Sunday, July 21, 2019

Don't Be A Sucker

Produced at Warner Bothers by the US Army Signal Corps in 1943.  Below is a three minute plus segment.

The guy on the soapbox belting out hate messages is famed Dick Lane.   An early TV announcer for professional wrestling, kind of like Trump's hosting of WrestleMania.  Those early 40s and 50s bogus wrestling matches were the reality shows of 70 years ago.  Our own  reality show TV personality, Citizen Bone-Spurs, seems to be a duplicate of Dick Lane.  It's time to yell Whoa Nellie and get rid of this whining diva-wannabee.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Bastille Day

Mr. DoUntoOthersBeforeTheyDoItToYou is green with envy.  Why didn't the Pentagon give him a flying hoverboard and a three and a half hour show?

My favorite as always was the axe wielding Pioneer detachment of the Légion étrangère.  Axes for their Pioneer duties.  Tough buffalo hide aprons for their Sapper role to protect the family jewels from 18th century breaching blasts.  I need to grow a beard like those.  I'll pass on the epaulets though.  They won battle honors at Sevastopol, North Africa (three times), Italy, Mexico (Camarón), China, Việt Nam, Madagascar, and Macedonia.

I do like that UAV mounted on the yellow pick-up.  It appears capable of being launched from the truck bed.  What about landing?  Can't find any data on it.  Kind of a mini-UAV.  For tactical level recon maybe?  But it clearly has French Air Forrce markings and NOT French Army.  The launch catapult rails look similar to a ground-based version I've seen before, can't recall which system.

The hoverboard which got all the raves was piloted by the civilian inventor, Franky Zapata, and NOT by a member of the French military.   Apparently the French Army has wisely not bought it yet and it is just there for the show.   I am not a fan either.  At least not for the high-flying part.  If it could skim along a foot of the ground in real nap-of-the-earth fashion maybe I'd change my mind, but that would take some major upgrades.   And how about unmanned for hi-value logistics delivery?


Franky Z's next Flyboard show will be critical for his ambitions — On July 25, he plans to cross the English Channel.   I wish him good luck and fair weather.  But he reportedly will need mid-air refueling.  It must be a gas hog as the Channel is only 33 kilometers (<21 miles) wide at the Strait of Dover.   The 25 July date is the 110th anniversary of Louis Blériot's historic flight across the Channel:

Zapata claims his Flyboard has a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph).   Maximum load is 100 kg (220 pounds), perhaps 200 kg for short distance3 low speed runs.   Maximum altitude is 3,000 meters.

Friday, July 5, 2019


For the out-of-towners, forget the First Toddler emceeing for an imitation of NorKo’s Kim Il-sung Square.  Here is what a normal American small town looks like on the Fourth of July.  No tanks and no B-1s.  And best of all no pompous windbag bloviating while staying dry from the rain behind bulletproof glass.  

More typical is my small town,  We had a Shopping Cart Drill Team from the local non-chain grocery, 

the Daffodil Ladies,

and the Butterfly Bicycle Troop.

Plus half a dozen gearheads showing off their antique cars, and Shriners in funny hats and trick cars.   

The only military presence was six old men from the VFW marching out of step, mishandling the colors, and winking at certain ladies in the crowd of onlookers.   

The only politician was a county commissioner in a convertible throwing candy to the kids.  No speechifying!  

Plenty of hot dogs and watermelon afterwards. 
I skipped the fireworks.  I miss the huge bonfires of stacked railroad crossties from my youth.  They lit up the night until dawn.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Tanks but no tanks

A couple of thoughts, based on this Politico piece that Sven provided in the comments on the previous post:

1. For a dude who claims to luuuuuurve his military guys El Caudillo de Mar-a-Lago has no problems with making at least some of the poor bastards work over the holiday weekend rather than hang out at home or drink with the guys in the billets. I wonder who drew the short straw down in Ft. Stewart to drag ass all the way to D.C. to babysit the Brads and tanks and the M88 so somebody who would rather not have dragged ass to Southeast Asia when he had the chance (cough!bonespurscough!) could pose with the heavy metal and get a little woody?
2. There's a big reason that the Fourth isn't like Bastille Day.

For all that both republics were born in war and the use of force, the U.S. deliberately pushed the troops back into the barracks - hell, the Founders and Framers didn't want "troops" in the sense of regular GIs at all - in a way that France did not. And, in part because of that the U.S. has been spared the sort of man-on-horseback problems France has had with it's armed forces. There's a reason we here revere George Washington; for all his flaws (and he had them, like all of us) he could easily have been Napoleon and consciously turned away from that.

It's a sad comment - not so much on Trump, who is a ginormous toddler with the soul of a cinerious lump of coal and the intellect of a howler monkey who can only be expected to crave the fake toughness of being close to soldiers and military hardware, but - on the state of this nation that the vast bulk of Americans are reacting to this ridiculous Red Square propaganda show with vast indifference.

I'm sorry I'm 3,000 miles away, because somebody owes those 3rd ID guys a beer for having to be part of this Reichsparteitag shit, and I'd be buying.

And someone owes Trump a finger, while they're at it, and I got one of those for his orange ass, too.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Lovers in a Dangerous Time

The latest media take on the "legendary" Trump-Kim border stroll is that in so doing Trump has "normalized" the NORK nukes.
Far be it from me to hand El Caudillo de Mar-a-Lago any diplomatic props whatsoever, but...what the hell else could he do?

The DPRK has nuclear weapons. Crude, perhaps, but certainly no cruder than the weapons used in 1945. Donnie Trump hasn't "made" North Korea a nuclear power; North Korea IS a nuclear power. Short of risking nuclear detonation on the Korean peninsula, what the hell is the U.S. going to do to change that? Kim, as big a sonofabitch as he is, is not a fool. He knows his survival and that of the Kim Dynasty depends on making his little fiefdom too nasty for a larger enemy to take down without paying an unacceptable price. He's seen what happens to the Saddams and the Gadaffis of the world. He's no more going to "denuclearize" than he's going to appear on The Apprentice in a cheap suit.

Only a monstrous simulacrum of a human being with the intellectual capacity of a brain-damaged marmoset would think or expect otherwise.

Oh, wait...

Christ, what a maroon. What an im-bessal. Can anyone explain why the Mustache of Stupidity still has any geopolitical credibility whatsoever?

Christ, what an asshole.

So while I'm perfectly willing to dopeslap the Tangerine Tinpot for his behavior at the G20, where he did his best to imitate his boss from Moscow and follow the boss' direction for continuing his efforts towards the demolition of the Western hegemony (his comments on the 1951-1960 US-Japan agreement were particularly moronic), I can't really get too arsed about this little jaunt around the bricks at Panmunjom.

The notion that the U.S. can do what it can and the NORKs must suffer what they must died the moment the first fission test succeeded north of the DMZ.

North Korea is and will be a nuclear power; regardless of what gas Trump and the Trumpkins may expel, the U.S. is going to have to accept that unless and until the people running the show in the U.S. are willing to risk a nuclear, biological, and chemical attack on their Korean and Japanese allies. Bolton may be willing to do that, and Trump may be ignorant enough to let him, but almost no one else in the U.S. government is.

For the U.S. "news" media to bloviate otherwise simply makes that acceptance more difficult and fraught.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

What's Arabic for "C. Turner Joy"?

Here's the problem.
It may very well be possible that Iranian assets are striking oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

It is definitely likely that the Trump Administration would lie about whether that is possible or probable, or both, or neither.

That's the drawback of letting your system foist an incorrigible liar and a coterie of New Gilded Age grifters into the highest executive offices; you then don't know whether you can trust them not to lie you into a shooting war.

If the administrations of Kennedy and Johnson - that were staffed with genuinely intelligent and experienced foreign policy players - lied us into Vietnam, and the Lesser Bush administration - that was crock-full of wingnuts, imperial fantasists, outright kooks, as well as the Stupidest Man on the Face of the Earth - lied us into Iraq, I sure as hell don't trust THESE gomers not to lie us into some sort of idiotic whack-a-Persian blood hunt based on some sort of moron idea that it'd take normal humans smoking a full ounce of prime weed then drinking two cans of sterno and a half-rack of Old English 800 to come up with.

I sure as hell hope the rest of my countrymen aren't stupid enough to let the Trumpkins play this game.

And goddamn if it's not time to repeal that #@!%$!#! AUMF.

Update 6/14: The lies have already begun:
"The Japanese owner of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, said Friday that sailors on board saw "flying objects" just before it was hit, suggesting the vessel wasn't damaged by mines. That account contradicts what the U.S. military said as it released a video Friday it said shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the two ships that were hit. Company president Yutaka Katada said Friday he believes the flying objects seen by the sailors could have been bullets. He denied any possibility of mines or torpedoes because the damage was above the ship's waterline. He called reports of a mine attack "false."
As Sven points out in the comments, The U.S. hasn't been an honest player in the field of foreign policy for a long time, and this administration is a more prolific and consistent liar than most of the previous ones.

IMO this is a patently crude attempt between the Trumpkins and their Saudi pals to gin up a casus belli. If the US public and Congress falls for it, well, as a well-known foreign policy expert once said: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...won't get fooled again!"

And Jim Wright, as he often does, is asking the question that EVERY news agency should be asking: "Cui bono?".

Who would benefit from a US-Iran dustup? Especially one that would, as it inevitably would, raise the price of petroleum?


Update 6/26:

"Strategy? I don't need no steenkin' strategy? I have guns! I take YOUR strategy!"

What a fucking maroon.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Osttruppen @ Normandy

Oliver Bullough, the British author of "Moneyland"  (a good read) and several books on modern Russia, tweets the story of his uncle on D-Day landing on a beach defended by Ukrainians.  Who all immediately surrendered.

There were many others like them at beaches and ports in northern & southern France, and the Netherlands & Belgium.  Some were rear area security, some anti-partisan, some supervised forced-labor, some were in engineer units, some others were in Luftwaffe AAA units, and some were even incorporated into Heer infantry units.  They consisted of Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Cossacks, Turkestanis, Tartars, Turkmen, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Daghestanis, Chechens, ethnic Russians of Vlasov's Corps, and a few Japanese & Koreans.  And that doesn't count the many Europeans in SS units.

 Some capitulated forthwith like Bullough's Ukrainians.  Some others were hardcore and fought bitterly as they feared a death sentence if returned to Stalin.

Steemit blogger 'Alber159357'  put up a good post two years ago about Koreans at Normandy.   They had fought for the Kwantung Army at Khalkin Gol, then they had fought for the Red Army at Stalingrad &/or Kursk, and finally for the Wehrmacht at Normandy.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Washington, we have a problem

[warning: A lot of links]


If we're paying attention, then we should all be holding our collective breath because Trump is seriously escalating tensions with China.

See the problem is that China has a plan, and that plan was to grab American industrial manufacturing. The key issue is that China had seriously cheap labor, and so just to sweeten the pot, built the manufacturing sites to attract those underpaid, wishing the stock prices would go up Wall Street CEO's.

While in America, the quarter reports determined a companies value, in China, the viewpoint was, "are we making money, or spending it?"
You can say they took the 100 year view point. If you're steadily making money for a hundred years...hey, doing alright.
For the American CEO, that three month window made or broke you.
So, when China advertised their industry, the Wall Street said, "oh!"
And voila, American manufacturing moved to China.

Now, the question was, how could American's pay a work force so seriously, pennies on  the dollar?

China's military.

China's military was the manufacturing labor force for American industry, but when Obama came into office, the first thing that was obvious was that American Intellectual Property was being blatantly stolen by the Chinese, and knocks off sold. So, Obama set up TPP, the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership which pointedly excluded China.
The TPP would give legal recourse to the US, and favorable trade advantages to any South East country signing on to it.

China didn't like that one damn bit.

So...China's military started becoming a Military...because...TPP was kind undercutting their theft of American IP.

So today, Trump has dumped TPP, because he think's it's bad for America.
Only problem is...once Trump backed out of TPP, China moved in, and opened up the American IP to the tune of several billion dollars loss of revenue.

But that's only a tip of the iceberg. China is modernizing their military.
And Trump is irritating China with this "trade war" in which we stand to lose billions, and billions of dollar, if not hunderds of billions.

And China, will just sell else where.

So, what makes China dangerous for us Americans?

They may get tired of our shit.

tl;dr We're pissing off the Chinese dragon, when we should be negotiating with them.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Down Among the Dead Men

So on Memorial Day I ended up in the old Civil War cemetery at Poplar Grove.
It's peaceful and pretty and very manicured, very much in the tradition of the more modern military cemeteries, a sort of pocket-Arlington.

Until you look at the rows of stones, and realize that way more than half of them aren't "headstones" at all but simply stone blocks with a number carved on them.
These were the remnants of soldiers that lacked any sort of identity; nothing marked their original grave - or, it it had, was gone by the time the graves registration parties reached it - and nothing was left, if there had been anything, of a tag or scrap of paper with a name on it.

There was just some bone, and scraps of cloth, and probably some less savory remnants, to be gathered up and put back in a hole with a stone with a number on it for the following hundred-plus years. An empty chair at a table, an empty peg on a wall where no coat was hung, an empty house to which the scraps of bone and cloth never returned.
Perhaps even more grim were the separate files where the men of the U.S. Colored Troops were buried, still put apart from the white soldiers, still separate and unequal in death as in life.
All in all a very unsettling sort of day, one that raised more spectres than laid them.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Forgiveness of the Dead

On this day, 64 years ago, Americans gathered at the cemetery at Nettuno, near what had been the terrible charnel-house beachhead of Anzio, to dedicate what would become the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and to "honor" those killed in the war that had just ended.
You know how I loathe all the flag-waving, pontificating, self-justifying “memorial” dog-and-pony shows that serve only to make the living feel better about themselves and their willingness – or, worse, eagerness – to cheer on others to die for their country if it wasn’t for those dang bone spurs.

The closest to fitting "memorial day" act I’ve ever read of was LTG Truscott’s address that day.

Truscott had commanded the VI Corps at Anzio, and a lot of the dead guys there were from his outfits. And he was a hard man, known to be kind of salty, and was probably more sick of hearing the pious patriotic platitudes than I am.

So when the opening caprioling was done he looked out over the rows of “dignitaries” and reporters and guests, turned, and faced the rows of silent markers behind the rostrum.

Nobody knows exactly what he said – probably because there was either no plan to record his words or because he couldn’t be heard – but based on Bill Mauldin's account the gist was that Truscott didn’t see how there was anything particularly good or heroic about getting killed in your teens or 20s or 30s, and that while generals and politicians would tell you that all your dying was noble and sacrificial that most generals, anyway, kinda suspected that was pretty much bullshit.

He agreed that lots of them had died because somebody, maybe he, had fucked up and if that had happened he was grievously sorry and apologized to them. That he knew that was a big ask, but that he owed it to them to ask their forgiveness anyway.

And that he promised that if, in the coming years, he ever ran into anyone tubthumping a line of guff about the glory of war and heroic death that he, Truscott, would tighten the joker's shot group damn quick smart.

So as far as I’m concerned it'd be great if every damn politician and talking head can stay the hell away and leave those haunted graves to the grass, and the sky, and the dead, and those who knew and loved and lost them.
They won't, because that's not how we do "Memorial Day". But I wish they would.

But I will be in that cemetery today, sharing a drink with my Army brothers. I hope you will, too.

And, as always today, this.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Nagumo's Dilemma

On 27 May 1942 a disastrously understrength 1st Mobile Striking Force set sail on from the Hashirajima Island anchorage in Japan’s Inland Sea.  The IJN had been the first Navy ever to concentrate multiple aircraft carriers into a single tactical formation, a revolutionary innovation back then, which the USN later copied with devastating blowback.  

But this time the IJN brought only four out of the six large carriers associated with the 1st Air Fleet.  The results are well known.  Hundreds of books, articles, and web pages, plus several US and Japanese movies have been devoted to them; including a new $100M blockbuster scheduled for release later this year. 

I won’t try to improve on any of those or retell the story.   But comments regarding carrier warfare on FDChief’s 10 May post ’Arresting Development’ by Andy (regarding Blue Water ISR) and Sven (regarding multi-carrier battle fleets) have been scratching at my brainpan ever since.   So I went back to look at Midway Atoll, specifically the book ’Shattered Sword’ by Tully and Parshall, which tells the tale according to official Japanese sources.  Also FDChief’s excellent post regarding Midway that he posted back in 2008.

But the one source that makes it easy for even a chowderhead like me to follow is the computerized and detailed chronological recreation on YouTube.  Titled 'The Battle of Midway 1942: Told from the Japanese Perspective (1/2)', hopefully part two will be posted soon.  It was put together by frequent YouTube military history contributor Montemayor, who I suspect may be the Anthony Tully that helped research and cowrote 'Shattered Sword'.  It is excellent and the 40 minutes goes by quickly.  It is well worth your time.  But ignore the dramatic music. 

I have only one question on the above sources.  Call it a snivel.  These sources and all others I am aware of claim the major motive for Japan was to lure the USN carriers into a trap at Midway.  I have no doubt that would have been in Yamamoto’s mind as a hopeful side benefit.  But it seems to me that the primary reasons were:

1]  Occupy Midway and establish a base for their long range (>4000 nautical miles) Kawanishi flying boats to warn of any future possible Doolittle Raids - and to deny its use by USN PBY reconnaissance assets.

2]  Establish a submarine base there putting their I-boats within 110 nautical miles of Pearl and 3000 nautical miles from Frisco.  By the way, America's COMSUBPAC did set up a base there soon after the battle for refitting their submarine patrols.  That base allowed them to refuel, re-arm, resupply, and repair four subs simultaneously.  Plus being that much closer gave them extended patrol time in Japanese waters.

3]  Protect flank of their carrier attack on Dutch Harbor and the invasion force headed to Attu and Kiska.  Why they mounted that campaign has been a subject of debate among historians.  It’s probable though that Tojo believed it would prevent any attempt to invade Japan’s home islands by way of the Aleutian chain.  It was only 660 nautical miles from Attu to the IJN base and to the many Japanese Army bases and airfields at Paramushiro Island off the tip of Kamchatka. General Buckner of Alaskan Command reinforced this belief when he started building airfields immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack.  Plus he gave an interview to the press where he stated that the shortest way to Japan was via Alaska.

But those are just my brainfarts from an armchair, a long way from the Central Pacific in both time and space.  I’m sure the historians had better insight into Japanese intentions.

Good to see that currently Midway Atoll and her surrounding waters are a National Wildlife Refuge and Hawaii State Marine Reserve protecting thousands of endemic and endangered species.  It is on the northwestern end of the Papahānaumokuākea National Monument named after a Hawaiian Goddess of Creation.  It covers a surface area of more than 1.5 million square kilometers, about the size of the Gulf of Mexico and 50% larger than the North Sea and the Baltic Sea combined.  It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been designated as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) by the International Maritime Organization.  I'm a big fan of these lyrical Hawaiian place-names.  They remind me of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll in Wales where me Aunt Gwynn was born.

Pics cortesy of the USN, the History Channel, Rene Francillon, and NOAA.