Monday, September 16, 2019

Do real men still want to go to Tehran..?

I've beat this drum before, but one of the really infuriating - and more than a little unnerving - things about the Trump Administration is that you can't be sure which of its lies are lies, which are damned lies, which are statistics, and which may, just possibly, be truths.

Case in point.
The Saudis apparently want the hell out of this to be Iran's doing. That makes geopolitical sense. The Saudis can't do anything to the Yemenis they're not doing already, they are regional power rivals to the Persians to the north, but they'll need some U.S. help to take a slap at the Iranians without getting slapped pretty hard in return.

If they can get the Yankees to buy it who sent the drone airmail doesn't really matter; they'll have their Gulf of Persia Resolution and it's Bombs Away! over Tehran.

What's less explicable is the intentions of this government as expressed by the various spokescritters within the Trump Administration.

Since the Saturday strike on the Saudi refinery at Abqaiq everybody and their dog (and Mikey Pompeo, but I repeat myself) has blamed the tricksy Iranian devils. Pompeo practically busted a nut on Twitter fulminating about the wascally Iwanian wabbits:

Thing is, there can't really be much doubt if there's physical evidence. There will be bits and pieces of the aircraft as well as the ordnance. There is likely to have been ground-to-air tracking of the UAVs in flight.

Frankly, I find it hard to believe that the U.S. doesn't 1) know where Iran's cruise missile launch sites are located, and 2) monitor the hell out of them, Iranian communications, and, especially, their aerial attack capabilities.

If this was as unequivocally an Iranian op I have to think that the U.S. intelligence services already know that.

Now...there may be an good reason to keep the intelligence sources on the downlow - tho the Boss doesn't seem to have problems with tweeting out classified reconnaissance photos - and there may be a reason (likely something to do with fire control problems at the Abqaiq facility that are delaying crater analyses and other on-the-ground intel collection that needs to be done to nail down the exact means and methods used) for playing cagey about whodunnit.

But if that's the case, why jump in with the scary ooga-booga "We Know You Did It!" stuff so soon?

I mean, in a tweet he fired off yesterday Trump appeared to say that all he needed was the go-ahead from his pal MBS to nuke those meddlesome Persians:
(As an aside, remember when Republicans used to go nuts about how Obama was just a cat's-paw of everyone who wanted him to use American force to meddle in foreign business? IIRC that was the point of denying him use of force in Syria regardless of red lines here and there; because we are Amurrikuns, gawddamnit, and we don't bow the knee to no furriners. Ah, yes, those were the days...)

However, at the latest White House presser Trump wouldn't directly say that.
"A reporter off-camera asked, "Could you clarify Mr. President? You said you think Iran is responsible for the attack, do you think --- "

"I didn't say that." "Why do you say that?" he asked. "I said we think we know who it was, but I didn't say anybody but ... Certainly it would look to most like it was Iran but I did not say it the way you said it."
So in classic Trumpenstyle the Orange One has managed to 1) make it seem like he's waffling around waiting for his Saudi pals to tell him what to do, and in so doing 2) irk the living shit out of a bunch of people in D.C. by opening his piehole before thinking about it.

Tulsi Gabbard's response “Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not ‘America First,’”may the juiciest, if not the most informative, but pretty much sums up the general enthusiasm for whatever-the-hell-the-Trumpkins-are-up-to.

But what's kind of weird about this is that if the Iranians DID blow the hell out of this Saudi refinery it's either an Iranian-Saudi problem (and only a US problem if we make it one, so why shout and make a fuss until we decide to do that?), or a "global oil supply" problem and thus an attack on everyone who depends on that supply, including the US - which means that we either take some action, or not; again, fulminating on Twitter seems a very odd way of re-envisioning the Ems Telegram.

Anyway, here's my take.

The bottom lines on this one are;

1) I have no idea who really blew up this Saudi refinery, and I could care less. The Houthis certainly had a good reason. But, frankly, with sanctions squeezing their own petroleum sales the Quds Force might well be disposed to remind their neighborhood sheiks that their own lifestyles aren't out of reach if they get too bitchy. Hell, it could have been the Saudis themselves trying to fool their Uncle Sammy and Tangerine Tiberius to launch a Operation Persian Pacification,

2) As a U.S. citizen, please tell me why I should care, or want to help the Saudis in any way? As far as petroleum goes, gas made from Iranian crude drives the ol' Subaru as far as Saudi, and as far as Islamic despotisms go I'd say the difference between the two gas-pump polities is "pick 'em". I don't have a dog in the Shia-Sunni fight, and the best thing my nation can get from Middle Eastern politics is "out", and

2) I'd be a lot less nervous about some moron starting Gulf War IV if I had a higher opinion of the grade of moron currently running things in the Fraudulency Administration, and this nonsense doesn't reassure me in any way. I think that there are still a lot of Bush Era ne'redowells in this Administration that still Want to Go To Tehran, and I don't trust the real-estate-grifter-in-chief to either recognize that or keep those damn gomers' hands off the bomb release levers.

Are WSSF?

We'll have to wait and see, unfortunately.

Update 9/18: There seems to be an increasing consensus that some Iranian organization(s) was/were involved in this attack. The only real question at this point is whether Trump will take his marching orders from his Saudi bros.

What makes this even more frustrating is that Trump's bobo, Pompeo, is straight-up confessing that this is all because his boss blew up the JCPOA:
“There is this theme that some suggest that the president’s strategy that we allowed isn’t working. I would argue just the converse of that. I would argue that what you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA,”
When you edit this for Trumpian Newspeak you get the gist that the problems Iran is involved in - whether caused by or not - are the direct result of some idiot blowing up the diplomatic agreement that was actually working and replacing it with nothing but Tweets-o-War and bombast.

The notion that people are going to die because Donald Trump's ego is chafed by the impudent Negro who twitted him at a dinner meeting years ago just reminds me of the scene in Shaw's Devil's Disciple where Richard Dudgeon objects to paying taxes to King George. GEN Burgoyne answers that a gentleman's part is to fulfill his obligations, regardless of their distastefulness, to which Dudgeon responds that it's not the money, it's being swindled by a pigheaded lunatic like George Hanover.

To which Burgoyne admits is another matter entirely...

Saturday, September 14, 2019

An open letter to my fellow U.S. citizens

I'm sitting in the dark house on a pre-dawn Saturday morning, sipping my coffee and watching Newcastle United look like boys against men in Liverpool, but - seeing how piss-poor the Lads are playing - I'm also parsing my Facebook feed and reading comments about the ill-advised recruiting stunt the Portland MEPs guys and the Thorns Front Office pulled last Wednesday (you can read about it here).

One of the comments is from another GI who talks about how emotional an occasion it is to swear to defend the people of the United States.

And it occurs to me that the Oath of Enlistment says nothing about "defending the people".

The exact wording is: "...support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

Domestic enemies?

That would be..."the people" sometimes, right?

Right.

Which is why past presidents have used us GIs to do things like shoot and kill striking workers, and ol' Dugout Doug MacArthur could use us to attack the Bonus Army of our fellow GIs and their families. If the Constitution in the form of the president or Congress tells us that some portion of We the People are a "domestic enemy"?

We as soldiers are obligated by that oath to use whatever means we are ordered to use to "defend the Constitution".

Kinda scary, innit?

Think about that next time you see one of those "Land of the Free Because of the Brave" bumper stickers, hmmm..?

As GIs you, my fellow citizens, give us a lot of tongue-bathing. You're constantly told to "support the troops". You get a crap-ton of military PR shoved at you, like the recruiting stunt at the Thorns match. And in general that's lovely. We all like to get some love.

But maybe - just maybe - as "citizens" you might want to be a trifle less credulous about all this "support the troops" stuff.

Because it usually takes troops to make "citizens" into "subjects".

Maybe I'm just being a cynical old sergeant. Sergeants are notorious pessimists, the Eeyores of the Army. We always look for the flaws in the officers' plans so we can head them off. And I'm certainly not telling you that my fellow GIs would agree to do that, or would blindly follow orders to herd you into a camp, or shoot you down when you take to the streets if, say, a President were to refuse to accept the result of an election and not yield his power to his elected sucessor.

But...you might want to think about what you're being told.
Just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

V-USA Day

Mike just reminded us that about four years after the Day that Will Live in Infamy the United States as part of an alliance signed the victorious articles of surrender over the last of the fascist powers that had begun the war.

On this day eighteen years ago today another war began, a war that continues to this day, a war that was, eventually subsumed and engorged by lies and fear, driven by greed and stupidity and hubris, and that ended up covering the bodies piled up here - in New York City and Washington D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania - with piles and heaps and mountains of bodies; bodies of innocent women, of small children, of innocents without so much as a drop of blood on their hands, with young men and women sent to fight and kill and die for those lies and that fear.

And those who shed that blood and took those lives?
"Don't you wonder if they ever pause on September 11 every year and ponder how they all used the dead of that awful day for their own purposes, to fulfill their long-held desires for empire-building in the countries of oil, to use other people's children in service of their profane desires? Don't you wonder if they ever pause on September 11 and ponder how they'd all screwed up so badly throughout the summer of 2001 when, as Richard Clarke recalled, "all the lights were blinking red"? Do you wonder if they make the connection, in the softening dark of the early morning, between their own incompetence and the use they ultimately made of it?

Of course, you don't wonder. Because they don't. Introspection was never a priority with this crew. And as we see so many of them on television today, deeply troubled by the actions of another underprepared, incompetent president*, and using the dead of 9/11 as protective camouflage for all their deception and bloody blundering that occurred beginning that very morning, we should all take time to mourn the dead of that day, and all the days thereafter, and, yes, say, Never Again."
The country we live in today; the country of security gates and drones and surveillance and national security letters and yellow-ribbon patriotism was built, bloody brick by bloody brick, from the foundation these people laid on that day.

THAT's what we should never forget, on this day, every year.

Damn them.

Damn them all to Hell.

Update 9/15: Charlie Pierce (as usual) continues the discussion better than I can:

"Right now, in the 18th year of our war on terror, American troops are engaged in making war in a number of places, including Afghanistan, where they have been engaged in making war the longest. American soldiers have died in Niger and in Mali in Africa, where hardly anyone in this country knew they were deployed. Navy SEALS have fought in Somalia and in Yemen. After four American soldiers were killed by militants in Niger, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and nobody’s idea of a peacenik, told NBC News:

I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger. This is an endless war without boundaries, no limitation on time or geography. We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world militarily and what we’re doing.

If, ultimately, the Vietnam War lost J. William Fulbright because its purpose and goals had ceased to make any kind of sense, it seems more than past time to apply that same kind of merciless scrutiny to the endless “war” on terror and on its most conspicuous manifestation: the continued deployment of American troops in Afghanistan. Does it make sense to stay there because we’ve been there for 18 years? If, upon our departure, the people of Afghanistan descend to slaughter again, is that reason enough to maintain a permanent military presence in the middle of a society that’s been torn by war since the days of Alexander The Great? Where are we in the world militarily, and what are we doing, anyway?

Good questions, and no less important because they remain largely unasked."






Monday, September 2, 2019

VJ Day

Officially it was 2 September 1945 in a formal setting on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay with the famous photo of Dugout Doug MacArthur lording it over the ceremony.   It was about three weeks earlier on 10 August that the Swiss Embassy in Washington notified US Secretary of State James F Byrnes of Japan's intention to accept unconditional surrender.  There was just one small proviso, that Emperor Hirohito be permitted to remain in place.  Truman accepted.  Actual surrender was acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration just past noon of 15 August in Japan.  Because of time zone differences it was about 11 PM on 14 August in Washington DC.



The photo on the right was taken 19 August with MacArthur on the balcony of Manila City Hall.  Mac and the GIs and Filipinos below him are waiting for the Japanese delegation coming to accept the orders to surrender and return them to Tokyo.  City Hall, one of few buildings left standing, was still pockmarked by bullets from the Battle of Manila six months earlier which had resulted in the death of 1000 American GIs, 16,500+ Japanese, and 100,000 Filipinos. 


That Japanese delegation to Manila had flown from Tokyo to Sata Misaki on the southern tip of Kyushu and from there to Ie Shima , an island just off the western edge of Okinawa.

They flew in two twin-engined Mitsubishi G4M1 aircraft, AKA Bettys.  They had been stripped of all weapons and were painted white with green cross markings instead of the red meatball.   Partway to Ie Shima they were escorted by B-25 Mitchells and P-38 Lightnings, just in case some bushido fanatic tried to stop the peace talks (That was not paranoia on the part of the Americans on Ie Shima.  On 15/16 August on hearing of the surrender Japanese guards murdered over 100 American POWs.  Many Australian and British prisoners of war were murdered at Ranau and Sandakan in Borneo.  Plus at Batu Lintang in Borneo, death orders were proposed to murder some 2,000 POWs and civilian internees but the camp was liberated before they could be carried out.).   From Ie Shima they were put on a Douglas C54 Skymaster to proceed to Manila and meet Mac to accept the surrender orders.

Ie Shima or Ie Island, known as Iejima to the Japanese, is a very tiny island of about 23 square kilometers or less than nine square miles.  At that time it had one of the largest airfields in the Pacific.  Which is why it was selected for the changeover.  It is where Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle, was killed by machine gun fire when he was covering the 77th Division liberation of the island and airfield. Every April there is a memorial service there for him.

 It's a beautiful place today. Covered in gardens of vegetables and flowers.  Every April, in addition to the Ernie Pyle memorial, the island hosts the Iejima Island Lily Festival featuring acreage that looks like gigantic carpets of snow white lilys.

https://www.okinawanderer.com/2013/04/18th-iejima-island-lily-festival-set-for-two-week-run/


At MacArthur's dog and pony show on the 2nd (i.e. the formal surrender ceremony), the Japanese delegation was led by Mamoru Shigemitsu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and General Yoshijirō Umezu Chief of the IJA General Staff.  Mac's staff had specified all the details of the ceremony.  So was it a slap in the face to Admiral Nimitz that Admiral Soemu Toyoda, Chief of the IJN General Staff was not among them?  Some thought so at the time.  Both Shigemitsu and Umezu were later convicted at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.  Umezu certainly deserved it for his time in China as CG of the Japanese 1st Army and later CinC of the Kwantung Army.  Umezu died in prison four years after the surrender.  Shigemitsu, known as Shiggy to the American press, got a raw deal and never should have been convicted.  He had opposed militarism his entire career in the diplomatic corps, had opposed the war, and he had "argued that the success of the proposed Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere depended on the equal treatment of China and other Asian nations with Japan."  It was Stalin that wanted him on trial.  He had been ambassador in Moscow in 1938, so he must have stepped on some toes there during the Japanese/Soviet border conflicts.  Despite depositions from both American and British diplomats about Shigemitsu's opposition to the war, MacArthur caved to the Soviets.  Or maybe it was Truman?   But Shiggy was released from prison in 1950 he eventually went into politics becoming a member of the Diet in 1952 and Deputy Prime Minister in 1954.



Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Red Coast

FDChief - Was that you I saw on the local news waving an Iron Front banner at the Timbers/Sounders game last week?  You Portland guys are A-OK.  True to our northwestern roots.  Sorry I wasn't there.  My Grandma's brother Doug, the Wobbly, is undoubtedly twisting in his grave that I didn't make it.

Portland better buckle up for more attempted invasions by the morons like the proud boys, the daily stormers, the base, and the other asshats.  You Timbers fans are going to ignite Charlottesville #2.

Great game by the way.


Good thing I didn't go though.  Some of you Portland cheerleaders are enough to give us Seattle fans nightmares.  And the 'Gut-the-Fish' signage was uncalled for.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Just for fun

Hmmm!   Something strange about redlegs.  Maybe they should have made him a lanyard puller, or a gun captain.

 
     

I've helped load a few truckfulls of 155 shells myself, which I'm sure is the source of my aching sacroiliac for the last 55 years.







Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wars and stupors of wars

One of the multifarious issues with electing a total idiot who predictably stocked his administration with a coterie of simply-flaming-assholes, dangerously incompetent sycophants who are also flagrantly authoritarian-curious (at least), corporate whores, grifters, and outright clowns is that when problems turn up it's extremely difficult to feel confident that these gomers will be able to do something that ranges from "not actively stupid" to potentially useful.

While the bulk of the corporate media organizations circle the drain that is Trump's Twitter feed repeating his nonsense about hordes of invading brownskins, several parts of the globe are getting...interesting, and not in a particularly good way.

One of them is along the Pakistan-India border, where the subcontinental quasi-Trumper Indian PM Narendra Modi has played to his deplorable-Hindu-supremacist base by hammering Kashmiri Muslims. This, unsurprising to anyone who has more than one brain cell, has provoked some nasty posturing from the other subcontinental nuclear power. Trump's contribution was to shove his enormous orange oar (what? You say it's NOT enormous? FAKE NEWS!!!) in back in July blabbering about U.S. stumbling into the dispute and forcing a hasty denial from Modi's people that, no, they hadn't asked the buffoon to do anything.

It's hard to tell whether this will lead to anything more than posturing, but it's already obvious that the Trumpkins' geopolitical shrewdity has effectively neutered much of the U.S. ability to help defuse tensions in this nasty little dispute between two putative allies.

Meanwhile, in the Ukraine the political mess is getting messier, with a stand-up comic/president, fascist Ruthenians, Putin-fondlers, and all-around whackjobs all getting involved in a political imbroglio that would make Machiavelli throw his hands in the air.

If Niccolo himself would despair of this twelve-monkeys-fucking-a-football disaster, what hope is there for this Administration, that is, apparently, managed by tweet and whatever bats are looping around whatever is inside the tangerine-hued Tiberius' combover that functions in place of an actual brain? Certainly this would seem to be a place for a judicious consideration of the actual stakes involved and whether there is an actual dog for the United States' foreign policy in this fight and, if so, to what extent.

But, again...who outside of the MAGAt fever-swamps actually believes this congeries of fools and damned fools can do that?

Who'd have thought that Obama's "elections have consequences" line would be repeated so soon as farce?

WASF.

(And let's not even think about the weather.)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Nietzsche may have a point to consider about US

Another MassMurder by another White Man blaming Immigrants for...whatever, does it really matter at this point?

What drives me to depression is the "Cultural Christians" defense of the indefensible..."Stop making this about guns, people are dead, sad us, very sad, THOUGHTS and PRAYERS, so sad, bad people, evil people, naughty people, did I mention sad?"

Of course, it's video games, online culture, chat rooms, information hubs...those are the problems, and were said as much by the Governor's office of Texas, and the Lt. Governor who was sent to toe the line on Fox News.

But

That doesn't change the numbers...250..251..252...253 Mass Murders in 2019 alone?

as one Twitter user Professor of History at the Citadel, Micheal Livingston, tweeted

Do you hear about the Mass Shooting?
No, the other one
No, the other one
No, the other one


But what draws my ire, more than anything else, is the "Christians"

I know, I know, "not all Christians..." just like, "no true Scotsman..."

I even had one of the Elder's of my Church try that on me...and I really didn't want to gut him in front of our mens group, but I had to...not a proud moment for me.

"The World doesn't make distinctions of who is Christian and Who isn't...anyone who claims Christ as their savior, no matter how much they prove they are not, WILL BE labeled a Christian. We're stuck with them."We have a problem here in the US, a gun problem, all the Mass Murders have one thing in common...weapons designed to kill people.

But the other problem is we have a President who nurtures, encourages, and gives tacit approval of whole sale murder with this rhetoric at his "campaign" stops.


as I reread this I realized I need to bring my point home...so it is this:

Apparently, "Christians" and non-Christians have abandoned reason, and no one, the world or otherwise should look to us for common sense, answers, or truth..."we" have murdered God (or all that we claim we hold dear) by our words, actions, and in-actions.
Nietzsche pointed out a key element about Christianity in Europe after the Enlightenment...though the Europeans used God's name a lot, their behavior said God was no longer a part of their thinking or lives...and Nietzsche wasn't above pointing that out...

"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"


Nietzsche...the son-of-a-bitch, after all these years, still points out the unholy truth about Christians...and the unfortunate part is we can substitute God for the Constitution, America, Truth, Freedom, whatever the topic we spill words for...we killed it, we killed it dead with our knives.

AND STILL, we have no intention of changing our words, or deeds

Nietzsche is right, we killed our God and gods, what else is left to us?

P.S. 253 Mass Murders...apparently there was another one last night

/facepalm@America

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.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1151325266360381440

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?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K37aB80mZLA


 UPDATE:

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: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Bl%C3%A9riot#1909_Channel_crossing

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

Parade

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?

Hmmm.

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.

https://steemit.com/history/@alber159357/koreans-in-normandy

https://twitter.com/OliverBullough/status/1136696006022770691

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostlegionen


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Washington, we have a problem


[warning: A lot of links]

China
China
China


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 cheaply...like 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.



https://www.youtube.com/Battle-of-Midway(1/2)



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