Monday, February 26, 2018

At least he's good for a laugh once in a while...

In a dim, dirty hostess bar on a sultry backstreet in the Pham Ngu Lao district of Valhalla, a bunch of the tattered shades of the boys from the 66th NVA Regiment and the 1/7th Cav take a break from pounding warm "33" beer and talking shit about the ARVN to stand up, drop their khaki and OD trousers, and hang a collective moon on the guy who couldn't run from their war fast enough but now claims that he would rush a mad gunman barehanded.
Over at the corner table Trung sĩ Vo and Staff Sergeant Baker spit sourly on the filthy floor and yell at the hostess for another round, cold this time, goddammit, but Hạ sĩ Nguyen thinks that the idea of Five-Deferment Donnie as a rootin' tootin' heeeero is so fucking funny he spits beer out his nose and Private Bookwalter has to pound him on the back so hard that he hits his face on the table and the whole squad, including Loi the B-girl, breaks up laughing.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Trumpot Dome?

The uniquely appalling vision of a "low information" President installed in the highest Executive office in the United States, lying and raging on his cellphone whilst sitting on the toilet in the early hours of the morning is difficult to ignore. But it's worthwhile to recall that, at least in the political sense, the damage that the administration of His Fraudulency is doing has little or nothing to do with Trump himself.

As previously noted on this site, the GOP of 2018 exists to pimp for plutocracy, construct a new Gilded Age where their domestic oligarchs can imitate the sort of open Putinesque kleptocracy so admired amongst the Federalist set, and punch down at the lib'ruls, hippies, poors, and dusky Others.

One aspect of the Fraudulency Administration that is not often dissected, however, is the Return of the Harding Ethos of "public service"; the brutally open graft and hoovering-up of public largesse not seen since the Roaring Twenties. From the simple and crude quid-pro-quo of holding government functions at Trump's properties to the sort of brutal griftopia of the Whitefish Energy and Tribune Contracting scams run through as Puerto Rican "disaster assistance" and the multiple Trump appointees mulcting the public trough in ways ranging from upgraded commercial flights to ridiculous "security" expenses, the current administration is marching boldly back to the future of "honest graft".
And why is this a subject for a military-geopolitical blog?

Because the Department of Defense is, as Willie Sutton said, "where the money is".

I don't think that anyone here will question the bald statement that there is corruption in the U.S. military procurement process.

Perhaps not the sort of open, hand-out-palm-up sort of corruption on display at Mar-a-lago. But the "military-industrial-congressional-complex" has been a one-hand-washes-the-other since "defense" became big business back in the 1940s. Defense contractors schmooze legislators and Pentagon program managers. Ex-officers and ex-congresspeople slide effortlessly into corporate offices at Boeing, Raytheon, FLIR Systems, Lockheed-Martin, and so on.

Nobody has to do anything so crude as slip a Franklin into some Congressman's pocket. Ensuring that some F-35 sub-sub-contractor is located in his district, cranking out jobs and tax revenue, is often more than enough.

That's...well, let's call it the "usual corruption", red-white-and-blue corruption, the sort of thing that a big, rich, imperial power can tolerate and still survive, and even prosper.

My concern is, rather, that the incredible degree to which Trump, the Trumpenspawn, and his Trumpenproletariat have normalized open, hand-out-palm-up corruption will cause it to slowly, but inevitably, begin to seep into the U.S. military bureaucracy.

Seven years ago, when the arc of the GOP's New Gilded Age Project had become apparent, I wrote a piece over at my personal blog about the blatant corruption I saw in Panama. One of the most visible problems in the armed forces of the various parts of the Third World I saw when I was on active duty was this issue of vicious, endemic corruption that ran from the lowest private up to the big building in the capital that housed the Ministry of Defense or whatever it was called.

Aside from the innate foolishness of trying to Hustle the East, one of the biggest problems with the endless Wars on The Middle East we've fussed with since 2001 has been the ridiculously corrupt armies of our supposed "allies" in Afghanistan and Iraq. Everything from military funding that simply disappears to company officers padding their alpha roster with "ghost soldiers", imaginary people whose paychecks go into the commanders' pockets.

We've never seen that sort of thing. Not in my army.


We haven't swum in the sort of sea of corruption that the Trumpkins swim in, not since my grandmother was a young woman, which is to say that none of us have the slightest experience with how to deal with this kind of venality, or know what will happen if the U.S. government and armed forces are allowed to steep in it for another three to seven years.

I'd like to think that my Army is too honest to become the Panama Defense Force.

But I thought my Army wouldn't torture helpless prisoners, or lie about checkpoint shootings, either. I never thought I'd see my Army march witlessly off into a wilderness of mirrors, wasting blood and treasure in pointless cabinet wars without so much as a whisper of protest. It's like we learned nothing from the wasted years and wasted lives of Vietnam.

What I fear is that the corruption and delusion at the heart of the "wars on terror" have set up the U.S. military to become as physically corrupt as they have made us geopolitically and strategically corrupt.

And what I dread is what I've said before about the rest of the prospect awaiting those of us not in the New Gilded Age; we're going to places that none of us understand, that no American has seen for almost a century. And that what we know of those places is that, well, for most of us, they weren't much fun at all.

Friday, February 16, 2018

More fucking thoughts and prayers

I see it's time to drag this one out. Again.

I know this has nothing to do with the results of the 2016 elections, yet I look around and what I see is just a part of the toxic stew of the very worst of my country that seems to be bubbling cheerfully on every stovetop; arrogant, corrupt, ignorant, makes me think of the piece of Robert Graves' I, Claudius where the cunningly-not-really-a-gimping-halfwit emperor turns his appalling heir loose on Rome, whispering "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."

What hits me hardest about these nutter shootings is how they never change anything because of the magical incantation "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" as if the whole "well-regulated militia" thing was a fantasy and the U.S. Constitution is some sort of Holy Writ, handed down on gold tablets never to be altered or re-imagined.

Well, the Constitution once said that black people were 3/5ths of a registered voter, and that it was illegal to drink a beer.

Both of those ideas were fucked up. So We the People changed the Constitution.

So far, the score of the Second Amendment is "resisting tyrannical government", zero; "butchering other Americans", about a gajillion. I note that all these ammosexuals with their arsenals seem curiously mute about "tyranny" like the idea that the government can freely spy on our communications, or take our stuff if we get arrested - not convicted, mind you, just arrested - for smoking weed. So I conclude that the notion that the "right to keep and bear arms" has pretty much zero percent to do with the sort of people doing actual tyranny-resisting and 100% to do with the sort of fucking people who get a woody out of busting out more than thirty rounds a minute.

But who gives an actual fuck?

Nobody is going to do anything about this. Tomorrow another nutter will take another semiautomatic weapon into another school and another N > 0 number of kiddies and teachers and random poor sonsofbitches will die or be hideously wounded. And we'll hear that there's nothing we can do - in the only industrialized nation that this happens regularly - and we need to have more mental health care (but fuck-all funding for it), and we need to send our thoughts and prayers to the new set of grieving parents and lovers and brothers and sisters whose beloveds have been blown away so I can go to the range tomorrow and bust out 200 rounds of 5.56mm in fifteen minutes.

So, fuck it.

Here's a cute fucking picture of a cute fucking cat.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Canal Competition?   Excavation via nuke instead of pick and shovel, a la 1963:

Alpini Sappers in Erbil Iraq:

Another parade that I want to ignore.  Unless of course they get a prominent slot in five-deferment-Donnie's parade in DC with Stormy Daniels as Drum Majorette in the lead:

Friday, February 9, 2018

Another Anniversary - Stars and Stripes

Another historical milestone passed. 

Stars and Stripes newspaper was one hundred years old on the 8th of February.  Starting out in France as the voice of the American Expeditionary Force.  A hybrid or perhaps a mongrel, it now operates within the Department of Defense but DOD has no editorial control.  Congress has guaranteed its freedom of speech.  Its first editor Harold Ross later founded and published the New Yorker magazine.

Its most famous contributor was of course Bill Mauldin during WW2 with his Willie and Joe cartoons and his lampooning of the upper brass.  General Patton accused him of being an anarchist and wanted to lock him up in the monkey house.  He was saved by Ike who told Patton that Stars and Stripes is the soldiers’ newspaper and we generals will not interfere.  My father, who fought in Italy, swore on a bible that he personally knew the GI upon who Willie was based.  His favorite Mauldin cartoon was the mud-slinging staff officer's jeep shown here on the right.

Back in 1918, another famous illustrator Cyrus Baldridge, was with Stars and Stripes.  His most famous illustration in the paper is titled ‘The Noncombatant’.  The paper is still going strong in the digital age:  four daily print editions, one each for Europe, the Middle East, Japan and South Korea; a weekly in the US; seven digital editions; and seven blogs.  They still publish Doonesbury despite the push to get rid of it by the right wing, but I think it is only re-run mode.  Plus I have not seen anything recent or Trump in the Stripes, so maybe the first Amendment rights safeguarded by Congress have been put on the back shelf.  Sad as someone in the WH might say.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Oh, just go ahead and rename the goddamn thing "The Trumpian Republic of Reaganstan" and get it over with.

"President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.

Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning."
Here's an idea.

Let's exhume Ronnie's dead ass and build a honkin' big mausoleum for him on the White House lawn, overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. We can prop up his embalmed corpse in there as a reminder of how we started down this idiot path.

We can make it Republican red, too.

And then on Lincoln's Birthday or John Birch Day or something, some sort of GOParteitag, anyway, all the bigwigs - the Ryans and McConnells and the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs and Joni Ernsts, forchrissakes, can join Trump on the reviewing stand on top and salute the forces as they goosestep past. And Napoleorange can salute, too, just like he learned in the little military school where he got the bone spurs that kept him out of Vietnam and safe and rich until he could get elected to play "Commander-in-Chief" and send other poor, dumb bastards out to kill and die for him.

This is what you want, America?


By God, I've lived too damn long.

Update 2/8: Jim Wright lays some wood on a GOPandering twit:

Sunday, February 4, 2018

30 January & 2 February

Two observances last week.  Seventy five years ago on 2 February was the final day of the Battle of Stalingrad.  And fifty years ago on the 30th of January was the start of the surprise Tết Offensive by the North Vietnamese Army.    I am not comparing them, the two do not come even close in scope - 1.75 million casualties versus a mere 195 thousand.  But they both foreshadowed the end of a war.

Last Friday Russian citizens celebrated the Stalingrad victory by marching in Moscow, St Petersburg, and many other cities including Stalingrad itself (now Volgograd).    I'm not up to describing that five-month battle.  We danced around it here back in January 2017:    
And there are scores if not hundreds of books, articles and websites describing the action better than I ever could.   A great website for that time in history is at:  
It provides not only a snapshot of the battle with fairly good maps, but also interviews with a dozen German and Russian survivors.  If you do not read all of the interviews, at least read that of Gerhard Hindenlang and that of the Faustova/Voronov married couple.  Hindenlang was a regimental adjutant in the 71st Infantry Division.  He had set up regimental HQ in the basement of the Red Department Store, where in the last days of battle they were joined by General Paulus and his 6th Army staff of 120 when they had to evacuate southern Stalingrad.   Maria Georgievna Faustova was a 20-year-old radio operator with the 131st Rifle Division.  Aleksandr Filippovich Voronov was a 22-year-old commander of an anti-tank battery.  Both sustained wounds there.  Another good read is Deutsch Welle’s English language website:

Seeing that Tet is now 50 years old, the CIA and other intel agencies are going to review selected documents from that era for possible declassification.  Unfortunately the first release will not be until July.  I'm looking forward to that event.
There was almost complete surprise even though the NVA telegraphed their move and there were many indications and warnings.  Westmoreland is said to have been informed that attacks "may" be coming, but if he knew of the scope he did not communicate it well to his subordinates and his superiors in Washington.  And reportedly there was major turf battles going on between General Westmoreland's MACV intel staff and the CIA regarding the number of personnel available to the NVA and the VC.  The evening of the attack, 200 MACV intelligence staff officers were at a pool party.  James Meecham, a MACV CIC analyst was at that party and said later: "I had no conception Tet was coming, absolutely zero ... Of the 200-odd officers present, not one I talked to knew Tet was coming, without exception."   Westmoreland seemed to be convinced that attacks were a diversion and the real target was Khe Sanh.  Actually it was the other way around, Westy was snookered by Generals Giáp and Thái.