Thursday, March 23, 2017

Good question...

Back in February we talked about the possibility that the Department of Defense might get a massive infusion of taxpayer bucks under the GOP, although said Department had neither requested such largesse nor seemed to know exactly what to spend it on.

One day after our post went up here a U.S. Army major laid out the most important problem with this war-fattened budget:
"In fact, money is not the solution — it may actually be contributing to our problems. Enormous budgets and unclear strategy allow us to ignore hard choices. Since the advent of the All-Volunteer Force (AVF), America has skipped the “guns vs. butter” argument entirely. Instead of hard choices, America used debt to outsource its wars to a small cadre of competent, capable, but increasingly distant professionals. Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates once remarked that we spend more on military bands than diplomacy. Too much money has allowed the military to dominate what should be whole-of-government decision making."
Many of our bar staff here have hammered on this point - I'd give Ranger Jim the Employee of the Month award for constantly reminding us - that tactics aren't strategy and warfighting isn't policy.

It is abundantly clear that Trump hasn't a clue here; he says himself that he gets his military information mostly from television shows (largely Hogan's Heroes and F Troop, from the look of it...) so if there's going to be an actual strategy guiding all this spending it won't come from the Oval Office. And, as we discussed here a little while ago, it appears that the grown-ups like McMaster and Mattis aren't getting listened to; it's All-Bannon all the way down, whispering in Trump's orange ear like a dyspeptic-looking Grima Wormtongue.

At this point is there a chance that all this extra cash for things that blow up won't be used to keep pointlessly blowing things up? And, if so, how? What could possibly break the "Washington Rules" and end the seemingly unending search for monsters to destroy?
I don't see anything, but I'm a pessimistic old sergeant. Anyone out there see a glimmer of hope?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Not the cu-ra-tor of anything

In the movie Ragtime there's a scene where the wild-eyed anarchists/terrorists are holed up in a library and Jimmy Cagney - in his last film role, BTW - as the police chief is trying to organize his guys to deal with this problem. As he's trying to make some order out of this chaos up comes this painfully earnest scholarly type who announces that he's the curator of the library's priceless collection and that this situation must be handled with the utmost care.

Well, replies Cagney (in that terrific back-o-the-yards Cagney snarl), why don't you go in and tell those guys that?

Are you joking? replies the librarian.

My good man, says Cagney, so long as those guys are in there, you are not the cu-ra-tor of anything.

So, with that in mind, I guess we're beginning to see the answer to the question of "Will having H.R. McMaster as NSA have the effect of bringing some sort of adult supervision to the foreign policy/national strategic thinking of the Tangerine Toddler?"

I note in passing that FOX spokesmodel/Islamophobic-Amway salesperson K.T. McFarland is still in place at the NSA, as well.

Oh, well. It was a nice thought while it lasted.

Update 3/26: Fred Kaplan at Slate has a worthwhile discussion of this issue.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Chocolate

Where is the modern "Der Schokoladenflieger" when we need him?

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/090320173






Thursday, March 2, 2017

Rise and Shine


If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
--If, Rudyard Kipling

 ___________________________

If you or anyone you know has been severely wounded or injured in mind or body and are looking for inspiration and one man's path navigating the healthcare behemoth, I highly recommend a new Audible release of the book Rise and Shine written by my dear friend Simon Lewis, and read by actor Kelsey Grammer. (We have mentioned the book previously at RAW, but this is a new and updated version, accessible to those who cannot read.)

Here is a clip from the Audible book discussing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

In a terrible instant, Simon went from being a rising Hollywood producer, to learning to speak again via Disney children's films. Following many years of excruciating effort and assistance from an eclectic group of resources, and against all odds, he regained his former 150 I.Q. and learned to walk again.

Due to the permanent TBI damage, he has sensorimotor and vision deficits. He calls the ever-present now in which he lives, "flat-time".

But Simon's fortitude, wit, erudition and unflagging courage will make a meet traveling companion for those who are treading the same arduous "hidden path", as he calls it. This book will lend you the courage and insight on how to bear it out against all odds.

Like Simon himself, Mr. Grammer lends dry humor, a sense of irony and gravitas to this dire yet tremendously inspirational story. As the reader writes on the Audible site:

"It reminds me of a line from Prometheus Unbound by Shelley — 'To suffer woes which hope thinks infinite' — surely Simon's story measures up to that description. That he emerged victorious, in the face of such travail, is a testament to his courage ... [and] is an inspiration to all."

Mr. Lewis is a tireless advocate for clients who are often discharged too early from treatment, to expect more. Through unceasing exploration, he asserts that answers can be found.

"No one will tell you everything," he writes; of course, the corollary is, "No one knows everything" -- not by a long shot.

Bravo, Simon, and to everyone who is fighting a similar battle.

[cross-posted @ RangerAgainstWar.]