Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jerusalem

Our Iraqi 'allies' in the fight against the daeshi headchoppers appear a bit miffed about the Trumpanzee's latest foreign policy disaster.

Both official Baghdad politicians and Qudsforce-backed militias are threatening US interests in Iraq.  The US embassy is probably well fortified.  But the 5200 GIs in Iraq are not.  And they now all are being targeted by the very people they have been helping to get rid of the jihadis.  Go figure that.  How could anybody have known that might happen just because the idiot in the oval office decided to move an embassy (irony alert!).  Their blood is on his hands.  Same for the troops in Syria and Afghanistan.   Tell me again why we are still there?

http://www.basnews.com/index.php/en/news/iraq/398173

http://www.basnews.com/index.php/en/news/iraq/398197

You have to wonder also how the Wahhabi imams in the land of Saud are going to take this.  Will the crown prince drop his unofficial alliance with Tel Aviv?  If not, will he survive?

http://www.basnews.com/index.php/en/news/middle-east/398274


Sunday, December 3, 2017

"A Republic, if you can keep it"

We have not.

A tax measure that provides a road map to increased inequality in one of the already-most-unequal industrial democracies and shreds the social safety net woven in the depth of the Depression to prevent a hard turn to fascist or communist revolution, and that is "supported" by, at most, a quarter of the citizens of the affected polity (and that in the midst of a relentless, unashamedly vicious barrage of lies from the ruling party that suggests that at least a portion of that 25% would fall away if they understood how nakedly plutocratic this legislation is) is as close to the definition of "taxation without representation" as I can think of short of a genuine occupation government.

If our political system has devolved to the point where a coterie of neo-Gilded Age fantasists can impose their Sharia Law on three-quarters of the populace, then we have put a wrap on the American Experiment.

In a truly republican nation this would decorate Pennsylvania Avenue with a festive holiday display of heads on pikes.

It has not and will not.
And, as such, we have no one to blame for our failure to keep our own republic but ourselves.

Update 12/6: And a reminder that, as vilely oligarchic as the GOP has become domestically, it, and it's current Chief Executive, are aggressively moronic internationally, as well.

I suspect that the derp behind this reflects the degree to which 1) the Fraudulency Administration is chock-full of people whose understanding of geopolitics ends with the Little Golden Book version of the New American Century, and 2) Trump "foreign policy" is really not about foreign policy but providing red meat for the base. The Right has been jonesing for going all-in on Israel for some time now, but previous administrations (largely with functioning hindbrains, even if as evil as that living inside the carapace of Darth Cheney) punted on the Jerusalem move for the very reasons pointed out in the linked article; it provides no real geopolitical advantage for U.S. interests in return for one more brick in the wall of Arab ire.

I know that several here have taken me to task for being "angry" about all this.

But, frankly, what else is there? I live in Blue Oregon. Outside of helping defenstrate the reptile Walden there is no more I can do to make Oregon a force for the 20th Century in D.C. And yet, here I am, like Smokey the Bear watching these vandals burn the forest of the America I grew up in down around me in hopes that a tangle of Gilded Age weeds will grow in its place. And that briar patch will be what my kids have to grow up in, an America more like the sort of America that drove men into the streets of Homestead to be shot down by formed troops.

I don't want that, and I don't understand how anyone not in the American aristocracy would.

And yet, here we are.

Monday, November 27, 2017

This is NOT normal

I'm sorry. It's just...not.
Here's an excerpt from the Thanksgiving oration that the 45th President of the United States gave to a group of servicepeople:
"But, I mean, we have equipment that -- nobody has the equipment that we have. And it's sad when we're selling our equipment to other countries but we're not buying it ourselves, okay? But now that's all changed. And the stuff I said -- the stuff that we have is always a little bit better too. You know, when we sell to other countries, even if they're allies -- you never know about an ally. An ally can turn. You understand. You're going to find that out. But I always say, make ours a little bit better. You know, give it that extra speed. A little bit -- keep a little bit -- keep about 10 percent in the bag, because what we have -- nobody has like what we have, and that's what we're doing."
So.

1. We were selling our "equipment" to other countries but not buying it ourselves...but now we are.

2. Our "allies" are treacherous bastards that will turn on us - "you're going to find that out".

3. So we ensure that whatever of this "stuff" we sell to our "allies" is 10 percent worse - slower, weaker, less accurate, something that's not "in the bag" - than what we kit ourselves out with because, well, treacherous bastards.

I know that we tend to lose track of the moron signal amid the blabbering noise from this joker, but...c'mon. Seriously?

Scene: Office of the Ministry of National Defense, Seoul, Republic of Korea, afternoon. A tall, severe looking man enters and crosses to his desk, staring intently at his phone. He presses a button on the intercom panel.

Voice (translated from Korean): "Yes, Minister Song?"
Song Young-moo: "Sang-mi, can you please ask Vice-Minister Lee to come in for a moment, please?"
Sang-mi: "Certainly, Minister."

The Minister of Defense leans back against his desk, staring at his phone with an irked expression. Several moments later the main door opens and a shorter, plumper man enters. The Minister looks up at him and holds out his phone.

Song: "Did you see what that fucking Yankee idiot said last week?"
Lee: "Which fuc..oh, Trump? I dunno. What particularly idiotic thing was it this time?"
Song: "The...he...oh, hell, just look at this."
He passes the phone over to his subordinate, who scrolls down quickly.
Lee: "Oh, c'mon, boss. That's just Trump. His mouth moves while his brain is in neutral. You know that. Don't mean nothing."
Song: "Nothing? Really?"
Lee: "Sure. You know Americans, they just talk and talk with their head up their ass, and this Trump, well, you met him. He's like the lights are on but nobody's home. He can't possibly mean that guff. If it was true he'd be killing every arms deal Lockheed and General Dynamics and Raytheon will ever make. Not even that spray-tan dope could be that fucking stupid."

There's a long pause. Both men look at each other with growing horror.

Lee: "No problem, chief. I'll call our people in California right away. One of my guys is bonking one of the QA/QC people at BAE Systems; he'll have an answer for us by morning. Oh, and I'll get the PVO to give me a quote for S-400s, and see if the Israelis are still interested in selling Arrow-3s. I've got some people in Johannesburg, too, I'll see what they're willing to move."
The Vice-Minister is already pulling out his phone as he heads for the door. Minister Song slumps back against his desk as the door closes behind his subordinate and punches the intercom button angrily.
Song: "Where did my wife tell you to hide the soju, Sang-mi?"
Sang-mi: "Minister...I..."
Song: "I'm in no mood for fucking around, Sang-mi. Dig up that bottle or I swear, Imma walk down to the bodega down the street and pay cash for the cheapest, nastiest booze I can find and you can explain that to my wife."
Sang-mi: "I've got it right here, Minister."
Song: "Good. Straight up, and call the Air Force Chief of Staff and tell him I want to talk to his zoomie ass most quick smart. Thanks."
He sighs, and stares out the window as he waits for his drink.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Not doing it.

I thought I'd revisit this post from a year ago, in which I noted that:
"...the GOP in it's present incarnation really offers only two policy "things":

1. Working for open oligarchy, and
2. Comfort for white nationalism, Christian theocracy, and fear of the "others" (whether those others are gay, or brown, or Muslim)

I know that sounds harsh, but...that's really it, isn't it? It's all tax cuts and privatize and deregulate and unshackle Wall Street and shove the homos back in the closet and no abortion and open carry everywhere. "Small government"? Sure...unless you count the DoD. Or the NSA.

There's no GOP vision of a future United States that doesn't really come down to a return to the Gilded Age, is there?"
For which I was castigated as "...unpersuasive and mean spirited."


Well.

Now that we've had a year of open corruption on a scale that would have made U.S. Grant pale with disbelief and Warren Harding green with envy, a year of fire and fury, blowhard tweets and idiotic name-calling, a year of selling off the national patrimony to crony capitalists, of trying to yank medical insurance away from poor people, a year that included a tax measure that prohibits you from deducting your home mortgage, medical expenses, state taxes, and what your kid's teacher spends on crayons but lets me deduct the cost of my private jet, a year dominated by a federal government run by people who seem to have carefully watched the vile doings of every cartoon villain ever scripted and then turned to Skeletor and announced "Here. Hold my beer."

Is there really anyone who still thinks I was "unpersuasive and meanspirited"?

Jesus wept. Yeah, in one sense I WAS unpersuasive. I honestly didn't think these people could be this appalling. Yep. I didn't see that coming. I didn't think that it was possible for a grown human with a functioning hindbrain to WANT to act like a fucking cartoon movie villain.

And here's the thing.

It's pretty damn easy to destroy a social contract. And that's what's going on right now.

For about fifty years we lived with the social contract hammered out by the New Deal. The wealthy would give up a little of their wealth, the middle class a little less, and in return we'd get labor and social peace. Since the old and sick didn't have to fear dying penniless they could stop fighting the ownership class' greed. So our country still had very few rich and many poor, it just wasn't quite so vicious about it. The sort of riots and strikes and radicalism that tore the country in the 1880s and 1890s and Teens and Twenties. The sort of thing that produced the Russian Revolution and then Italian fascism and then the Spanish Republicans.

And that's going away now, folks, if the people who run things in D.C. have any say about it.

You and I are going back to the future, to a New Gilded Age where the rich do what they can and the poor suffer what they must.

And you know what's so infuriating about that?

It's that that's not even good for the idiot plutocrats that are pushing it.

You think "regulations" are the problem? Try going back to the time before the Clean Air and Water Acts, when you could dump anything and everything into the air and water and not give a shit who it poisoned.

You think financial regulations are a problem? Try going back to financial "panics" every other decade, as used to slam the nation in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

I'm here to warn you. I'm here to be MORE unpersuasive and meanspirited. Dammit, people, this isn't just a political disagreement. The Trumpkins and their allies have turned out to be far worse than anyone every thought they could be. They are demolishing the very society built on the social contract of the New Deal. They're doing the goddamn best to return the U.S. to the social, economic, and political environment of 1890.

And if that happens, assuming that rising seas and violent storms don't do the job first, we're going back to a time that almost none of us can conceive and no living American remembers.

But for those of us not in the two-yacht family I can tell you - it was NOT a good time for us.

I wish I had faith that We the People would recognize this and band together to defeat and destroy it. But then I see that damn near two-fifths of my "fellow citizens" think that the Tangerine Toddler, Crock-o-bile Dumm-ee, is doing a heckuva job and I despair.

As we used to say about Dubya's Great Mess-o-Potamia:

Unless We the People, unless you and me and him and her get together and kick these damn Trumpkins dead square in the ass, we are all so, so, SO fucked.

Monday, November 13, 2017

CRS Syndrome

Before he died, former LTC Hackworth used to rant occasionally about the U.S. Army's CRS problem. "CRS" stood for "Can't Remember Shit", and it was symbolic for the Army's predilection for forgetting the hard-earned lessons of previous wars. A perfect example that jumped out at me when I read about it was the troubles along the MSRs in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was almost as if the services had stuffed the hard lessons learned about convoys in Vietnam down the memory hole and had to re-learn the same lessons all over again, at the usual cost in blood and treasure.

Here's another lesson from Vietnam we seem to have forgotten; sending Americans to fight small dirty wars in small, corrupt places in the unpaved parts of the world don't result in those shitholes becoming less corrupt but, rather, in corrupting the Americans.

As Charlie Pierce points out, this CRS problem goes all the way back to the beginnings. In his hearings on the Vietnam War, SEN Fulbright said:
“Under our system, Congress, and especially the Senate, shares responsibility with the President for making our Nation's foreign policy. This war, however, started and continues as a Presidential war in which the Congress, since the fraudulent Gulf of Tonkin episode, has not played a significant role.

The purpose of these hearings is to develop the best advice and greater public understanding of the policy alternatives available and positive congressional action to end American participation in the war."
Given their recent enthusiasm in kiboshing any sort of limits on what they see as the open-ended 2001 AUMF the Trumpkins have neither interest in nor worries about not limiting this endless whack-a-muj game the U.S. has been playing for 16 years now.

Somewhere in a dingy bar in Valhalla Sun-tzu reminds Dave Hackworth what he said about the problems inherent in fighting long wars, and Hack replies that, no shit, Sherlock, it is for that exact reason that the dopeslap was invented, and that the only problem is that nobody in the U.S. government seems willing to use it on the dumb bastards than need it.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Da Nang

Lots of news focus on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Viet-Nam.  Most of it seems to be on Trump/Putin talking and what will come of that. 

I am more interested on any one-on-one meeting between Trần Đại Quang and Xi Jinping.  Will they bury the hatchet on what the Viets call Biển Đông (East Sea) and the Chinese call their South Sea?  Same for any meets between Xi and President Duterte, Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia, and the Sultan of Brunei.  And what is Trump's position on the Spratly and Paracel Islands?  Did he use his 'art of the deal' when he was in Peking to offer Xi something he could not refuse?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/APEC_Vietnam_2017#Attendees

But in any case I'm happy that Donnie finally made it to Viet-Nam.  I suppose his heel spurs have been cured.  Looks like they are staying here:

http://www.danang.intercontinental.com/

Better quarters than what we had 50 years ago at LZ Baldy or Charlie Ridge.




Sunday, October 22, 2017

Acting 1SG Lawes reads the morning formation announcements

Comp-ney, Atten-shun! At ease. Okay, listen up. Coupla things here.

First.

I've been hearing a bunch of you he-roes prancing around the dayroom talking smack about how y'all are "the best 1 percent this country produces".

I hear tell that y'all got that shit from some jarhead, and a jarhead general at that.

Now y'all know how I feel about jarheads. So hearing y'all woofing because one said something about how “We don’t look down upon those of you who that haven’t served. In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll have never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our servicemen and women do.” just means that the overpromoted bolo doesn't know about the kind of things our servicemen did down at the Flaming Mug last week and, yes, I'm looking at you, AT Platoon. I've got my eye on you, slickyboys.

So before you get all "Ooo-rah! We bad, we bad!" take a look to your left and right flanks. You know as well as I do what that guy next to you is capable of. We all went to high school with that guy. The dude that locked himself in the last stall in the boys' bathroom in the B-wing and had to get pulled out by the school cops?

That's him.

The joker that useta take polaroid dick pics and put them in the romance novels in the library?

That's him.

And don't get me started on surfing the fucking storm drains on their sleeping mats, am I right, Blackie?

The "best 1 percent" my rosy red ass.

The civilians are too fucking busy shoving their tongues up your collective fourth-point-of-contact to remember this, but y'all, at least, should know that y'all are the same jocks, nerds, stoners, wierdos, brainiacs, goofballs, and just regular American dipwads they went to high school with only now y'all wear the same colored clothes. Raisin' your right hand didn't suddenly make any of y'all smarter, braver, more honest, or less likely to fuck up a wet dream and yes, I mean you, night bakers. I saw your fuckin' mess hall this morning and we gonna have a little come-to-Jesus chat right after this formation.

Y'all are good troops, and that's what you're supposed to be. But don't let that make you think that you're some sort of national gold standard. That's how good troops end up getting waxed in combat.

Y'all get free food and clothes, y'all get to get all-expenses-paid vacations to the shitty parts of the world to fuck up things there. Don't let that make you kid yourselves about what a bunch of special fuckin' snowflakes you are just because some goddamn gyrene general who probably hasn't actually seen one of y'all in his natural environment since he was a itty-bitty lieutenant. Those fuckin' star-warriors run around in a little general-officer bubble and they have no more idea of what y'all are really doing out here than a cow knows about the fuckin' Council of Trent.

So. Get over yourselves, people. Like I tol' ya last week; thinking you're all better than civilians is a straight-up dick move, and I won't tolerate that shit in my company, regardless of what the Old Man tells you about how awesome you are.

OK.

Second.

Rumor has it that the Brigade Sergeant Major is gonna be in the company AO this Friday. Y'all know that dick as well as I do, so I highly recommend that you ensure that those "extra" toolkits find their way to SSG Reye's garage, Commo, and Medics? The quarter-ton y'all keep "forgetting" to turn in? That sumbitch needs to go live in the woods starting Thursday night.

Oh, and I will be doing a walkthrough tomorrow at fourteen hundred hours and if I find more pogie bait in your walllockers I will go medieval on your ass. Are we clear on that?

I thought so.

Comp-ney, Atten-shun!

Platoon sergeants, take charge.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

What's the English for "freikorps"?

Out old Intel Dump pal Phillip Carter has a piece up at Slate discussing the presser put on by the White House Chief-of-Staff, former GEN Kelly.

Carter says all the usual things that are being said elsewhere about the Kelly presser - that it pretty much told anyone who doesn't have a DD214 that their only role in military affairs is to "support the troops" and STFU - but one line from the Carter piece really struck me.

It was this:
"The burden of our post-9/11 wars has been heavy but not widely shouldered nor shared. The result, echoed in opinion surveys of veterans and military personnel, has been a mixture of pride, nostalgia, and resentment."
Yeah, well, there was another group of veterans and military personnel who held strong feelings of pride and nostalgia about their recent wartime service and deep resentment towards the civilians and political leaders of their nation they held responsible for their failure.

They were the guys from the Kaiserlich Deutsches Heer, the Imperial German Army, after 1918.

And by the 1920s they had given up pretending even notional submission to the civilian government of Weimar and went out into the streets to fight, helping to contribute to the chaos and social unrest that eventually enabled totalitarian rule come to power in Germany.

In the bitterest of ironies, the supposed true German nationalists they helped to power considered them a danger to the fascist state. Many of the ex-freikorps were murdered or disappeared in 1934 when the true believers consolidated power.

Are the situations of interwar Germany and post-modern America very different?

Yes.

Is it good to have a small, self-selecting group within a popular democracy with a monopoly on the use and understanding of armed force and the attitude that that monopoly makes them politically superior to those without it?

No.

You can argue about the iniquities of a draft and I won't argue back. But the Founders of this nation had some strong opinions about the danger to a republic from praetorian treason.

I will suggest that former GEN Kelly's remarks should make you nervous about listening for the sound of the dagger leaving its sheath.
There is more than one way to get stabbed in the back.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There Was A Young Lady From Niger

The latest outrage by, about, and surrounding the Tangerine Toddler seems to concern what he may have said, or not said, to the mother of a U.S. Special Forces sergeant killed along with three other NCOs in what I presume was his training/advising team in the northern African country of Niger.

While I yield to no one in my contempt for Five-Deferment Donnie as a wanna-be großer Feldherr, this is ridiculous.

Trump, idiotic as he is, didn't put these people there. AFRICOM, and the elements of the 3rd Special Forces Group that were operating with the unit of the FAN, the Forces Armees Nigerinnes or Nigerien Army, have been in-country for some time. A large multinational exercise, Flintlock 2017, involved the FAN as well as US, Belgian, Australian, and Canadian regulars back in February to early March of this year.

The real question in my mind has nothing to do with short-fingered vulgarians. It has to do with what the fuck are the United States' "national interests" in Niger?

From the descriptions I've read the place looks like a goddamn dumpster fire politically, economically, socially, and environmentally. It's grossly under-resourced and overpopulated. Desertification is pressuring an already fissured multi-tribal society that - crucially bad for social cohesion - is divided into semi-nomadic pastoralists and subsistence farmers. The war between nomads and settled peoples is older than Sumer and anyone, particularly a foreign Great Power, that intends to do anything but deal with the survivors through a slot in a locked and heavily armored door is a complete and utter fool.

The neighboring countries are largely also impoverished, socially chaotic, politically unstable shitholes (Mali? Seriously? Mali is like Mad Max's Thunderdome only with more fucking mayhem. If your neighbors are Mali I suggest you start getting to know them by sowing a thick belt of mines along your spite fence...)

The "government" of Niger seems to be the usual collection of shady African types, and the FAN tends to liven things up by coup-ing every so often (the last one was just back in 2010).

Taken altogether the joint makes Honduras look like Switzerland.

So it appears that the official justification for USAFRICOM involvement, and the patrolling mission that got these SF troopers killed, was, as always...wait for it...waaaaait for it...

"terrorism!".

Yep. The usual suspects, of course; Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, local franchisees like Boko Haram...you know, your basic Scary Dark People.

Mind you...nobody seems to be asking just exactly who these jokers are.

Because my guess would be "local tribesmen who are pissed off at some other local tribesmen" or "young men without a job looking to make something out of an AK-47 and the willingness to use it" with a side order of "The usual assholes who think that shooting someone is easier than working for a living".

And, of course, the explanation for how teaching one of these bunches of Chaos Warriors to kill the others because Surely That Will Solve The Problem of "Terrorism" is...

...well, kinda nothing. At least nothing sensible. The tribal grudges aren't going away. The political instability isn't, either. The desertification is, if anything, getting worse and so, inevitably, will the clashes between the herdspeople squabbling over shrinking grazing land with farmers whose cropland is becoming increasingly marginal.

The notion of sending U.S. troopers into this hot mess to do...something something defeat "terrorism" is beneath ridiculous.

There is nothing in Niger worth the bones of an Oregonian grenadier.

And there are no "terrorism" problems in Niger that a bullet will solve.

Unless the 3rd SFG(a) is willing to use every bullet ever cast, and more, and leave the land of Niger an empty waste, and call it "peace".
"Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside.
And the smile on the face of the tiger."


Update 10/19: One thing that does kind of bug me (as a GI) about the Niger thing.

What I get from the reports is that four of the SF team were killed or DOW and one FAN trooper.

That suggests to me that either 1) the guerrillas had terrific intel and knew exactly where and when to initiate their ambush so as to target and kill the Americans quickly, or 2) the FAN unit fell apart under pressure and the SF guys had to (or tried to - it sounds like the FAN rabble was driven off the kill zone in disorder) rally the gomers and, as is often the case, ended up getting killed exposing themselves to enemy fire.

Which, in turn, makes me wonder; why the hell would any smart and experienced NCOs lead a shitshow like this FAN outfit in a patrol in an AO like the Mali border? We're talking the fucking wild, wild West here. The chances that a savvy group of local G's would have way better eyes and ears on the ground and way better knowledge of the ground and way better discipline than whatever this FAN gaggle had seem close to 100% (as it turned out).

Were the FAN officers overconfident? Did the SF team leaders try to talk them out of whatever the fuck they thought they were doing and fail (and have to tag along on this death-ride or lose face with the locals?) Or was the SF team the one that got their baby ducklings in troubled waters?

Either way, there seems to have been some sort of massive fail on a number of levels, including knowledge of the local conditions, assessment of the competence level of the FAN unit, and combat command and control.

Which - since, as I mentioned, the contact between US and FAN troopers is of some standing - makes me question, again, the effectiveness of the U.S. military assistance programs. We've already seen in Afghanistan and Iraq the general worthlessness of U.S. "training" and trainers. The local levies seem to emerge from the U.S. programs just as shit as before they went in (and if you can't get Afghans - some of the fightingest people on Earth - to fight you 're doing it wrong). In a sense I'm hoping that there was some element(s) involved beyond the straightforward reports I'm hearing.

But in another, this just reminds me again what a generally piss-poor job that the U.S. Army seems to do with "training" foreign troops. And, again, the overall worthlessness of these military assistance missions. The most common product always seems to be a national army that's better at coups than anything else.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

And now, something different

I'm not familiar with a lot of historically tense situations that run the gamut from tragedy to thriller to comedy within the space of seconds, but the situation in Catalonia/Spain sure seems to fill it.

For those of you who missed the hilarity, the rogue leader of Catalonia, the man who orchestrated a guerrilla election that did surprisingly well given the complete opposition of the national government and the presence of tens of thousands of national police, the man who evaded arrest and brought Catalonia closest to independence it has been in a century, he gave a speech on Monday.
His speech was absurd.  His speech should be the definition of absurd double-speak.  It was a towering instance of ridiculousness.  In a single speech he declared independence but then delayed its implementation.  Confusion reigned.  Half of the press said that independence was declared, the other half said 'not independent.'  Wikipedia said that they had been independent for eight seconds. 

How confusing was the moment?  The Spanish government decided to give them EIGHT days to figure that shit out.  HO boy.  The national government that implied the Catalonians were threatening invasion and death has decided that they are so clueless that they get a week plus to think it through.

Imagine, if you will, that during the climactic scene in the Empire Strikes Back (spoilers), Darth Vader had stared at the son he had just disarmed and said, "I am your fath<cough>-far-<cough>-er"  Seconds pass.  Luke blinks, "you're my farter?"  He smiles because it is absurd.  The dramatic and thrilling culmination of dread and revelation are completely flubbed.  Even if Darth Vader gets it together and states his relationship clearly, it is too late.  He whiffed at the most critical moment.  That is cinematic equivalent of this moment.

How hilarious.  How pathetic.  How revealing.  Democratic government has limits.  We like to pretend that it does not, but it does.  And the ones with the guns and banks at the end trump those that do not.  Does anyone doubt that Spain would rather ruin Catalonia than see it leave?  That the EU wouldn't lift a finger against a Spanish crackdown?

But the true treat here is that the 'idealistic' crazies didn't get their heads cracked by police at the end or wave their flag at the end of the movie.  No, we got a treat.  The crazies went and slipped on a banana peel while the dramatic music soared. Hi-FUCKING-larious.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Third Gulf War and the Poison Gift that Keeps on Giving

As His Fraudulency thumps himself on the back for not completely goatscrewing relief efforts to Puerto Rico and farkles about tweeting about football players the poison tree that his GOP buddies and his fellow-idiot Dubya planted in Iraq back in 2003 continues to bear bitter, poison fruit.

The latest in sectarian strife there is ripening this week after the Kurdish minority voted overwhelmingly to secede and now the Shiite majority legislature in Baghdad is striking back with a measure to shut off air traffic to the landlocked Kurdish provinces.

The problem for Orange Foolius is that, due to the rank idiocy of Dubya's crew in knocking the secular Baath stopper off the Iraqi bottle, the sectarian genie is out, uncontrollable, and uncontainable. One of the favorite Republican "kwitcherbitchin'!" talking points back in the Oughts was to insist that Saddam is Evil and if you're against war in Iraq you are For Saddam and therefore For Evil.

The argument was transparently moronic then and looks even stupider now that the deposition of Saddam and the destruction of secular government has empowered every religious nut with an AK-47 to tear up what little bridgework allowed construction of the 20th Century over this already-bottomless post-Ottoman sinkhole. Evil?

Sheesh.

An administration headed by FDR and a military overseen by George Marshall would have a nearly impossible task trying to put this Iraqi Humpty Dumpty together again. The current passel of mouthbreathers, grifters, morons, reality-show carnies, egomaniac adolescents, and Trump (but I repeat myself) couldn't manage to do anything constructive with this mess if they had ten centuries, a magic 8-Ball, and a license to print money.

Oh, wait. They have the latter. They'd just sooner use it to fund Amway scamsters and give away cash to plutocrats.

I don't know if there's a point here, other than "Don't elect morons" and "WASF".

Friday, September 22, 2017

Towed vs Tracked?...Or perhaps wheeled?

Saw this system mentioned at Defense Tech.  So am wondering what opinion FDChief, the old redleg, thinks of it as well as Sven or anyone else who wants to comment:

https://www.defensetech.org/2017/09/19/humvee-mounted-howitzer-dazzles-modern-day-marine/




It uses a US Army M20 howitzer mounted on an M1152 expanded capacity hummer.  It has also been demonstrated at an AUSA conference.  Mandus Group teamed up with AM General for this effort.  Mandus is a fairly new company formed in 1998(?).  They got their start in the hydraulics business and claim to have the best hydraulic engineers and techs in the country working for them.  They claim a 70% reduction in recoil.  They also claim you can shoot and scoot in 30 seconds.

Below are the specifications.   As it stands now traverse limits are 180 degrees, elevation -5 to +73 degrees.

http://www.mandusgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Mandus_Hawkeye-HMMWV-Brochure.pdf

More videos below.  Check out the one on an F250 Ford pickup truck:

http://www.mandusgroup.com/hawkeye/videos/

I'm leery, but also impressed.  If the Air Force can fire a 105 from an aircraft then why shouldn't this be viable?  And why not mount it on a Stryker - or the LAV-25?    Could a HEMTT or another platform possibly be used for a 155?

Fire away!

Monday, September 18, 2017

"What has been will be again,what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Time changes but events that affect us day to day always seem to be the same thing be it politics, religion, or death. For me, my absence, and occasional appearances in the comments is because of those very changes.

It started off with my father-in-law fighting cancer...six years, multiple myeloma...and it was in the sixth year, his body being eaten away where he finally said enough was enough...he was at the end of his strength, and he had chosen his end. Renal failure or
peptic ulcer ...one was a quiet, painless death, the other would be a messy, blood-bath of pain, and death.

Fortunately for all, the doctors prediction was on the mark, and he passed quietly in his sleep.

My father in law died of renal failure on the tenth day. Sadness enough that affected family for years, but then fate has a way of up-ending the "moving on" that so many counselor's say will come after a death.

What we didn't know because known as she, my mother in law, kept her own decline in health a secret the whole time while her husband passed on in quiet...she was suffering from stage four pancreatic cancer. Inoperable, painful, oh so very painful way for one's life to end...and she didn't want to die...who does?

She fought an inevitable end...I could see it as I held her hand in the hospital...family was hopeful, but I've been around the dying way to much...I've seen it too much, and I could see her life leaving her...but I kept quiet so that the family could live in hope.

She died a year and half after her husband...the day after I held her hand, seeing the future clearly for her, and realizing I will have a very upset wife soon.

My wife, and my sons were devastated, and there are no words of comfort I could conjure, nor if any came to me would I boldly speak them...silence was the best thing...that...and just me being there.

It's been three years now since those dark days, and it seems the bad times have passed; but I have had my own struggles...nothing serious, though me being in the midst of it means I have to account for myself...I have kidney stones.

Large ones, and to quote the Pathologist who jauntily showed the x-ray of a bullet shaped kidney stone lodged tightly in my ureter, "Your body is trying to pass a 30.06 through a .22 caliber bore."

Funny guy with a smile.

I'm juiced up on morphine. More on that in a sec.

Uric acid kidney stones. Five times...or is it six...I've kind of lost count, now.

The best kind of kidney stones there are...if one is looking to get kidney stones.

Big, soluble bundles of salts that hardened into a nasty little mass and plug the ureter, backing up the urine into the kidney, swelling the kidney to three-to-four times its normal size, pushing up against all the nerves radiating from the spinal column into my body, and lighting up my brain in a bright white, screaming wave of pain...

Level 10+ pain is what I'm told...it locks the body up in a rigor-mortis like contortion, with a jacked up blood pressure peaking at 180/120, or the one time 190/140 and the only thing to bring all that down to a comfortable state is morphine.

Juice him, and keep him juiced till that stone passes.

No long term effects for me to worry about other than a week and half of deep depression to work through the with-drawl as they pump me full of the good stuff...

I have had injuries from football that shocked the doctors...I played with a broken elbow, fractured ribs, fractured neck, broken ankles, dislocated shoulders, and more knee injuries than I can remember...also, concussions...count your fingers and toes...my concussions are plenty...all of those painful injuries are nothing compared to the pain of kidney stones.

The thought of kidney stones now cracks my will to live, and the mere thought of that pain strips away the pretension of courage...making room for the want to die, allowing that want to overshadow any and all desire to survive the moment...and somehow, I did...I've come to learn that a good wife is hard to find, a strong wife who grabbed my will and shielded it in my weakness, helped me through my darkest thoughts...I am blessed and humbled by my wife.

Also, I don't recommend level 10+ pain...it leaves me with a bad outlook on life...not good for the spirit.

So now I grumble about religion and politics...I'm done with death, thank you very much...and so I've turned my attention to Mr. Trump...and the Republicans.

Trump's desire to be something he could never be even if he wanted to is his perennial quest to be a man of integrity, character, a President...and he can't help but fail at it.

So he struts his ignorance, he mutters his limitations, and through it all he curses the heavens in rage that reality is constantly impinging on his delusions...

Presidential...Obama was Presidential, but Mr. Trump is failing at it...failing because that is all he knows how to do...so, he signals his intention to throw more US military lives into the grinder called Afghanistan...but maybe he won't, maybe he will, might not....probably will...or call it all off.

See, the problem we have is the same problem I have with my kidney stones...inconsistency...if I knew my kidney stones would appear once a year...okay, I can prepare myself for that...but they don't...they form whenever they please...and Mr. Trump is the same way...this uncertainty is what keeps people on edge, stresses them, chokes them with concern, and stresses plans for the future...

Trump says this is what he intends, that he is the creator of this uncertainty. Though I agree he is the source of the uncertainty, I doubt his creativity is purposeful of aforethought...as it is apparent to me based on his very public frustration that no one seems to get or appreciate his touted, yet non-existent genius. The uncertainty he creates isn't intentional or willful, but an inevitable result of his inability to judge circumstances and/or make sound decisions.

He's is a self-made victim of the Law of Unintended Consequences...the unfortunate reality for us is...we're going to be suffering from those Consequences as well.

And like my kidney stones...we will feel those Consequences, unsure of what we are feeling, sensing, but we know whatever it is it's coming...and the worst part is...we know intuitively that it is not going to be a good thing.

I have the seen the truth of Ecclesiastes 1:9 in history...unfortunately, the want and will to learn from those recurring events in history doesn't seem to be of much interests to those who should be interested.






Tuesday, September 5, 2017

SIGINT - Backpack Style



Last Saturday the 2nd was VJ Day.  I was at a luncheon and sitting next to a 93 year old veteran, quite an interesting guy.  I stayed for hours after the lunch was over to hear his sea stories.  

Originally from a small valley town in the coastal range of Oregon.  He was playing football in the University of Oregon at Eugene when the war broke out.  He and several others on the team dropped out of school and enlisted in the Marines.  He and his football team buddies served with a Radio Intelligence Platoon in the Pacific.  Those platoons were one of the forerunners of National Security Agency (NSA) of today.

They had to backpack radio direction finders (the 1st generation DAG-1 model they carried weighed 100 pounds with batteries) on islands of the South Pacific.  Primary job was to locate Japanese radios and therefore possible enemy forward observers or unit headquarters.  They also carried receivers to intercept message traffic and they had Nisei Japanese-Americans with them to translate those radio calls.  There were no jeep mounts back then so everything had to be carried on their backs.  He said the Nisei with them wore USMC uniforms, but even so there was always the danger that they would be mistaken as enemy by other US units, so they had to be escorted everywhere to prevent blue-on-blue casualties.


He himself was in the Marshall Islands and the Battle of Okinawa.  Prior to deployment he did his training at Wahiawa in Oahu.  Wahiawa was the main stationary direction finding center in the Pacific during the war and was still there in 97 the last time I visited Hawaii and may still be there.  Wahiawa was the station that received the IJN message traffic decoded at Pearl Harbor that led to the decisive victory at Midway.  There was little if any classroom instruction.  It was 99% on-the-job training working a shift with a salty old Navy Chief standing behind and nit-picking the trainee’s every action and giving him a sharp rap on the knuckles for any false move. 
 
In the Marshalls, after the Battle of Kwajalein, they helped the Navy assemble a permanent DF & Intercept site there that had been dismantled on Guam just prior to the Japanese takeover.  They also worked shifts at that site until mobilized for Operation Iceberg the Okinawa invasion.  By this time he was a corporal leading a section of the radio intelligence platoon.  He had three DF sites each a mile apart set up just one ridge north of Hacksaw Ridge featured in the recent Hollywood movie.  G2 apparently forgot about resupplying them as they went without rations for ten days.  Says They scrounged empty foxholes for C-Rations that had not been opened.  Could always find unopened cans of ham&limas, which they scarfed down even though nobody liked them.   Plus he sent out a scrounger to make midnight requisitions on another unit ration dump, but they were alone and far from other units so pickings were slim.  In addition to transcripts of Japanese radio traffic they were able to triangulate on an IJA light tank platoon, which soon became scrap metal after a battery TOT mission.

After VJ day, he says Uncle Sam exercised the 'for-the-duration-plus-six-months' clause in his enlistment contract and sent him and his unit to Tientsin China.  They were being used to help accept the surrender and repatriation of Japanese troops, and also to track down units of the Kwangtung Army that did not initially surrender.  Some small Japanese units in Mongolia or other remote areas never got the word, or had refused to believe it.  So they had to find them and the Nisei interpreters in his platoon had a tough job convincing them that Emperor Hirohito had surrendered and wanted them to come home.

He mentioned Atiyeh, a Governor of Oregon in the 1980s, was also a member of his platoon.  Many guys in his platoon were former football players who dropped out of the University in Eugene to enlist for the war.  Those 1st generation backpacked DF sets were damned heavy he said, it took a big guy to carry those plus weapons and their other normal load. (Note -  I looked online and found smaller ones from that era, for instance the Austrian made <i>’Gurtelpeiler’</i> worn as a vest, but I believe it was for short range work by the SD or perhaps the Gestapo.)

After the war he settled down in Rainier, Oregon.  But retired from there 28 years ago and moved to the great state of Washington, near a golf course.  No golf carts for him though, he walked the course every day up until a few years ago, which is probably why he is still healthy at 93.  (Note to myself: do more walking)!



UPDATE:

I neglected to mention that this particular veteran and his platoon were not the only ones sent to China after the war.  III Amphibious Corps received orders to ship out to China within forty-eight hours after the Japanese surrendered on 2 September.  There were many hundreds of thousands of Japanese and Korean soldiers and civilians in China needing repatriation.  Neither the Japanese nor the Chinese had the assets to make that happen.  So POTUS #33 directed the 7th Fleet and the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions of IIIAC to northern China with orders to accept the surrender of the Japanese and repatriate them.  And also to ”help the Nationalists reassert their control over areas previously held by the Japanese.”  IMHO this last was probably in reaction to Soviet Operation August Storm into Manchuria.  Preliminary plans had been issued in August.  Army LtGen Wedermayer was in command of the China Theater at the time and it was at his urging that the orders were issued.

They took up positions in Peking, Tsingtao, Tangku,

and Chinwangtao in addition to Tientsin.  Protecting railroads that delivered Japanese internees, coal, and Nationalist troops was part of their tasking.  So squad and platoon size detachments went many places in between those five major cities as train guards and bridge security.  They were not to take sides in the fighting between the Reds and the Nationalists, but sh!t happens so they defended themselves.  They negotiated directly with Zhou Enlai over many of these incidents.


 They provided security for US Fleet Repatriation Centers in various Chinese ports, many of which came under sporadic attacks.  They provided six-man security detachments to 39 LSTs transporting the repatriated internees home in case there was any difficulty with the ~1000 Japanese soldiers on each ship.  BTW there were no difficult incidents, the Japanese were happy to be going home.  The photo on the lower right is of Japanese soldiers on their way home saluting the Stars and Stripes upon boarding an LST returning them to their home islands.  The saluting was not forced on them by the US, they did it at the order of General Nagano, former Commander of Japanese troops at Tsingtao.  And they were probably happy to not have been in Manchuria ‘repatriated’ by Stalin to the Siberian Gulag or to the forced-labor Karaganda coalfields of Kazakhstan  -  or happy to not have been the victims of mob violence inspired by local guerilla political cadre.  Altogether <i>”more than 540,000 Japanese had been repatriated from North China under Marine supervision”</i>.  Another 1.7 million were repatriated later by NGOs working with the Japanese Merchant Marine, whose shipping was 99% comprised of US Liberty Ships, LSTs, and Hospital Ships.

The 93 year old who I got the story from was released in late 1946.  He went back to University at Eugene, married his high school sweetheart, and raised two doctors, a schoolteacher, and a fourth he describes as the mellow child happily living in a jackrabbit paradise.