Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Books of 2005

I love books. Just wanna get naked and roll in them. I think I will start something new this year's end. A short opinion on the books I finished this year.

One Bullet Away: Nathanie Fick's recounting of his experience as a Marine Officer from OCS in the late 90s to finishing up with the fall of Baghdad. I cannot tell or explain better than to just say, buy this book. I dog-eared all sorts of pages to quote here, but it would itself be a novel. It is a great companion book to Generation Kill by Rolling Stone embed Evan Wright. I wrote about Nate the first month I started blogging. If you are interesting in the Gulf War, Marines, Lieutenant General Mattis, the Ivy League's disconnect, and what war is like from the perspective of the young men who do the fighting....this is on you must read list.

The Slaves of Liberty: A short and expensive book, but an absolute gem. If you decend from the slave owning plantation class of the South (as I do), or decend from American slaves, this is a book you should consider reading. Written by a decendant of slaves from Amite County, Mississippi, this is a fair, balanced, fact based account based on the records in the Amite County Courthouse in Liberty, Miss; one of the few public buildings not burned to the ground by Federal troops.

The Dream and the Nightmare: I first read about this book when deployed on the ENTERPRISE in 98/99 and National Review had an article about what the then governor of Texas was reading. If you have an interest about where, why, and how the nightmare of the welfare state that we created came from - this is a good book. It is also a good reminder what things were like prior to the reforms of '94. We are much better. It is also an insight into what kind of Presidency George W. Bush would have tried to have if 19 followers of a moon-god death-cult didn't attack us in SEP 01. Recommended.

Armageddon: The telling of WWII from a different perspective. New and interesting facts here, with some stories you don't hear from the "victor gets to write the history books" perspective. Good for the WWII buff, or someone that thinks we are waging a brutal war against terrorism. Nice cluebat.

Ripples of Battle: It's Victor Davis Hanson. Do I need to say more? Read the reviews and see for yourselves. Great for the history nut.

Longitude: Nice short book about what seems like a dull subject: why did it take so long to figure out what longitude you were at while at sea and why was it so important. Professional sailors, history types, and those who love mildly insane inventors who thrive in Anglo-Saxon cultures. Quick read with lots of, "Wow, I never thought of that.

Cod: Like Longitude, this is a short, quick read - and an exceptionally interesting read about the rise and fall of a critical building block of Western Civilization - the humble Cod. I seriously enjoyed this book, and the writer has a style I wish I had. The author has a new book out, Salt, and it is on my 2006 list.
UPDATE: As usual, Anne has me soaking with inadequacy. Her book list is out, with links to a few others. I've got to read faster.
.....oh, and Ninme too!

Hobbesian Quasi-Straussesque Neocons need Kleinian therapists

Though it is hard to hear through the almost cliché Brit-Left, spittle flecked diatribes against America in general and Neocons in particular; Dr. Richard Drayton has some important, and I think accurate, things to say - even if this does come from The Guardian.
..."full-spectrum dominance" - in which its country could "fight and win multiple, simultaneous major-theatre wars" - was a monster borne up by the high tide of techno euphoria of the 1990s. ... the "revolution in military affairs" predicted that technology would lead to easy and perpetual US dominance of the world. Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters advised on "future warfare" at the Army War College - prophesying in 1997 a coming "age of constant conflict". Thomas Barnett at the Naval War College assisted Vice-Admiral Cebrowski in developing "network-centric warfare". General John Jumper of the air force predicted a planet easily mastered from air and space. American forces would win everywhere because they enjoyed what was unashamedly called the "God's-eye" view of satellites and GPS: the "global information grid". This hegemony would be welcomed as the cutting edge of human progress. Or at worst, the military geeks candidly explained, US power would simply terrify others into submitting to the stars and stripes.

Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance - a key strategic document published in 1996 - aimed to understand how to destroy the "will to resist before, during and after battle".
Doh, he went after Ralph!
American imperial strategists invested deeply in the belief that through spreading terror they could take power. ... And technology would make it possible and beautiful.
And we forgot fundamentals along the way. Fundamentals like how to occupy a hostile nation.
The Afghanistan war of 2001 taught the wrong lessons. The US assumed this was the model of how a small, special forces-dominated campaign, using local proxies and calling in gunships or airstrikes, would sweep away opposition. But all Afghanistan showed was how an outside power could intervene in a finely balanced civil war. The one-eyed Mullah Omar's great escape on his motorbike was a warning that the God's-eye view can miss the human detail.

The problem for the US today is that Leviathan has shot his wad. Iraq revealed the hubris of the imperial geostrategy. One small nation can tie down a superpower. Air and space supremacy do not give command on the ground.
In the main, he is wrong of course. In the end, Dr. Drayton will have to write about the only way the U.S. won in Iraq was through massive expenditure of treasure, and the blood of what always counts in war; the infantry on the ground taking ground and holding it - closing with the enemy and killing him. We lost touch with that truth, but I think we are back there.

There were many voices in the last 15 years yelling "fundamentals" and "boots on the ground" (BTW, saying 'we need hundreds of thousands of troops' while knowing that number is unsustainable and being more focused on wearing European headgear snarking with your boss than reminding the Senate that they gutted the Army during the '90s doesn't count, General Shinseki. BTW General, still waiting for a Senator's funeral?), but they lost out to those who sold the next great gadget.

The battle is still being fought, which is why we have troop carriers with
titanium firemains, yet our infantry is fighting with a 40yr old, Rube Goldberg accessorized rifle firing a varmint round.

What do I think about the rest of his thoughts? This letter to the editor is about how I feel.

Friday, December 30, 2005

NSFS - What could have been - MK71, 8"

I have a feeling I may regret this, because the 16-inch fetish folks will come out of the woodwork. I don't want to argue that. Like the BBs, those could-of-would-of-should-of are better left in the grave. I would love to talk about building a Graff Spee like pocket BB or something like that.....but we have a good answer already out there - and not a PowerPoint weapon like the 155mm for the DDX. May be a fine gun, but probably good to have another option in the fleet. There is some bad gouge about the MK-71 8" that John Lehman killed. So go for some good debunking here to do your research. Also, you can download and view the entire handout page by page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 (go to 10 & 12 for you engineers, warfighters 6 & 7). OK, I will throw a bone to you BB guys out there. Ready to go old school? Fill up your pipe, crack open the single malt, and read the following declassified, Vietnam era document (click it):

To help out the non-Navy types; I scratched something out that, though not perfect, I think help tell the story to a wider audience. Let's comparison shop the common Navy guns of the last 50 years. Main gun sizes on the left and transliteration to rifle rounds the right.

---57----2.25-----------5.7mm--223/22-250--M16/Varmint gun
---76----3--------------7.6mm--30-06/308---M1 Garand/M14
--127----5-------------12.7mm--50 cal------Ma Deuce/Barrett
--203----8-------------20.3mm--20mm Cannon-M61A1
--406---16-------------40.6mm--40mm Cannon-Bofors

Though the math is inexact, the parallels are stunning and helpful to translate NSFS to the unititiated who may have some firearms experience. There is a reason Marines and warfighters like the larger caliber weapons. If you are about to put you and your men's life on the line and you find yourself outgunned in a tough spot, how do you want backing you up? A guy with a varmint gun (LCS), a guy with a deer rifle (FF/FFG), a 50 cal (DDG/CG), a F/A-18 with a 20mm cannon (MK-71), or an AC-130 (16-in).

Size matters, discuss.
UPDATE: Head on over to the Bowramp for a bit of history about NSFS, the Inshore Fire Ship like the USS Carronade (IFS-1) from Vietnam.

I am a huge believer in diversity; diversity in your fleet. 40 years ago we had a small, inexpensive, (what a great LCDR Command! That is how you grow leaders BTW) ship that could put 250 rounds a minute ashore. Imagine an updated version using off-the-shelf technology. Perchance to dream...

Lieutenant Colonel Harvey: RIP

Another great man goes. Man, the Brits know how to write an Obit.
On April 9 1945, Harvey led "D" Company of the 1st Battalion, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, in an attempt to force the Santerno River, in northern Italy. The German positions on the high flood banks were very strong, and the Gurkhas went into battle in Kangaroos, hollowed-out Sherman tanks converted into troop carriers.

Captain Harvey led his men in a dash to the near bank. Many of the flame- throwers that should have provided support became bogged down and, as the leading platoons assaulted the far side, they ran into heavy machine-gun fire from the left flank and mortaring from overhead. No sooner was this position secured than the enemy put in six desperate counter-attacks. Harvey's HQ came under intense shelling, but he sent back precise reports over the wireless which enabled his CO to commit his reserve company at exactly the right moment and to turn a precarious foothold into a permanent bridgehead.

Of the 92 men who went into the attack with Harvey, 44 were killed or wounded. The citation for his MC stated that his coolness, skill and courage had been an inspiration to his men.

They Saved Farris!

Not that Ferris, this Farris - Farris Hassan. I don't know if this guy is a hero, or insane. I know one thing; he is all American. 1 generation, none of this "Speak the mother tounge at home to ensure you know where you come from..." BS. No way. As American as if his family came off the Mayflower instead of a TWA 747.
Diving headfirst into an assignment, Hassan, whose parents were born in Iraq but have lived in the United States for about 35 years, hung out at a local mosque. The teen, who says he has no religious affiliation, added that he even spent an entire night until 6 a.m. talking politics with a group of Muslim men, a level of "immersion" his teacher characterized as dangerous and irresponsible.

The next trimester his class was assigned to choose an international topic and write editorials about it, Hassan said. He chose the Iraq war and decided to practice immersion journalism there, too, though he knows his school in no way endorses his travels.

"I thought I'd go the extra mile for that, or rather, a few thousand miles," he told The Associated Press.
I do like this comment about Kuwaiti taxi drivers.
On the drive back to Kuwait City, a taxi driver almost punched him when he balked at the fee.

"In one day I probably spent like $250 on taxis," he said. "And they're so evil too, because they ripped me off, and when I wouldn't pay the ripped-off price they started threatening me. It was bad."
You have to read the whole thing. I'm hitting the rack. Oh, in case you need a reminder:
"You go to, like, the worst place in the world and things are terrible," he said. "When you go back home you have such a new appreciation for all the blessing you have there, and I'm just going to be, like, ecstatic for life."

His mother, however, sees things differently.

"I don't think I will ever leave him in the house alone again," she said. "He showed a lack of judgment."

Hassan may not mind, at least for a while. He now understands how dangerous his trip was, that he was only a whisker away from death.

His plans on his return to Florida: "Kiss the ground and hug everyone."
Michelle and Rusty are thinking similar thoughts.

Hat tip Drudge.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Teasing 1120s

Sometimes, an article comes out that just begs to be twitched in front of submariners. This is one.
(the) Cormorant, Darpa's idea for a sub-launched flying drone. (is a) 19-foot "multi-purpose unmanned aerial vehicle," or MPUAV. ... The Cormorants would be kept in the sub's ICBM launch tubes, and released into the water as needed. From there, they'd be launched into the air "using two Tomahawk missile-derived solid rocket boosters."

Upon mission completion, the turbofan engine-powered MPUAVs return to a designated retrieval point at sea, initiate engine shut down, and splash down to await recovery. During recovery, the submerged [sub] would deploy a remotely operated vehicle to secure an in-haul cable from the [sub] to the recovery tether deployed by the MPUAV. The [sub] would then haul the MPUAV to its designated launch tube [with a] saddle mechanism, where it would be docked and retracted into the missile tube.
My little nukey friends; feast. More from DARPA to chew on.
Oh, my take? This is a great "Drop LWT here." written all over it.

Why is Hollywood loosing money?

Tammy knows:
The Golden Globe nominees for 2005 Best Picture say it all. Thought to be the precursor for the Oscar, here's what Hollywood thinks is their best of the year, and consequently what they think our culture should look like:

1) A love story between two gay sheepherders (erroneously labeled 'cowboys' by the media, I suppose because they wear hats).*

2) A film portraying as noble the efforts of journalists to demonize and "take down" a US Senator whose anti-communist policies they did not like.*

3) A film about, as one movie-going reviewer noted, "...the horrors of big business and the way they are willing to experiment on the poor to achieve their goals..."*

4) The demonization of the average mid-western American man as someone who is no hero, but a cold-blooded killer at heart.*

5) And lastly, a Woody Allen film about infidelity. Well, he should know.

Liberty in Libya

Michael Totten has one of the best trip reports I have read in awhile; and its from Libya.
The capital city of Tripoli was an asteroid belt of monolithic apartment towers with all the charm of gigantic sandblasted filing cabinets. The streets were mostly empty of cars, the sidewalks empty of people. I saw no restaurants, no cafés, no clubs, no bars and no malls. Nor did I see anywhere else to hang out. Libya, so far, looked depopulated.

We drove past a shattered former government compound surrounded by a lagoon of pulverized concrete that once was a parking lot. It was obvious when that thing was built. The 1970s were the 1970s everywhere, even in Libya.
I saw no corporate advertising: no Pepsi signs, no movie posters and no cute girls flashing milk-mustache smiles for the dairy industry. I did, however, see one hysterical propaganda billboard after another. They were socialist cartoons from the Soviet era, the same kinds of living museum pieces still on display in North Korea and other wonderful places where starving proles live in glorious jackbooted paradise.
Communism/Socialism and all that crap. What a legacy to concrete....and poorly poured concrete at that. I don't think they will be opening Wheelus anytime soon, so our Air Force guys should be safe. Sounds like the liberty in Thule is better.

Read the whole thing.

UK to track every car

Every car. Every person. Every movement. One database. The mother of freedom is becoming the mother of the Uber-state.
Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.

Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.
George Orwell would be so proud. Have you hugged your Constitution today?

Sometimes totalitarianism takes over like ivy and not a tank.

It gets worse.

3-some from, well, you-know-where

What chapter of Decline and Fall is this from?
Her Majesty would not have been amused.

Neither would U.S. President George W. Bush or his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, over a Vienna-wide art project depicting them naked and engaged in a sexual act with British Queen Elizabeth II.

The work of "euroPART," an independent artists' group, the scenes being displayed on electronic billboards across the Austrian capital ... the group had received about $1.2 million (U.S.) in government subsidies.
To see the whole collection (warning-Skippy will like it a lot), and look at what the serfs...I mean taxpayers of Europe are paying for, click here. The Royal 3-some is #2.

Michael, you must be so proud - then again - the U.S. pays for things soaking in urine.

Hat tip Drudge.
UPDATE: More comment and pictures at RiehlWorldView.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Boomer looks at his cohort II: Electric Boogaloo

At least about the Boomers, it is good to know I am not alone. Again, a Baby Boomer looks at his generation and yells, "Argghhh....Gim'me Shelter!!"
Is there any club one would want less to be a member of than the so-called baby boomers, the generation of Americans born between 1946 and 1964? Their parents fought the big wars, their parents created the most prosperous nation on earth, now here come the graying spongers, bent on retiring early, living forever, and enjoying the ''good life." That means bleeding entitlement payments out of their own children, consequences be damned. Never forget the boomers' mantra: I've got mine, and the devil take the hindmost.
While we are bashing Boomers, here is a great piece in Boxing Day's WaPo by Herb Berkowitz, Baby Boomers' unhappy future. And people wonder why I save and invest like I do.
The U.S. economy speeds toward a brick wall. But instead of trying to stop or even slow the fiscal train wreck, many senior citizens want to push hard on the accelerator.

Nothing was more evident at the recent 2005 White House Conference on Aging than the palpable greed of seniors. Perhaps they see it as getting even with their Baby Boomer kids for how we aggravated them in the 1960s and '70s.

Whatever their motives, they are not very realistic. As U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, the chief federal auditor, made clear, our country can't afford existing programs for the elderly, such as Medicare. If more benefits are piled on, as many conference delegates demanded, we face economic disaster.

Terrorism Plan

Hat tip IBD.

Shadowy Islamist Virginia?

Once again, the Baron has gone out of his way, or at least off the Interstate, to dig around some about our home grown Islamists.

Too extensive to quote from; but if you live on the Eastern Seaboard and thing these folks are only in Europe, read this and think again.

Norman Polmar: LPD-17 cost is ludicrous

Its not just me. More headscratching about the ship that has drained off an ocean of money; USS San Antonio (LPD-17).
The USS San Antonio is a ship of distinctions — it's the Navy's first ship designed entirely on computer, the first with "gender-neutral" quarters, first of its class and first to bear the city's name.

But there's also a dubious distinction for the San Antonio, which is just weeks from its Texas commissioning — its price, $1.76 billion, is almost three times its projected cost a decade ago.
Originally pegged to cost about $644 million by the Government Accountability Office, the San Antonio is more expensive than the Navy's Arleigh Burke-class guided missile Aegis destroyer, which averages $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion.

"It's a troop transport with a lot more features, but it's still basically a troop and equipment transport," said naval analyst Norman Polmar, author of two reference books, "Guide to the Soviet Navy" and "Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet."

"For us to pay that much when we can buy an Aegis guided missile destroyer for (about) $1 billion, it's ludicrous," he added.
Norman is one of the 100# heads of Naval Warfare.
The inspectors, who visited the ship June 27-July 5, wrote up 107 "starred cards" given for equipment that needed to be repaired. They rated construction and craftsmanship standards as "poor." Workers left a "snarled, over-packed, poorly assembled and virtually uncorrectable electrical/electronic cable plant."

The inspectors said watertight integrity was compromised throughout the ship by multiple cable lines.
Questions about the ship remain. Padfield (ship's CO) and Galinis (ship's Program Manager) said they did not know how many starred cards remained out, and the Navy didn't provide details when pressed on the matter. Twenty-one had been cleared as of mid-summer
The ship's CO and Program Manager dont know? Bravo Sierra. Someone is either playing games, or the ship still has uniformed oversight problems. I don't know about you, but the "starred cards" would be in the Top 5 of my Department Head briefing at this stage of the game. Probably slide 3.
"I'm an optimist and I'm bullish on the design," he (Polmar) said. "I recognize it's been a troubled program and hope the troubles are behind us."
Ditto what Norm said. It will come out OK, but the cost will make it a hollow victory.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Poland the brave leads Europe - again

In the face of not so much popular support, retreating European armies from Ukraine and Bulgaria and others - Poland decides to extend its deployment to Iraq through the end of 2006.
Poland's government says it has taken the "very difficult decision" to extend its military deployment in Iraq until the end of 2006.

The new conservative government's decision reverses the previous leftist administration's plan to pull troops out in early 2006.

Poland, a staunch ally of the US, has about 1,500 troops stationed in Iraq.

It is the fifth biggest foreign contingent in Iraq, after the US, Britain, South Korea and Italy.

Americans should look closer and closer at the Poles. They are showing a spine that does honor to their traditions from King John Sobieski III to Monte Cassino.

Hat tip CAPT Ed.

MSM 2005 Hall of Shame

The Media Research Center's "Notable Quotables" for 2005 are in. If you wonder why I get an attitude and throw things at the TV; this will go a long way to explain why.

Brian Williams's spoiled Ivy League teenager question towards a great American, Enola Gay navigator "Dutch" Van Kirk, is a perfect example. What a parade of cluelessness. Look at this first, then click above for all of them.
"You just told me the story about one photograph from the war that always kind of catches you, the Japanese soldier returning to his city that’s been destroyed. Do you have remorse for what happened? How do you deal with that in your mind?"

Enola Gay navigator "Dutch" Van Kirk: "No, I do not have remorse! I pity the people who were there. I always think of it, Brian, as being, the dropping of the atom bomb was an act of war to end a war."

— Exchange as the two stood next to the plane at the Smithsonian’s new National Air and Space annex near Dulles airport, in a segment on the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, NBC Nightly News, August 5. [34]
Click here for mp3
Click here for *.rm
Click here for *.wmv

Snicker. Dutch's expression is priceless.

Church and State Christmas Present

Very good news on the Constitutional/historical sanity front.
In an astounding return to judicial interpretation of the actual text of the United States Constitution, a unanimous panel of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Tuesday issued an historic decision declaring that “the First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.”
Whatever these guys are drinking, give it to the 9th Circuit. Check out the video for a classic example of Leftist cognitive dissonance.

Hat tip SilentRunning, video via PoliticalTeen.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A reason to put smokes back in MREs

....and get rid of the Anthrax vaccine (though I don't think it will be that simple)...but to dream.
One acre of genetically engineered tobacco plants can produce enough anthrax vaccine to inoculate the entire U.S. population safely and inexpensively, a molecular biologist at the University of Central Florida said Tuesday.
Another example of why it is great to be an American.

RADM Fluckey: praising a hero before the obit

Bubblehead has an update on one of the last of The Great Ones. I'll quote the juicy parts from his CMOH citation. commanding officer of the U.S.S. Barb during her 11th war patrol along the east coast of China from 19 December 1944 to 15 February 1945. After sinking a large enemy ammunition ship and damaging additional tonnage during a running 2-hour night battle on 8 January, Comdr. Fluckey, in an exceptional feat of brilliant deduction and bold tracking on 25 January, located a concentration of more than 30 enemy ships in the lower reaches of Nankuan Chiang (Mamkwan Harbor). Fully aware that a safe retirement would necessitate an hour's run at full speed through the uncharted, mined, and rock-obstructed waters, he bravely ordered, "Battle station—torpedoes!" In a daring penetration of the heavy enemy screen, and riding in 5 fathoms (9 m) of water, he launched the Barb's last forward torpedoes at 3,000 yard (2.7 km) range. Quickly bringing the ship's stern tubes to bear, he turned loose 4 more torpedoes into the enemy, obtaining 8 direct hits on 6 of the main targets to explode a large ammunition ship and cause inestimable damage by the resultant flying shells and other pyrotechnics. Clearing the treacherous area at high speed, he brought the Barb through to safety and 4 days later sank a large Japanese freighter...
He is right; what a Navy hero.

Kids playing with their new toys

My wife told me this was a bad idea, but you know us to give them the toys we wish we had. Now I have to go to all the follow-on hospital visits.

Hat tip SOPA Lex.

In praise of Al Franken

No kidding. Say what you want about his politics; but he at least has the balls to do what so many of his fellow Hollywood Leftists won't - help the USO.
... the United Services Organisation, which has been putting on shows for the troops since the second world war, is struggling to get celebrities to sign up for even a short tour of duty ... many celebrities have been wary of going because they think it might be seen that they are endorsing the war. "And I say it's not. I tell them these men and women are over there because our country sent them, and we have the absolute necessity to try to bring them as much happiness as we can."

Fear is also a factor. "They're scared," country singer Craig Morton, who is in Iraq on the USO's Hope and Freedom Tour 2005, told USA Today. "It's understandable. It's not a safe and fun place and a lot of people don't want to take the chance."
Also on on the honor roll:
-Craig Morton
-Ted Nugent
-Robin Williams
-Henry Rollins
-Jessica Simpson
-Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders
-50 Cent

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Pope has a good sense of humor - and Christmas

Pope Benedict XVI appears to be getting into a different kind of Christmas spirit, donning a Santa-style hat for his weekly appearance at the Vatican.

At a chilly St Peter's Square, the Pope draped a red cloak over his shoulders and covered his head with a red velvet hat lined with white fur.

Vatican officials said the hat, known as a camauro, has been part of the papal wardrobe since the 12th century.

But it has not been worn in public since the death of John XXIII in 1963.
I will give the Pope credit. He does credit to the Catholic Church. He knows what he is doing. Smart guy. The right man. BZ.

Have yourself a tactical Christmas

Before Mrs. Salamander beats me over the head for spending Christmas Eve blogg'n, I wanted to leave you an interesting post from NRO by Joseph Morrison Skelly. He has an unique review of the military at Christmas. Check it out.

Merry Christmas to all.

Worst Christmas Eve Sermon - almost ever

Guess I won't be attending this Episcopal Church next time I am in NYC. ..... and I don't even want to know what Anne thinks....
The Earthly Father
What if Mary wasn't a virgin?
By Chloe Breyer

At Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of God's only son. Some believers, however, wonder if Jesus Christ is God's son only. The ancient "illegitimacy tradition" and its modern proponents propose ....
Bla, bla, bla. You can guess the rest. She really shouldn't get this lazy-Seminary pap published, but....

Notice the name? Yep this Priestess is the daughter of SCOTUS justice Stephen Breyer, Clinton appointee.

Honestly, I love a good Bible Study talk-about....but really. Couldn't this wait until July or sump'n?

Oh, wait. I see. She is plugg'n a book.
The Rev. Chloe Breyer is an Episcopal priest and mother of two. She works at St. Mary's Manhattanville in West Harlem, N.Y., and is the author of The Close: A Young Women's First Year at Seminary.
Now I see.

Hat tip: The Corner.

Friday, December 23, 2005

SW2 (DV) Stethem's terrorist killer freed

I am sure that the MilBlogs have already beaten this to death (sick pun intended), but I have seen one newspaper in the last week - and this hit me like a ton of bricks.
The German government disclosed Tuesday that it recently freed a Hezbollah member who was convicted of hijacking a TWA airliner in 1985, allowing him to return to his native Lebanon despite long-standing requests from the United States to hand him over for trial.

Mohammed Ali Hamadi, 41, walked out of a German prison on Thursday after a parole board concluded that he was eligible for early release,
Need some details, in case you've forgotten?
"When the plane was at the Beirut airport in Lebanon, Petty Officer Stethem was singled out because he was in the US military. After many hours of being cruelly beaten, tortured, and finally killed by the terrorists, they threw his body from the plane in a final disgraceful, cowardly act. The wounds were so terrible that his body had to be identified by its fingerprints.

Throughout the ordeal, Robert Stethem did not yield, and instead encouraged his fellow passengers to endure by his example. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroism and bravery. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery."
Funny thing happened after the release...
The German hostage freed in Iraq on Sunday was Susanne Osthoff, an Arabic-speaking archeologist. A German Foreign Ministry spokesman denied the two cases were linked.
"Oh, Phibian.." you say, "You are just a jaded old fart. You don't really think this was a quid pro quo, do you?" Really?
His brother, Abbas Hamadi, was arrested in Germany in 1987 and convicted the following year of helping to kidnap two German businessmen in a bid to use them as bargaining chips for Mohammed Hamadi's freedom. Abbas Hamadi was released in 1993 after serving half his sentence.

At the time, German media reported he was let go as part of a deal between the German government and Hezbollah to release two other Germans held hostage in Lebanon. German officials denied it.
Germany is not a serious partner. We should face that, again.

Though there is one DDG that would love to open some VLS cells, I don't think we would do anything that overt. If there is one thing I can find good in this is that Petty Officer Stethem' brother is a retired Chief Boatswain’s Mate and Navy SEAL - with lots of friends.

Run Hamadi, run. Run far, dig deep, hide darkly.

Admiral Clark - shame on you

This is just sad. Pathetic when you think about it. Honestly, I wouldn't have expected this.

This is why we have a problem with our weapons systems. This is why there is so little trust in the fleet that decisions are made for the right reason, and the companies that build and design our weapons systems are being held accountable.

They have barely scraped off his name from the CNO Parking Spot (he retired this summer) and he is on the board of a major contractor. Look here at Raytheon's job jar - see how much is Navy. See how many Admiral Clark had a hand in.

This could be as clean as a hound's tooth - but I don't care. This stinks to high-heaven. This is wrong; this gives the perception of corruption and undue influence. This gives the appearance, though I don't think it is, of coming from the Duke Cunningham School of Ethics. Admiral Clark has/had a great reputation; this dishonors him, IMAO.

There should be cooling off period of 5 years or something. Again, this is wrong. There is a reason retirement pay is so high for a 4-star with 37 years. This is one of them - he isn't starving.

Next time a Flag Officer voices a concern that there is skepticism in the Fleet - throw this example their way.

PS - Great to be home. This beauty was waiting for me. I need a beer.
UPDATE:Because Sid asked - using this Retirement Pay calc provided by my employer and making a few assumptions: A 4-star leaving after 37 yrs makes approx. $123,925 a year in retirement pay. Not including Social Security that he will have as well in a few more years.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I'm going to be away until Christmas. No phone, no TV, no computer - and home on Christmas Eve. All this, and a paycheck twice a month. Good luck to all for the following week, and see you after Santa!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Statements about WMD prior to attack on Iraq

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998.

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.

"Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998.

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998.

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998.

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999.
Those led up to my second combat tour - Desert Fox. Funny, those same people don't like to talk about what they said then, or after DF.

In the early parts of Internet News - below is one of the first things you saw. The Big "E" going to work. Fairly benign shot of a very violent campaign.

A good overview of the whole operation here, and a picture of the Skipper at work here. The great thing about the Navy, you can go to war dressed in a civilized manner.

Morgan Freeman speaks the truth

...Morgan Freeman thinks the whole idea of a month for black history is “ridiculous.” ... “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” Freeman asks Wallace. After noting there is no “white history month,” he says, “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history,” he tells Wallace.

The notion of a special month for black history may be hurting rather than helping efforts for racial equality, Freeman believes. When Wallace wonders whether racist attitudes may be harder to eradicate without the education that Black History Month provides, Freeman retorts: “How are we going to get rid of racism? Stop talking about it!

Freeman believes the labels “black” and “white” are an obstacle to beating racism. “I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” he says. “I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You wouldn’t say, ‘Well, I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.’ You know what I’m saying?”
I wish someone would invite him to speak at this bigoted office. Yes, I called it bigoted. I mean it.

Hat tip The Corner.

Welcome home Shipmate: RIP

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and returned to his family for burial tomorrow with full military honors.

Seaman 2nd Class Dee Hall, of Syra, Okla. He is to be buried at the Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.

Hall was one of seven crewmen aboard a U.S. Navy PBY-5 Catalina that took off from Kodiak Island, Alaska on June 14, 1942, to attack Japanese targets in Kiska Harbor, Alaska.
The whole story is here.

Leaving the Pen; taking up the Sword

An amazing, but not unusual story from the WSJ on one member of the press taking a step few do: becoming a Marine officer at 31. He is doing it for all the right reasons, and our Nation is better for it.
When people ask why I recently left The Wall Street Journal to join the Marines, I usually have a short answer. It felt like the time had come to stop reporting events and get more directly involved. But that's not the whole answer, and how I got to this point wasn't a straight line. ... Living in China for the last seven years, ... shows you what a nondemocratic country can do to its citizens. I've seen protesters tackled and beaten by plainclothes police in Tiananmen Square, and I've been videotaped by government agents while I was talking to a source. I've been arrested and forced to flush my notes down a toilet to keep the police from getting them, and I've been punched in the face in a Beijing Starbucks by a government goon who was trying to keep me from investigating a Chinese company's sale of nuclear fuel to other countries.

When you live abroad long enough, you come to understand that governments that behave this way are not the exception, but the rule. They feel alien to us, but from the viewpoint of the world's population, we are the aliens, not them. That makes you think about protecting your country no matter who you are or what you're doing. What impresses you most, when you don't have them day to day, are the institutions that distinguish the U.S.: the separation of powers, a free press, the right to vote, and a culture that values civic duty and service, to name but a few.
It is very rare.
I'm not an uncritical, rah-rah American. Living abroad has sharpened my view of what's wrong with my country, too. It's obvious that we need to reinvent ourselves in various ways, but we should also be allowed to do it from within, not according to someone else's dictates.
Everyone should live abroad if they can. Odds are, you will feel the same. He put that better than about anyone has in so few words.
But why the Marines? ... I went to lunch at the Council on Foreign Relations where I happened to meet a Marine Corps colonel who'd just come back from Iraq. He gave me a no-nonsense assessment of what was happening there, but what got to me most was his description of how the Marines behaved and how they looked after each other in a hostile world. That struck me as a metaphor for how America should be in the world at large, and it also appealed to me on a personal level. At one point I said half-jokingly that, being 31 years old, it was a shame I was too old to serve. He sat back for a second and said, "I think I've still gotcha."
Now that is a good Colonel!
The next morning I found myself roaming around the belly of the USS Intrepid, a World War II aircraft carrier museum moored a few blocks from Times Square, looking for a Marine recruiting station and thinking I'd probably lost my marbles. The officer-selection officer wasn't impressed with my age, my Chinese language abilities or the fact that I worked for one of the great newspapers of the world. His only question was, "How's your endurance?"

Well, I can sit at my desk for 12 hours straight. Fourteen if I have a bag of Reese's.

He said if I wanted a shot at this I'd have to ace the physical fitness test, where a perfect score consisted of 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches in two minutes, and a three-mile run in 18 minutes. Essentially he was telling me to pack it in and go home. After assuring him I didn't have a criminal record or any tattoos, either of which would have required yet another waiver (my age already required the first), I took an application and went back to China.
That is what the Marines are looking for first. If you are a bag-of-goo, they won't even bother.
The day before I left Thailand I decided to do my first physical training and see what happened. I started running and was winded in five minutes. The air quality in downtown Bangkok didn't help, but the biggest problem was me. I ducked into Lumpini Park in the heart of the city where I was chased around by a three-foot monitor lizard that ran faster than I did. At one point I found a playground jungle gym and managed to do half a pull-up. That's all.
In Bangkok, you probably had different problems. I'm sure Skippy could brief us all.
I got back to Beijing and started running several days a week. Along the way I met a Marine who was studying in Beijing on a fellowship and started training with him. Pretty soon I filled out the application I'd taken from New York, got letters of recommendation from old professors and mentors, and received a letter from a senior Marine officer who took a leap of faith on my behalf.

I made a quick trip back to New York in April to take a preliminary physical fitness test with the recruitment officer at the USS Intrepid. By then I could do 13 pull-ups, all my crunches, and a three-mile run along the West Side Highway in a little under 21 minutes, all in all a mediocre performance that was barely passable. When I was done, the officer told me to wipe the foam off my mouth, but I did him one better and puked all over the tarmac. He liked that a lot.
Marines love that. It shows you gave your best effort. Nathaniel Fick has a similar story need the beginning of his book I am reading, One Bullet Away.
In a way, I see the Marines as a microcosm of America at its best. Their focus isn't on weapons and tactics, but on leadership. That's the whole point of the Marines. They care about each other in good times and bad, they've always had to fight for their existence--even Harry Truman saw them as nothing more than the "Navy's police force"--and they have the strength of their traditions. Their future, like the country's, is worth fighting for. I hope to be part of the effort.
Bravo Zulu and welcome aboard 2LT Pottinger. Hope to see you in the Fleet.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Quote of the day

From Rod Dreher at The Corner:
Anyway, Brokeback Mountain might actually be a great movie, but I work such long hours and have so many responsibilities around the house that on the rare occasion when I have an opportunity to see a film, I can't work up much enthusiasm for spending that time and money watching two dudes betray their wives and children cowpokin' each other.

Give 'em the finger

Argghhh!! has a great summary of what it is really about, and more ground truth.

I like this report from the 2nd Marine Division:
In Ramadi, where only several thousand citizens took part in the October referendum, tens of thousands of voters lined the streets to vote today. Residents were seen dancing, singing, and waving the Iraqi flag. It is still too early to tell what percentage of voters in the city actually voted, but the numbers are expected to be much higher than they were during the Referendum.

In Fallujah, where an estimated 90 percent of voters participated in October’s referendum, voter turnout today was similarly high. Elsewhere in the province, in cities like Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi, voter turnout was steady throughout the day. Until a few weeks ago, this area near the Syrian border was largely under the influence of al Qaeda led insurgents, but has since been cleared in recent operations by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

NATO's pre-emptive wobble in Afghanistan

OK, we called NATO's bluff on the nasty bits of Afghanistan. Over the next year, they are to take over combat operations throughout the country. Outside the Anglosphere nations (UK, CA, US, and non-NATO AUS), there are some problems.
The size and mission of the British military force due to be sent to southern Afghanistan next year as part of Nato plans to expand its peacekeeping operations are being scaled back, the BBC has learned.

The move comes amid continuing uncertainty over the commitment of other European alliance members to the plan for Nato to take over responsibility from the US for the more dangerous south and east, the heartland of the four-year-old Taleban-led insurgency.

Last week, the Dutch government again postponed a decision on sending 1,100 troops to the volatile southern province of Uruzgan, amid domestic concerns about casualties.
This is war. People die. This isn't feelgoodism. Welcome to varsity football. The time of sun and roses up north is coming to a close. The U.S., British and Canadians cannot do all the dying.

Sigh. My dear Dutch. What happened to the men who defeated the best German Paratoopers in
The Battle for The Hague in 1940? Will it take more battles in The Hague - this time fighting your home grown Jihadi?
...the UK government is now considering sending only about 1,000 combat troops to the equally challenging province of Helmand, ... That is about half the number originally discussed.

The government may also shelve plans to deploy Apache attack helicopters to support them. ... On paper though, Nato nations remain committed to the expansion of the peacekeeping force.

Foreign ministers agreed to provide 6,000 troops for the move south at a meeting last week in Brussels, with most coming from Britain - which will lead the alliance's forces - and Canada. ... In Afghan government circles, there is some frustration at the confusion, directed especially at the Dutch.

British soldiers in Afghanistan
UK has still not resolved details of its commitment

"They agreed to go to Uruzgan a long time ago," said one official. "Didn't they realise it was dangerous?"

However, jocular remarks reportedly made by a senior Afghan official to a visiting Dutch delegation about the number of "body bags" they might need for the Uruzgan deployment didn't help, several western diplomats have told the BBC.

Politicians in The Hague have also been worried about the treatment of any detainees their troops capture and the possibility of the death penalty being used.
They are already running for the exits and the show hasn't started. The Dutch military is better than their politicians. They have done great work already in Afghanistan and are being smeared as cowards by their government.
But the expansion south - due to be completed by June next year - is not the end of the story.

NATO is then supposed to take over responsibility for eastern Afghanistan, along the border with Pakistan, an area many regard as even more dangerous.
The U.S. needs to check six as we walk out the door and hand the keys to our NATO "allies." We could loose AF again if this isn't done right. Good people are at work on this, so lets give it a month.

Iraq - What she said

This lady reminds me of my Mom. I'll let her speak for herself.

Hat tip: Political Teen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

USAF displays sanity on Raptor

Words mean things. Even simple words.

Subscription required, but in a 12 DEC speech to the U.S. Air National Guard senior leadership conference in Baltimore, USAF COS General Moseley announce the marketing BS title F/A-22A will now just be the F-22A.

Thank goodness. I have been scolded for stating that calling an airplane (Navy started it) an F/A is just a crass marketing ploy - one not worthy of a warfighter. Stinks of snake oil. Thanks General, you proved me right. A 4-star that decides he doesn't need to sell BS. Bravo Zulu!

Nay, nay, nay, nay, nay!!!

So much for gun control....

It is easier to find a good set of teeth in the UK than it is to get a gun. Funny thing happened on the way to crime free paradise.
Scotland's homicide rate for 2004-05 was the highest in almost a decade, according to newly released figures.

There were 137 victims of homicides in Scotland, 29 more than in 2003-04, and the highest annual total since 1995-96.

In almost three-quarters of the cases, the main accused was known to the victim.
So, are they going to fully focus on criminals? Don't be silly, things kill, not people.
She said that, among other measures, Strathclyde Police's Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) would be expanded to create a national "centre of excellence" to share violence prevention best practice across Scotland. ... "The knife culture must be stamped out and a growing gun culture nipped in the bud. ... "This adds weight to my view that the Police Bill needs to be tougher on knife crime.

"We should take this opportunity to bring the law on knife crime into line with the law on firearms."

First they came for the guns..... In a few more years, they will have to outlaw herring. Herring can but used to cut down the tallest tree in the forest, you know.

Iraq Ground Truth: MAJ Connable's POV

When I told people that I was getting ready to head back to Iraq for my third tour, the usual response was a frown, a somber head shake and even the occasional "I'm sorry." When I told them that I was glad to be going back, the response was awkward disbelief, a fake smile and a change of subject. The common wisdom seems to be that Iraq is an unwinnable war and a quagmire and that the only thing left to decide is how quickly we withdraw. Depending on which poll you believe, about 60 percent of Americans think it's time to pull out of Iraq.

How is it, then, that 64 percent of U.S. military officers think we will succeed if we are allowed to continue our work?
In today's Washington Post, Major Ben Connable lays out the truth about as good as anyone I have read. Everyone has an opinion; but you should listen to his very close.
... it is not a simple thing to ignore genuine optimism from mid-grade, junior and noncommissioned officers who have spent much of the past three years in Iraq.

We know the streets, the people and the insurgents far better than any armchair academic or talking head. As military professionals, we are trained to gauge the chances of success and failure, to calculate risk and reward. We have little to gain from our optimism and quite a bit to lose as we leave our families over and over again to face danger and deprivation for an increasingly unpopular cause.
...and those armchair hacks you see on TV are as thick as flees. Remember, just because someone used to be in the military doesn't mean they know beans about what is going on.
Anyone who has spent even a day in the Middle East should know that the Arab street would not thank us for abandoning Iraq. The blame for civil war would fall squarely on our shoulders. It is unlikely that the tentative experiments in democracy we have seen in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere would survive the fallout. ... Sixty-four percent of us know that we have a good shot at preventing this outcome if we are allowed to continue our mission. We quietly hope that common sense will return to the dialogue on Iraq. Although we hate leaving our families behind, many of us would rather go back to Iraq a hundred times than abandon the Iraqi people.
No MSM, political, or other agenda to spin. This is just a Major getting ready for his third tour in Iraq - while narcissists like Clarke and political sellouts like Clark complain about Limo Service on the way to another chatter-show.
We can fail only if the false imagery of quagmire takes hold and our national political will is broken. In that event, both the Iraqi people and the American troops will pay a long-term price for our shortsighted delusion.
'Nuff said.

Army has been doing the Navy's job for awhile

...and doing a great job at it.

Reader and former
Army coxswain Jim sends along some old school....LCM 8130, Boat 34, from the 1099th Medium Boat Company, 1970.

I'm not going to talk about today's Riverine ops and its future, but focus on those that came before.

Higher res here.

Want to read some more about the 1099th, click here, and there are some nice pics here and here.

I wanted to put Jim's up (Ninme - I bet he is the blonde with his shirt off) because it focued on the every day actions of the Sailors ....errr.... Soldiers, and has something you would see everyday, but wouldn't see in official histories or books - mis-matched deck chairs.

Bravo Zulu to Jim and your Shipmates. Yep, I called them that.
Note to everyone - Jim's picture didn't start that way. Color photos, unlike most black and white, do not age well. If you want your memories around - SCAN YOUR COLOR PHOTOGRAPHS and burn on a CD.
UPDATE:In the above photo, The guy on the left is PFC Joe Abston, from Kentucky. On the right is PFC Judd from parts unknown. The extra photo below is Mike 8 out of the water for a screw change, after mission to Tay Ninh. Jim adds some "slice of life."
Pretty classy ride, huh? We lived on board the boats.......six guys crammed into that hootch.
Wood frame and roof, with drop down canvas sides for the monsoons. Antenna mounted high up on easily dropped pole to clear bridges.......the same for a small hootch.
He also sends out an invite:
If any guys reading this are currently involved in waterborne operations, how about sending your stories, observations, and photos to the 1099th Medium Boat webgroup? A bunch of old River Rats would really enjoy current SITREPS from all of you youngbloods currently serving on boats.

High res here.

Remember what happened on this day?

What a great OP this was.

...and they are voting AGAIN tomorrow. How cool is that?
UPDATE:Welcome Michelle Malkin readers! Stay awhile and visit - I've got turnip-greens soup on the stove, cornbread in the oven, collards in the crock-pot, a bucket full of chicken, and ice-cold sweet tea in the 'fridge. I'll post on another Iraq anniversary on FRI, and there are plenty of other goodies on the main page.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Guess how many beans I have in my pockets

Scott may not know it, but while beating his head against the DD(X) - again - while linking to a rather silly article (I think he agrees) in The BosGlo, he tickled a thought bouncing away in my addled brain for awhile.

We all know about the Revolt of the Admirals in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and the Army Air Corps Civil War of the pre-WWII era, but could we see a Navy Civil War.

There is a distinct break between what you hear from the Potomac Flotilla in the open, and what you hear at the bar after hours and in the Fleet.

The Tiffany Navy is not going to keep the USN in the same position it is right now. Too few ships going after a growing mission set. A classic disconnect.

I know a few Admirals that are willing to fight - but for now they are too loyal and are working from inside. Where is Admiral Tom Connolly when you need him.

Read the whole thing.

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Rummy

More evidence the Iraq war is going well.

You are a Rumsfeld-bashing Dem. You just got back from a trip to Iraq. You have a chance to confront the UberNeoCon in front of the camera. What do you do? Well you hide, of course.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld arrived on Capitol Hill yesterday expecting to meet not only with Republican supporters of the Iraq war, but also with Democrats highly critical of his post-Saddam Hussein decisions.

When Mr. Rumsfeld arrived with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace at the meeting place, the office of Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican, three invited Democrats did not show up.

The meeting was planned by Rep. Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania Republican, after he led a congressional delegation to Iraq from Nov. 27 to 30 that included Democratic Reps. Adam Smith of Washington, Kendrick B. Meek of Florida and Tim Ryan of Ohio.
I’ll let you come to your own opinions on these comments, but my 9-yr old thinks someone is being a pouty-face.
Mr. Smith released a statement upon his return from Iraq that said, in part, "Progress is being made in Iraq. However, the Bush administration's failure of leadership has made the tasks of our servicemen and women more difficult than it had to be."

Mr. Meek released a statement to The Washington Times that said:

"I've been a member of the House Armed Services Committee for almost three years, and I thought it was strange that Secretary Rumsfeld would now suddenly want to meet with me on Iraq -- and invite the national media, too -- when for all these years he never showed any interest in my views.
In my line of work, we call this Indications & Warnings. Take heart; good news.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Adds you won't see in the US

I thought for a second I was hit by a kiddyporn pup-up...then I realized this (click here if the add is gone) was just an add for a kid's cellphone.

I'm sorry. It isn't porno per se (though you can discern the adult's, ahem, grooming habits, for goodness sake) ....but I don't think it is healthy. I am not a prude, but I do have two young girls and have issues with sexualizing young kids. Don't kid yourself. As we say at home, "This just ain't right."

I love the Dutch (this is what I get for going to Dutch websites), but this just crosses the line. I like our "judgemental" tastes.