Friday, June 26, 2009

Cyclical history, why some things are just to amusing to ignore.

Chief's post got me to thinking, and as always, I go to where I usually hang out at...Ancient history.
Sorry, it's a habit I have no intention of breaking anytime soon.

So, unless you have been living in a cave in the middle of the Mojave desert you know the current situation in Iran is a bit…um…tense.
And normally, I would address the current problems in Iran being somewhat analogous to other revolutions which began under similar situations.
But, not this time.
This time, I want to take a look at the underpinnings of the pretender’s win, and expose who really is in charge of Iran.
I think you’ll be…mildly surprised.
Ahmadinejad thinks he’s really is in charge, but herein is the quid pro quo of his authority. He has it so long as the Khamanei says he has it, but Khamanei gets to say Ahmadinejad has the authority only because the Revolutionary Guard says Khamanei has the authority to say who has the authority, and of course Ahmadinejad gets to say who he prefers in the Revolutionary Guard namely because the Revolutionary Guard likes those who like them.

The problem with the Praetorians in Rome is that they, themselves, grew fat, lazy and indolent with the power behind the throne. And it was a short time later that the guard kind fell apart under it’s own weight…well, with some outside help which we’ll call “wealth.” This wealth came in the form of bribes, blackmail, and gifts…which, on the surface we could ascribe as bribes and blackmail, but really was just following the age old tradition that all Romans practiced, Patronage.
So the Praetorians were little more than the muscle that enforced their own ideology, and as long as the butt that sat on the throne was game to keep things same-o, same-o then they were game to keep that particular butt in place until they were paid off by someone with more money, and better gifts.
Which brings us to today.
The Revolutionary Guard is playing the part of the Praetorians to Khamenei’s part of Nero, while Ahamadinejad is relegated to the role of Agrippina. This tripartite has a nasty habit of falling apart because eventually someone of the three is going to fuck up so bad that one or two of the three are going to be “retired” by the other. The Praetorians…er, I mean, the Revolutionary Guard are going to be the ones who decide who “retires” and who gets to pretend their still in charge when that fuck up occurs. So what fuck up could the other two do that would get them…”retired” by their guard dog? Very simple, try to dismantle the Revolutionary guard, or worse still, turn them back into cogs in the wheel. The Revolutionary guard has been sitting down to a feast of power for the past thirty years, plus…they are not going to be removed from their seat at the buffet by anyone, religious ideology or political ideology.

Privilege becomes it’s own ideology, and for a guard dog, a very nice citadel to defend.

So what does this all mean?
It means that Ahmadienjad, Khamanei, and pretty much all the turbans in the Iranian government have failed to realize is that they are not the ones in power, they think they are, but they’re not. The ones in power are the very ones keeping them in power is their guard dog, the Revolutionary Guard. And you see, that guard dog is now to big to do anything about…Ahmadienjad, Khamanei, the other turbaned mullahs are only figureheads to the true power…and there is nothing they can do, anymore.
They are, in truth slaves to the Guard dog they thought they were master, too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

U.S. 2: Esp 0

So with a good helping of luck, some hard men in the back and a touch of skill it turns out that a rank outsider can beat the best soccer team in the world.

Today's victory over Spain has to be considered one of the most stunning results in U.S. soccer history. While beating Mexico was considered miraculous in the day, the USMNT has pretty much owned El Tri over the past ten years, suggesting that the level of play in CONCACAF (while still pretty much wallowing down there with Asia and the better teams in Oceania) has levelled out, with the U.S., Mexico, El. Salvador and Honduras the pick of the litter.But this wasn't Mexico at the Azteca; it was the monster, the red-and-yellow beast that has swallowed European soccer whole and been chewing on it for the past three years, the Seleccion d'Espana. This isn't just David and Goliath; this is David whipping the Giant of Gath's feet out from under him and then doing one of those Buffy under-the-arm-backhand stabs to the heart.

Not since the days of Joe Gaetjens has the USMNT done anything like this. Admittedly, the goals were freakish (mind you, Gaetjens' was, too); Altidore got away with some pretty dicey pushing and then managed to riccochet the shot in off the Spanish keeper's right hand, Clint Dempsey should, frankly, be hunting up Ramos, the Spanish defender who managed to completely lose his composure six yards from his goal and tee the ball up so the Clintster could turn on it and slot the thing in, a shot a U-6 would have had a hard time missing. And, yes, the Spanish had most of the run of play, most of the shots, and Howard and the U.S. backline had to play like madmen to keep the clean sheet.

But the point is, they did. They DID. For the first time in history, a USMNT will play in a FIFA championship final.Somewhere where the fields are always green and level, the referees always knowledgable and fair, and the fans always rowdy and happy, Joe Gaetjens is juggling a ball with a little smile on his face.

And so do I.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who IS that standing there?

I was doing something domestic the other morning while my bride was skimming channels and caught her pause on one of the network morning shows as someone (presumably a GOP talking head) was ranting: "If Obama gets what he wants you will find a government bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor!!"

I had kid lunches to find and breakfast to make, but I still had time to think,
"You smug, self-satisfied son-of-a-bitch, have you ever had a job shitty enough to have had lousy insurance? Because if you had, which I doubt, you insurance-company-donation-fattened hyena, you'd know perfectly well that there already IS a bureaucrat standing between me, and about 89% of the rest of Americans and their doctors. And it's a bureacrat even less objective, less reasonable, and less helpful than one from my government; its the one from my goddam insurance company."
I'm not sure why Obama's people haven't figured out that one of the few things less popular to the average Yank than our government bureaucracy are the meeching, grasping, parsimonious scriveners at our HMOs and insurance companies.

But there's a drum there, and I'm not sure why they don't beat it.

Update 6/23: Maggie Jochild over at Group News Blog gets it:
"They (the GOP and Congressional Dems shilling for the insurance companies) also claim it means a government worker will decide what kind of treatment you get. Well, currently those decisions are being made by cubicle drones for private insurance companies who receive bonuses for denying you care. Your disability and death have no impact on their bottom line. But a "government worker" will have no such incentive to keep you away from necessary treatment, and in the big picture, having more citizens alive and productive is better for the government's bottom line. You tell me which one looks more attractive."

Monday, June 22, 2009

“and what if that doesn’t work?”

The subject today is… ”Business can regulate itself in this market economy.”
True…or false?

Well, for the average individual the hip shot answer is “False, damn you and my depleted 401k account too!” but to actually articulate the reason for the false answer requires a lot more detail information than the quite understandably rational, yet emotional response that I, and I’m sure you have when it comes to that which is near and dear to our livelihoods…our collective financial future.

The problem is that what we are currently facing isn’t so much that business is evil, but rather that business is business and will act in its own self interest…at best.
At worst, for the sole interests of the individual corporate managers who have shown a rapacious appetite not just for monetary power, but for political power to keep their position secured from any form of accountability by you, me, or the government.
The examples of this throughout our history are replete dating way back to the 1800’s with the railroad barons, then to the banking industry of the early 1900’s, to the collapse of Wall Street in the 1930’s, to the late 80’s early 90’s S&L disasters, to today’s bottom falling out from the entire financial industry. And of course we have done the sane thing…we threw some form of legislative regulation at the problem each time hoping that the legislation will be…enough.
And of course…it never is.
If it was…we wouldn’t be here sobbing over our portfolios.
So no, business can never regulate itself because regulation and the spirit of business are two . very . separate . ideologies.
World views if you will allow that distinction.
How do we define the distinction between the two?
The Japanese model of business was, is, and continues to be a form of warfare, just without traditional weapons. And so too has our national business institutions have come to accept that in truth, business is like warfare. In short, company’s have become the new nation states, their MBA’s their soldiers, and the other companies…either short term allies…or the next conquest.
So, if you think about it, business, unlike the current U.S. military policy, is about Total War.
Business then is survival of the fittest.
Darwin would be proud…if he would stop rolling over in his grave every time I misappropriated his thesis for my pet subjects.
So, what does regulation do?
Or, more appropriately, suppose to do?
Regulation is suppose to prevent monopolies, it’s also suppose to prevent perfidy of those in the know against those who are completely and totally clueless about how the financial world operates, which would be pretty much all of us.
Regulation also forces the management of the banks to be accountable, even when they duck accountability by blaming everyone who had nothing to do with their mismanagement in the first place. But most of all Regulation protects Joe and Jane average from the predations of the Businesses who will not hesitate to bend the two over at the waist and ride herd on them till their broke.
So we now can approach the question with some knowledge and that is Business “will” not regulate itself because any form of regulation is considered a detriment to their over all war plan, and thus, must either be neutralized, or ignored.
And of course, the past 100+ years of economic history has born this out.
And so, that is why we will continue to have problems in our economy.
Not because the will to regulate doesn’t exist, but because whatever regulation that is legislated into the market economy will be neutralized by the corporations as soon as the ink dries.
Which brings us to… ”what can we do?”
Well, good question, but the historical evidence stands that whatever clever institutions we assemble to regulate the business institutions are subject to the whims of the political party that is currently seeking to rule.
Sorry, I shouldn’t use the word rule…but at this time…it seems appropriate.
Each and every regulatory edifice that has been constructed has been obstructed, or of little use other than to validate the evolving system of conquest…er, I mean, transactions that are being employed by the very institutions that the regulatory park statue is suppose to prevent.
As to what can be done…I will save that for the comments section…but so far…we have lots of regulatory statues collecting a lot of pigeon droppings, and considering the end result, we now know how useless they have been.
Well, not entirely true, perhaps they'll serve as a reminder that doing something for something’s sake usually ends up doing…nothing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Some Father's Day Ruminations on Iran

1. I have no real understanding of Iranian culture and history, but it seems to me that the current regime is digging itself a hole by insisting on a greater legitimacy with the middle and educated classes than it has. It has become, in effect, the Holy Roman Empire for the 21st Century. If there is to be an Islamic Reformation, or even an Islamic Renaissance, it may well begin in Tehran in 2009.

Update 6/22: I should note that the "Islamic Reformation" in this case appears to be entirely urban and mostly young. As far as I can tell from what I read and hear the rural population of Iran still supports the mullahs; the unrest is in the cities. Bill Lind discusses how the split between urban and rural interests was a fairly common feature of the pre-Westphalian state.2. A real question is to what degree the armed forces will support the mullahs with armed force. Rob Farley has a terrific discussion of the issue here in the context of the aniversary of Tianenmen Square. His money graf reads:
"The thing is, Tank Commander is far more dangerous than Tank Man. Tank Man can simply be shot; most seem to believe that Tank Man was later executed, far out of sight of the international media. The regime survives if Tank Man dies, even if the death of Tank Man isn't the optimal outcome. The regime dies, however, if Tank Commander refuses to run over Tank Man."
3. For all the lying of the Right, any attempt by an American government to intervene seems likely to produce the opposite of the intended effect.

Friday, June 19, 2009

On the Road

I expect not to be posting anything until late next week. The wife and I are off to Washington, D.C., (yes, the enemy camp) to hang out with the child, who's going to be there for a conference. My wonderful daughter informs me she is going to take me to the Washington Nationals-Toronto Blue Jays game on Sunday, which just happens to be Father's Day. This will give me an opportunity to see the worst team in baseball as well as the grand edifice that the local taxpayers were generous enough to provide for those poor, underpaid major league baseball players.

Yeah, that's me. But I've lost weight since that was taken in California a few years back. Haven't grown any hair, unfortunately. And, yeah, that's the beast I drive. A 1988 560SL, which unfortunately has a governor limiting the top speed to 155 mph. Don't even ask about the gas mileage. I don't care. I will be buried in this car.

It's always interesting to be in D.C. I haven't been there for a couple of years and I suspect I may get a post or two out of this trip. Time permitting, I'd like to look up a couple of old friends who are still working in the business. They always tell me the truth. Clearances? We don't need no stinking clearances. Actually, I've just recently learned I'm still cleared. What fools these mortals be. I'd also like to look up this CNAS outfit, as embodied by abu whatever, and ask them if they have any adult supervision (that's in response to a question from Seydlitz).

We are taking the wife's laptop, so I may make some comments if I think of it. You fathers, have a great day. As my oldest has it, every day is Mother's Day and kids' day. There is only one Father's Day. Unfortunately, it looks as if the U.S. Open won't be concluded until Monday. Damn Mother Nature.

Incidentally, did you all know that there are more collect calls on Father's Day than on any other day in the year?

What has it got in its pocketses?

"Well, I'm lost too," cried Bilbo, "and I want to get unlost. And I won the game, and you promised. So come along! Come and let me out, and then go on with your looking!"

"They call me basilbeast".

It seems it's appropriate for an author to write a biographical paragraph or two in the debut post of a fine blog such as this. And so it is.

As you will find out from the link above, my nom de blog is taken from the name we gave our black cat. You can find out his history from the video link as well. We got his name from His Grace Basil, the present Antiochan Orthodox Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America. His Grace knows about this, and even blessed the little fellow. It seems to have worked, basil's 15 going on who knows.

At the time, my wife and I were upstanding members of PECUSA, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA. Back then, that was a very bi-polar religious sect, and still is today. As our Dean at Christ Episcopal often proclaimed, "Either high and crazy or low and lazy." He and his group within the cathedral were the "high and crazy", and for various reasons, we followed him into the Orthodox church and established a new parish, All Saints in Salina, KS. Our Cathedral Mother, St. George in Wichita, just happens to be right next door west of the Lutheran church where Dr. Tiller was murdered recently.

This short feline and religious history is as good a beginning as any to introduce myself to the owners and patrons of this literary bar. When I first climbed aboard the World Wide Web in 1999 with my dial-up connection to my Sears-bought Compaq Presario with 4 Gs of hard drive memory ( quite the big deal when I bought it and I still use it as my stand-alone work machine ), literally a whole new world opened up, full of wonders and information and danger. Much like Bilbo finding his way out of the darkness of being lost and into the brilliance of enlightenment. Maybe some will hoot and holler and say "Big Deal!", but in reply I'd say, "Yes, it is a big deal and here's why."

I was born and raised in Kansas, and still live in it. Although the state does have some fame through wheat and sunflowers, a big military base, movies, a few famous sons and daughters, and notorious murders, it still is as I am fond of saying, "The Middle of Nowhere, USA." Before the turn of this century, life in Kansas was very cloistered. It still is to a large extent, but due to the explosion of this new Age of Information, undoubtedly that will change. Cloistered from the outside world due to a lack of any kind of genuine alternative news sources other than right-wing radio and corporate print and broadcast media, my fellow Kansans and I grew up conservative socially and politically, and with a strong tendency, which I still prefer to follow, to Mind Our Own Business. If you think this isn't true, read the book. I highly recommend it.

Now, I could go on further in this vein of thought, but that is fodder for another essay. I'll end with some further personal history.

As I noted above, I was born in Kansas, in Horton, a small town a few miles away from where my parents lived in an even smaller town. My dad was a kid from south Georgia, not far from the Okefenokee, and my mom a girl from a farming family in eastern Nebraska. They met in Omaha at a USO dance as dad was ending his Navy career at the tail end of WW 2, and may I add a further note, they recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. I'm the oldest of 7 and I turn 59 next month. 4 of my brothers served in the military, Army and Navy, but the farthest I got in that direction was a semester of ROTC at college. The University of Nebraska, if you want to know. I grew up helping my grandpa summers on his farm south of Horton. Best time of my life, if you ask me.

My chosen career is teacher of the Lingua Romana Antiqua, AKA Latin. Not necessarily chosen, but maybe more "fallen into". I've retired as of this past spring, but I plan to continue teaching part time. I can't afford not to, to tell you the truth. A really bland biography compared to the adventures of the rest of the crew here, but I have travelled a bit. When I told my advisor in school of my plans, I remember him laughing as he said, "Prepare to travel then." Which I have done. My first position was in Philadelphia for 3 years, a year in Amherst Virginia, 3 more in Abilene KS, 20 in Salina KS and 6 more where I am now. I've also taught Greek and know a bit of the modern language.

A bit of the credit for making me what I am now, politically, needs to be given to the literary denizens of Intel-Dump. The more I read there and elsewhere, and compared, the more "educated" in world affairs I became. Part of that is also due to Swimming the Bosphorus, part due to the catastrophes of Nine-Eleven and the 8 years of "Dubya", and just simply living in America.

So what am I? A very partisan Democrat, politically. I don't think I have changed that much in other respects, but I became active in local politics during the 2003/04 presidential campaign for Kerry/Edwards. However, I was very much the Deaniac from the start and I'm the local Democratic rabblerouser, the duly elected Precinct Committeeman for my area. So therefore, a lot of my posts here, as long as I can keep my stool at the bar, will be about politics. But I have other interests too, as you can see from the short bio behind my name here. I like to post at the message board TORC a lot, I've been a big fan of Tolkien since my UNL days and I post there as "basil" if any would like to drop by to say "nemarie". Watch your language!

Other topics from me will be on education, religion, language, history, maybe a book or 2 and a movie review.

I hope you'll like what I offer. Pax Vobiscum, homines egregii!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shocked, shocked!

Fabius is in a swivet about the network news:
"Perfidy: The act of violating faith or allegiance; violation of a promise or vow, or of trust reposed.

ABC News proudly announces what seems likely to be a betrayal of their public trust as journalists, joining the Obama Administration to produce propaganda supporting their proposal for health care reform. If that proves to be true, at least they are open about this – so Americans seeking real news can look elsewhere.

1.ABC news refuses to air paid ads during its White House health care presentation, the Drudge Report has learned, including a paid-for alternative viewpoint. (Source: Drudge Report)
2.Letter to ABC News from the Ken McKay (Chief of Staff to the Republican National Committee) protests this “glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda”, esp the refusal of ABC News to include any presentation by Republican Party leaders.
3.Response by Kerry Smith (SVP, ABC News) to the RNC letter — “no one watching, listening to, or reading ABC News will lack for an understanding of all sides of these important questions.”
4.An excellent analysis of this by Zenpundit: Well at Least We Know ABC is Immune to Intellectual Embarassment."
Leaving out the caveat that anyone intending to bash the Mainstream Media for bias would do best to leave out any references to Drudge, I will simply append my comment from Fabius' blog to give our commentors a chance to opine:

"I’m shocked. Shocked!

Republicans are now all swoony and gasping because the media conglomerates are falling all over themselves to parrot the Administration line? Refusing to paper up the GOP counter-propaganda during commercial breaks? Giving the “he said” without the “she said”?

Mind you, notice that nobody, from Drudge on down, is actually recommending that the network news do an impartial, analytical breakdown of the whole “health care” issue, scrutinize the various nostrums recommended by the big parties as well as more peripheral players, and then provide an assessment of the proposed solutions’ costs and benefits to the public.Nope. They just want the MSM to air THEIR propaganda alongside the Democrats.

The network news no longer does “journalism”. Dog bites man!

And this is different – how? – from when the Hearsts furnished the wars provided that they were furnished the pictures? When each party and even each grange, union, mill, and turnverein published their own little fishwrap, loaded with slanted articles, special pleading and outright lies? When you could predict the tone of the article based on whether it was a Whig journal, a Democratic journal or a Republican one, a Jacksonian or a Hamiltonian one?

We’ve allowed ourselves to continue dreaming on in the particularly unique and anomalous moment that existed from about 1945 to 1985, a period when the news outlets persuaded themselves – or were persuaded, did someone mention the Fairness Doctrine? – that they were “unbiased” sources of information. This time period is now as dead as the dodo, and I’m not sure how getting angry at the network news for doing what economic and political pressures and realities were bound to make them do is going to help.

How about, rather, we accept that FOX is news for right-wing-nut-Republicans, ABC/CBS/NBC is news for moderate Republicans and…well, there IS no “news for left-wing-nut-Democrats” unless you count the blogs. And even knowing THAT, if you want to be truly knowledgeable you will accept that all Drudge’s horses and all Kos’s men can force the net news or the big papers to do, y’know, actual JOURNALISM, that is, a reasoned analysis and dissection of the competing sides’ claims. Instead they will take a controversy, any controversy, and print some version of: “Scientists claim sun giant ball of flaming gas; others believe its Apollo’s Chariot”.

We’re returning to a period where the “news” arrives from a mix of competing ideological sources and fourth-grade level mass market pablum. If you’re used to getting your information served up to you already dressed and butchered, you’re going to have a hard time with that. If you can accept that you’re going to have to dig harder for the “truth”, then you can move on and still take part in the kabuki play that has become our national governing process."

Is there a third option? And is this really the Apocalypse, as Drudge and Fabius seem to think?

Lift and Shift

I'd like to direct you to a new post, and a new author, here at the MiPub.First, those of us who were regulars at the old Intel Dump will remember the gentleman who signed himself "seydlitz89".

A teacher, and student, of military strategy his incisive deconstruction of the sort of tactical-myopic "war is for the warriors" comments you'd often find there were the stuff of legend. I won't talk the man up further except to draw your attention to his first post at the MilPub, one he started several days ago and which might have been lost downpage a bit.

But his introductory post - which includes a nice precis on classic strategic thinking and how we here could approach applying it to the current conflicts in southwest Asia - shouldn't be missed

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I am having a difficult time finding a term for those representatives of the House Democratic caucus who went along with the latest elaborate fiscal charade to pretend that the costs of fighting two land wars in Asia aren't really, like, y'know, real money an' all.

Wasn't one of the things that the Democrats swore to end these shameful and craven supplementals? Why are we still doing this? Do they think they're fooling anyone?

And, although Glenn Greenwald says it all, let's bang this particular drum a little harder:
" for a bill with which they disagree out of "loyalty" to the President -- a desire "to support my president" -- is a total abdication of their primary duty. If they're going to obey the President even when they disagree with him, they should abolish themselves and transfer all of their Article I authority to Rahm Emanuel and Obama."
I have said this before to the point where I suspect that you are very tired of hearing it, but it is harder and harder to pretend that our federal political process is anything more than the elaborate rhetorical kabuki the Roman Senate indulged themselves in under the Caesars.

The vicious irony is that the insane Republicans, handed pretty much everything they got under their former leader Bush, stampeded across the aisle over some meaningless verbiage about the IMF; while the Democrats have lost their way, the GOP has simply lost its mind.

The situation inside the Beltway has truly become a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this conference report on the War Supplemental Appropriations. I wonder what happened to all of my colleagues who said they were opposed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wonder what happened to my colleagues who voted with me as I opposed every war supplemental request under the previous administration. It seems, with very few exceptions, they have changed their position on the war now that the White House has changed hands. I find this troubling. As I have said while opposing previous war funding requests, a vote to fund the war is a vote in favor of the war. Congress exercises its constitutional prerogatives through the power of the purse. . . .Mr. Speaker, I continue to believe that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home from Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . Our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan does not make us safer at home, but in fact it undermines our national security. I urge my colleagues to defeat this reckless conference report."
When Ron Paul is your voice of reason?

You're in trouble.

(H/T to Glenn Greenwald for the firebell in the night.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Self, introduction

As most of these creators have introduced themselves through introductory letters, I felt that I would be the odd man out if I did not follow suit.
I’m a scientist for a large pharma company that is in the process of being merged with another large pharma company. I work in the FACSlab which for those of you wondering, “what?” that would be Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting…mainly, I both conjugate fluorescent dyes to specific antibodies that attach themselves to specific proteins on the cell surface, then sort them using a Becton Dickenson Cell sorter called the ARIA,I, I used to use the BD VANTAGE/DIVA, but technology marches on.
Before my latest incarnation as a bench monkey, I worked as a Public Safety Assistant to the University Police department, which basically meant that I was eyes/ears/radio on the scene. Which was fine with me because by that time I had no intention of ever using a gun to kill anyone and would prefer not be put in the position of having to make that decision. Ever.
And before that yours truly worked as a courier for a Silicon Valley defense contractor whom will remain anonymous namely because we both will find that beneficial to our ignorance. Yours because it’ll make you cry, and me because I would rather limit my memory of that time…not that the job was bad, it wasn’t. Rather it was after the 1991 1st International Baghdad Air show I kind of lost the desire to be associated with that aspect of my past.
I switched majors from military history to Biology due to my change in work status, i.e. I was unemployed and to be perfectly honest, history majors are a dime a dozen. My history professor was sad to see the change, but he knew me well enough that when I contacted him a few years ago he said, “Of all my students, I knew you would be back.”
Hummph…some Professors…anyway, he was right, I’m back, and after much talking he convinced me that instead of taking a couple of mickey mouse courses for an undergrad degree that I should just go for the Masters program. So…I’m working on that. Unfortunately, the wife’s current employment pattern, coupled with my eldest now going to a four year college along with my youngest taking summer school college courses will mean that my activity in the program will be spotty at best for the next six years.

Thus, I’m brushing up on my German, middle latin, Greek…I guess I should learn more Hebrew…and always, always working on my writing.
I met this crew over at Intel Dump, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why they put up with me. And to further the confession, I seem to have gotten more out of the relationship than they have, which in biological terms means that I view this as a mutually symbiotic relationship while most would correctly identify me as a parasite.

I try to live up to that standard…as low as it is.
Anyway, I’ll hopefully provide something worth while reading, or at the very least prove to you why I shouldn’t be allowed to outside, alone, unwatched, and with small furry animals that squeak when squeezed…you know, come to think of it…they all make that wonderful little noise when squeezed.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flag Day

Today, June 14, is Flag Day. I'm not by nature a big flag waver, but this is one day when I fly Old Glory. I do it on the 4th, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day as well. This evening at dusk, while I was talking the battered old flag down, I thought about the flag and how important it's long been to most Americans. Unfortunately, my thoughts also turned to how the patriotic impulses stirred in most of us by the flag have been routinely misused by politicians and various other low lifes, a trend that's seemingly accelerated in recent years. To me, the flag kind of means something like what I've seen at the Court of the Missing in the Punchbowl National Cemetary.

Something very stirring in the right circumstances, but not something to be used to stir up jingoistic pride, and most decidedly not something that should be viewed as anything more than a symbol of what we always hope will be our national greatness. What I'm doing here is kind of making an end run approach into one of my particular pet rocks: the repeated attempts on the part of politicians to promote the flag to the status of icon and afford it special protections against defacement. Such special protections would, IMO, constitute an egregious infringement of a precious constitutional right, the right to tell the government it's full of shit.

Here's what I once wrote on the subject. What you see below appeared in a national publication oriented towards military officers. It was part of a debate with a Republican senator, a man who, no doubt believed I was a commie, know the rest. I acknowledged his right to so term me, while I also asserted my right to view him as a shameless panderer.

"I’m an unabashed flag-waver. It never fails to stir me and remind me how much I love my country. But despite my feelings, I can’t support a Constitutional amendment allowing Congress to prohibit the flag’s defacement. The flag is not America. It is a symbol of America, a nation made special by its constitutional freedoms, even including the right to deface the flag. By promoting the flag to icon status, this amendment is bumper-sticker patriotism, unworthy of America.

"According to the Senate Judiciary Committee, defacing of the flag makes us question our commitment to American ideals and shake our identity as Americans. Really? Why would a flag burning ever make us question this wonderful country? They also say the flag inspires Americans. Yes, but what does that have to do with the freedoms for which we’ve fought? Read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Now, there’s inspiration.

"As precedent for their amendment, the committee majority cites a 1634 prosecution of flag defacement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. What they don’t say is that this incident involved an English flag and protest of English tyranny. Discussions of prosecutions under the British crown are interesting, but what this has to do with Americans’ First Amendment rights is unclear. Our forebears threw the crown and its tyranny out. Why invite it back in now?

"The Founders are silent on the subject of Americans defacing an American flag, but they left some clues — none favorable to this amendment. The writings of Madison and Jefferson are rife with words such as “tyranny” and “despotism,” all aimed at government. These Founders did not trust government. For them to support any action aimed at limiting protest against government is unthinkable — because they did not view the perceived needs of the state as more important than individual rights. That way lies Tiananmen Square.

"Flag burning is the ultimate form of political protest. It strikes at the very heart of our beliefs, and it may tell us truths we don’t want to hear. But you don’t burn a flag unless you have a serious grievance against government. Despite our personal feelings about it, this act requires the highest form of protection— because it is aimed at government. I also know that the only way I can guarantee my freedoms is to fight for your freedoms, even if I don’t like you.

"Limiting political expression to topics approved by Congress is the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. Next, we might see amendments prohibiting petitions to Congress regarding broken promises to military personnel, or making it a crime to investigate dishonest government officials. If a government gets away with compromising liberty once, it's that much easier to do it again.

"Since the beginning, Americans have fought for the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Many battles have also been fought between citizens and a government that’s sometimes been indifferent or hostile to their grievances. We should never accept that government is always benign: the Founders admonished us to be ever watchful because they knew it was government’s nature to expand its authority at the expense of individual rights. Thus the Bill of Rights, which is all about protecting us from government.

"At the close of the 20th century, Americans can say we prevailed. We won the Cold War. We beat the Nazis. We rid ourselves of slavery. We discredited the divine rights of monarchs. We’ve lived up to the vision of our Founders, without retreating from the bedrock principles spelled out in the Bill of Rights. Why retreat now? Why give up those liberties for which we’ve paid so dearly? What danger to the republic exists now that didn’t in 1942? In 1862?

"The amendment’s sponsors talk about the glories of the flag, but they don’t talk about giving up constitutional rights to protect it. The truth is we have to. Sure, we hate to see a flag burned. The sponsors rely on that to sway us. But does the flag outweigh the Constitution? This is no threat to America. Far better to show our patriotism by keeping faith with the Constitution—our birthright—even if we have to endure the occasional flag-burning. The Constitution’s true genius is that no one can take our rights from us. Let’s not give them away."

This turned out to be a most gratifying experience, not just because I believed I kicked the senator's butt, but because of what followed. And this is what I want to share with everyone, especially those with little or no military experience and who might accordingly not have a great deal of insight into the character of those who serve. I heard personally from military officers of all services, from all over the country. A bulletin board was established so that officers could render an opinion and debate the matter themselves. Bottom line was that close to 90% of the officers responding agreed with me. They shared my opinion that our liberties are far too important to be tampered with by politicians. Frankly, I was a little surprised at the outcome. But, upon reflection, I realized that straw poll didn't come out the way it did because I was such a persuasive writer. It was because even the most hardcore conservative guy wearing the uniform knows his Constitution and knows what it means.

So the next time you find yourself believing some of the more egregious horseshit peddled by Hollywood, Rush Limbaugh or Fox News about American military personnel, I hope you remember my little story.

What do you all think?

Strategic Cavalry?

All new blogs develop their own specific lists of topics. I think "Strategic Cavalry" should be one for MilPub . . . Why, because it sounds kinda cool and puts together a rather novel concept which I suspect that those posting here all share . . .

So I start my first post on this blog, one dealing with an application of strategic theory which is one of my passions. Besides being a teacher and dabbling in strategic theory applied to education, I also teach strategic theory to students who might find it of interest. Some day I'd like to do nothing else but write about theory, but that particular day is far off.

To start off, strategically speaking usable and actionable information provided through theory and interaction in a social environment exists. So why not model it?

All you need is the best model available which is Clausewitzian strategic theory, specifically his general theory of war. We're still waiting for the 4GW guys to come up with the second best (and btw I enjoy throughly trashing such dubious and confusing notions/pipe dreams as 4GW -aka Cheney's art of war-, 5GW, 6GW, Global Guerr . . . , anyway you get the idea).

War comes down to politics, without that it makes no sense, has no basis outside of vague anthropology which gets us nowhere. Politics includes (ir)rational policy and the effect of confused national politics (various factions/powerful intersts opposing each other during a war), that is both what got us into Afghanistan and Iraq and what keeps us there. The problem with all the 2nd place wannabe theories of strategy is that they never get beyond the tactical, always focus on warfare, but not war, that is how the military instrument by way of the military aim is expected to provide the means for the accomplishment of the political purpose against a living entity which resists over time. None of those promoting the second best theory can even articulate convincingly what our political purposes even are, let alone how to achieve them through military means. Clausewitz accomplishes this - in theoretical terms by way of the general theory - and is the basis for classic strategic thought, which is unfortunately in decline today.

Now we can define strategy in this matter, that is dealing with the planning and implementation of policy of nation states, or we can use the same concept to deal with policy planning and implementation of any political community. Your family for instance is a political community, with politics defined as the struggle (both opposed and unopposed) of dividing and implementing power/resources within that community. In the end all political power rests on the potential use of force/violence to implement it, and how this implementation is perceived by those at the receiving end is "legitimacy" (following Max Weber now). Doubt me? Well perhaps if you've never had a spanking as a child, but I'm talking about families in general, as human social collectives. So strategy - in this very broad sense - can guide a country or a family as well as all social communities in between. Consider here how for instance John Boyd's OODA loop is a model for decision making for all strategic communities. Recall too that Boyd's strategic view (which I find compatible with Clausewitz in spite of what 4GW contends) sees prosperity, survivability and harmony as the (rational) goal of all social groups.

I'm not quite through with "strategy" yet, but let's talk now about the second concept of "Strategic Cavalry". Cavalry today is essentially tank troops with a reconnaissance function, they retain the title of "cavalry" for historic and morale purposes, but are nothing like cavalry in the historic sense. The reason for this is that cavalry is essentially organically and socially constructed. The rider interacting with his horse, using his senses for situational awareness, protecting himself with small arms, operating as a group, are all the essence of cavalry. Take those away and you have something quite different. The reason that outside of limited use in some anti-partisan/partisan actions on the Eastern Front in World War II, cavalry hasn't had much utility at the tactical level over the last 60 odd years is that modern weaponry can "outreach" the human scale of movement/interaction that is basic to cavalry. So the illustrious 7th Cavalry (or the descendants of Bedford Forrest's CSA cavalry) of today ride in tanks, in order to avoid extinction. Simple as that.

The role of traditional cavalry is shock action, strategic (but usually operational/tactical) mobility, reconnaissance and communication in support of the commander's intent. I am stressing here the reconnaissance and communication functions exclusively, although admit that shock action and mobility (like in a bar fight) definitely have their place. This arm, cavalry, takes in and modifies many human attributes and transforms them into a machine, a social machine of rapid movement and destruction. For the commander of such a human machine, genius as well, if his troops are lucky enough to enjoy it. Due to the nature of the arm (a cavalry officer never really stops unless recalled) a leader of cavalry can acheive strategic effect, at least theoretically. Strategic effect defined as the possibility of achieving/influencing a decision at the highest or decisive level of the confrontation. Finally the worse thing that cavalry can do is operate on unproven assumptions or be smug and too self-assured as to what lies ahead. The nature of the environment they operate is chaotic, ever changing, fluid and full of surprises, a virtual graveyard for dubious assumptions (and those who held them). So if we use "cavalry" as a metaphor we can use it to describe a group of like-equipped individuals operating under the restricted conditions of cavalry for strategic goals at the lowest level of political community, that is the family or clan, or blog in this case.

What I am stressing here also indicates a personal connection, since cavalry is basically Humint or Human intelligence, or information gleened from human sources/through human observation. Humint is my military intel background, as in back in the bad ole days in West Berlin before and after the Wall came down.

What makes "strategic cavalry" a real concept is strategic theory. Strategic theory is simply to plan for (in a Clausewitzian fashion) the potential use of force among or within political communities. War is the application of organized violent force for the achievement of policy aims. A strategist commanding the army in the field would come up with the best military application to achieve the political purpose. Few ever become strategists, which does not displace the need for strategic theory. In fact in a democracy, strategic theory has a very important place: insuring the sequence of policy formulation and implementation, military planning and critical analysis (which by nature is retrospective) thus providing for "rational" policy implementation and accountability.

So what exactly is "Strategic cavalry"?

First my assumptions: cavalry needs more than one. Cavalaryman or Cavalrywoman is singular, but two makes Cavalry. Second, it all comes down once again to your own instincts. Cavalry's good at that too. What do your senses tell you? How do you react when you notice that those around you share the same instincts? Form a group/blog . . . as we have done here. Third, we all hear that storm a coming. And it's going to be a real hammer. Finally, its about perseption, intuition, knowing stuff by looking people in the eye, watching them speak, looking at their hands, knowing their language and culture, comparing what they say with their actions over time. This leading to analysis or simply judgement. Judging, oh dare I say the word!, judging people's actions in line with what they say and then exposing them as shameless hypocrites should the situation warrant. This would include telling emperors they have no clothes, that scared bonds have been ravished, that the innocent have been abused and worse, and lies spun for corrupt ends, in short rationally and with thoughtful argument speaking truth to power, while hopefully avoiding complacency or smug igorance. Something sadly in short supply on the internet.

I further assume that my fellow contributors share all these views.

Which is why I'm home posting on this blog.

Strategic Cavalry is all about avoiding as best we can, those we can, the storms, and taking advantage of good weather . . . for ours and those like us in spirit with the goal of harmony, prosperity and survival for our families, groups, communities, states and nation as a whole, starting at a basic level and slowly broadening our scope, at least in theory. Stratetgic cavalry would designate posts which touch on this type of subject.

As means of autobiographical introduction I left the US to "fight" the Cold War in 1984. Set off for Berlin to get myself an intel job, that is employed as a military intelligence officer in a civilian capacity. That was the plan since first of all I had to learn German, and where better to do that. After an interesting and surprisingly short period of time, I was successful and from the mid 80s to the mid 90s I had a front row seat as far as overt strategic Humint collection went. Berlin, until the end was of course an Allied collection effort so I worked closely with every overt Allied collection entity in the city at that time. During the first half of my military intelligence career I served as a German language interrogator and during the second as a collection ops officer. As ops officer I supervised and trained US Army interrogators to actual conditions, the chaotic result of a changing world. More military intelligence than military background, I volunteered with 18 as a Marine Corps Reservist the same month Saigon fell. Six years later I was commissioned and served one tour in the Marine Corps on active duty.

Politically, I'm a small town Southern conservative who has been shocked by the events of the last eight years.

May we band together and share our thoughts and feelings, ever atune to the situation yet to befall us.

MilPub: Barstool Warning Label

I wanted to ensure that, for all that this site and many of those posting here have a military connection, those of you interested in posting or commenting do NOT feel that some sort of armed service connection is required.

I have invited the brilliant and decidedly both delightfully feminine and thoroughly civilian Lisa (of RangerAgainstWar) to be one of the bartenders here. Here's what I wrote to her in regards to this topic.

"And I hope you don't restrict yourself from commenting on military topics. One of the most pernicious tendencies in this country in the past decade is the attempt, both by the military itself and those who idolize the military, to insist that a lack of military service or specialized military knowledge disqualifies one from assessing and analyzing military adventuring. It's the very problem I see at places like Abu Muquwama, where the so-called "qualified" military and ex-military types and military buffs spend huge quantities of bandwith debating and discussing techniques and tactics of eating soup with a knife without ever hinting that the soup might not be a nourishing or valuable food for the people funding the knife."

So drop trails and fire for effect. We'll tell you if you're way out of safe. But in a NICE way.

Ignorance Abroad

We seem to be spending a great deal of time and trouble to turn central and southwest Asia in Framingham, Mass. only with more goat kebabs. Just looking at the benefit to the U.S. public this would seem to be quixotic at best and MOronic at worst.

So - why DO we fight?

To this I can only perceive two explanations. They aren't "reasons", in that they are hardly reasonable to any hominid possessing a living brain. They don't really make sense, in the meaning of the term of making a coherent and logical case for a course of action. But they do explain the otherwise inexplicable passivity of the American electorate in the face of this obscenely expensive and moronic debacle so valueless to the body of the American public.

The first is IGNORANCE.And, by this, I don't mean stupidity. I don't think that Americans, on the whole, are any more or less intelligent than any other residents of any country on Earth. We certainly have our share of dummies - any listen to the call-ins to a Rush Limbaugh radio show will prove that - but no more than we deserve. We send our kids to decent schools - although I do wish that they spent more time learning HOW to think rather than WHAT to think - and we have unparalleled exposure to ideas and opinions.No, I mean ignorance. Lack of experience, vision, applied knowledge of the world, the people and places in it, and ideas about it.

Americans are, by and large, ignorant of the world around them. We can afford to be; in fact, our geography dictates that we are almost bound to be, unless we take the effort to transcend our limits. Perhaps only an Australian, a Chinese or a Russian are as isolated. A European, a Middle Easterner, a South or Central American, and most Asians can't drive or ride a train more than a day without being Somewhere Else. a place where the people speak at least a different dialect, if not a completely different language. Dress a little differently. Listen to different music, like different foods, play different sports. The closeness of these differences forces people in these places to pay closer attention to those who aren't like them. They may not like them - in fact, this proximity may contribute to cherished old loathings - but they can't act as if they are something in a TV war movie. No matter how far we go, we can't escape our Americanness. IT's vast, it's all around us. I think this is a huge factor in explaining, for instance, why we're still farting around in the Afghan Kush. The people driving the bus have their own agenda. But the rest of us, the plain, simple, ordinary Americans who aren't writing to their Congresscritter asking why the hell we're fighting over the fucking Korengal Valley...we just don't GET how really, truly, genuinely, fundamentally different a Hazara tribesman is from Jay Leno. We don't. We, a lot of us, subconsciously think that the whole world is like America - after all, OUR whole world is, isn't it? - and that all those "other" people are like Americans (only a little dirtier and smellier). We want peace and a nice lawn and Viagra and Angelina Jolie in buttless chaps...he does too, right? So, like the cartoon American tourists, if we just speak English LOUD enough and SLOW enough they'll "get" it and BE like us, right?We're also ignorant, pig-ignorant, criminally ignorant, of war and the effects of war. We were ignorant enough back in the Eighties, but by now the draft era has so far receded that only a handful of us have Seen the Elephant. And none of us, not even our Greatest Generation moms and dads or grandparents, really understand war the way the Europeans who lived through or were raised by the generations that survived the First and Second World Wars.

I chuckle bitterly when I hear some war-porn addict mocking the French for their pusillanimity. You just don't get it, do you, jackhole? You're talking about the fiercest beasts of a bestial continent, the Butchers of Europe, the blood-gluttons of History, who carved a gory trail of corpses from Tours to Verdun before the horrific nightmare of the Western Front knocked the savagery right out of them. Try offering some Freedom Fries to a sunken-eyed man-at-arms of Rocroi, a loot-burdened old grognard of Smolensk, a filthy poilu of Chemin-des-Dames and see what that gets you. No; we can warble along to "Iraq and I Roll" because we don't have a Dresden or a Verdun or a Somme or a Coventry or a Stalingrad in our memories of war, just idiotic Mel Gibson films and bad country music.

The second is SLOTH.We're just lazy.Our Framers handed us down a nation they intended to be run by the rich and the well-born. Men and women worked and fought hard, from 1789 until 1968 (When the Civil Rights Act was signed into law), to roll back the privilege and entitlement of the wealthy and the well-connected. Since the 1960's we could have taken the warning we were given by the example of Mister Nixon and his cronies, whose intention it was (and is) to return the power to the hands of the powerful, and continued the fight, continued to hold the wealthy, the famous and the powerful at arm's length with the skepticism of a born republican.

Instead, we, most of us, have chosen to abandon the public fora to the malefactors of great wealth, their corporate enablers and the bathtub scum they have purchased to do their legislating for them. We have more interest in the doings of Jon and Kate (and bad cess to me for even knowing who these worthless idiots are) than in compelling our own rulers to tell us the truth. We choose to be comforted by lies rather than be shamed by the truth.We are truly well on our way to becoming subjects rather than citizens.


Are we monsters? Savages? Bloody-handed Huns rampaging throughout the weaker world around us because......we glory in slaughter and conquest, lust to crush our enemies, drive them before us, to hear the lamentations of their women?

No.We are, most of us, luxury- and trivia-loving lotos-eaters, slothful and ignorant followers along for the ride that the real rulers of our country are taking us on.

That doesn't call for much fire and brimstone, perhaps.But it doesn't say much praiseworthy about us, either.

(Cross-posted with full version over at Graphic Firing Table)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I have no Idea of what I am doing

Well, I see my friends with a better developed sense of responsibility have beaten me to it. I'm not going to be quite so forthcoming as they are, at least not yet, probably because of my professional background. I spent 21 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, then another three as a professional civilian working for the government. Most of this time was as what is often termed a "spook," or intelligence officer. Do not ask me anything about a G2 or S2 shop. Not my department. I wore civilian clothing almost my entire military career and you wouldn't often see me with a GI haircut or anywhere near a military post.

After I left the Fed for a better paying job (I was subject to what was called the "RA offset," meaning retired regular officers had to pay a portion of their retirement pay for the honor and privilege of being an uncivil servant), I spent three years in Washington, D.C. as a "beltway bandit." I was a program manager working with classified military communications and then ran a 25-person effort with the then Strategic Defense Initiative. I think that money pit is now called the Ballistic Missile Agency or some such nonsense.

Then I was recruited for a senior management position with a major defense contractor in Silicon Valley. That job didn't last as long as I would have liked, so within a few years I was self-employed, doing my own thing as a consultant. That went on for about ten years.

More later. I am old and tired, but I am looking forward to this new venture. The old Intel Dump blog introduced me to some very cool dudes, some of whom I've "known" for, I think, nigh onto six years. That's an eternity. I'm comfortable with you folks and I have a fairly thick skin. Give me your best shot. Not in the attack sense, but in the sense of the full range of your intellect. Some day I'll tell you what my daughter, the scientist, has to say about my opinion of people who don't maximize their those seven inches or so between the ears. She learned all about it as a young 'un. Now I can't stand her. She's way smarter than I am.

Reporting for Duty!

Reporting in as second on board, I'm known as Aviator47, a retired Army Aviator that spent almost half my flying years in the Chinook - hence the "47". Did 6 years in the Corps, to include a reserve stint while getting college under my belt, then 29 in the Army, again including a reserve stint in the middle while I went to grad school. Served from the time of "Ike" through Bill Clinton. Have enlisted, NCO, Warrant Officer and Commissioned Officer service. Just couldn't make up my mind. Retired as an LTC(P) to take care of aging parents. No regrets over turning down the "Eagles", as my goal upon entering flight school was to make CW-4, and in terms of pay grade (but perhaps not prestige) I beat that. To be frank, seeing my name on the promotion list to COL was quite a surprise, as I thought I was overage in grade!

My 34 years, 11 months and 18 days of military service is the third longest thing (other than breathing) I have ever stuck to. Second longest was boating (45 years), and longest is riding Vespa motorscooters (approaching 51 years), which we still do. The wife and I are enjoying life in a sleepy village of some 80 delightful souls on a Greek Island, and look forward to many more years of it.

Looking forward to discussing the world as it appears to each of us and enjoying camaraderie.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Reception Station

At ease, listen up.

You can call me the Fire Direction Chief - FDChief - and I'm temporarily in charge of this goat rope until things settle down a bit. For informational purposes only, I'm a 51-year-old husband and father, a professional geologist living in Portland, Oregon. Retired after 22 years of military service, I've been in the Regular Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard as a medic, medical sergeant, mortarman, drill sergeant, platoon sergeant, artillery fire direction computer and battery FDC chief - I retired as an E-7(P) and have always regretted not sticking around to make First Sergeant. But there you go - life is what happens when you're making other plans.

While I realize that y'all are new here, the first lesson of Life, including Military Life is: Ignorance Is Not An Excuse. This important lesson will take you far in the world if you remember the preceding rule, The Maximum Range of an Excuse is Zero Meters. Hopefully this place can inform and energize your brain housing group so you won't have to excuse why you were ignorant.I hope this will be the beginning of a lively place, a local taverna for us old sweats and the young bucks alike, to discuss whatever's on our minds. Many of us are ex- or current service types, and we tend to like to talk about military matters. But we have room for all; this is a Barroom of All Talents. Want to talk about your kids' graduation? Speak up. Health Care? We'll listen. Your prostate exam? OK, maybe not so much...

I hope to have some more friends and associates here soon to liven up the

So when I release you from this formation remain in the blog area and additional personnel should be along with more information for the good of the order.

Fall out.