Friday, January 30, 2015

Fullbore Friday

It is a simple thing to say, "Never give up." Living that simple phrase can be a hard thing to do - but - this is the key thing; often times perseverance is the only thing that really matters. The victor often is the one who isn't perhaps the best, the most talented, or the strongest - the victor in the end is usually the one who simply will not quit.
On July 13, 1942, the fate Aviation Cadet Vraciu rested in the hands of five officers convened in the aftermath of his causing material damage to an aircraft when he retracted its wheels during the landing roll. The lieutenants, all flight instructors, considered Vraciu a below average student after reviewing his records and believed that there was a chance that he would not successfully complete the course of instruction. By a vote of 3-2, it was recommended that he be dropped from flight training, the signatures of the officers certifying his proposed fate.

The page doesn’t break down which instructors voted yes and which voted no, but in reviewing the names one can imagine that Lieutenants William A. Dean and Robert Dosé likely voted to keep Vraciu in the ranks of naval aviation, perhaps seeing attributes that would be of value in a combat pilot. Dean, one of two regular officers on the board, eventually headed to the Pacific and commanded the “Red Rippers” of VF-2, shooting down eleven Japanese airplanes, including two on the same day that Vraciu splashed six (June 19, 1944). Dosé later assumed command of VF-12 in Saratoga (CV 3) and logged 206 combat missions, including a strike against Rabaul where he was credited with 1.5 kills.
It would be interesting to see how he won is appeal and went on to earn his wings, but in any event, it sure worked out;
History records that Vraciu was one of World War II’s most outstanding combat pilots. His first squadron assignment was in Fighting Squadron (VF) 6 commanded by the Navy’s first ace of World War II, Medal of Honor recipient Lieutenant Commander Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare. O’Hare thought enough of Vraciu’s abilities that he made him his wingman, imparting invaluable tactical knowledge on air-to-air combat.

The young aviator scored his first kill over Wake Atoll on October 1943, while flying an F6F Hellcat from the deck of the carrier Independence (CVL 22), the first of nineteen confirmed kills that he would compile in the skies over the Pacific. His most famous action came at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the famed “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” where he shot down six enemy aircraft to become an ace in a day. Returning to Lexington (CV 16)—he had joined VF-16—he posed for a famous photograph in his flight gear, his face lit up in a smile as he held up six fingers to denote his kills. Adding to his combat record in the air was his experience in the Philippines after being shot down on a combat mission with VF-20 flying off Lexington later in 1944. Vraciu spent weeks with a band of Filipino guerillas before making his way to American forces. Remaining in the Navy, he retired as a commander in 1964.
Never quit.

There is a transference to this principle as well, one that applies with particular impact in the profession or arms. By not giving up, even if you eventually do not triumph directly, you open the door to eventual triumph. By not giving up, you purchase something without price; time. You buy time for others; others who, if imbued with your same ethos, will not give up. Will not quit. If in the end they too are overcome, they have purchased time for the next in line.

That is the example of Commander Vraciu. Another data point to a cornerstone of our profession; never give up. Never accept the barriers put in front of you. Never take the counsel of defeat.
Commander Alex Vraciu, who passed away on January 29, 2015, at the age of 96, was one of naval aviation’s most acclaimed fighter aces. The son of Romanian immigrants, he grew up in East Chicago, Indiana, and graduated from Depauw University, where he played football and tennis and also ran track. Like many college-age men of his generation, who finished their schooling with a world at war, he signed on the dotted line and entered the Navy’s aviation cadet program, reporting to Naval Air Station (NAS) Glenview, Illinois, for elimination training. He finished the course there just two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and headed south, bound for NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, to complete his flight training.
... and that is where our story picked up.

Shipmate just left his mortal coil, but he has left a great legacy, and in a fashion, should be considered the patron saint of anyone who has found themselves in front of a performance review board, failed a qualification board, or had a moment of imperfection that - at the moment - seems destined to prematurely put one on the off ramp to obscurity.

96; well done ace, well done.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Putin's Game In Ukraine

Nolan Petersen over at BlueForceTracker has a very sobering overview about what is happening in Ukraine that deserves a full read.
It has been like this in Ukraine for more than ten months. And it bores you. The words, “war in Ukraine,” mean nothing to you anymore. It’s a back page story that doesn’t scare you. It’s normal, expected and just a drowned-out voice in the chorus of world news. Those like me, who claim the war in Ukraine could turn into a world one, no longer frighten you. Nobody believes it could actually happen.

But there is going to be a war in Europe. In fact, Ukrainian and Russian soldiers are already dying in it. So what are we, the democratic nations of the world, going to do about it?
I am roughly in alignment with him, but I am not so much bored with Ukraine, as I have developed a detachment - almost like the puppy that puts its head under the couch, hoping that means you can see it.

I am detached as there is nothing I can do to move the needle, and even if I could - it won't make a difference.

Europe is tired, lazy, and distracted. What national security concerns it has are focused on the Islamist monster of its own creation, or Kabuki theater like putting AAW assets round a ground battle whose only air threat is a bunch of cargo helicopters dumping 55-gallon drums out of side doors on someone else. 

As for the USA, there simply is no leadership here to rally the West. It isn't here because they don't want to lead anyone.

Without American resolve, the European powers to whom it has become a crutch will not fill the void - and the few European nations who would in spirit, are too small in body.

Yes, in some ways it does smell of the mid 30s.
In 1935, as war clouds gathered in Europe, the great American author and war correspondent Ernest Hemingway wrote, “War is no longer made by simply analyzed economic forces if it ever was. War is made or planned now by individual men, demagogues and dictators who play on the patriotism of their people to mislead them into a belief in the great fallacy of war when all their vaunted reforms have failed to satisfy the people they misrule.”

Does Hemingway’s 1935 assessment of Hitler and Mussolini apply to Putin as well?

Russia’s economy is stagnant and on the verge of recession. Putin’s fifteen years of trying to integrate Russia into the international community was reversed almost overnight with his takeover of Crimea and subversive war in eastern Ukraine.

So maybe Putin’s war in Ukraine is a shroud lowered over the eyes of the Russian people to blind them to his failures as president.

Or maybe there is another, much more terrifying possibility. Putin may see himself as a historical figure destined to rebuild the Russian empire, no matter what the cost.

The U.S. and Europe must have the courage to confront what must be done if Putin reveals himself as such. His references to Novorossiya and his famous lamentation that the collapse of the USSR was the “greatest geopolitical disaster” of the twentieth century should send chills down your spine.

Because if Putin’s wars are motivated by his personal ambition to secure a place in history, then no think-tank analysis, presidential finger wagging or wonky economic scheming can bring him to his knees.

In that terrible scenario, the only way to stop him is war.

The Spanish Civil War was the first great conflict between fascism, communism and Western democracies in the lead-up to World War II. It was perhaps a missed opportunity for the democratic nations of the world to put a stop to the imperial lust of Hitler and Mussolini.

Hemingway was in Spain to report on that war. He witnessed Italian and German fascist troops fighting there, and he sensed the larger conflict that was to come if the West did not stop the fascists then.

From Hemingway, speaking about the Spanish Civil War in 1938:

“But because it has gone on so long the people who do not have to go hungry, fight and die in it, get quite tired of the whole thing. They do not even want to hear about it. Perhaps these pictures will make it seem a little more real. Because these pictures are what you will look like if we let the next war come.”

For all its unknowns, the future rather predictably echoes the history that precedes it.
I am sorry Europe, and I am sorry world. You will just have to get along best as you can without us.

We twice voted for this - and the international community on a whole wanted us to - so bask in it. Nothing we can do about it - and odds are, in a couple more years, we will have lost almost all desire to. Winning and leadership are habits born of culture and habit - and they are intertwined. 

After a few cycles of ingratitude and tepid support from Europeans - do not be shocked when they call for it, the answer comes between meh & feh.

It didn't have to be this way - but it is. 

Sadly, unless a positive black swan come roosting in our pond, it only gets worse ... just like in the 30s.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

JOs pushing back to Fallows

An interesting back and forth with James Fallows that started with his article in The Atlantic that Bryan McGrath and I replied to at the end of 2014.

In a follow-on bit, Fallows has brought on two JO voices to mostly reinforce the echoes in his world view sound chamber ... but then this happened.

LT Matt Hipple over at USNIBlog has put the seasoned journalist on report.
I have said this before, if we want to build a better civil-military understanding, I beg you start paying attention to the debate happening in the public writings of those servicemembers you want to understand. Though there is a place for appreciating the pure critics and exit-route mic-droppers; their views should not be the main drumbeat of our dialogue. To be fair, many of us who write regularly are a self-selected group – there still remains a vast space in which to encourage JOs to write. Those in the public space who avail themselves for those writings are doing a service, but the cherry picking and lack of guidance in the production of shocking JO posts does no service to your legitimacy among those you wish to discuss, and misinforms – or only partially informs – the public you are attempting to explain us to.

You want controversy, you want to see the battle of ideas, you want characters, you want stories… they’re all out there. The shooting stars may grab attention, but the constellations in the night sky are how we should navigate.
Hipple even offers links, including a USNI blog post by LT Roger Misso & LTJG Chris O'Keefe worth your time.

The thing that Fallows misses is that there is a rich and vibrant conversation out there - but it isn't going to come to him. He has to make the effort to expand his intellectual horizons and read outside his comfort range.

Fallows isn't alone in this problem, and it is this blinkered view that many in the traditional parts of the media ecosystems suffer from that prevents them from seeing a more detailed view of issues they are trying to address.

It is all there.

The Mighty Orion: Wheels up for one last time

A very appropriate Retro Wednesday.

For the last time in over half a century - the East Coast has sent a P-3 Orion on deployment. Via Patrol Squadron 26's LTjg Elizabeth McNaught;
Sailors of Patrol Squadron (VP) 26 will make history Jan. 22 as the last East Coast squadron to deploy in the P-3C Orion aircraft. For the squadron, this deployment will mark the sunset of an aircraft with a 50-year legacy of excellence and historic milestones which began with the acceptance of its first P-3B back in 1966. On Jan. 4 of that year, nearly 49 years to the month, VP-26 became the Navy’s first operational P-3B squadron, when the squadron ferried the first P-3B from its production site in Burbank, Calif. to Naval Air Station, Brunswick, Maine.
The mighty Orion served her nation well, and still will for a few more years. She is long in the tooth and the airframes have about finished giving their last full measure.

For an old bird born to chase down and nuke Soviet submarines, this will be a sad little deployment;
So, when the sailors return from El Salvador and Bahrain, they'll upgrade to a new Boeing 737 called P-8 Poseidon.
The P-8A still has some work to do - but with time and a bit more money I'm sure - it will get there.

Is has to.

Until then - thanks old girl.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Islamic State; Unabated

In times of high levels of rhetoric and low levels of thoughtful discussion, it is always helpful to go to the map.

Maps have a logic and clarity all their own. The struggle is, in the end, about geography: access, possession, and influence.

Words can only tell so much of a story. Take this from TheDailyBeast;
American jets are pounding Syria. But ISIS is taking key terrain—and putting more and more people under its black banners. 
ISIS continues to gain substantial ground in Syria, despite nearly 800 airstrikes in the American-led campaign to break its grip there.

At least one-third of the country’s territory is now under ISIS influence, with recent gains in rural areas that can serve as a conduit to major cities that the so-called Islamic State hopes to eventually claim as part of its caliphate. Meanwhile, the Islamic extremist group does not appear to have suffered any major ground losses since the strikes began. The result is a net ground gain for ISIS, according to information compiled by two groups with on-the-ground sources.
That is a good statement of fact - much better than what you may hear from politicians - but it doesn't quite describe the success the Islamic State has had over the winter months so far.

You will hear a lot of celebrating about Kobani - and any setback for the enemy is good - but that says more about the Kurds than the Islamic State. That is a battle, not the larger sweep of the conflict.

Put that to one side and then look at where the Islamic State has grown just in Syria ... in just five months. Ponder.

Meanwhile in Iraq;
The 82nd Airborne, and more specifically its 3rd Brigade Combat Team, are no strangers to Iraq. 
Since 2003, parts of the brigade have deployed in support of U.S. efforts there on at least three occasions. 
Now, more than three years after the U.S. military presence in Iraq was thought over, about a quarter of the Panther Brigade will return with a new mission to help train Iraqi forces to fight ISIS.

About 1,000 paratroopers from the brigade will deploy this week as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve mission.
In the meantime, we are supporting those who, like the Islamic State, are fighting Assad. I hold no brief for that guy - but he is a small evil; the real game is the Islamic State.

We can worry about Assad later, but for now - he is useful against the Islamic State, the real threat.
“It is time for President Assad [and] the Assad regime to put their people first and to think about the consequences of their actions, which are attracting more and more terrorists to Syria,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Jan. 14.

If the administration has a diplomatic strategy, it centers on cajoling countries that have influence in Syria — Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — to join in a combined effort to end the conflict. The premise is that those countries fear Islamic State and other jihadists enough to put aside their otherwise deep divisions. But that's a long way from happening too.

Until then, the U.S. strategy boils down to attacking Islamic State from the air, hoping a war of attrition somehow weakens Assad's grip on power, and asking Turkey (and perhaps others) to act on the ground where the United States has been unwilling.

“Our problem is that we don't have much leverage,” Ford noted. “We have put very little skin in the game. The Russians and Iranians have put a lot of skin in the game.”

And that offers little ground for optimism. The lesson of our misadventure in Syria may be this: A risk-averse foreign policy can keep you out of ground wars — but it can also keep other goals out of reach too.
In the name of all that is holy, just try to diagram that logic in an arena where the Islamic State has a vote.

Where have you gone Henry Kissinger? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Another Act in a Greek Tragedy

This will not end well; not for the Greeks, not for Europe, and not for us.
Punching the air, Tsipras arrived at a little after 11pm strutting up the steel stairs to the stage like a rock star.

“The hard work begins tomorrow,” he boomed.

“Today, the Greek people have written history. Hope has written history. Greece is turning a page. It is leaving behind the austerity of catastrophe.

“There are no winners and losers. Those who have been defeated are the elite and oligarchs, the vested interests that destroyed our country.”
Son, hope ain't a plan.

Let's not forget how Greece found herself here. For decades they spent more than they produced, digging a deeper and deeper hole until they could not pull themselves out - slathering herself with corruption and poor leadership.

When they realized that there would be a cost to their immature ignoring of reality, they revolted against reality ... and now have started digging again.

To understand how doomed Greece is - and it will get worse until someone else comes in to fix them, goodness knows what that will be - you need to see who has taken power. As you read the below, ask yourself, "When has this ever worked?"
SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) entered a new stage in its life and action as a single party after its first (Founding) Congress (10-14 July 2013).
The Founding Congress of the new party defined itself as a party of the democratic and radical Left, which has its roots in popular struggles for Greek independence, democracy and labour and anti-fascist movements in Greece. The party comprises many different ideological currents and left cultures, building its identity on a synthesis of the values of the labour movement with those of the ecological, feminist and other new social movements. This is why there are three flags on the SYRIZA logo: red, green and purple.
There you go. Here's something for you national security types;
Together with the European Left Party, of which it is a very active member, SYRIZA is fighting for the re-foundation of Europe away from artificial divisions and cold-war alliance such as NATO. As for the E.U., SYRIZA denounces the dominant extreme neoliberal and euro-atlantic policies and believes that they must and can be transformed radically in the direction of a democratic, social, peaceful, ecological and feminist Europe, open to a socialist and democratic future. This is why SYRIZA is in favour of cooperation and coordinated action of left forces and social movements on a pan-European scale. However, it does not hold euro-centric views and rejects the idea of an insulate "fortress Europe".
The capitulation of our foreign policy to the desires of the U.S. and the powerful states of the European Union endangers the country's independence, peace, and security. We propose:

-- A multi-dimensional and peace-seeking foreign policy.
-- Disengagement from NATO and closure of foreign military bases on Greek soil.
-- Termination of military cooperation with Israel.
-- Aiding the Cypriot people in the reunification of the island.
That last link has a good executive summary of the party platform, you should read it all.

At this point, especially from the German perspective, I do not see how Greece will stay in with the Euro. She never should have been allowed to join the Eurozone to begin with - and now the sooner she can leave, the better.

In the party platform, you can also see the seed for a policy that will further promote division and conflict in Greece and the rest of Europe. Unchecked immigration in to the EU is a great destabilizer, and ... well ...
-- Immigration reforms:

-- Speeding up the asylum process
-- Abolition of Dublin II regulations and granting of travel papers to immigrants
-- Social inclusion of immigrants and equal rights protection
Yes, the worse, the better. They know their Lenin well - or they are delusional.
Mondal, 23, was among a crowd of hundreds who turned out to cheer Tsipras as he arrived at Syriza party headquarters in Athens late Sunday after his election victory. He said he hopes a Tsipras-led government will make it easier for him to acquire Greek citizenship. At the moment, he has a card that lets him reside in Greece only and not elsewhere in the European Union.

I believe I’ll get the passport,” Mondal said as he mingled with a handful of other Bangladeshis who rushed forward as Tsipras appeared. “Then I can think about Italy, Germany, Spain.”
A huge youth unemployment problem does not get better with wave after wave of young, uneducated, and unskilled workers from the south and east - but that isn't the point.

The center will not hold.
Greece is headed into a new era of anti-austerity as the radical leftist Syriza successfully formed a government with the Independent Greeks party after falling agonisingly short of an outright majority in Sunday’s landmark elections.

“I want to say, simply, that from this moment, there is a government,” the Independent Greeks leader, Panos Kammenos, told reporters after emerging from a meeting at Syriza’s headquarters.
The center, left and right, have no one to blame for themselves. They stamped themselves, correctly, with the taint of corruption and cronyism. 

This new party "right wing?" Notsomuch in an economic sense.
Both Syriza and Independent Greeks agree on the need to end austerity. And both hold strident views on the especially sensitive issue of Greek national sovereignty having been denuded as a result of six years of stewardship under Athens’ hated “troika” of creditors. Anel, like Syriza, says foreign lenders have turned the debt-crippled country into a “debt colony”.

In opposition, the two political forces collaborated to block the election of a new head of state, which ultimately triggered Sunday’s snap polls. With Syriza and Anel outright rejecting the commitments the previous government signed up to with creditors – outlined in the onerous bailout accords that Athens agreed with the EU, ECB and IMF – they will make an extremely tough negotiating team when stalled talks resume this month.

Kammenos’s appointment will not be welcome news to Berlin, which has provided the biggest share of the €240bn (£180bn) in rescue funds to Athens.
They are only further to the right when it comes to religion and national security which, it is fair to say, in Greek politics is hard not to be to the right than Syriza.

Looking through their platform, there is nothing here that looks to moderate what Syriza will do to what is left of the Greek economy and her people, but I do see the seeds of future conflict.

As much as I love to slap the hard left around (not the American center-left - I'm actually in mild alignment with some of their issues, and they are well meaning silly folks more than off their rocker). It would be a mistake to see what happened in Greece as just a leftist problem. As a matter of fact, in the context of an American discussing what his happening in Europe, the "left" and "right" shorthand is becoming less useful than ever.

In a way it always has been imperfect. As Jonah Goldberg put in his book Liberal Fascism, and I have tried to convince with less success here - what the communists and socialist sympathetic left has tried to do to avoid hard truths, is to separate themselves from their statist leftist brothers the fascists by calling them "right." 

No, when you boil it down, they are all born in the same nest, and it doesn't matter what the color of the boot is that is kicking you in the face, it feels the same and has the same effect.

Is this a sign of a larger European collapse? No, but it is the canary. Without question, Greece is the weakest sister as the graph below shows.

Update: Nice overview by Tom Rogan;
This isn’t just about questions of finance and debt — it’s about the nature of society and the underlying role of personal responsibility. The undeniable, proven-by-history truth — a truth that the far Left in Europe and America ignores — is that socialism is a cause of economic suffering, not its solution. Greece’s economic difficulties (25 percent unemployment) aren’t caused by capitalism; rather, the blame lies squarely on the Greek governing class that for many years constructed an inefficient and ever more bloated state, with no one to pay for it. Instead of admitting this truth, Greek voters have taken two easier options: Blame Germany, and pretend things will get better.

But things will only get worse. As I wrote last year, when discussing France’s economic collapse, socialism’s failure is inherent to its ideology. When President Hollande tried to soak France’s high earners, they simply left the country or stopped investing. Hollande chose to completely ignore the movability of 21st-century capital, and his country is paying the price. Reality is hard, but as the U.K.’s successful “austerity” program attests — the U.K.’s 2014 third-quarter growth was 2.6 percent, compared with France’s 0.4 percent growth — spending cuts are necessary for investor confidence. These investors encourage private-sector growth and productivity.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The fruits today of the American military in WWI

Well inside an officer's career arch, we saw the American Navy move from the Great White Fleet, The Spanish American War to the age of the Dreadnought. Our Army, from ad-hoc volunteer units to a professional army going head-to-head with the finest professional army on the planet.

How did our military and our Navy build up to WWI, and how did that experience inform the evolution of our national defense infrastructure?

Our guest for the full hour Sunday from 5-6pm will be Dr. John T. Kuehn , the General William Stofft Chair for Historical Research at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College CGSC). He retired from the U.S. Navy 2004 at the rank of commander after 23 years of service as a naval flight officer flying both land-based and carrier-based aircraft. He has taught a variety of subjects, including military history, at CGSC since 2000. He authored Agents of Innovation (2008), A Military History of Japan: From the Age of the Samurai to the 21st Century (2014), and co-authored Eyewitness Pacific Theater (2008) with D.M. Giangreco as well as numerous articles and editorials and was awarded a Moncado Prize from the Society for Military History in 2011. His latest book, due out from Praeger just in time for the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo is Napoleonic Warfare: The Operational Art of the Great Campaigns.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fullbore Friday

As it appears that in spite of many being belatedly recognized, a Shipmate has been overlooked.

Not much one can do about it, but we can at least give him a Friday; a Fullbore Friday.
Lt. (Rev.) Thomas M. Conway, a 37-year-old Navy Chaplain from Buffalo, New York, was sleeping soundly on July 31, 1945, on board the USS Indianapolis, a heavy cruiser. At 12:14 a.m. the first torpedo from the Japanese submarine, I-58, blew away the bow of the ship. An instant later the second struck near midship on the starboard side, the resulting explosion split the ship to the keel, knocking out all electric power. Within 12 minutes the unescorted cruiser slipped beneath the surface of the Philippine Sea, midway between Guam and Leyte Gulf.Of 1,196 men on board, approximately 900 men made it into the water. Few life rafts were released; the majority of the survivors wore the standard kapok life jacket and life belts. The ship was never missed, and by the time the survivors were spotted by accident four days later, only 316 men were still alive. For three nights Fr. Conway, a Catholic priest, swam to the aid of his shipmates, reassuring the increasingly dehydrated and delirious men with prayers until he himself expired, the last Catholic chaplain to die in WWII.
This was the news that came out this week.
Over two dozen veterans can recount how chaplain Lt. Thomas Conway kept their hope alive as sharks swarmed the remains of the USS Indianapolis on July 30, 1945.

But a letter written in 1948 stating Conway went down with the sinking ship could be the reason behind the denial of a Navy Cross — a decision one Connecticut veterans organization wants to reverse.
However, Conway's heroic actions "never happened," Dorr said, because "the captain believed that Father Conway went down with the ship on July 30, and his letter was written in the official 1948 history of the Navy chaplains corps."
More background here, here, and here.

What would Jesus do? Yea, that is what Jesus would have done. Easily folds in to ship, shipmate, self as well.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Who's up for a LCS pig-pile?

Hey ... it is time to drag LCS out from under the bed and thrash it around a bit.

Using DOT&E's 2014 annual report, we're whomp'n over at USNIBlog.

Come visit and tell me what jewels you've found.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Since I've been President, we've worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half. Now it's time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It's not who we are.

Not wow.

Where Jointness Devolves to Self Parody

There is a beauty and power in simplicity, especially in language. The shorter, the better.

To effectively discuss a topic, it is the duty of serious people to keep descriptions accurate and easily understandable as to how they relate to the challenge or issue at hand.

When one unnecessarily complicates something, adding words and syllables or unnecessarily changing its name, that is a signal that something is going on. Either the argument is weak and in need or repackaging, or someone is trying to find some way to obscure an issue that makes a party uncomfortable.

There is also on occasion a third option; you are just trying to make someone stop whining.

In this case, we may have all three;
The Pentagon has dropped the controversial name Air Sea Battle for its concept to defeat modern anti-access weapons and folded the accompanying Air Sea Battle Office (ASBO) into the Department of Defense’s Joint Staff, according to a Jan. 8, 2015 memo obtained by USNI News.

The new Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons (JAM-GC pronounced: Jam, Gee-Cee)
In the worst traditions of leftist newspeak, it appears that the Joint Staff just decided it had enough of Army butthurt from not having their playground mentioned as the other kids did. To stop him from feeling left out, everyone is getting a trophy and no one is keeping score.

In the 70s, did the Navy and USMC complain about "Airland Battle" to the point of trying to make a name change? No.

Well, you can mark your calendars now - this concept has officially gone past all utility. No one is going to say, "Jam Gee-Cee" in public with a straight face - and they shouldn't. Now that the office itself, in addition to its name, is in the Joint Staff tarpit, it will be threat to no one - which it really wasn't to begin with.

Well, they can't win on the football field, but it seems the Army can win in the Byzantine rules of the Pentagon Court. Congrats Army, you've managed to squash ideas. Yea.

Anyway, one good thing about Jam Gee-Cee - at least it has its own theme song.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

That would be "Cong" with a "C" ... as in China

Every year or so some area of the world gives birth to a, "D@man, I should have seen that one coming!" event. The Arab Spring and its bastard child in the Islamic State are just the most recent.

What should be in everyone's "Top-5" things to keep an eye on? Well, the centuries old enmity between Vietnam and China is one place.

Yes, yes ... I have considered the source - but as the old Cold Warriors will tell you; don't laugh too hard at Pravda, read it and ponder.
"In addition to peaceful measures, ‘fists’ should also be prepared for sovereignty protection,” Rear Admiral Do Xuan Cong, former Commander of the Vietnam People's Navy, has said.
The Rear Admiral made assertion in an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper published by the daily on Monday, January 19, on which 41 years ago China used force to illegally occupy Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea.
“When another person disregards reason and law and attacks and violates our sacred sovereignty, we have to take action, in which ‘fists’ should be prepared, as we cannot keep struggling verbally all the time,” Rear Admiral Cong said.
“Justice is on our side and we love peace, so our international friends and the world community will certainly support us. The case of China’s illegal deployment of the Haiyang Shiyou 981 drilling rig proved the important role of international support for Vietnam,” he said, referring to international pressure on Beijing before it withdrew the rig from the Vietnamese waters.
By mentioning “a few extremist actions,” the former commander was touching again on riots that broke out in some Vietnamese localities following the positioning of the Haiyang Shiyou 981 in the Vietnamese seas.
“But once China disregards law, moral principles and sentimental attachment, and actively causes conflicts, we will have no other choice than to confront such conflicts…,” Rear Admiral Cong insisted.
China and Vietnam fought a short, nasty, and brutal war in '79, and as China has walked on the stage this century, she has yet to have her "Splendid Little War."

Wars have started for less.

Ungh. Why can't people just behave themselves?

Hat tip SJS.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A reminder about C.A.I.R.

I haven't pinged on the German-American Bund recently. My bad. Here's one of their latest tweets for those who haven't figured out who they are yet.

Heck of a JV team ...

Interesting observations from a German reporter embedded ... yes, embedded with the Islamic State.

Heck, let's go back to Mod-Trotsky; "You may not be interested in fighting radical Islam, but it is interesting in fighting you."
ISIS is 'much stronger and much more dangerous' than anyone in the West realizes, a journalist who spent ten days embedded with the group in Iraq and Syria has warned.
Jürgen Todenhöfer, 74, said that the West has 'no concept of the threat it faces' from the Islamic State and has underestimated the risk posed by ISIS 'dramatically'.
The German reporter spent most of his time in Mosul in northern Iraq, but he also traveled to the ISIS-controlled territories of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in Syria.
Todenhöfer went on to say that ISIS have plans for mass genocide, with the aim or eradicating all atheists and religions that are not 'people of the book' or who do not subscribe to their particular brand of Islam.
Speaking on RTL's Nachtjournal program after his return to Germany last week, Todenhöfer said that he constantly heard the view that ISIS want to 'conquer the world'.
'This is the largest religious cleansing strategy that has ever been planned in human history,' the journalist added.
As they have stated elsewhere, they plan to continue to expand. Like all expansionist religious movements with a martial aspect - they will until defeated.

As you can see by the map, they are succeeding - and what we have been doing is not working in the broader conflict. What we need right now is a Kissinger with the ear of the President, but it seems that instead we have Biden-actual - someone wrong about almost all national security related events in the last 30+ years. It shows.

First thing we need to do it to stop going after Assad directly or indirectly. He is the only one who is protecting Shi'ite, Druse, Alawite, Christians and other religious minorities in Syria. We don't have to support him, just stop working with the Islamic State fighting him. He is a SOB, but he is not the worst option for Syria. 

Let the Russians help Assad, we don't have to. That will squeeze IS from one side. We should redouble our efforts with the Kurds and the Iraqi governments on the other. Let's work with the Russians and coordinate our "proxy work." We can work to turn Syria in to Switzerland later.

We do not need to see a 2015 expansion like we saw in 2014.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I'm rather tired of explaining ...

... the South to Yankees and other foreigners.

So, though imperfect, I'll let Rich Hall a shot to ed'u'mu'cate 'ya on why you don't know nut'n.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fullbore Friday

I'm going to build off a theme from last week's FbF with el-Sisi - moral courage and forthright defense of natural law's first freedom from those who actually are putting their lives in danger by doing so.

The last week has seen a sickening parade of morale and physical cowardice in the defense of essential liberty. Afraid of what may happen if they stood with the French, politicians and much of the press instead hid behind "responsible speech" - which is their way of cowering in the face of threats against the very freedom they need to exist. That is the true Islamophobia - a twisted partonizing attitude that you cannot risk offending even in the slightest the tender feelings of a Muslim because, well, they just can't take it like everyone else and might become dangerous. A phobia of the followers of Islam: Islamophobia.

Heck, even last night I was reminded why I used think I was of the left. It used to be that there was a very libertarian streak on the left, but in the last 30 years they have been swamped by the Stalinists. One of the last of the traditional libertarian leftists I have found myself in rough alignment with is Bill Maher of all people.

Well, this week I am bringing in another man of the left who has it right. He gets extra points because he is Dutch. He speaks with the directness of a Dutchman, gets the enlightenment, and - more than most - he has stepped in to the field of fire to defend the flag.

The Salamander freedom fighter of the week is Ahmed Aboutaleb, member of the Labour Party, de Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA), and mayor of Rotterdam.

This is how you defend freedom as a political leader.

On a minor side-bar: I also had and continue to have a lot of "fun" with those of the left (or clueless) who have some kind of verbal tic that makes them want to want to call opposition to a radical religious sect a kind of "racism" and/or look at Arabs, Berbers, Turks, etc., as a "race" different than other whites/caucasians. As a result, if you have issues with them, it must be somehow based on "race."

More hogwash. Unless you want to take a pre-mid 20th century view of race more in line with the KKK and the Nazi party, no - they are not a race or races. I'll stick with the US govt directive if I must, they are white. Look at Mayor Aboutaleb again. Dude is as "white" as I am.

Of course, I know why they are throwing around race. Simply, that is the cultural bully's tool to shut people up. Well, to those people I say, "rot op."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

An LCS by any other name is still ....

I feel sorry for Bob Work today. He spent a lot of personal capital exclaiming, "We don't need frigates."

Then this happened ...
U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on Thursday said the Navy would rename the modified Littoral Combat Ships it plans to build as frigates, given their enhanced capabilities.

"One of the requirements of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force was to have a ship with frigate-like capabilities. Well, if it’s like a frigate, why don’t we call it a frigate?" Mabus told the annual conference of the Surface Navy Association.

Mabus said the new designation would apply primarily to the next 20 such ships to be built but 32 LCS that have already been built or ordered would also be reclassified if and when they are retrofitted with additional weapons.
OK. It could be worse, I guess.

Let's see, the last FF we had was the KNOX (though when we took off the MK-13 launchers, the OHP effectively became FF), maybe we'll do a comparison later.

This makes my day; I'll be laughing at random moments for hours.

Oh, and if you are serious - you need to start with FF-1098.

Stubby legs and tiny teeth does not a monster make

Sometimes it seems that over the last two decades we have been making every effort to make the CVN more and more vulnerable and its airwing less robust and flexible. Many of the reasons are the same as why the British Army kept the bolt action Lee-Enfield as their primary infantry weapon more than a decade longer than it should have been. 

Add a long fat tail, no armor, with only one ear and blind in one eye ... and good googly moogly, what have we done to long range strike?

At least in the knife fights in DC, unquestionably, there is no slack in light attack.

As we saw in the carrier debate last weekend, here, and many other places - over the course of the last quarter century we have thrown away one of the most effective aspects of TACAIR - its legs.

Gone are the long legs of the F-14 and A-6 - replaced by a deck full of light strike fighters with no organic tanking (sorry, buddy tanking does not count).

At the same time, we have a smaller airwing and possible opponents at sea are forcing our CVN to operate further from shore.

Everyone knows this challenge ... but we still keep making the move to shorter range, less capable assets on our most important force projection asset. Penny stupid and pound stupid.

Here we go. Take it away Sam;
The Navy is will almost certainly select the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor to replace the Northrop Grumman C-2A Greyhound as its next carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft, according to a Jan. 5 memo signed by Department of the Navy leadership.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) — signed by Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus — will have the Navy buy four V-22s starting in Fiscal Year 2018 to 2020, according to the document first reported by Breaking Defense.

“The Navy is responsible for modifying these V-22s into an HV-22 configuration for the COD mission,” reads the document.
From David Axe's SEP13 article;
But the V-22 has less range and less payload than the C-2: Northrop’s prop plane can haul five tons of stuff 1,500 miles, but the V-22's range with the same load could be as little as 50 miles, according to Navy statistics and Bell and Boeing’s own literature. That’s in part because the V-22 has just over a third the internal space of a C-2 and in the case of bulkier supplies would likely need to haul them slung by a rope suspended from the fuselage—a huge source of drag.

War is Boring attempted to reach two different Boeing spokespeople for comment, but received no reply.

Extending the tiltrotor’s flying distance would require the constant attention of Air Force aerial tankers, which can cost up to $10,000 per hour to operate. The V-22 is also slightly slower than the C-2, can’t fly as high because it’s unpressurized and costs more: $68 million for a new V-22 compared to an estimated $50 million for a new C-2.
Some of those familiar with the aircraft are already looking at the operational issues that will come with the shoehorning of the V-22 in to the COD role. They have poor reliability, and are so temperamental that the marines who work on her call her the "princess." What will happen after we start riding them hard like we do the C-2s and start chewing up their less than reliable and very expensive prop-boxes.

Via some C-2 Bubbas - here is something that we know a CV-22 will not be able to do that we rely on being SOP today;
Up to about 6,000# load, C-2A cruised at 275-280 ktas between FL190 and FL250 and hit ~290 ktas when we were hauling the chili at 4,000# or less. Above that it dropped off quick and was 255-260 => 8,000#.
Stealing from my own stuff SEPCOR, face it; the Navy painted itself in a corner. This was almost pre-ordained when they CANX the Common
Support Aircraft. It was killed by the worst possible habits of a parochial and blinkered leadership. If you don't like this, yell at Clark, Mullen and Roughead. CSA was slowrolled until it was too late. 

A good HV-22 now will be a better CSA that may never show up I'll grant you that, but really. We should ignore the paid lobbyists and those still in uniform who wish to soon be one - and think this through.

All is not lost. There is hope;
The Navy did not comment on the MOU directly to USNI News and said the final decision would emerge until the budget submission in February.

“The Navy continues to consider acquisition strategies and options to recapitalize the carrier onboard delivery, or COD, capability by 2026,” read the statement provided to USNI News.

“Our recommended way ahead will be submitted as part of the normal budget process.”
Ummmm ... yea. In the end, we'll wind up with a HV-22 and Sailors and aircrew will do the best they can with what their Navy has given them.

We could have done better, but then again - those making the decisions are not the ones who will live or die by them.

Diversity Thursday

I know there are jobs at stake here ... grievances to nurture ... self-righteous victim pimp'n to do ... but perhaps we should hoist the following from Harvard Business Review onboard.
There are two reasons to do diversity training. One is to prevent lawsuits. The other is to create an inclusive environment in which each member of the community is valued, respected, and can fully contribute their talents. That includes reducing bias and increasing the diversity of the employee and management population.

Lana made it clear to me that Bedia was interested in the second reason, not just the first, and I agreed to investigate.

But after speaking with a number of people in the organization, it confirmed a feeling that had been pestering me for years:

Diversity training doesn’t extinguish prejudice. It promotes it.
A study of 829 companies over 31 years showed that diversity training had “no positive effects in the average workplace.” Millions of dollars a year were spent on the training resulting in, well, nothing. Attitudes — and the diversity of the organizations — remained the same.

It gets worse. The researchers — Frank Dobbin of Harvard, Alexandra Kalev of Berkeley, and Erin Kelly of the University of Minnesota — concluded that “In firms where training is mandatory or emphasizes the threat of lawsuits, training actually has negative effects on management diversity.”

Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, actually. Anybody who has ever been scolded is familiar with the tendency to rebel against the scolding.

But it’s deeper than that. When people divide into categories to illustrate the idea of diversity, it reinforces the idea of the categories.

Which, if you think about it, is the essential problem of prejudice in the first place. People aren’t prejudiced against real people; they’re prejudiced against categories. “Sure, John is gay,” they’ll say, “but he’s not like other gays.” Their problem isn’t with John, but with gay people in general.

Categories are dehumanizing. They simplify the complexity of a human being. So focusing people on the categories increases their prejudice.

It's not like this is new - this was first published almost three years ago - but - hard to get traction when you are going against the narrative.

How many times have you read this on DivThu?
The solution? Instead of seeing people as categories, we need to see people as people. Stop training people to be more accepting of diversity. It’s too conceptual, and it doesn’t work.

Instead, train them to do their work with a diverse set of individuals. Not categories of people. People.

Teach them how to have difficult conversations with a range of individuals. Teach them how to manage the variety of employees who report to them. Teach them how to develop the skills of their various employees.

And, while teaching them that, help them resist the urge to think about someone as a gay person, a white man, a black woman, or an Indian. Also help them to resist the urge to think about someone as “just like me” — that’s a mistake too.

Move beyond similarity and diversity to individuality. Help them see John, not as a gay white man, but as John. Yes, John may be gay and white and a man. But he’s so much more than that.

Don’t reinforce his labels, which only serve to stereotype him. Reveal his singularity. Don’t ask: What are the dreams of a gay white man. Ask: What are John’s dreams? What does he hate? What are his passions?

The antidote to the ineffectiveness of diversity training is the opposite of diversity training. If you want diversity, think about an individual, then another, then another.
Read it all - and feel free to bring this up the next time you are forced to sit through some of this FOD.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Congrats Brian, your daughter is doing pr0n

Standard Kristen Warning for the below.

Perhaps it is just me.

The late Patrick Swayze said once in an interview I saw a long time ago, something to the effect, "If you let it, this town will turn you in to a whore." If you have HBO, you may have seen a perfect example of that last night.

I don't watch, "Girls" on a regular basis (I know, shocking) though I have sat through a couple of episodes in the last few years just to see what was going on. Meh.

Anyway, I'm going upstairs to change after a long walk with the dogs and turn the TV on, and it comes to the last channel that was watched, HBO. I'm too lazy to change the channel, so let it run. About 30-seconds in, after a short while seeing Lena Dunham's stupid arm tattoo filling up half the screen, the scene shifts.

There is it - Brian Williams 26-yr old daughter doing soft pr0n. Call it what you want, but that is exactly what it was. It was totally unnecessary to the story line, I guess, but that is not the point. It was put in there for one reason - so people would talk about it, raise ratings, and try to keep a show's relevancy as we all tire of it all.

Well, Allison - you just let a peddler of highly questionable rape accusations make a whore out of you.

I'll let Kat Rosenfield of MTV (of course) outline it for you.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the infamous “Girls” season opener scene in which Marnie’s (Allison Williams) butt gets vigorously motorboated by Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach.)

Moss-Bachrach already confirmed to MTV News that the scene was 100% legitimate face-to-butt contact
It is all rather sad. Allison could have said no - but I guess peer pressure is what it is. Even more sad, if she looked to her parents to help, she got the opposite: Allison’s father, news anchor Brian Williams, handled seeing it onscreen.
“She’s always been an actress,” Williams said. “For us, watching her is the family occupation and everybody has to remember it’s acting, no animals were harmed during the filming, and ideally nobody gets hurt.”
Ummm ... Brian. That wasn't acting. That was pr0n. 

How's mom?
Allison Williams mentions that not only were her parents proud supporters of her big butt-eating moment, but that her mom was a chief strategist when it came to rigging a bit of costumery between the actress’s cheeks, so that her co-star’s time in there would be as comfortable as possible.

“I’d get a call from my mom and she’d be like, ‘Maybe if you took a thong and cut it away from the sides but you stuck it on in the front and the back it could work,’” Williams said. “I was like, ‘Mom, I like your thinking.’ Just your regular dinner conversation! We’re changing as a family; it’s lovely.”
Of course, Allison is not a whore. She is simply a young lady who is trying to make her way in a tough business, surrounded by people who have no real care for her, but only what they can make off of her.

She allowed herself to be used by sociopaths;

Ebon Moss-Bachrach
I hope this is okay to say, but honestly I think this scene comes about by Lena saying, “How can I put Allison through the ringer?" "How can I tighten the screws on Allison?” I think Lena gets a kick out of that, Lena does.
Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner
JK: When we were shooting that, I said I thought we had done all of the funny, crazy sex we could do, but … Part of that was improv on Ebon’s part, and we died laughing.
LD: Allison was a good sport.
JK: She was game — a down girl. She’s a serious actress and she takes it all seriously. She was brilliant.
LD: Let me tell you this, when someone puts their face in your butt, whether there’s a barrier or not, their face is still in your butt. And she handled that with aplomb.
JK: Even when someone you love puts their face in your butt, it might be weird!
Alex Karpovsky
Yeah! Let’s do it! Let’s go there! Let’s explore all the cavities. Yeah, 2015 is the Butt Year. There is some type of sexual revolution happening, and maybe that’s one of the cliffs or peaks that we need to begin to incorporate into our societal representation of this revolution, specifically in television. This could be the year of the anus.
Like I said; pr0n.

As we do often in life, she found herself at a professional pivot point. I would offer that she did not choose well.

She's an adult, her call - but I don't think it is anything someone should see and say, "Hey, I wish my daughter was a quasi-famous actress to a small segment of the population."

If that is what an Ivy League education and a career in show business gets you before you even reach the age Morrison and Hendrix assumed room temperature - then no thank you. I will continue to keep my family out of it.

Maybe it is just me. I don't think so. Below is just about top right 1/4 of what you saw. It is far enough down that you don't have to scroll.

You've been warned, but I can't/won't show her naked from the waist down, and the fully naked guy behind her. 

Just be happy I don't show a gif of when he wiped his face before he ... well ... like I said; its pr0n.

Sad, but again - maybe I'm' the problem here.

Wait ... those who know me well know I am no prude. If the below gif is not enough to make my point - click here to see the full thing.

If you want to see the mindset that thinks this is just dandy - then read this

Wait. This is just way too depressing. I can't do this to my readers. Let me see what I have here .... something to leave you dragging for the rest of the day ... something from the Salamander mix tape ... oh, here we go.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A job description only a Sailor understands

From a recent SPAWAR email forwarded from one of my spies; you almost need to diagram it. 
Executive Assistant to the Principal Military Deputy to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition). 

Monday, January 12, 2015

An epic failure of strategic stewardship

A few cliche's exist that apply not just to personal life, but to business and even international relations. 

- "If you want a friend, be a friend."
- "Half of life is just showing up."

One of the characteristics of our form of government is that the person who holds the Presidency is only a caretaker. Indeed, every person elected and appointed is only a place holder for the next person who takes the job. People come and go, but the nation endures.

The hard work of others is preserved and built on. When opportunities come up to add to the nation's wealth, power, security or prestige, you take it, secure it, and turn it over to posterity.

Likewise, if mistakes were made - you correct them. If previous office holders made errors or requirements change, then you fix and change as needed. You avoid, at all possible costs, huge errors that will take years to decades to fix.

Errors will be made, but there is no reason to make unforced errors - and we observed a big one this Sunday.

I was on travel most of Sunday, and in that time tried the best I can to understand what was going through the White House decision tree to bring us to where we wound up pulling a big zero on a historic march in Paris in support of one of the fundamental fruits of The Enlightenment, free speech.

There is so much here. If it were not for France, we would not have won our revolution. They are an occasionally difficult ally, but historically, the one after the UK that is the most important to us.

The lack of a significant presence in Paris is simply gobsmacking. The White House sent more people of more significance to a thief who was shot after attacking the police than they did for this?

I've spent a lot of time in France, and the French people are very much like Americans, they like Americans, and if you walk around their capital - there is pro-American paintings, statues, etc all over the place from the metro to their parks.

They are a proud, sovereign nation - so they will take their own path now and then, and that is OK. On balance though - for good manners if nothing else - we should have done better.

In the march, we had British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Queen Rania were there. Heck, even President Bongo of Gabon showed up - not to any small bit of irony.

The USA? We have lame duck Attorney General Eric Holder there, but not in the march. On the streets, we only had our ambassador.

There is no other way to spin this. The United States has shown an exceptional amount of disrespect towards one of our closest and most important allies. This just feeds in to a growing feeling in the world that we can be relied on to always frustrate our friends and encourage our enemies.

This will not be forgotten, and will long outlast Obama's presidency.

Why did we do this? There are really only two reasons - both disturbing in their own way.

1. This was a case of nationalizing a point of personal pique. For some reason, perhaps related to this episode, Obama just does not care to expose his ego to possible injury in groups of other national leaders. He also does not like Europeans.

2. We have another example of the horrible national security brain trust he as around him. President Obama has never had good instincts concerning the care and feeding of our traditional allies. If they are giving him awards and praise from Oslo to the Tiergarten, he is fine. But showing support to them? No, there is some kind of blocking diode there. If he has good advisers who can help him work around his own biases and pre-conceived notions, he is movable. That is the function of a good staff. However, look who he has around him now. Instead of Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and James Jones - we have John F'n Kerry, Susan Rice, and Joe Biden who, along with the slum lord Valerie Jarrett, drown out any other advisers out there.

What can be done? Nothing really. We have Obama as President for another two years. We just need to catalog where he's made a mess and hope the next person will help repair the relationships.

It is what it is. President Obama and his rump national security advisers are what they are.

The bad part, what they do has the "Made in USA" stamp on it, and they have yet to fully take on board the concept of stewardship, unless ... well ... let's not go there.

UPDATE: Jake Tapper goes Salamander;
It is no small thing for the king of Jordan, a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, to march in a rally prompted by the murders of people who mocked Islam as well as of innocent Jews -- all of whom were killed by Islamic extremists.

The United States, which considers itself to be the most important nation in the world, was not represented in this march -- arguably one of the most important public demonstrations in Europe in the last generation -- except by U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley, who may have been a few rows back. I didn't see her. Even Russia sent Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

I say this as an American -- not as a journalist, not as a representative of CNN -- but as an American: I was ashamed.

I certainly understand the security concerns when it comes to sending President Barack Obama, though I can't imagine they're necessarily any greater than sending the lineup of other world leaders, especially in aggregate.

But I find it hard to believe that collectively President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder -- who was actually in France that day for a conference on counterterrorism -- just had no time in their schedules on Sunday. Holder had time to do the Sunday shows via satellite but not to show the world that he stood with the people of France?

There was higher-level Obama administration representation on this season's episodes of "The Good Wife" on CBS.

Photo credit to Brad Thor.