

Civil war is in the air in Indonesia. Christians are daily being slaughtered and the government does little to protect them.

Two of our longtime blog-friends, Stan the Infidel and Big White Infidel, are furious over the treatment of Christians in Indonesia. What the media paints as 'sectarian violence' is really Muslim persecution of Christian minorities.

Stan and Big White are headed to Rev. Irianto Kongkoli's funeral in Palu. Rev. Kongkoli was a Christian minister gunned down in public early this morning. This comes on the heels of a bombing on Saturday and after three Christians were executed for their alleged participation in sectarian violence. Violence that has largely targetted Christians and over which no Muslim has been prosecuted.

If their reaction is any gauge of Christian sentiment in Indonesia, then expect an escalation of the violence. Especially pay attention to Stan's extended comments here.

I would urge the Christians of Indonesia, and especially our friends Stan and Big White, towards self-restraint and non-violence. Not that I am a pacifist, I am not, but I am a realist. One should only fight battles if they can win. This is not a battle that can be won through violence.

There is something that you can do to show your solidarity with Indonesia's persecuted Christians. Boycott Indonesia.

Fwance: "We would rather shoot at Jews, thank you."

Well, it has started. I didn't know who would run for the door or switch sides first - the French or the Italians (with a Spanish dark horse). At least here, the Fwench did not go against their tradition.
France plans to withdraw around 200 special forces from southern Afghanistan at the start of next year following a recent upsurge of violence, the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday.
...
Nine French troops have died in fighting in Afghanistan and Le Journal du Dimanche said the relatively high death toll had played a part in
the decision to withdraw the forces.
Once part of the solution, now again part of the problem. At the very time NATO and the West need to show resolve and push the fight, the Fwench start to fold. Perhaps it was all down hill after Jena.
"The decision to withdraw the elite troops was taken at the highest level by the president of the republic and the army chiefs of staff," the report said,
They do, however, seem very excited about the chance to take pot shots at Jews, however.
Commanders of the French contingent of the United Nations force in Lebanon have warned that they might have to open fire if Israel Air Force warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
You shoot at the IAF once. Just once. Very bad idea.

Get ready for Congressman Sestak

The CNO must have a terrible headache right now.
The FBI raided the homes of Rep. Curt Weldon's daughter and a close friend Monday as it investigates whether the congressman improperly helped the pair win lobbying and consulting contracts.

Agents searched four locations in the Philadelphia area and two in Jacksonville, Fla., said Debbie Weierman, an FBI spokeswoman in Washington. The congressman's home and his offices were not among the locations searched, she said.
...
Federal investigators are looking into whether Weldon used his influence to help the company secure lobbying contracts worth $1 million from foreign clients, two people familiar with the inquiry told The Associated Press.

Weldon, a 10-term Republican from the Philadelphia suburbs and vice chairman of the House Armed Services committee, is in a close race for re-election on Nov. 7 against Democrat Joe Sestak. Last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mailed fliers to voters in Weldon's district accusing Karen Weldon of getting help from her father on lobbying projects.
If Sestak can't win now, he never will. One last note, in case you think having a retired Rear Admiral in Congress is a great idea, which it may be, just know who is on this one's team. GatewayPundit has a nice summary.

Napoleon's greatest victory

Saturday the 14th was the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Jena, some would say Napoleon's High Water Mark - it sure was a low mark for Prussia.
Napolean's army had just completed a decisive rout of the Prussian army near the cities of Jena and Auerstadt, now located in eastern Germany. The blood of some 55,000 dead and wounded colored the fields red.
...
The battles of Jena and Auerstadt spelled the end to any significant Prussian resistance to the French until Napolean's withdrawal from Russia in 1813. It's debatable, though, whether Napolean's military brilliance or Prussian incompetence was more decisive. Jena historian Werner Greiling said the difference was in the decisiveness of the leaders and the soldiers' willingness to follow orders. "All of Napolean's soldiers were convinced of their commander's leadership qualities," he said.
That would be something a German would say. It is true though. An interesting note for those who think the French worship Napoleon and the Germans have thrown away their martial heritage and pride.
History buffs from clubs and associations throughout Europe gathered together to create the spectacle. This time the French were outnumbered -- some 485 Germans outfitted themselves in 19th century war duds, alongside 180 French and 160 British -- but they still won.
One note though - out of defeat can come great things. Who was present at the battle on the loosing side? Clausewitz and Gneisenau served in the battle before going on to become major figures in Prussia's military revival. Oh, one last snark at the Fwench. You know who played Napoleon? An American of German extraction, Marc Schneider.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Another reason not to like WalMart

Oh sure, after Jonah outed them they took the outfits off the web - but they underestimate the fact that once on the web - always on the web. They want to slut up your teenage daughter. There are more, but here is the worst. Remember, they are talking about 13-17 year old boys and girls (which means 10-12 year old girls will try to wear them).
This Handy Candy Teen Nurse costume by Disguise will start the boy's hearts beating on Halloween. Comes with a cute red and white striped dress with an attached petticoat. With an apron, hat and stethoscope to complete the look.
Hard to tell from what I could get off cashe, but here it is from the manufacturer. And they call themselves family friendly? Oh, and I think I know what one Skippy likes.

I don't think Anne would approve....and I don't think either one of us would let someone leave the house like that. Why would any parent?

A tragic decommissioning

Indulge me, please.

This place is an icon. When I was in NYC last year, Mrs. Salamander and I made our pilgrimage to have a few beers, update the t-shirts, and listen to what was "open mic" for local bands. There must have been 30 of us there. It is, to me, the same as Radio City Music Hall, The Kennedy Center, and all those cultural icons. And it is now lost. CBGB is gone.
CBGB hosted its final concert Sunday night after a 33-year residence in downtown New York as the iconic, grungy bastion of punk.

The concert, headlined by rock poet Patti Smith, was to be the final note sounded in a drawn-out battle to preserve the legendary club. A homeless advocacy group that owns the property, the Bowery Residents Committee, is not renewing CBGB's lease, which expired in August 2005. The club will close Oct. 31.

The club's run may be ending at its Manhattan location, but it will continue in different ways, Smith said.

"CBGB's is a state of mind," she said at pre-show news conference. "The new kids have to have their own places."

CBGB's closure has prompted protests, tributes and vigils for more than a year - a cycle ended when CBGB's owner, Hilly Kristal, gave up his legal fight to stay.

CBGB, hailed by many as the birthplace of punk, opened in December 1973 and over the years helped spawn the careers of such acts as the Ramones, Blondie, the Talking Heads and Television. Though the club's glory days are long gone, it has remained a symbolic fixture on the Manhattan music scene.

Blondie singer Deborah Harry performed at CBGB on Saturday, part of a weeklong send-off for the club.

With a capacity of barely 300, CBGB was founded as a place of freedom for different musical acts. Its letters stand for the music Kristal originally planned to present there - country, bluegrass and blues - but it quickly came to represent the physical epicenter of early punk and the storied downtown scene of 1970s New York.

Kristal plans to move the club to Las Vegas, and its store, CBGB Fashions, will move on Nov. 1 to a nearby location at Broadway and Bond Street.

"I'm thinking about tomorrow and the next day and the next day and going on to do more with CBGB's," Kristal said Sunday.

The Bowery Residents Committee, which holds a 45-year lease on the building, houses 250 homeless people above the club. CBGB is its lone commercial tenant.
No Las Vegas show spot will do. A tacky T-shit stand will not do. Here is what burns me the most. I just live off taxpayer money; I am not rich. I paid cover, bought beers, bought t-shirts - did what I could do. In NYC and nearby (at least their CO-OPs they visit when in town) there are musicians and others who together owe the hundreds of millions of dollars they are worth to the movement that CBGB helped start. They didn't save her. Wrong. Pathetic. For shame.

I'm going to go put in my
Violent Femmes CD now. No. Vinyl.