Friday, September 30, 2005

Your chaplain vetting process needs some work, NYC

This isn’t too hard. We all know that Muslim extremists with a Saudi (Wahabi) bent were the tip of the spear that slashed the wound in NYT (still not healed, and well salted by our enemies) and resulted in the wholesale slaughter of the NYFD.

A sane person would, when choosing a Muslim Chaplain for the NYFD, check a few things out.
The fire department's Muslim chaplain abruptly resigned Friday ..."It became clear to him that he would have difficulty functioning as an FDNY chaplain," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told reporters an hour before Imam Intikab Habib was to be officially sworn in. "There has been no prior indication that he held those views."
Is this willful ignorance, or just reading too much of the NYT. Me, I would ask, for starters maybe, “… have you spent much time in Saudi Arabia to start with.
Scoppetta said Habib, who was educated in Islamic law in Saudi Arabia and preaches at a New York mosque, had appeared qualified and passed a background check.
Second polite question over some Baba Ganouche, “What do you think of the attacks on 911?”
... after saying in a published interview that a conspiracy, not 19 al-Qaida hijackers, may have been responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Where are the leaders? Such sad news for such a great city. The lack of an ability to confront the dangers in front of you is beyond cowardice, it is madness.

Oh, I would love to hear and extended interview with Intikab. I am sure that before the end, it would all be about the Jooooossssssss.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Classic Imperialism

Robert "Kipling" Kaplan had a great piece on the why/how/when of our war that came out on 23 SEP. You need a subscription to WSJ online, but you can read it pirated here. Just search the page for "Kaplan" and you will find it.

Anyway, RK has been spending a lot of time with the U.S. military (more on that at the bottom) and as a result is using a term that I have been fussed at for using for half my career - Imperialism. I'm sorry, there really isn't another word for it, and like Kipling and myself; I don't consider it an totally bad word. RK puts it better.
This past summer, I observed a U.S. Army Special Forces exercise in
Africa that represented the quintessence of imperialism as it has been
practiced throughout history and yet which no modern liberal could
oppose. Almost 200 Green Berets fanned out across the Sahara to train
with soldiers from nine North and West African countries. It was part
of a broad effort to professionalize the troops of fledgling
democracies, assist them in hunting down Islamic terrorists in unruly
borderlands, and deal with future humanitarian catastrophes like Darfur.
I watched as one captain, one warrant officer and nine sergeants worked
and lived with an Algerian Special Forces company on an equal basis,
eating each other's food, shooting each other's weapons, and trying
out each other's field techniques.
In those contries, the SOF guys are the leaders of tomorrow, and you know who they are knowing America from - guys from early 20s to late 30s. That is who is the face of America in most of the world. And the Ivy League Left doesn't want to join the military? Fine, let someone else build the future. I was in my mid-20s talking with a Turkish Col. that just had a trespasser shot the day before, coordinating and exercise of hundreds while trying to make sure he didn't do anything to piss off the Greeks who were intercepting all our aircraft. Beats cold-calling on Wall Street.
To Algeria's south, in such countries as Mauritania, Mali, Niger and
Chad, the Special Forces teams weren't training with host nation
troops so much as mentoring them, owing to their rudimentary state.
For a relatively small outlay in men and expenditures, the U.S.
military has begun developing a badly needed, pan-African intervention

This is happening not just in Africa but throughout the world. U.S.
Marines have engaged a two-year modernization of the Georgian armed
forces to secure democratization following the Rose Revolution. In the
southern Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf Islamic group has been
marginalized by an Army Special Forces program that emphasized
humanitarian relief in villages where the group had been most active,
coupled with training of the Filipino army. In Colombia, President
Alvaro Uribe's military and police units are being trained by Special
Forces in the fight against narco-terrorism. In Nepal, from where I've
just returned, a U. S. Air Force medical team was training emergency
responders in the event of an earthquake.
Everyone wants 3rd World military units not to kill people wholesale or pillage the countryside. Outside of Costa Rica, everyone has a military. They can learn how to do things from the U.S. or be left to their own or the Chinese.

Here is where the Imperial part works its way in.
Such small-scale, bare-bones missions are far more indicative of how
the U.S. military actually operates across the world than is the
fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Without the experience of such
missions, many of which are humanitarian, troops in New Orleans would
not be able to perform as expertly as they have. National Guardsmen
with whom I embedded in Afghanistan are now in the Big Easy.

All of this -- not military occupations, with their attendant
proconsuls -- is what constitutes classic imperialism: by, through,
and with the "indigs," as the Special Forces phrase goes. Local
alliances and the training of indigenous troops, since time
immemorial, are what has allowed imperial powers to project their
might at minimum risk and expense. It was true of Rome even in
adjacent North Africa, to say nothing of its Near Eastern borderlands;
and it was particularly true of imperial France and Great Britain..
This is nothing new.
..the media gives almost no
coverage to the activities of the American military beyond a few
obvious places. No other correspondents of major media outlets, for
example, chose to embed anywhere in Africa during this summer's
operation, even though European Command made most of the A-teams
available to reporters. Given such editorial judgments, how can the
policy elite -- whose members have little personal contact with the
middle and lower ranks of the armed forces that staff these missions
-- be sufficiently aware of what is actually going on?
Bingo. That is a big problem. Most of the international and US MSM have no clue. They don't know what is going on because they don't leave their Baghdad hotel room, and many of their sources are other reporters babbling over a few drinks in the hotel bar. They live in a vast echo room. Even when they are there, they are so often "Stuck on Stupid." I was there at the birth of OEF and only ran into one reporter that came by my group of Sailors. You know what his interest was? "How are you integrating females?" Harumph. BTW, if you don't already, read CounterColumn, it has great examples of institutional ignorance in the MSM WRT the military. Often, quite a funny read.
Classic imperialism is not merely an option, but a tried-and-true
necessity for a better, more stable world. The danger is not that
classic imperialism will undermine our financial solvency or our
democratic values, but that it itself will be undermined by the drain
in resources caused by the necessity of continued high troop levels in
We are scaling back a lot. But not totally. From Southern Thailand to Morroco, this war isn't going anywhere soon. You know those nations aren't calling the Belgians.

While we are on the subject of RK, WSJ, Imperialism, and out great military; here is a jab at RK's book "Imperial Grunts" by
Daniel Ford.
"Forget the crap about it ain't being a culture war," says an American sergeant in Zamboanga, trying to explain why he regards the local Muslims as hostile. In "Imperial Grunts," Robert Kaplan surveys the U.S. military presence around the world. He finds brighter spots than this southern Philippine island but never a more succinct statement of the problem: In "Injun country," as the sergeant notes, you can't afford to be nonjudgmental.
Neither dot, nor feather; bearded and smelly.
One of the more surprising of Mr. Kaplan's findings is that evangelical Christianity helped to transform the military in the 1980s, rescuing the Vietnam-era Army from drugs, alcohol and alienation. That reformation, together with the character-building demands of Balkans deployments of the 1990s (more important, in his judgment, than the frontal wars against Saddam Hussein), created our "imperial grunts."

The phrase is slightly misleading--even off-putting. As a synonym for American troops, "grunt" came and mostly went with the Vietnam War, evoking the dispirited soldiery of that era. And "imperial," with its adjectival nod to "imperialism," concedes too much to those who argue that the U.S. and the world would be better served if we withdrew behind our own borders. But Mr. Kaplan intends something positive--a way of suggesting that our far-flung troops are the descendants of the cavalry, dragoons and civilian frontiersmen who fought the Indian wars of the 18th and 19th centuries. Indeed, his opening chapter is titled "Injun Country," a term that was also popular in the early days of the Vietnam War and one that soldiers use with respect.
Those nasty Christians are at it again. At least the USAF is doing all it can to get rid of them.
"We're the damn Spartans," explains Maj. Kevin Holiday of Tampa, "physical warriors with college degrees." A civil engineer with three kids, he is a National Guardsman with an attitude. "God has put me here," he tells Mr. Kaplan. "I'm a Christian. . . . You see this all around you"--the dust, deprivation and anxiety of Injun Country--"well, it's the high point of my life and of everyone else here." It's not just officers, and not only the Green Berets. Cpl. Michael Pinckney, a Marine, tells Mr. Kaplan: "I don't want to be anywhere else but Iraq. . . .This is what manhood is all about. I don't mean macho [stuff] either. I mean moral character."

If "Imperial Grunts" serves no other purpose, it is a wonderful corrective to the disenchanted troops we sometimes see on the television news or in the new TV series "Over There," or read about in the dispatches of reporters and pundits who are themselves disenchanted by the war on terror.
I would prefer to be thought of as Athenian; all cultured and covered with olive oil - but that is a subject for another day. Oh, and "Over There" ref - ungh. That thing is so horrid.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Strange new respect II: Electric Boogaloo

Don't worry, this isn't going to be a Dylan blog, but I got to see the second half of Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home last night. I don't want to sound like that goofy SNL film sort from a few years back, but MS makes the best films.

All the things I feared would happen with the documentary did not happen. There wasn't any of the "lets talk about drugs" crap. It just isn't important WRT the story through the motorcycle crash.

One of the better parts of the second half was watching
Allen Ginsberg continue to make an ass of himself, and seeing again that hatefull bucket of FOD Mario Savio show everyone what a clueless chump he was.

A scene that brought joy to my heart, watching BD piss off the crusty old Communists of The National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (NECLC) was a great scene.

But lets get to the good stuff. A great off the cuff remark about a desire that Joan Biaz would get over a slight he made towards her in London when he was in his early 20s.

You can't be wise and in love at the same time.
Especially for someone under 25, that is bold faced truth. Joan needs to get over it.

Was it just me, or listening to all the folk singers complain about BD, were you reminded of
A Mighty Wind?

If you missed the slam of the French, you missed a chance to have a desire to send a gift subscription to
Imprimis to BD. Roughly transcribed...
Reporter: Do you think your older records are better than your new one (1966)?
BD: Who asked that? (pointing to left) Him? (to another reporter) Ask him if he is an American. (waiting for response off mic) He's not? No?
Reporter: No, I am French.
BD: Well, that must explain why you think that way
MS did a real classy job. BD came off as a great individual circled by idiots, wannabees, poseurs, and leaches that wanted to use him for their own uses. BD came off as a class act. I need to get that CD.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Strange new respect

....for Bob Dylan.

I'm on another "Phibian you're going on the road..." moments this week; so posting will be not-that-often as I try to stay on the down-low. And don't make fun of my spelling or grammer, I don't have the connectivity or programs to do that, and you will just have to deal with my learning disability.

After superior performance of duties, I ran into part of of Martin Scorsese's documentary
No Direction Home about Bob Dylan. I saw about 80% of it, and lost over and hour of extra sleep because I could not stop watching it.

So much of what I thought I knew about BD was, just, wrong. I swallowed hook-line-and-sinker the counter-culture crap about how ".. he is all ours. Not only was he a leftist - but a Socialists/Communist if you knew him like we do...."

That is not what I came away with - OK, he wasn't dating Goldwater Girls in the 1960s, and he is way to the Left of where I am, but his politics isn't what makes this man what I consider, now, a perfect example of America.
He was lucid in the interview, more than anything I have seen in the last couple of decades. He was firm, clear, and humble. OK, as humble as someone like BD can/should be. He gave credit to others, and didn't make everything about him.

BD knew what he wanted to do, and he went out to do it the best he could, they way he wanted to do it. He had no problem borrowing what better people had or were doing and trying to do it better, or at least his way. When he got bored, he went another direction regarless what others said or wanted him to do.

Without comment, MS did something that kept me laughing. He let others singers, "poets," and other "counter culture" types who worked with, ran into, or claimed close association with BD make complete asses out of themselves by stating BD mythology as fact (why named Dylan), overemotionalize his songs and their meaning, or overstep the political meaning of his songs.

I will probably miss Part 2, but that might be for the better - especially if they go into the drug problems (I assume that story is out there), but even that turns out OK, as BD seems very cleaned up now. Running out of time here, go see Part 2 if you can.

Let's us end with one more note about his politics; he is a man of the Left, but he is not a Leftist. He is not owned by ideology - and you know what. He and the Communists he hung out with were right in the 1960s WRT Civil Rights. They bled and led from the front to make this nation live up to its ideals. Sure, some of them had other motives, but I believe BD was the real thing.

What opened my eyes to him, was a recording of an interview with the nasty Communist Studs Terkel(sp)(and I don't care). ST tried to make it known that "Hard Rain" was "Atomic Rain." BD cut him off VERY short. In a subtly way, he said -- "Its about a hard rain. Hard rain, that's it."

BD, I'm proud that you are an American. Well done, wish I knew you better years ago.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday Funnies

As the submarine community tries to find more justification for its share of the money pot....

I don't that as good as a nice Aussie PhotoShop?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

VDH tells me to sit down and shut up

Well, not me directly, but that is how I read it.

Last week I bit off on a good piece by a good man - and still think that there are good points to be gathered there.

One of the 100# heads out there, that is VERY big in the Salamander Pantheon, Victor Davis Hanson, takes everyone to the woodshed in Strategy, Strategy Everywhere …… but not a drop of memory.. My backside still hurts.
Even though we have failed so far to marshal the strength to crush the Sunni insurrection, Iraq is still a far better place now than it was in March 2003, as most Iraqis agree. The Middle East is a better place, whether in Palestine, Afghanistan, or Lebanon. And the position of the United States, the object of unprecedented acrimony and invective, is better off — whether we measure that as the absence of another 9/11 attack, strengthening friendships with India, Japan, Eastern Europe, and the English-speaking countries, reforming the anti-American U.N., or making some progress in North Korea.

But who is really angry at America since 2001?

Al Qaeda, of course. Saddamites, especially. Radical Islamicists no doubt.

France and Germany are also apparently unhappy: They lost plenty of oil business and loans in Iraq; they are facing the wages of not assimilating Islamic minorities in their midst; and they are fathoming that socialist and statist policies cannot be salvaged by cheap election-time anti-Americanism in an age when the United States is more eager to keep our distance from them than they us.

Historic changes are underway in Afghanistan and Iraq. While we at home squabble and point fingers, the U.S. military fortunately continues in its difficult but landmark mission — and so far, thankfully, pays us all little heed.
I would pay good money to see a debate between Nathaniel Fick and VDH, but they may agree more than not.

As for me, I am going to go back to playing with my blocks.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Is that Gene Hackman behind Sen. Kerry?

This picture has been driving me batty for the better part of a year.

That guy behind JFKerry's left shoulder, circled in red - is that Gene Hackman?

National Guard Soldiers scared of New Orleans Spooks

Well, they are California National Guardsmen.

Now, calm down. Before you pop a rivet - watch this video.
As a sidebar, if you are Catholic and have never seen a Priest in combat fatigues go through a building putting Holy Water on doorways with a cross being carried after him - now you have.
Hat tip Drudge.

Back to Brown Water IV: Peacetime leadership in wartime

Tilting against my windmill again. For review of my thoughts on Riverine Warfare, check things out here, here, and here.

Throughout my standard issue career, I have read and heard constantly about this great reserve of leaders we have that will claw their way over the weak-sister leaders we often have in peacetime and will bring glory to their service and death to the enemy.

Sometimes all I hear is this. We have seen Army and Marine – did I mention the Marines – wartime leaders come forward and do great things. The Navy I love though seems to want to focus on this more than engaging the enemy.

Another example. I have some Sailors that email me now and then, officer and enlisted alike. They are frustrated. Your Fleet Lieutenant of front-running First Class Petty Officer know what needs to be done; but their leadership is failing them. From telling Sailors who want to go to sea or volunteer for a 179-day IA in Iraq, “That might interfere with your career path. It might not look good on your board to go that length of time at this critical juncture without a competitive FITREP …. I need you here in Admin …. we don’t want our personnel volunteering for long term IA outside our community …. “ bla, bla, bla.

What is worse than all that crap I have heard come out of leaders in the last few years, is a situation when a Naval Special Warfare Group (NSWG) Commodore tells a bunch of gung-ho riverine guys that he decided to say "no" to the request from USMC to cover down on the rivers in Iraq. His explanation was that,
"...we don't do riverine warfare, we do special operations in a riverine environment."
Awwwww, come on Commodore. No one in your audience is buying what you are selling.

That is classic peacetime rice bowl, bureaucratic, mission myopia thinking that has no place in a wartime environment. When the Marines ask for something, you give it to them until you are ordered not to. That could be the problem here – a Flag says no and the Commodore does his dirty work. That is even worse if true - but we have all done things like it. If so, sorry Commodore, I owe you a beer.

People wonder what can cause
attitude and cynicism in their junior officers and sharp enlisted personnel; this is one reason. You just can't spin your story around these people. They know more, and understand more than you give them credit.

If the P-3 guys can do overhead ISR in Afghanistan and Iraq because the Marines asked, the NSW folks can afford to help the Marines out. If you need more personnel to do your work, then ask for it. We have National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers going on their third tour, yet we have qualified, ready to go USN Riverine forces ready to contribute to the fight (and still be around for their primary mission if needed) – not being activated and/or deployed - and their leaders are doing about the same thing as telling P-3 guys that they should instead spend their time planning to track an Echo II through the Mediterranean.

Make yourself unnecessary, and don’t be shocked when that Fleet keeps getting smaller and smaller as other fleets grow larger and larger.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cliffs Notes Bible

At first I was skeptical, but to be honest - I'm onboard.

The 100 Minute Bible is out and ready. Why not? If we can get more people to understand the "bold faced items" of the Bible, say, more than the French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy knows about The Holocaust, wouldn't it be all the better?
A new version of the Bible which its author says can be read in less than two hours has been launched.

The 100-Minute Bible, written as a page-turner for those who do not have the time to read the full version, was unveiled at Canterbury Cathedral.

Its author, ex-headteacher the Rev Michael Hinton said: "We have majored on Jesus, because he is the central figure in the Bible."
"I don't think most people know the Bible very well," he said.

"This is an attempt to say, 'Look, there's a great story here - let's get into it and let's not get put off by the things that are going to be the sub-plot. Let's give you the big plot'."
It took Mr Hinton more than two years to cut down the 66 books of the Bible into a version that could be read in 1hr 40min.
Len Budd, proprietor of the 100-Minute Press, said: "This is a book for adults and has been written in a style to encourage readers to keep turning the pages, but without resorting to any literary gimmicks."
Hey, I have already advertised my preference, but lets be honest - it's a tough read. People have dedicated their life trying to understand it. That puts off a lot of people - a lot of people who need it.

If you are to tell someone, "Hey give it a shot, it won't take more than three re-runs of Friends.", that is a good selling point. They can get to the meaty bits later.

Bravo Zulu Reverend Michael Hinton. Do you have it on CD?

Oh, and for my dear, lovely Bookie - here is a peak inside the Tyburn Convent in London. That would be such a waste of wonderful womanhood though; but I'm just being selfish.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"You are stuck on stupid"

I have liked General Honore from the get go. RadioBlogger has an awsome transcript that brings the good General even closer to my heart.

He. Tells. A. Reporter. At. A. Press. Conference.
"You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question."
I would love to be a fly on the wall of General Honore's staff meetings. Woe to the idiot.

Read the whole entry and transcript at RadioBlogger, but RadioBlogger has some great ideas.
I think the General just started a movement, and he may not even realize it. Every time a reporter, in any situation, starts spinning, or completely misses the point, they need to be peppered with, "Don't get stuck on stupid."

I'd pay money to see David Gregory in the White House Press Corps foaming at the mouth over something trivial Scott McClellan said, and have McClellan say, "David, you're stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that."

I'd have fallen out of my chair if John Roberts would have listened to Joe Biden ramble on, and said, "Don't get stuck on stupid, Senator."
Political Teen has the video, and you can hear it here as well. I recommend that you watch the video over and over again and thank God that you are an American. Can you see a French General doing that?

Hat tip The Corner.

Lead from the front Mr. President, you’re good at it

It has been awhile since Nathaniel Fick has graced CDR Salamander; it has been worth the wait. In an OP-ED piece from the 20 SEP 05 NYT, An Honest Victory, he brings up some great points that need to be read and discussed. In the end, you don’t have to agree with all his points, but you cannot deny the accuracy of the majority of what he says.
AUTHORITY can be delegated; responsibility cannot. President Bush's … acknowledgment (of his ultimate responsibility) was a necessary first step in rebuilding the Gulf Coast and preparing for the next disaster.

This new transparency, however, shouldn't stop with Hurricane Katrina. Consider the positive effects that would follow a similar presidential assumption of responsibility for American missteps in Iraq.

By declaring that the buck stops at his desk, President Bush could begin a top-down rethinking of our military and political strategies since the 2003 invasion. He would also establish a standard of personal accountability for everyone in the chain of command, … it just might galvanize enough bipartisan support to break the ideological gridlock that has limited changes in Iraq policy to marginal tweaks rather than a full reassessment.
Desperately needed. Absolutely. I don't completely buy the "Katrina Option" for Iraq, but the Nation needs a refocus on what we are doing in Iraq. Things are going in the right direction, but Americans do not like long wars where they tread water. Remember, Lincoln almost lost the 1864 election. Americans demand victory, and demand to be told about it from their leaders. Not spun. Informed about real progress: constantly. We do need to adjust, to what degree is best left to those who know best - and tell the people what is being adjusted and why. If the plan being used isn't right, say so and state your correction. Don't worry about the Nattering Naybobs of Negitivism - in today's world you can go direct to the American people. You did in in '04.

Juniors will put themselves in danger (physical or professional) if they see their leaders do the same. Trust me, Flag Officers and senior civilians can be as weak kneed as the rest of us; though before the Flag Officers start stepping forward, more civilian leadership would need to follow the President’s lead.
The fate of Gen. Eric Shinseki, the former Army chief of staff who fell into disfavor with the White House after telling Congress in 2003 that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, has cast a long shadow across the officer corps.
Shinseki didn’t help himself when it became known that the Hawaii Democratic deligation was grooming him for “greater things.” That and the whole beret thingy.
The tradition of providing apolitical advice based on sound military judgment is predicated on the willingness of civilian leaders to consider unpopular counsel, something this administration has been unwilling to do.
Not altogether true, but there are a lot of professional “yes men” in the Puzzle Palace. A lot of great officers do give their opinions at odds with the civilian leadership – but when everyone steps out the door – everyone supports the mission 100% as directed. I have followed orders and promoted policy I had minutes ago totally disagreed with …. but being legal and of opinion, I did what I was told. No shame in that. Hey, sometimes you are wrong.
As things stand, American citizens - and the military - have been offered a false choice between "staying the course" in Iraq and precipitous withdrawal. The historian James Chace compared the former to a sailor who, having been blown off course in a storm, continues to sail straight ahead, but in the wrong direction.

Cutting and running, on the other hand, isn't a strategy. A hasty exit would give us anarchy, civil war and maybe revenge killing on a scale unseen since Rwanda. That withdrawal is frequently advanced as the "humanitarian" option is appalling. There must be a third way.
But what 3rd Way? You don’t get 2nd chances with 3rd Ways. Better make sure you pick something better than what you got. I don't think you go out and say "Everything is screwed up..." either. That isn't true. Most has gone right, but there is room for improvement.
Envision this: In a primetime address like last Thursday's, President Bush focuses the power of his office on Iraq. … He speaks honestly, acknowledges the administration's mistakes, accepts responsibility for them and explains why creating a stable Iraq is in America's national interest. Then, and this is the key, he announces a reassessment of American strategy spanning from the roles of the commander in chief to the lowliest private.

... there are leaders in the military who understand counterinsurgency warfare. Conventional armies have been fighting guerrillas since ancient times, and this history offers countless cautionary examples, from Masada to Malaya. The nearest thing to a universal maxim is that counterinsurgents who fail to see their mistakes and to adapt on the fly are doomed to lose.
Don’t forget about popular will to fight. Mr. President, look at the poll numbers. You cannot ignore them. Good things are happening in Iraq, and your military is doing great things as well. Don’t blow this. We have bought this with a lot of blood and treasure. You had better get ahead of the game, as we approach 2,000 dead, the ghouls are already getting ready to gibbet our dead.
There's no shortage of good alternatives waiting in the wings. One that has recently garnered much attention is the military historian Andrew Krepinevich's "oil spot" strategy, which involves shifting the focus from killing insurgents to protecting civilians by pouring money and manpower into protected cantons where average Iraqis can see the tangible advantages of our system over Al Qaeda's.
Similar to the strategy the USMC started with in Vietnam that General Westmoreland hated…but it worked. The Marines have been at this for some time.
The particulars of whatever strategy we decide to go with are, at this point, secondary. First, commitment to change must be made, and quickly. … Each week's delay in Iraq costs about a dozen Americans dead, a hundred wounded and a billion dollars down the drain, plus vast harm to American prestige and the Iraqis themselves.

President Bush has the power to change the United States' prospects in Iraq. But doing so requires the courage to admit errors, and the willingness to embrace good ideas. A break with the past can be Hurricane Katrina's positive legacy.
Again, you don’t have to agree with Nathaniel Fick. You may think his examples are all or a little full-of-bunk; but what you can’t say is the core of his argument is wrong. We can do better. It isn’t all the MSM’s fault. Americans need their President to lead them through the home stretch.

Like one of my favorite professionals said:
”We can still lose this war.”
(Patton, during the Battle of the Bulge, December, 1944)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Not your father's Stars and Stripes

Now and then, it pays to read old papers lying around in waiting rooms. Look what is on the front page.


Sooooo, if you are on active duty your major areas of interest are "Morning After Pills" and medical ganja. Whodathunk?

Monday, September 19, 2005

International Herald Tribune - NYT of Europe

Mrs. Salamander once described the IHT as, "That Liberal Rag," and so it is. Aping its mother's (NYT owns it) bad habits, the paper's bias seep out of the editorial page and onto the front page on a regular basis.

The 19 SEP copy is a perfect example. Above the fold Katrin Bennfold blathers on about the German election. Remember, the CDU received ~1% more than the SDP, but who are the first three people Katrin interviews?
"It was more a question of voting against someone, rather than in favor of anyone," said Antje Busknowitz, 32, an art historian on maternity leave.

"It was more a question of voting against someone, rather than in favor of anyone," said Antje Busknowitz, 32, an art historian on maternity leave.

She chose Gerhard Schröder, the Social Democrat chancellor. Steffen Patz, her partner and father of their 10-month-old daughter, said he spent 15 minutes in the voting booth before choosing the Greens, Schröder's coalition partners of the past seven years.

"The problem is that there are now so few differences between the big parties that the result won't really change very much," said Patz, 34, a computer specialist who grew up in the former East Germany.
"I never cared about politics but this time I really felt I have to go vote - there is too much at stake," said David Mehlhorn, a 27-year-old unemployed musician who had never voted before in any election. He chose the extreme Left Party which broke with Schröder's Social Democrats to fight this election.
Those are the three that represent the German electorate? They maybe represent Katrin's poetry appreciation group, but not Germany. A Socialist, an Earth-Firster, and a Communist. Nice Katrin. It is almost as if there isn't a soul that voted to the right of centerline. She does find one Merkel voter, but only for feminist reasons.
Margit Duppre, a 56-year-old who owns a high-technology company with her husband, by contrast allowed her support of a woman becoming chancellor to sway her for Merkel.

"That was one big reason to vote for her," she said.
IHT, your mom must be so proud. You make her look quite "Fair and Balanced."
UPDATE:If you want to read something worthwhile about the German elections and what they mean to the U.S., read John Fund's
Der Stillstand
. Here is a taste.
The late economist Mancur Olson argued that the downfall of democracy would be its tendency to calcify into special-interest gridlock. Germany's extensive welfare state has created millions of voters who fear the loss of any benefits. Combine that with voters in eastern Germany who cling to outmoded notions of state support and you have an formidable challenge to bring about real reform.

"The lesson for America is do not go down the road as far as Germany has," says Horst Schakat, a German who created a series of successful businesses in California for 30 years but retired to his native land in 2001. "You may find yourself unable to go down a different but correct path once too many people have become dependent on the state."

Germany balks

Follow the links at Instapundit for some solid review.

Chaos in Germany, Frenchmen running for the airport.

Seriously. Look at these two posters, this guy couldn't get elected dogcatcher in the U.S.

Compare that to the happy FDP guy. Couldn't find one of Merkel, the German Moonbats ripped down or defaced them all. Nice to see Leftists have a universal quality all their own.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday Funnies

One of those weeks. Port or starboard, guess which Ikea man I was?
UDATE: Don't read the comments until you try to answer the question I have for you following a tip from Kevin - The Safety Pro of the week. A FLOC is on the way.

Here is the question: What safety violation is going on with Ikea man? Who signed this Sailor's PQS?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

What is a legal order?

Just for review: let’s look at the officer’s oath.
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, so help me God.
Think about it. Parse it.

Words mean things. As an officer, they are sometimes the only thing. They define you, your career, your honor. One word forgotten. One word misplaced. One word ignored. That is all it takes to change a life. Take a life. Save a life.

A bunch of “words” strung together and misplaced make up the thin line that separates an officer in the U.S. military from an officer in some 3rd World country.

Watch this video and remember: these are our contemporaries. This is the United States. For those that don’t have broadband, here is a quote to chew on.
National Guard troops going house-to-house, smashing down doors, searching for residents, and confiscating guns. Every victim of disarmament was clearly not a thug or looter, but a decent resident wanting to defend his or her home.

Many of the troops were clearly conflicted by their orders. "It is surreal," said one member of the Oklahoma National Guard who was going door-to-door in New Orleans. "You never expect to do this in your own country."

Many never would have expected it -- confiscating firearms from decent people who were relying on those firearms to protect themselves from the looters.
Conflicted by their orders. “I was just following orders.” Where do you draw the line? When do you call the JAG? Do you care?

Do words mean anything? Are we a nation of laws, or a nation of men?

Does an enemy of a written document always have an army behind him? Does he always carry a bomb? Does he have to fly a plane into a building?

Could that enemy, perhaps, just be a government official who in a time of crisis ignores the foundation of all that justifies the very uniform you wear?

When do you take the chance to say, “No.”

Think about it. You could be next.

Illegal order.

What price tag does your honor have? Which part of The Constitution has the smallest price tag? What
official could make you forget that oath?

What are you willing to order your men to do?

When do you shut down a prayer service at the point of a gun?

When do you destroy the computers and internet connections of a member of the press at the point of a gun?

When do you fire on an unarmed crowd protesting in a public place?

When do you break up a political gathering at the point of a gun?

When do you force your way into a peaceful citizen’s house at gunpoint and take away their legally owned firearms?

When do you do everything, just because you are following orders, at the point of a gun?

In America. Against Americans. At the point of a gun.

Again, what price your honor? What price your oath? What price your

Friday, September 16, 2005

Time to play Bullshit Bingo

One of my “deep select” Department Heads, LCDR Rotorhead, sent along a perfect example of the flip-side of “Dazzle them with brilliance.”

Behold some low-lights from the SEP 05 edition of All Hands; page 6.
To identify the skills needed to operate the ship, Human Capital Objects (HCO), a detailed description that identifies all work, including watches and collateral duties.

LCS is the first ship on which manning and training requirements were determined based on the development of HCOs, leveraging the significant work accomplished in Job/Task Analysis and skills-based assessment,” said CSCS Commanding Officer CAPT Rick Easton.
Ungh. Really, the first time? No one ever thought of manning a ship based on what skills were needed to fight (notice I didn’t say operate. You operate a sewing machine. You fight a ship.) a U.S. Navy ship? Whoever came up with this idea must make Admirals Nelson, Nimtz, Halsey, and Zumwalt seem like a brain damaged ABH (not that there is anything wrong with a non-brain damaged ABH).

Ungh, again. Not to give my “alter-ego real-self” away, but I was close to the birth of the “Human Capital Strategy” (HCS). One of the things my little O5 self mentioned in a room full of O6-O8s (not that anyone heard) was that we need to make sure we don’t “Total Quality Leadership” (TQL) the HCS program. If we just turn it into a buzz word FITREP filler, it will have as little credibility on the deckplates as TQL did. Well, since the big push last winter, I am afraid that TQL …. I mean HCS is just turning into the worst of Beltwayistic Potomac Flotillatism.

Oh wait, it gets worse.
“Today you have a billet on a ship that’s ascribed to an engineman 2nd class. That means you have a stovepipe you can only put an enginemen in that billet who does enginemen type work based on occupational standards and things of that nature,” explained CNE 5-Vector Model Manager Roy Hoyt. “When you want to build a hybrid Sailor, what you’re doing now is mixing and matching the flavor of work contained within that billet that becomes your HCO.”

As a result, some of the LCS work requirements such as some scheduled maintenance and repairs are being moved ashore. Regardless of rating, the added skills will be reflected in the Sailor’s 5-Vector Model.

“Sailors on this Littoral Combat Ship are going to attain various certifications, qualifications, knowledge, skills and abilities that will be resident on their 5-Vector Model, so that in the future when they want to move to another HCO that is created, they can compare their resume against that position and in many cases may fit better than their contemporaries,” he said.
Roy is really into job security. Hybrid Sailor. Did I just read that? Like that is anything new. Almost every Sailor I have served with has been a “Hybrid Sailor.” There is a lot of good in the 5VM, but they are saddling it with such BS, Navy FITREP speak and hyperbole that outside their self-licking-ice-cream-cone world – they are loosing every enlisted person below Senior Chief and every officer below CDR.

Don’t even get me started, again, with the term Littoral Combat Ship (AKA Frigate or Corvette). Like these beltway bandits are the first Navy types in history to want to fight in shallow water close to shore. Everyone is saddling this program with their pet projects, and you know what I do not see a focus on in the public press WRT the new Corvette (AKA LCS)? Warfighting. Counterfire on the 155mm battery that snuck up on you while you are dropping off SOF forces or looking for terrorists in go-fasts. Quick response to a grounded SSK. AAW on a flight of attack helicopters engaging forces ashore. Damage control and fighting hurt when hit by any of the above.

That is what we need to read more about. Keep going like we are folks, and we are going to wind up like the Royal Navy, more Admirals than warships…..or are we already there yet?

This reminds me so much of a bunch of teenagers who think they are the first ones to discover sex.

Michael Yon interview - More PODcasting

Via LGF and BareKnucklePolitics, a great interview by Shawn Wasson with one of my favorite primary sources, Michael Yon.

He gives a good perspective from a civilian point of view on the war, morale, and media/reporters in country.

A MUST LISTEN FOR THE WEEKEND....and no, you don't need a iPOD to listen.

NB: If, like me, you use FireFox, the BareKnucklePolitics podcast link won't work real well. Make sure and open with Internet Explorer.

Un-American, misogynistic, sexually stunted putz of an organization

More from the "you can't make this stuff up" file.

Do you want your daughter to grow up in this type of culture? Date someone this insecure? Live in this fetid soup of medievalism?

I am sorry; I am intolerant of the intolerant.

The German-American Bund ...errrr there I go again ... I mean C.A.I.R. (sic) is picking up the bad habits of their Wahabi sugardaddies.

Those who have been to Saudi Arabia have seen this before. In a Stalinist bent, they have done a crappy job photoshopping women into hijabs.

Go to Robert Spencer's site to get the "on the page - off the page" blow-by-blow and to get the "You can't hide from yourself" Google-cache of their website postings.

Anyone who treats this organization as anything but the un-American organization it is should be shunned. You know that if Pat Robinson's organization has photoshopped some pants on someone; it would be on the front page of the NYT.

Here is a little sample. If you are good at "Where's Osama," you'll be good at this.

Undoctored photo.

Post-Islamofascist crayons. Three women have been placed in sub-human submission. Can you spot them?

Here is a close up of the worst of the piss poor photoshopping.

Hat tip
The Jawa Report.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Allies in time of war: a sticky wicket

NATO. War. France. Germany. European Allies.

The theory of "proper warfighting" was thrown around a lot in last year’s election. There are some uncomfortable facts that go along with these things in the world of real conflict that we live in, and they point out the very real dangers when you reach a point you can’t/won’t go it alone.

Of course, less than reliable allies and difficult allied cooperation is nothing new. Just look at what (then) General Eisenhower went through in WWII.

Though you wouldn’t know it if you relied on news from Fox to CBS, our NATO and non-NATO allies have been with us to a great degree in Afghanistan for a very long time – not just peacekeeping ops, but real live fighting and dying - especially the SOF community. Kiwi to Danes, they have been there with us. Right now, NATO has responsibility for the northern 40% or so of AF, and the plan is to give them more. The further south and east you go in AF, the more danger there is. As we ask for our friends to take a larger stake and risk, the grey area many have been operating is shrinking.

In general, many of the weak-sisters like Spain balked already when the running got rough in Iraq, but Spain is still with us in AF. Different war, different reasons, different threat. Smaller powers love the big powers just so much. As per their history and local political realities, especially in Europe, we are going to see a lot of balking soon if we ask them to do more than the low level things they have been doing.

It is their right. Nations have to be concerned with what they see as their interests. Two articles have come out in the last 36 hrs that will let you peak under the curtain of the touchy world of coalition warfare; a knot of individual caveats, military capabilities, national will, and political posturing. Europeans balking at new Afghan role and Rumsfeld says NATO should take much bigger role in Afghanistan this year are a set of “must reads” for you POLMIL guys.

Let’s peak around.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday he expects the NATO alliance to expand its military contribution greatly in Afghanistan by summer and eventually take over the entire operation except for the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
More than 11,000 U.S. troops still are in Afghanistan, and NATO has about 8,000 providing security mainly in the capital, Kabul. NATO is not involved in combat operations in Afghanistan.
There's the rub. Combat operations. It is one thing to run a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), is an altogether different thing to head up into the mountains for sustained combat operations. That costs much more in both blood and treasure, and even if they had the treasure - few have the military to do anything on the level that we do. Not their fault altogether. Remember, a place like The Netherlands is roughly the size of New Jersey. It would be nice if they spent more as a % of GDP on their military so there was more "there there," (HARK-Canada, yes I said CANADA is doing that), but often you have to go to war with the allies you have, not the allies you wish you had.
NATO’s new secretary-general, the former Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said he had heard “positive indications” from an unspecified number of defense ministers about offering troops or other support for additional civil-military aid teams designed to help get Afghanistan back on its feet.

Rumsfeld said “a number of countries stepped forward volunteering to lead or to participate” in such teams. He did not name any countries. Other officials said they may be Britain, Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and non-NATO member Sweden.
Yes. Sweden is there. Good folks the Swedes. Remember, we owe them all that massed musketry Europeans were once so fond of.
Although Rumsfeld emphasized that the 20,000 American troops would continue to handle the counterinsurgency mission "for a time," he said NATO should consider deploying troops to Afghanistan's eastern border region, where much of the fighting is occurring.

He added, "Over time, it would be nice if NATO developed counterterrorism capabilities, which don't exist at the present time."

The Pentagon would like to draw down the presence of American troops, who have come under increasing attack from insurgents since the spring.

Germany's defense minister, Peter Struck, said on German radio and television that merging NATO's peacekeeping mission with the American combat operation would fundamentally change NATO's role in Afghanistan and "would make the situation for our soldiers doubly dangerous and worsen the current climate in Afghanistan."

Britain, too, is reluctant to merge the two missions. John Reid, the British defense secretary, supported a "synergy" in which the missions would complement each other. A British defense official said the real issue was "about NATO's long-term role and how it can adapt to the needs of the 21st century and the new threats."

France, which has special forces soldiers working alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said Tuesday that it opposed merging the two missions.

A French Defense Ministry official, who like the British official insisted on anonymity because of the delicacy of the discussions, said "the two missions were completely different."

He added: "If you suddenly merge special forces or heavy counterterrorism units with stabilizing forces, which is NATO's role in Afghanistan, then you completely undermine NATO's role."

NATO took command of the International Security Assistance Force in August 2003, the first time that the U.S.-led military alliance took on a mission away from its traditional base of Europe. Its primary role has been to maintain security, expand the authority of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan outside the capital of Kabul and assist in the reconstruction of the country.

Meanwhile, American troops have maintained a separate operation with 20,000 troops aimed mainly at defeating Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents, chiefly in the south and east of the country.

That is where a lot of staff work remains to be done. Try to keep the PRT and major combat arms folks' missions separate enough. This is a political problem. As far are Germany goes, things one way or another will get better after the 18th.

AF is a success story, a fragile success story, but a success story as it is. When you look what the British went through with their multiple Anglo-Afghan Wars and the old Soviet Empire's experience....I think we are doing just fine.

Keep an eye on this over the summer. NATO is growing up in Afghanistan. Let’s see how it works out. Scott has a more sober view than mine, and is well worth reading.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Open up your calendar today at 1900 EST

This looks like a rare treat. Two rough and tumble Brits Christopher Hitchens will debate George Galloway in New York today at 1900 EST.

You can hear it here.

Hat tip VodkaPundit.

Nice shot Amir, you have about 10 minutes to live

There are few things in life better than a nice, tight OODA loop. I wish the video was of better quality, but here is the UAV video of the below timeline.
5 Sept 0458 60mm mortar fired at Balad Airbase
5 Sept 0459 Point of origin from mortar attack is determined
5 Sept 0500 Joint Tactical Air Controller contacted for UAV support
5 Sept 0502 Runner joins four others near to house, hot mortar tube visible
5 Sept 0508 Hellfire missile fired.

A U.S. Air Force unmanned aerial vehicle "Predator" responds to a strike at Balad Air Base using a Hellfire missile. The missile firing targeted terrorists responsible for firing a 60mm mortar at the base. The footage is from one of two strikes which took place the morning of Sept. 5. The 42nd Infantry Division requested the support of the Joint Tactical Air Controller and directed the Predator to the mortar attack’s point of origin. The Predator then followed a terrorist from the mortar’s point of origin as he ran toward a house. Four other suspected terrorists are also visible in the video. The video from the Predator and the following timeline outline these specific events: 5 Sept 0458 60mm mortar fired at Balad Airbase 5 Sept 0459 Point of origin from mortar attack is determined 5 Sept 0500 Joint Tactical Air Controller contacted for UAV support 5 Sept 0502 Runner joins four others near to house, hot mortar tube visible 5 Sept 0508 Hellfire missile fired. Video from Multi-National Force Iraq Public Affairs.
The great advantage we today is the long-dwell ISR capability of our UAVs; and the ability of some of them to bite as well.

One critique, the Fighter Mafia is not going to cough up the $$$$ to expand more, and those who fly and lead UAV teams are not getting the selection board love that they need. I only know anecdotal USAF data, but I do know the Navy side of the house. Even in this day and age, the Navy UAV world is in many respects the “Land of Misfit Toys” from VC-6 or the BAMS/UAV program. Those on the road to Operational Command or the “Flag track” are not going there. Shame. But you know what, they are getting the job done, and done well. There is a lesson there; if you think about it.

Hat tip Blackfive. As a sidenote, great still and video resource at DVID.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

There is hope for the future

When you hear something start, "The 13 year old daughter of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain....," generally you don't expect to hear the greatnest news to follow.

Tragedy TV is full of such nightmares, but ..... here are a few quotes from the young Cobain. In the interview with 7th grader Francis Cobain in Teen Vogue (yes, Teen Vogue - I doubt you will see that linked here again).
"I don't want to be titled as Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's daughter. I want to be thought of as Frances Cobain."

"I don't like to look sloppy. I'm a girly-girl." ... "My favorite color is light pink. I also like baby blue because it brings out my eyes." And she doesn't particularly go for her mother's grunge attitude either. "I prefer when she's more classy starlet," she goes on. "I don't really like her hard-metal stuff, or when she doesn't brush her hair."

"She (her Mom) tells me to 'live free and be free, but listen to other people's advice'," she says. "I listen, but I don't always follow it."
We'll see how she makes it to 25, but it looks like she is off to a good start. I'll throw a picture of her in as well, she looks like a standard issue, well grounded kid. Good luck, young lady.

Europeans need schooling about storms

As the more reasoned reports come out of New Orleans, it is a good time to review some of the more-than-usual election time jackassary coming out of Europe.

The European left is compounding their ignorance of our Federal System with a very un-European ignorance of geography.

Make sure and read the whole thing at DowneastBlog and Davids Medienkritik: but below is a nice example quote from soon-to-be-ex-Chancellor Schroeder, and a superb “get a clue graphic.”
That we are well advised to take a close look when it comes to the question of how much state we need and how much we don’t need. Because when I take a look at, how we, on the other side, surmounted such national catastrophes, then there are indeed noticeable differences. And I contend that this also is connected to the specific manner and way, as we say, for such situations, for people who are in urgent need, we need not a weak state but a strong state."
Storms? Floods? Your little floods? Europeans have no concept of the scale of weather in the U.S. and/or the power of a CAT5 hurricane. Chancellor, how would Germany deal with this?

Simply no concept. Don't give me this "harsh winter" crap either. North Dakota. "Bad winter storms"? Nor'easters in New England. Tornados....oh that's right, you have NOTHING like tornado alley. Ummmm. Anything else? Heavy rain flooding? Mississippi valley-California-etc-etc....anything else Herr Chancellor? Mmmmmm? I didn't think so. Sit down and shut up you history-left-behind Socialist.

Oh, and who here besides me shivers at a German Chancellor talking about why Germans need a strong state? Right now there are French people running to the nearest airport; he should stop saying such things.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Some things are just plain wrong

Where can you find a mix of anti-military pigheadedness (not you John), gay-pride (again, not you John), and mindless schadenfreudish inter-service rivalry?

Over at Argghhh!!! of course.

Follow the links here and here to get the full background.

The scupper empties at this.

UPDATE: BillT ... methinks you like this whole concept too much. Warrants .... I bet you had a poster of this guy inside your shower door.

Task Force Katrina

Time for a quick update on what your Navy is doing to support operations in the Gulf region.

Right now, 147 ships in the Navy are underway worldwide, 52 percent of the Fleet. 102 are on deployment around the globe, 19 are part of TFK. That leaves just 21 for training, workups or other dogs-and-cats. The Old Salts can appreciate that OPTEMPO. The 19 in TFK.
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) - Gulf of Mexico
USS Bataan (LHD 5) - Gulf of Mexico.
USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) - New Orleans, La.
USS Shreveport (LPD 12) - New Orleans, La.
USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) - Gulf of Mexico
USS Tortuga (LSD 46) - New Orleans, La.
USS Grapple (ARS 53) - Gulf of Mexico
USS Swift (HSV 2) - Gulf of Mexico
USS Devastator (MCM 6) - Gulf of Mexico
USS Scout (MCM 8) - Gulf of Mexico
USS Gladiator (MCM 11) - Gulf of Mexico
USS Falcon (MHC 59) - Gulf of Mexico
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) - New Orleans, La.
USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) - Gulf of Mexico
USNS Algol (T-AKR 287) - Gulf of Mexico
USNS Bellatrix (T-AKR 288) - Gulf of Mexico
USNS Pollux (T-AKR 290) - New Orleans, La.
USNS Altair (T-AKR 291) - New Orleans, La.
USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304) - Gulf of Mexico
There are some great sources out there to find out what the Navy, and the DoD overall is doing. Both sites have some great photos as well; from LCACs coming ashore, folks getting Navy chow, to a nice perspective of the bulk of the Hospital Ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20).

In your post-911 reflections, remember that the military is good at things beyond “breaking things and killing people.” Food, medical care, water. Did I mention clear, clean, non-JP5 infused water? If you have ever been looking around and there is nothing but non-potable water, you know there is nothing more precious … and no one can make more water than the Navy.

NB: Good interview with SecDef here. Stop by EagleSpeak for some great work covering the Navy’s contributions. More great photos and reporting by Eagle1.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

NYC to build Mosque at WTC site

OK, I made that up, but stick with me on this.

If I was to tell you that on the site of the crash of Flight 93 they were going to build a memorial in the shape of the Islamic Star and Crescent, would you tell me that I should have gone to Would you tell me that I get my news from ScrappleFace and TheOnion?

Well, what do you see here?

That my friends, is the memorial planned for the site. Notice the imagery? They even got the star position right position relative to the crescent moon. You know, the same one as the Ottoman Empire, Pakistan, Tunisia, etc – etc – etc?? The balance of Islamofascists organizations use this Islamic symbol as well. Is this not known by, well, EVERYONE SINCE 9/11!!!
Four years after United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a reclaimed strip mine near Shanksville, Somerset County, on Sept. 11, 2001, the design that will serve as the national memorial was unveiled here yesterday in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hall of Flags.

"Crescent of Embrace" will feature a Tower of Voices, containing 40 wind chimes -- one for each passenger and crew member who died -- and two stands of red maple trees that will line a walkway caressing the natural bowl shape of the land. Forty separate groves of red and sugar maples will be planted behind the crescent, and a black slate wall will mark the edge of the crash site, where the remains of those who died now rest.
This is complete madness. Like a lot of these things it boils down to one or two things:

1. The designers, politicians, and judges are completely ignorant rubes who were not homeschooled by Anne and therefore have no knowledge of history, symbols and propriety.

2. The designers knew exactly what they were doing and the politicians, judges and citizens are so paralyzed by political correctness and afraid of being called nasty names that they cannot and will not stop this affront to decency.

I don’t buy #1. Say what you want about the designer’s politics, but they are not ignorant and uneducated. My next travel claim is on #2.

Let’s take this another step.

Why don’t the Germans take their holocaust memorial in Berlin; and instead of the sublime wave form they have now, why don’t they just have a big swastika? The Germans are good at it, including trees, why not? Remember the trees?

Hey, let’s not pick on the Germans. We have our own memorial. Why don’t we just make this little adjustment to ours? Here, I won’t even charge for the design work.

If this thing sounds like some woolly-headed Liberal’s idea, well go no further than the head of the architectural firm that won the competition, Paul Murdoch.

“A primary task of this generation is to create new patterns of development that sustain human habitation on this planet. Towards this end, the principles adopted for our practice are intended to ensure that each project contributes to an overall goal of environmental responsibility while striving for design excellence.

As architects, we are uniquely qualified to help formulate and translate policy into tangible form; mitigating pressures of urbanity with the need to heal the natural environment. Each design solution is seen as a contribution to the human condition; as it exists today and evolves into future generations.

Our goal is to define and study problems both in terms of clients’ direct needs and relative to long term effects on natural and man made surroundings. More than problem solving however, we aspire to emotionally affect and uplift our lives through poetry and beauty.

It is through these transcendent qualities that we optimistically strive for ways to enrich life and fulfill our original purpose for engaging in the practice of architecture.”
That speaks for itself….but as Momma Salamander would say: gobbledygook.

Shame to all involved in this. And yes, I mean the family members that signed off KNOWINGLY on this as well. No one is immune to criticism. Not the President, not Miss Piggy – no one.

BTW, if you want to learn more about the winner of the monument competition, read the comments from the hat tip to LGF.

For those who need more visual aids about the Flight 93 memorial, go here, here, and here.
UPDATE: Required reading for more info at CAPT Ed, Ace, and Michelle.
UPDATE II: Electric Boogaloo
: One thing I will give the (majority I am sure) good people that designed and worked on the execution side of the design; it is beautiful and striking. I encourage everyone to go here and see for yourself (I recommend the Slide Show).

But.....we all need to go back to Vince Lombardi on this - fundamentals here people, fundamentals. The base foundation concept for this is fatally flawed; therefore the whole project is tainted and ruined. I really don't like to go back to Nazi symbology, but the swastikahas a long history with Indo-European and Siberian-American peoples - past recorded history. You can make the most beautiful, well designed, superbly sublime and breathtaking memorial ever created, but in the 21st Century if it is shaped like a swastika the meaning and art is going to be lost. Sump'n to think about.