Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Year of Readership - Thank You.

I just saw Matt at Black Five wrapped up the year. He had some interesting opservations of note. Take a look over there and see how he was surprised. I also wanted to say thank you to those of you who come around, once or more. If any one has any suggestions, the comment section is always open. I enjoy looking at my Site Meter and Stat Counter logs. It's amazing to see readers show up from all over the world. It's more interesting to look at the ones who come in from search engines and see what words they find me with. One thing, with I can't decide to be preplexed about or not, is that almost daily for the last few months, the search words "right to die" have been present in the logs. My blog comes up because of a post I did when Terry Shaivao was soon to have her feeding tube removed. I'm not sure if those coming into that post are considering the circumstances for themselves or someone they care for, but it makes me feel sad that the discussion has to be held in the first place. I want to acknowledge the websites who have sent me of my traffic: Mudville Gazette. Thanks, GreyHawk and Mrs. Greyhawk for the almost daily open posts and the Dawn Patrol, which featured some of my posts! Little Green Footballs. The place where Dan Rather met his match and the influence of bloggers really took off. Charles does a daily open thread, and, if you find it soon enough, it may provide you with a posting high enough that people don't get bored scrolling thru about 2000 comments on the thread. Black Five. Matt picked up the Cpl Desmond Doss story and it spread like wildfire. That one post has been reponsible for about half of tall the hits I got this year, and has been one that shows up regularly from search engine hits, even today! Chapomatic. The submariner Captain, now vanquished to the center of the nation on a joint tour, has been a consistent reader and linker to some of my posts. Thanks, Captain, and whatever the NAVADMIN is about, I'm hoping for a positive outcome! A Female Soldier. Talk about dedication! A 35 year old wife and mom enlists to be a combat medic. Currently in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. That sounds hard core to me. Thank you, Grey Eagle for your service, and your blog. And, thanks to all the others who have linked to me, either for a post, or on your blogrolls. Every little bit helps! Thanks! The Valour-IT competition this year (and, in case you're not aware, it's an ongoing project) at Veteran's Day was a sight to behold. Just turn a bunch of type "A" people loose, forgive them for not asking questions, and see what they can do. Last update I saw, where all the checks coming had been added in for the ten day push to raise funds was over $99K (but not quite $100K)! And to think the four service teams all took the $21K goal as their own team's...silly us! As of a few days ago, here is a report of one of the deliveries of the laptops to some service men in a VA Hospital. It's a tough read, and I've linked to Part II, so click on the link and read Part I first to get the whole story. Update 01/06/2006: Part III of the trip to deliver laptops is here. FbL told me in her comment that it's a tougher read than the first two parts... As a simple request to all of you, next time you see a Vet, past or present, take a moment to say thank you. The WWII vets aren't going to be here much longer, and it's not often there are accolades to those who suffered through and fought the "police action" of the Korean War. The Vietnam guys got far too little, specifically because the negative treatment. The Gulf War vets still had to do what they did, but because they were good, it was over quickly. That sure doesn't diminish their willingness to head east about 7000 miles. Of course, the present day troops are doing a great job. They are all around us, and, if you have time, spend a few minutes to listen to their stories, you'll most likely feel rewarded for the small investment of your time, whether their remeberances are happy or sad. Speaking of stories, the Library of Congress has been hosting the collection of these stories under the Veteran's History Project. Please collect the history you can from your family and friends for others to share in the future via this project. Here's a short brief on the project:
Every veteran has his or her own war, and each is custodian of a unique story and memories. At the Veterans History Project, we treasure the personal narratives sent to us by veterans from all wars. Vivid as if they happened yesterday, these heartfelt accounts make us laugh, cry and remember.The stories are not a formal history of war, but a treasure trove of individual feelings and personal recollections. As we build this unprecedented collection documenting both veterans and civilians and their EXPERIENCES of war, we will introduce new themes on the Web site. Please join our effort by sending us your own recollections and memories. Each contribution makes this project all the more priceless.
Here's a plug for the families who support the troops. Thank them, too, for they are in fact, a vital component of what their family members are doing worldwide. If you can help out doing some chores for a spouse with someone deployed, it's a great service, costs you little except time, but, they aren't getting rich on the taxpayers good graces, so it sure beats the price of a service call. They will be very thankful to you for serving them, while they serve. And with that, thanks for all the fish! Have a happy and safe New Year, where ever you may be.

The End of 2005 - Where Have We Been?

What a year! The contrast is so incredible, it's hard to imagine what has happened across the 365 days gone by. I do recall one common thread: The MSM, both the US based firms and those abroad, working diligently to remove President Bush from office, or, short of that, cripple his team that directly supports him. My perception is none of it has been about righting wrongs, but it has almost exclusively been about regaining power for the liberally minded portion of our country, which therefore has benefit to the rest of the world in terms of weakening our military, binding the hands of US commerce via regulations of epic proportion, and handing the advantages to other countries by transfer of high technology, and the impetus to move jobs out of the country, as things such as taxes and the minimum wages are increased. Counting back a little further than a year, in order to support my statement above, recall the entire matter of the faked National Guard Memo by CBS News. Over the year, there have been attacks on Bill Frist, Tom Delay, Carl Rove, Dick Cheney. Most have been flashes in the pan, and all of a sudden, they were gone as quickly as they came about. The disappearence of these stories, alleging incredibly bad behavior, implied horribly criminal in nature, were preceded by some hint that the attackers themselves had also performed similar acts (eg: Not filing correctly detailed trip reports when lobbiests paid the bills). A quick scan of my old posts reminded me os the entire Sgerna Giuliana episode in the international news. Her case, just like just about all the others involving the "kidnapping" of sympathetic people, seemed to end, after mulitple "extensions" of the deadlines for executions, with grace being given by the terrorists, and these release was an opportunity for the like minded people to proclaim how wonderful their captors were. For those captured and not sympathetic, such as the case of Nick Berg, there were no extensions, and there was no grace shown, yet, somehow, the brutality (the opposite of the wonderful humanity shown in the other cases) of the terrorists was somehow down played. Being the cynic that I am, I just have to believe the "kidnappings" are merely staged events, al part of the "information war" being fought in concert with actual military war. The funny part is, a 16 year old, doing a post 9/11 version of real life "Ferris Buhler's Day Off", found out there is a real struggle between good and evil. I'd say this young man has more on the ball than most of the Euopean populace and lawmakers, as well as our Democratic Party, Michael Moore, Jane Fonda, Cindy Sheehan, Howard Dean, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and maybe even Hillary Clinton. Good on you, Farris Hassan! The blogs from the "boots on the ground" types at the beginning of the year were primarily focused on the many IED attacks, or open, mostly unrestrained combat that was occuring. By this time, many blogs discuss the mundane aspects of being in the sandbox, or the relations with the local Iraqi and Afghan populations, in a very positive way. There are countless stories, but there, but here is the one about Baby Noor in progress right now. All it took was one national Guard soldier seeing, despite his daily schedule of patrols, that he could make a difference. School suppiles, toys, shoes, coats, clothing, books, etc, etc, etc, have flowed from the many cities and town of this nation, and I suspect, the world, to help a nation rebuild. I see this as a reflection of the Judeo-Christian ethics that this country was founded upon. Three sets of elections have been held, with the last set this month seeing almost no violence at all, and the Sunnis coming out in droves to join in. For any naysayers on the power of letting all voices be heard in a democratic manner, please start eating your portion of crow. You're wrong and you have been. It is working. I think back, and will admit my research hasn't been as thorough as it should be, but I'd say we (as a nation) have learned it's better to hold our breath and let the local population choose their leadership and style. Will it match ours? Of course not. Geez, look at us, we're still fighting over politics, but now it's in print and on the raido and TV, not in the copper jacketed bullets that kill quite literally. I think back to Iran, Libya, and South Vietnam as examples of when we made a point of picking who would treat American business interests the best. We ended up with Ho Chi Minh, Khaddaffi, and the Khomemi, and then decades of hostility and, I fear, a legacy of hatred from Iran that will shape the near term world issues far too soon, and far too dramatically. Maybe we're getting it right this time in Iraq and Afghanistan and really letting democracy get a firm beachhead from which to expand. I also see that the Democrats still didn't come up with any ideas for the nation on how to fight the war on terror. I don't see the "PULL OUT NOW!" plan as one of any military, or geopolitical value. It's great to Monday morning quarterback, it's hard to make the plan in the "fog of war." There's a few of my thoughts on the year. I'm looking forward to more peace in the Middle East, fewer deaths every where, and the Democrats taking credit for "bringing the troops home." My perspective: Who cares that nothing the Democrats did make that happen, just know it's happening. History will record who did what, and it will surely show a generation of young men and women, all VOLUNTEERS, with good hearts, sometimes full of mischief and bad attitudes, answered the call and did that which we are called to do: to treat your neighbor as yourself. They did it by giving their lives, their limbs, their bright futures, but they did it because they saw outside a selfish view of life. I pray their experieinces will speak to they younger ones behind them, who will see their service as honorable and necessary to a more peaceful world.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The "Wakeup" is Not Far Away

It's coming to the end of a year in Iraq for the California National Guard unit that has given the web three excellent writers. For those without military experience, the term "wakeup" is routinely applied to the end of the announcement of how much time you have left on a tour somewhere. It indictes that one morning, you get up you are on your way from the area/unit/situation, eg: "I've got 45 (days) and a wakeup to rotation." I was scanning my favorite blogs, and was reminded of this by 1LT Rusten Currie's entry "Journey's End". He describes an awards ceremony for his unit. Some of the best words are his reflection on how this experience has changed his life's perspective:
I have been afforded the honor of being an Army officer in time of war, and I have served with the very best that our nation has to offer. When this is over and I move on to other things, it will be from this perspective that I move forward. Simplicity, Occam’s razor suggests we not add anything unnecessary to a problem to solve it. In short keep it simple, when you find a problem fix it. I will miss the men I have served with here, when you spend nearly 16 hours a day with the same people every day for 18 months, like them or not they become family. I see that now, again perspective, and a healthy amount of time spent apologizing to myself for being such a miserable SOB at times in my life. A healthy amount of time spent reaching out to old friends I’d slighted years and years ago, and saying I’m sorry. A healthy amount of time spent not talking but listening, and I mean really listening to what people had to say. I have met some great people through emails and in meeting them; I have been presented with some great opportunities for life after “this war”. Like I said 11 months ago, there are only two days here, the day you arrive and the day you leave (yes like prison). Soon it will be tomorrow and I will leave. Not that this hasn’t just been a blast (often quite literally), but I’ll be glad to kick the dust of Southern Baghdad from my boots and focus on tomorrow, walk my dog, and hug my wife, and move past the only life I have known for nearly a year. Soon I’ll be whole again.
I have enjoyed the writings of this man, who formerly served as a Marine enlisted sniper in the Gulf War. He is well read, and I hope his blog remains intact, for the purposes of history and others who will follow in his footsteps. His work is worth a through read, but plan on spending a great deal of time studying his words. I found Rusten via CPT Danjel Bout of 365 and a Wakeup. Danjel's writings are equal to any of the contemorary action novel writers, with the exception that they are real stories, or real circumstances, and real people, written in real time, with no bias of the historical perspective that may surround them. Powerful word images that pull you into the detail and minutia of what happens in life so far away. Once more, worth a long, studied effort to absorb this fine writing. Danjel surely shows that our service members are anything but hard hearted, stoic, unfelling people. In fact, I submit, he lets us see the reality of a comapssionate group of men (in this case), who care deeply for those they serve, and those who are not part of the conflict, but are so horribly caught in the middle or issues far larger than they can grasp. The third member of this trio is the straight talking Major K of Strength and Honor. He's just writes it plain and simple. He too, as with Rusten and Danjel, gives a look into the thoughts and feelings of those who defend not only us, but any who are in need. These men will be headed home to their wives and family and friends. Sun tanned, and changed, but, forever members of the citizenry who will shape our future. All three of the blogs I have spoken of have been places I have been checking daily for the better part of the past year. I became unsettled, sometimes, when I'd link in and find nothing new posted for days, particularly when there were reports of intense fighting. Thankfully, all three of these men have made if this far, so I pray they will make the last few days, and the transit home safely. I also realize I will soon be undergoing a degree of withdrawal from the postings I have come so accustomed to. I'm confident others will take their place. There's my unpaid advertisement for some people who took time from their incredibly hectic schedule, while fighting a war, in order that we many look at other perspectives than that of the accepted profession of journalism that we have most often subscribed to. I invite you to read their collective works and mentally engage yourself in observing the transformation of three Citizen-Soldiers, over the period of a year in combat, we asked to stand the watch for us. You won't be disappointed.

How Experience Changes You....

Margaret Friedenauer of the Fairbanks (AK) Daily News-Miner has an interesting little piece on what soldiers from the Stryker Brigade are told before heading home for leave titled "Rulers of the Road".
Chaplain Capt. Steve Dunn said soldiers are debriefed before going home on leave. One thing recommended is that they do not try to drive home from the airport when they get to Fairbanks or wherever they are visiting for their two weeks.
Read the rest of the story for a how deployments change your habits...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ah! New Technology.....

A browse around the magazine shelfs tonight brought me up to date on a few of the technology things on the near horizon. A little web browsing got me a little more info: I ran across a tidbit about a Human Interface Technology lab at the University of Washington. It seems they are working on some very interesting virtual reality stuff, to include hardware and software stuff...looks interesting in the virtual reality dispaly work for Navy pilots. I wandered a little more and found that motion based simulators may not be too far from the home market, at least for gamers who have more money than sense...we're talking 2DOF, 3DOF and even 6DOF stuff. If you consider the that $60K is a lot less than an F/A-18 (and not to mention the flight hour cost of a real JP-5 burning thing). From surfing to aerial gunnery, they have some stuff done already. The systems can already take data from several commerical games, both flight simulators and car racing types. Are you looking for a special present for someone? Laser Crystal Works can take a picture and then etch it into the middle of a block. I saw the ad in an aviation magazine, which showed a plane picture, complete with the pilot's name engraved in the clear plastic cube. Looked pretty cool. Check the site out for the work they have done. Advertized cost ($50-75) sounds pretty reasonable... Maybe the next web browser will be Flock. Not only will it be like most other browsers, it will be easy to mkae and save your blog postings very easily to your own hard drive. You will also be able to be looking at a web page and easily into your own blog posting via a method called "aggregation."

Friday, December 23, 2005

For the Hunter You Know

This link to a steaks, fish and wild game restaurant in Greenville, SC. The food is excellent, but, if it's too far a drive, maybe a souvenier T's: and and

Maybe Neptunus Lex Can Learn to Drive a HMMVV...

Another interesting video.. When aviators get too old to fly and can't do this or this anymore, but can still keep their driver's license for the earth bound thingys, maybe they can do this. Surface Launched AMRAAM (AIM-120) in action. More SLAMRAAM info here. Pretty good idea for reuse of dollars already spent! Just as a note, there is (obviously) lots of interesting info at Defense Update, such as backpack UAVs for urban ops. Next: Where was the ORDO when this stuff was stored? Ah, left over ordnance and the fun EOD can have... Ask Matt @ Black Five what this might feel like, if you are one of the "participants." If you're more a fan of rotary wing stuff, try this video...and crank the volume up! Lots of Army birds represented here. See the vacuousness of the insurgency in Iraq. How about a little flying limbo, as in How low can you go? Or, maybe the pilot really dislikes the media. Something for the Redlegs out there. By the way, the site has been renamed to Break.Com.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Little Wisdom for the Day (and Life in General)

I'll be taking a few days off to visit the family, so posting will really be sporadic for the next week. For the loyal 12 readers who wander by daily, thank you for adding to the hit counter and I hope you've found something worth reading here. I'll be back with more idle, sometimes counter intuitive thoughts in a few days. The TC1000 will be in my bag and charged up, so I'll most likely get a few ideas typed in. Here's a quote I haul around in my wallet, for it helps keep my attitude focused:
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." - Will Rodgers
Oh, so true. I believe I have never heard anyone say they have gained wisdom from success. I certainly have heard many say they have gained wisdom through failure. When you view failure as a situation you had to see, in order that you would understand things better, then failure becomes life lessons with purpose (sometimes to get one more time to yell at yourself "DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!"). Education, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense... Have a Merry Christmas and thanks for all the "hits!"

If It Worked for the New York Times, AP, CNN, etc....

Wow! Who would have thought? Saddam accuses White House of lying about WMD. Thanks, al-Reuters, for this wonderful acknowledgement of an egregious charge.
HT to Political Humor On the other hand, who better to team up with for evidence that President Bush lied about something, than a mass-murdering, psychopathic personality, that also happens to be your enemy in the current world conflict? But then, I will present the (rhetorical) questions that Saddam's charges beg: Did Hillary Clinton lie? Did John Kerry lie? Did Bill Clinton lie? Did Harry Reid lie? or: Did any other person in the entire US govenment, who went on record saying Saddam Hussien had WMDs lie, or....was it just the "White House" that lied? Well, at least we can assume the lying then extends to Bill Clinton, since he said it when he was in the position as the Commander-in-Chief. Yep, that makes me feel better that "the 68-year-old former leader" has finally gotten on board with the liberal biased media. Well, but then again, I think "the 68-year-old former leader" really beat the MSM to the punch, by showing them how effective bald faced lying can be to get people to support you. Who can forget the classic news releases from Baghdad Bob? I rest my case....

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sure, Let's See How Europeans Would Handle This One...

Notes from National Review Online..... It seems to be in vogue at SCOTUS to look to European law trends to determine how best to interpret the Constitution of the United States. I like this one:
BRUSSELS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Belgium's lower house passed a controversial bill on Tuesday giving police extra powers to fight terrorism, to the dismay of human rights lawyers who see it as a violation of the right to privacy. The Chamber of Deputies approved the bill by 80 votes to eight with 37 abstentions, and it now needs to win Senate approval to pass into law. It would allow police to raid suspects' homes at any time of the day or night, and to carry out certain types of surveillance without permission from a magistrate. Police were previously restricted to conducting raids during the day, and were forbidden to take photographs of suspects without permission. "The old legislation allowed police to look around and see if a full investigation would be useful," said Justice Committee President Fons Borginon. "We now allow them to do that during the night." The bill was drafted by the federal prosecutor's office, which wants to be able to carry out investigations without having first to go through a cumbersome legal process, and is an extension to a recent law which made terrorism a crime. Prosecutors are using the law for the first time in a case against 13 suspected members of an Islamic militant group called the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM). Human rights advocates have criticised the bill, saying it does not strike the right balance between the protection of national security and the rights of the individual. "We think these measures would strike a blow to the right to defence and to a private life," said Manuel Lambert, the lawyer of the Belgian Human Rights League. "It gives too much power to the police and not enough protection of civil liberties." The bill does give defence lawyers greater access to information gathered by police on suspects, but how much is revealed, including the names of informants, remains the subject of debate, a justice official said.

A Man Named John Walker or How We Spent Billions Because Someone "Talked"

Once more we have come to an interesting point in the conduct of a war. In the past few days, the New York Times saw fit to broadcast to the world that the NSA is actually monitoring communications or other than foreign sources. Sounds like a "DOH!" moment to me, but I'm no spook.... The entire incident is much like the John Walker case in the early 80s... For a lot of years (since the end of WWII, to be exact), the Cold War lead us on a path towards the development of two very large navies on the face of the planet. Ours was comprised of a mix of surface and submarines. The Soviets had surface ships, but a higher proportion of their fleett was subs. This lead to the development of more sophisticated methods of finding subs over ASDIC and active SONAR. Over time, more systems were developed to detect subsurface contacts using passive (listening) methods. Along the way, intelligence was gathered that would allow a passive system operator to look at the acoustic signature of the contact, and the consult a library of information that would help more specifically identify the class of the contact. That part is not a big deal, as to how the process worked. What was highly classified was what the libraries contained. This is where John Walker made his money. Through the selling of cryptographic codes to the Soviets, they could then pull previously recorded US radio traffic and play it through the crypto gear, then read the messages. We thought was had exclusive knowledge of the intelligence information, but John Walker and Associates, made sure the enemy could also pick up some of the traffic and then know what we knew. Armed with this information, Soviet engineers could then redesign the equipment and systems that were making the noises we were detecting. During this time, our passive SONAR systems were mostly the AN/SQR-18 towed array, with a few AN/SQR-14 and -15 units around. These systems were desigend to for certain "threats," techncially that means they looked for certain frequency ranges of submarine targets from the intelligence libraries. When John Walker essentially opened the books, the signals these systems were designed to detect began to disappear, as the Soviets put more effort into sound isolation on their boats. Tactically, it was like someone poked our eyes out. Strategically, our tactical forces could no longer act as mobile detection systems for the spectrum of subsurface threats we faced, from ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) that could threaten the Continental US, to guided missile and attack submarines (SSGN/SSNs) that could threaten strategic assets such as aircraft carriers, and amphibious ships. When the NYT spilled their guts (without any torture, I might add), they did the same thing to the GWoT effort as John Walker did. The difference is John Walker and his band of tratiors were charged with, tried and convicted of espionage and are still in Federal prisons. In the aftermath of the John Walker case, we dramatically changed procedures for the handling of cryptographic codes and went to the drawing borads to design the newer equipment so we might once again be able to find the Soviet threats on other frequencies. The net result was billions were spent on the SOSUS sensors and the development of the AN/SQR-19 TACTASS, as well as upgrades to the hull mounted AN/SQS-53 SONAR. Much of the funding for these programs were done in a scramble, adding to the budget strains of the Reagan Era. How much will the disclosure by the NYT cost us? For one, it wasted the salaries of a lot of people at the NSA, not to mention the automated assets used to analyze the data collected. I'm also wondering what it will cost in lives. In the case of John Walker, since the military showdown between ourselves and the Soviets never came to pass, we never had to find out the hard way. In the GWoT, our adversaries are set on killing the citizens of the world, so the carnage will continue, some of it preventable, but it will be many, many years before we can count the real costs. Thanks to The Military Outpost for the link! Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Tyranny of One (or a Few)

Regularly I shake my head when I hear news discussing how someone was "offended" and, as a reaction to the "offense," what can no longer be done by most of the rest of the community, country or poulation... I call this "the tyranny of one." It is the unfortunate extension of political correctness run amok. Instead of a community, via what ever mechanism (city council, elections of boards of various affilations), deciding what is acceptable from a majority stand point, now it seems in many cases, only one person has to say they don't like something. The reaction, in order to cease and desist in further "offending," the behavior/display/language is then banned by proclaimation. I believe the first time I saw this creep into the culture was sometinm in the mid-80s, when the Navy decided that smoking was offensive. (Note: I'm not a smoker, and don't like it, but certainly, for 20 some years of my life, I was around 2nd hand smoke) I can't recall where I was assigned, but I recall the word came down that if any one person in a space objected to smoking, then no one could smoke. That was a tough transition time, as even a junior seaman now was given the power to speak up and control those around them. At first, the rank structure pretty well controlled who made the call, but as years went by, the clear support for any one who didn't like smoking became more and more effective. I know there are times when the majority can gang up and vote something egregious into effect, but I don't think the balance to that is to allow single people overrule everyone else around them, but, in many cases today, across our country, "the tyranny of one (or a few)" is a live and well.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

And the "Value" of the Press is Proven

It's hard these days to see how the MSM seems to have singlehandedly bought into the destruction of the western cultures of this planet. More evidence of how major stories have no fact checking, yet "they" (the "PROFESSIONAL" jounalists) think bloggers are a bunch of idiots who make things up. I'd say the major news media is showing us how to fabricate something out of nothing, but more and more, not by accident or inexperience, but out of sheer maliciousness. Follow this link I found on Little Green Footballs the discusses the fabricated story that has launched a thousand suicide bombers (I'm not sure of the number, but was using a paraphase of a commonly heard statment to make a metaphorical point). The Islamic culture may have had it's moments of brilliance over a millenium ago, but what's the point to hanging onto that, when the rest of the world has used the math and astronomy to move well beyond the ancient world of slavery of women and non-believers? Get a grip, people, and especially you left wing proponents of Islam. It's time for a reform in that religion, before it kills far too many of us, so a few can be in paradise with Allah. How selfish is that? You have to die, so one of them can get a personal reward. Great plan. Sounds like the liberals who demand more and more for themselves, until it cripples and collaspes a society. Scan through the writings of Fjord Man get a feel for how liberals handing out everything to everyone is producing a violent, brutal culture, fueled by massive immigrations of those from the middle east, with Islam as their primary belief structure. It is a glimpse of the future, and the MSM is not telling any one about it. From one of my earlier posts, here is some info I picked up from the man who ended up indicating the press was here to tell you what the government was doing:
During the Q&A period, Eugene went on to comment that "we must have newspaper journalism" for "we tell you what the Government is doing." He made these remarks with great emphasis, as though he viewed the government as something to be consistently under suspicion. In doing a little research tonight, as I cleaned up this post, I found Eugene Patterson was the Washington Post editor when the Pentagon Papers were published. I’d certainly say it was his passion to be an agent of change in our society.
The MSM is so busy reporting on the goevrment, they can't find time to tell us what else is happening, besides maybe in the sports world. Somehow, a religion that was formed upon a base of violence, has become the darling of the politically correct crowd. A little contrast: Christianity began with one man and 12 disciplies, with the primary operational directive of "love your neighbor as yourself." It didn't designated who culture, skin color, religious affiliation or gender they might be. Islam began with a man who also started with 12 disciples, and they were run out of town and then resorted to growing their religion by raiding desert caravans and, you guessed it, demanded loyalty via conversion to Islam, or death. Update 12/19/2005: these comments from a post today (12/19/2005) over on Little Green Footballs discusses the very issues I'm trying to communicate above. So, all you left over "flower children" of the 60 and 70's, who know walk the halls of power and wept over the anniversary of John Lennon's brutal murder a few days back, I want to know if you even believe your own musically induced philosphy: "All you need is love?" If that's the case, I'd suggest you get on board and do something about your heroic freedom fighters, and get them on board, too. Read this and consider the words of a wise man (entire speech here):
The idea that one person’s "terrorist" is another’s "freedom fighter" cannot be sanctioned. Freedom fighters or revolutionaries don’t blow up busses containing noncombatants; terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don’t set out to capture and slaughter schoolchildren; terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don’t assassinate innocent businessmen or hijack and hold hostage innocent men, women and children; terrorist murderers do. It’s a disgrace that democracies would allow the treasured word "freedom" to be associated with the acts of terrorists. - Senator Henry Jackson
Anyhow, the LGF story link got me going, but it' s merely an sypmtom of the danger facing us. We didn't ge to where we are by hding from adversity, and we won't hang around if we shy away fro it. /rant off

Friday, December 16, 2005

Possibly the Best Real "Sea Story" Ever

Neptunus Lex, the Navy Blog "SOPA" is at it again. In his refined writing style, he relates the series of unfortunate events of a fellow aviator, a long time ago, and in a far away place affectionately called "DGar." I know the news has been heavy lately, and therefore I prescribe a good dose of split your sides laughter. Take these two links and leave your comments for Lex in the morning... Part 1: Emergency Sortie Part 2: Po' Lazlorus Do not read them out of order, or the effect shall not be the same. (What are you still doing here? GET READING!)

Just a Thought.....on "Timing"

Today, the extension of the Patriot Act was denied. Enough votes couldn't be mustered to overcome the opposition, which was not only Democrats, but some Republicans. This morning, the New York Times had a headline that said that the President had allowed Americans to be spied on after 9/11, without the legal requirement of court directed warrants. From the AP article linked above, I quote:
"The report surfaced in an untimely fashion as the administration and its GOP allies on Capitol Hill were fighting to save provisions of the expiring USA Patriot Act that they believe are key tools in the fight against terrorism."
Excuse me if I'm skeptical about the "untimely fashion" of the discovery/disclosure of this information. It does sort of remind me of a faked memo about not showing up for National Guard drills, just a few weeks before the November 2004 Presidentail election. In each case, one could logically argue that the timing of each of these releases was anything but untimely. My contention is they were planned to exactly affect current events.
"The Times said it delayed publication of the report for a year because the White House said it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. "
Once more, I'm skeptical. I'd love to know who they had contacted in the White House staff to float the question. I haven't heard much that would make me assume the press does this on a regular basis. In fact, more often that not, and in alomst every sensational case, it seems as tho the Administration is blind sided regualrly with "BREAKING NEWS!" of this gravity. Which begs the question: Despite what was siad, what would lead a rational person to believe the Times would suddenly seek the counsel of the White House? (this is a rhetorical question) Yep, it was just another story to be repproted and could have been done any other day, or...tomorrow for that matter, but then (my suspicious side is goning to come out now) it wouldn't have been in place to make a few senators question their vote, and particularly with insufficient time for the voting citizenry to grab their phone and make their voice heard. It was timed perfectly to defeat something, and to circumvent the messy, yet effective discourse and dialog we have come to use around such issues of great importance to our nation. Thanks a lot, NYT. Like I read in a sarcastic posting somewhere yesterday, the terrorist was commenting to a press guy: "Just be cause we are going to kill you last doesn't mean we can be friends." Yesterday, I quoted a speech from 1979 on international terrorism. Here's a "keeper" from it, and how, by following this guideline, this situation might have been handled differently:
Third, we must turn the publicity instruments against the terrorists, and we must expose Soviet and other state support of terrorist groups wherever we identify it.
Thank you, "Scoop" Jakcson for the guidance. I wish you had been in your seat in Washington today.

X Racers...COOL!

Just when you thought there was a limit on the boundaries for extreme sports...
Click here to see the article at about the upcoming "X Racers" who plan to compete in homemade rocket planes. Shades of young Anakin...

And He Maybe Thought He Was the First? - NOT!

I was digging about the Air & Space Magazine from the Smithsonian, and wandered across this tidbit. On March 31st, 1984, Robert J. Moriarty, flew under the Eiffel Tower in a Beachcraft Bonanza.
Bad news, Robert: Jim Sr. beat you by about 39 years. The difference is after all the champange from the VJ Day celebration, Jim forgot to take a movie camera along to document it. The pilot's view video of the "fly under" is posted in Robert's article.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

An Open Note to the People of Iraq

It's a historic day, and I'd just like to say "Congratulations!"
You'll get enough advice from others, so I'll leave it at that and honor your courage to get out and vote.

Who Said This: A Speech on International Terrorism

The following speech is from a few decades gone by, and except for the references to the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries, it could have been given in our current times. There is good advice here, some of which (precious little, but some) has been done. Much more of it hasn't been, yet the incredible foresight of the speaker is something worth studying. I have empahsized some sentences. Look in here for words of advice to Michael Moore, other free countries, the "chees eating surrender monkeys" and the Democrats of this very day. I think you will find this interesting....
As we gather here this evening, our thoughts turn to Lieutenant Colonel Jonathon Netanyahu. We recall the quality of his personal character, the inner devotion to public good, his voluntary performance of the most demanding duties that the defense of democracy entails, and the sacrifice consummated in the heroic rescue at Entebbe, Jonathon’s heritage is an unpurchasable treasure of the spirit of that moth and rust cannot consume nor thieves break through and steal. When, in George Bernard’s play, they tell of Joan of Arc that they are going to burn at the stake, she foresees the effect upon the people. "If I go through the fire," she says, "I shall go through it and into their hearts for ever and ever." So Jonathon went through the Entebbe fire to our hearts for ever and ever. I believe that international terrorism is a modern day form of warfare against liberal democracies. I believe that the ultimate but seldom stated goal of these terrorists is to destroy every fabric of democracy. I believe that it both wrong and foolhardy for any democratic state to consider international terrorism to be "someone else’s" problem. If you believe as I do, then you must join me in wondering why the community of liberal democracies has not banded together more effectively to oppose these international murderers and to loudly and vigorously expose those states, which cynically provide terrorists with comfort and support. One of the great Cover-ups of this century is the effort by Western Governments, who know better, to muffle the facts about Soviet Bloc support for international terrorism. I’m not talking about individual acts of madmen. I’m talking about highly organized groups with international connections and support and consistently rely on major acts of violence as a political instrument. I’m thinking of the Basque and Puerto Rican terrorists, the European terrorist groups, and the PLO attacks, or threats of attack, against moderate Arab states which might be motivated to support the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement. I have in mind the PLO attacks against moderate Palestinians – the murder of the moderate leader in Gaza is a recent brutal example. I am reminded of radical Palestinians terrorist attacks on airliners servicing Israel. I’m thinking of the Palestinian operation in Lebanon and the activities of the Turkish terrorists. Such acts of terrorism are part of a broad campaign aimed at the disintegration of democratic societies through undermining the confidence of their citizenry in their governments. International terrorism is a special problem for democracies. To a totalitarian regime like the Soviet Union, it is mainly a nuisance. The government applies whatever force is needed to liquidate the group and it’s members: borders are closed to unwanted entry or exit; individual rights are held subservient to "law and order;" publicity can be denied. The biggest difference between the Soviet Union and such states as Libya, Iraq and Iran is that these governments are not as efficient – yet. A democratic government, on the other hand, rests on the consent of the governed. It is responsible for assuring the democratic freedoms of speech, assembly, travel, press and privacy. These conditions, obviously, facilitate terrorist operations, directed against a particular government or the battleground for opposing terrorist groups. When the PLO and Iraqi terrorists were at war, they chose to fight it out in Europe, not in the Middle East. Terrorism is not a new phenomena. What it new is the international nature of terrorism. Today’s terrorist have modern technology to help them, permitting rapid international communications, travel and the transfer of monies; they can work with others of like mind across the international borders of the world’s free nations. More important, however, these groups receive extensive support from the Soviet bloc. Most terrorists use Soviet or East European weapons; they have been trained in Warsaw pact countries or in Middle Eastern countries such as South Yemen and the PLO-controlled areas of Lebanon; they generally flee for protection and rest to Eastern Europe or to such countries as Libya. The primary supporters of international terrorism are the Soviets support; the Warsaw Pact and the radical Arab camp. Modern terrorism is a form of "warfare by remote control" waged against free nations or against nondemocratic but moderate states which dare to sympathize with freedom. In this kind of war, the totalitarian regimes see little risk of retribution against them. What can be done? First and foremost, liberal democracies must acknowledge that the international terrorism is a "collective problem." Everything else follows this. When one free nation is under attack, the rest must understand that democracy itself is under attack and behave accordingly. We must be allied in our defense against terrorists… Let me emphasize two propositions whose truth should be evident to all democracies. To insist free nations negotiate with terrorist organizations can only strengthen the letter and weaken the former. To crown with statehood a movement based on terrorism would devastate a moral authority the rightly lies behind the effort of free states everywhere to combat terrorism. Secondly, every free nation must work against Soviet and radical state efforts to define terrorism. The idea that one person’s "terrorist" is another’s "freedom fighter" cannot be sanctioned. Freedom fighters or revolutionaries don’t blow up busses containing noncombatants; terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don’t set out to capture and slaughter schoolchildren; terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don’t assassinate innocent businessmen or hijack and hold hostage innocent men, women and children; terrorist murderers do. It’s a disgrace that democracies would allow the treasured word "freedom" to be associated with the acts of terrorists. Third, we must turn the publicity instruments against the terrorists, and we must expose Soviet and other state support of terrorist groups wherever we identify it. When PLO terrorists toss a bomb into a marketplace or murder a holy man or shoot rockets randomly at a village, each and every democracy in the world should stand up and condemn those radical Arab states and the Soviet Union who train, arm, finance, harbor and encourage them. When an act of terrorism occurs, the odds are it will occur in one of the free countries, democracies should unite in sponsoring resolutions in the United Nations condemning the act. Where we have evidence of support for the terrorists by some other state, this support must be censured in the strongest terms. If the Soviet Union, its allies, and the radical Arab and Third World states want to vote against such resolutions, let them. Let’s educate the whole world as to who opposes and who tolerates international terrorism. I am convinced this will make a difference; I am convinced, for instance, that the exposure of the East European support of European terrorism has contributed to the lessening of this support and to the signs of some cooperation to combat terrorism between these countries and the nations of West Europe. Fourth, liberal democracies must work together to apply sanctions against countries that provide sanctuary to international terrorists. The Bonn Anti-Hijacking Agreement is a good start. It is ironic that the pilots and the airlines, and not our statesmen, provided the leadership which led to this agreement. We can do more. For instance, is it moral to trade openly and freely with states who use profits from such trade to finance the murder of innocents. Why would those who conduct remote control warfare against us rest easy that we will contribute to financing our own destruction? Fifth, within each of our own countries, we must organize to combat terrorism in ways consistent with our democratic principles and with the strong support of our citizens. Israel has long done this. And the nations of Western Europe are moving in this direction. In my country, we are making some progress in organizing federal, state and local agencies to deal more realistically with terrorist threats. Now this final word: In providing for her own defense against terrorism, Israeli courage has inspired those who love freedom all around the world. The Entebbe rescue was a classic lesson for all free nations that terrorism can be countered with strength, skill and determination. These are qualities in short supply in many countries where freedom comes more easily. Indeed, the great need in the world today is for men and women who stand in the tradition of Jonathan Netanyahu – strong, dedicated, courageous, dependable
This sppech was given at an International Terrorism Conference held at the Jonathan Institute in July, 1979. The speaker was a well respected Senator from Washington State, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a Democrat. I'd be willing to bet, Scoop would be with the disgards of the Democratic Party today, confined to the company of Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) and Senator Joe Liberman (D-CN). I'd say Scoop would be in great company!

A Letter From a Battlefield Hospital

The milblogs are wonderful reads to see how so many of the youth (and some not so youthful, yet reluctant to admit it) of this nation are handling duties on the front lines of freedom all over the world. The stories from a plethora of infanty, armor and MP writers are there for the understanding. Check the blogroll on the left and many are there. In Vietnam, the ratio of fighter in the jungle to support in the rear was at a 1:9 ratio. The fact is, our technologically advanced military machine needs lots of skilled, technical support to make it happen. One of those many areas of support is the medical corps of the various services. Today, via Black Five, I found a letter from a surgeon in Iraq, dated just two days ago (12/13/2005). It is a difficult read, for it describes the part of the injury process between the event, and before the recovery, the critical time, when the fragile nature of life is at great risk. As LTC Banes shares so well, the staff of the CSH fights their own incredibly vicious battles at times. His letter talks to some issues in the details one might never consider, as you think much more of the troops doing the hard work in the streets of Iraqi cities, or on the mountain trails of Afghanistan. If you're prone to shedding a few tears when you read about the bad things that happen, get your box of kleenex before you click on the link. If you're one of those tough guys who doesn't get choked up easily, I suspect the end of the story within the story near the end of the letter will cause some emotion to well up in you, too. Here it is: Letter from a Battlefield Hospital Read and absorb the story of the professional medical specialists who care for the wounded, ours and theirs....See the response from the troops to the care they get, and know every service person is a valuable part of the great team that makes it happen.

Spin 'em if you got 'em

It's interesting how news "aggregators" can manipulate the news, like we don't already have enough spin. Kind of like that exercise you most likely did in school or at a party once, where you passed a message along by whispering it to the next person...and it was very different at the end. I use Netscape as a browser and have as my home page. Top story (oh, yeah, in red lettering, but thankfully not all upper case) is titled: "Explosions Rock Baghdad as Landmark Vote Begins" I note the "s" and consider on the way to work, the news said "one mortar landed near the heavily fortified Green Zone." The "plurality" of this "top Story" then had me think I missed somtheing significant....(*click*) went the mouse... "Explosions Rock Baghdad as Landmark Election Begins" is my next teaser...It seems I have missed something...(*click*) I now arrive at the article the prior two pages wanted me to read. It's report from Associated Press with the headline: "Iraqis Vote for 1st Full-Term Parliament" by Bassem Mroue and it begins thusly:
"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqis voted in a historic parliamentary election Thursday, with strong turnout reported in Sunni Arab areas that had shunned balloting last January, bolstering U.S. hopes of calming the insurgency enough to begin withdrawing its troops."
Not bad for me thinking I was going to read about the deadly carnage implied (very strongly) by the links I went thru to get here. Next paragraph:
"Several explosions rocked Baghdad as the polls opened, including a large one near the heavily fortified Green Zone. A civilian was killed when a mortar shell exploded near a polling station in the northern city of Tal Afar, and a bomb killed a hospital guard near a voting site in Mosul."
Got it. The mortar roound did land and kill someone. Bad. Oh, a few other generic explosions, but it appears they were harmless (Thank God) for a change. Next paragragh:
"A bomb also exploded in Ramadi, and the U.S. military said one was defused at a polling station in Fallujah, another insurgent stronghold, despite promises by major insurgent groups not to attack polling places. Some election sites in Ramadi were guarded by masked gunmen."
The remainder of the article mostly discusses things around the election process, and leaves the violence behind, reading well from a straight forward factual standpoint. My point: The news aggregation sites certainly keyed on issues that support the contention os "it's not working" rather than focusing on the millions who are getting there safely to make a change for the future....

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Go Figure: The Iranians Are Joining in on the Iraqi Voting!

Not good news from a post on Little Green Footballs: Iran Tampering with Iraqi Election. I'm not beliieving they just think voting is a good thing to do...or...maybe they had some consultants from Chicago.... Afternoon update: Between Rush Limbaugh and Todd Schnitt talk shows, it seems this entire story may be false. Just when you think you can trust the MSM to actually report the truth...anyhow, The Iraqi General in charge of the border guard says the borders have been closed and he has checked with every outpost and there is no confirmation of this report of the tanker full of false ballots, and other MSM news agencies are questioning this report. In the grand scheme of things, I can see the MSM who chooses to believe this report will then "blame it on Bush" and lecture us on how "we" are the cause of all of this and the election results are now suspect (shades of 2000 and 2004 at home - old play, old playbook), so therefore the elected new officials of Iraq will have "stolen the election" and are not to be listened to, since they are now and illegitimate government, thus creating an illision that the insurgents should be justified in continuing their wanton bloodshed....yada, yada, yada....You know, like the MoveOn.Org spokesperson said "we just poured gas on a burning fire" (was that the fire at Ground Zero?). Oh, so much fun, but the best fun will be seeing a new Iraq emerge tomorrow, knowing there is a better way to handle disputes, and it's called the free ballot box. I have faith in the process that has begun, and it looks like an editorial by Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe backs me up....

Monday, December 12, 2005

How Did WWII Afftect Newspaper Editors?

Jim Sr. and I went to hear of the exploits of two men who served as armor officers in Patton’s 3rd Army during the fight across Europe, but we got something different. On December 1sth, a lecture was sponsored by the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg Campus, that featured Eugene Patterson and John Germany. Eugene spent from 1943 through the end of the war as a platoon leader in tanks as part of the 10th Armored Division. John arrived later in the war as a replacement platoon commander in the 13th Armored Division, taking the place of a Lt killed in action, for a unit that had seen plenty of action prior to his arrival. Both men had grown up in the southern part of the country, and after the war, Eugene went on to be the editor of first the Atlanta Constitution, the Washington Post and later the St Petersburg Times. John became a lawyer, and later a judge in the Florida. Eugene began the evening by reading us a letter he had written to his granddaughter, who was working on a paper for her journalism class. Her question to her grandfather was how did the war experience shape the newspaper editors’ perspective? As he read his response, I heard some interesting things and I believe a key to why the MSM is how they are today. Eugene began by saying what had really changed was they came back from the war as Americans, that the southern legacy of the Confederacy no longer held it’s allure for them as Southerners. Next he said the GI Bill had “emancipated the ignorant of the South.” I understood this, but that short sentence put it in a better, more far reaching perspective for me. Those both are huge issues in the growth of our nation. First is that having had the depth of bonding between men in combat, they had begun their training as strangers from all over the country, and ended up with deep friendships, now with the shared stories of their fellow soldiers from all parts and economic backgrounds. The second part of that opening indicated the GI Bill brought college to many who would have never had the opportunity otherwise. It seems to be common wisdom that that great plan gave us the men who helped continue the economic improvements that made us the unequaled world leader we have become. Eugene went on to say the men changed as a result of their experiences of the terrible battlefields. They came to be able to recognize straight talking leaders easily and also had known real fear. They took this "education" from the war zone to their professional and personal lives after the war. He then went on to list a number of major newspaper editors who had served in the Army, Marines and Navy. Following these statements, he next said something very interesting. He then began telling the story of the desegregation movement, from the view of a major newspaper editor. He said they (the editors he mentioned earlier) had been around the world and seen things done differently, and it was time for a change in our nation. I then heard a story of how he and his reporters became a supporting organization for the desegregation movement. I think this is wonderful, certainly from a moral position, but the sense I got was he, and these other editors, decided they were going to use their papers to make this change happen. He didn’t speak as though he made sure his reporters reported the news, but that they went out of their way to make the news. His story came more from the perspective of an engaged participant, rather than an objective observer. I think this is a key to today’s media "activism" in the war with Iraq. Could this generation of editors, the men who had gained a new life perspective from WWII have even preceded the activist leanings we saw from the press in opposing the Vietnam War? I think that when there are allusions about the media seeking their “glory days” of the Vietnam era, I suspect it goes further back to the 50’s when these WWII vets became the people in the influential news media. During the Q&A period, Eugene went on to comment that "we must have newspaper journalism" for "we tell you what the Government is doing." He made these remarks with great emphasis, as though he viewed the government as something to be consistently under suspicion. In doing a little research tonight, as I cleaned up this post, I found Eugene Patterson was the Washington Post editor when the Pentagon Papers were published. I’d certainly say it was his passion to be an agent of change in our society. I think this holds another key to the attitude of the media. Rather than a vehicle to consolidate news from all over, they have decided they are self-appointed watchdogs for the people. I have long objected to this philosophy, which I first heard come from the mouth of Fred Francis, then with CNN, at a conference on media relations held at the Naval War College in the fall of 1987. Fred stood in the auditorium and announced that he worked for the American people and if he asked one of us a question, we were obligated to answer him, no matter what the security implications may be. Trust me, in a room full of military officers, he didn’t get a warm response. At least he was balanced by presence of Tom Brokaw and Carl Rochelle, who had recently returned from the Persian Gulf in the middle of the Iran-Iraq Tanker Wars. The two of them expressed a desire to get the news out, but understood it was sometimes necessary to hold the release until American/allied troops were no longer at risk. As I consider this set of circumstances, and the philosophical positions taken, I thought of how the current set of conditions around the GWoT will shape our future leaders. Last week, on a talk show, a caller said his son had generally been apolitical all along, but in the last few weeks, once the Democrats began calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, he told his dad many of he and his fellow soldiers were so disgusted, that they were becoming Republicans. I suspect, after having the battlefield experiences, they, too, will return with a healthy appreciation of straight talking leaders, coupled with a real knowledge of fear. They’ll know how to peg those people quickly, and the others they will detect for their lack of loyalty and self serving attitudes. Consider our young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will come home and be able to attend college, and then enter the professional world, knowing there are those who did not support them when they were in a war. With the legacy of activism established by the veterans of WWII, our modern day warriors have ample precedent to do the same thing, but from the right side of the political perspective, I’d venture. Possibly, and I can only conjecture, they will come home with a burning desire to ensure the country supports it’s warriors. All in all, it was a night when Jim Sr. and I expected to hear some war stories, but the talk and discussions afterwards almost exclusively focused on social change and the role of “print journalism” in affecting that. Update: HT to Mudville Gazette Dawn Patrol for a post by They Call US "Doc" about the 278th RCT Commander from their local paper, the Tessessean. It conveys a little piece of what people get as a new perspctive on life from war zone experiences...
"Things here are important, obviously, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm not going to lose my life if I miss a deadline. There, you lose your life for something similar. I think everybody who was over there is going to have that same attitude." - LtCol Jeffrey Holmes
Full disclosure: I’m no journalist. I just enjoy sampling life and believe I stumbled across something worth “reporting.” My own thoughts are blended in, so this is my editorial on the topic, and not “news.” Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post! Thanks to LIttle Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Move Over Bill Gates....

Guess what? A bunch of prgrammers have banded together to work on an open source "work-alike" for Windows. Check out React OS here.
The ReactOS® project is dedicated to making Free Software available to everyone by providing a ground-up implementation of a Microsoft Windows® XP compatible operating system. ReactOS aims to achieve complete binary compatibility with both applications and device drivers meant for NT and XP operating systems, by using a similar architecture and providing a complete and equivalent public interface.
The best part is Bill won't be able to file a case for infringment on "look and feel." Heh.... Also, one thing the React OS people are leveraging off of is the free OpenOffice software from Sun Microsystems. It's up to version 2.0 and a very capable office software suite, which includes a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation mananger and a database. Version 2.0 can have settings that write out work in MS Office file types, without haveing to remember to do a "save as..." each time you save the document. If you need an Office Suite, and don't have the $$$, get OpenOffice and avoid the copyright issues. Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread.

Reading to the Kids While Deployed

Another interesting link came up when backtracking my sitemeter logs. It's to a organization that supports reading to kids by family members, and has a program to supported deployed troops, so they can read to their children from afar. Pretty great idea. See United Through Reading info here...

It's Getting So Bad, Even Those Against the War Are Commenting...

I found this in the comments on Little Green Footballs by nextmike in a post about the Iranian President saying Iran would work towards creating it's own nuclear fuel sources (an interesting read in itself):
I attended an event in SF tonight that featured 4 panelists fresh from duty in Iraq. You know what they all said (including the woman who runs Veterans Against the War!)? They said that the relentless negative spin from the press has a negative impact on troop morale and only encourages the insurgents. The Veterans Against War woman admitted that watching CNN was the worst possible thing for troop morale and that it painted a very innaccurate picture. No different than most of our modern day Democrats who couldn't give a flying f#ck so long as they can score political points. And wouldn't you know it...tonight, watching the local TV news, the station focused on the most negative topic of the discussion (poor equipment), interviewed an anti-war veteran who wasn't even on the panel and closed with a theme of defeatism - quite the opposite of the tone the panelists set. But you wouldn't know it unless you were there. I saw the bias with my own eyes. Courageous soliders - women, men, blacks and hispanics who believe in their mission and know that they are doing good work. But the Left and their allies are clearly trying their best to undermine morale, whether they know it or admit to it. It makes me damn furious!
The event that the commenter is discussing above Amazing. Even the Veterans Against the War rep said this all hurts the troops. Is that a glimmer of hope for the coming days?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Thank a Soldier Week

Get over here and take a few moments to thank a service member! It's free and they have a form waiting for you. Are you still reading this? Get to it! H/T: Little Green Footballs!

Congressman Sam Johnson's Bio...IMPRESSIVE!

A few days ago, I posted the speech that Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) made in response to Congressman Jack Murtha's call to withdraw our troops from Iraq. I was checking my sitemeter and found someone else had used my post in their remarks. Below it was Sam Johnson's bio. A Korean and Vietnam war fighter pilot, he started out in F-86's. As I read, I noted he and an officer named John Boyd teamed up to write the first fighter tactics manual. John Boyd was the architect of the modern USAF doctrine. His story is told in "Boyd : The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War." Besides 29 years of service, two Silver Stars, and 7 years of captivity, which left one of his hands deformed, he is a man who laid a foundation for the successful US Air Force that we have today. I'd say that adequately qaulifices him to speak up on some larger issues than just domestic politics. Oh, and a member of the Thunderbirds, too. You have to be one "hot stick" for that assignment. I wonder what his "callsign" was..... Congressman Sam Johnson's bio:
The Honorable Sam Johnson, Colonel, USAF (Ret.) 1st Lt. Sam Johnson in 1953, shown standing on the wing of his North American F-86E Sabre jet Shirley's Texas Tornado. Lt. Johnson was a fighter pilot assigned to the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Group (FIG), 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS) flying the F-86 in combat during the Korean War. Lt. Johnson is credited with a combat aerial victory against a MiG-15 on May 23, 1953. Image courtesy of The Honorable Sam Johnson, Colonel, USAF (Ret.) Sam Johnson is a true American hero, a man who has served his country courageously, in war and peace. He served twenty-nine years in the United States Air Force, flying sixty-two combat missions in Korea and twenty-five missions in Vietnam. He was director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School, wing commander of the 31st Fighter Wing at Homestead AFB, Florida, and air division commander at Holloman AFB, Alamagordo, New Mexico, where he retired in 1979 as a command pilot with the rank of colonel. In civilian life, he pursued a career in home building. From 1985 to 1991 he served as a member of the Texas State House of Representatives. In 1991 he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives from the Third Congressional District of Texas . He has been reelected to three successive terms. Sam Johnson was born in San Antonio, Texas, on October 11, 1930. He earned a BBA degree from Southern Methodist University in 1951 and a Masters of International Affairs degree from George Washington University in 1974. During his military career he attended the U.S. Air Force Parachute School, Armed Forces Staff College, National War College, and Air Force Fighter Weapons School. He entered the Air Force when his ROTC class was activated in 1951. He trained to fly in such aircraft as the T-6 Texan, the T-33, and the F-80. At Nellis AFB, he transitioned into the North American F-86 Sabre jet. During the Korean War, he was assigned to the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Group (FIG), 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS), flying an F-86E he named Shirley's Texas Tornado after his wife. Then-Lt. Johnson was credited with a combat aerial victory against a MiG-15 on May 23, 1953. He was also credited with one probable kill and one damaged in air-to-air combat. In 1957, Johnson was the solo pilot flying the F-100 Super Sabre with the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds. While at Nellis AFB, Nevada, in the early 1960s, Johnson collaborated with John Boyd, one of the premier fighter technicians in the armed forces, to write the first Air Force tactics manual for fighter pilots. Even though fighter ace Fred Blesse's book No Guts, No Glory explained maneuvers and tactics, the Air Force had no formal instruction manual for training. This manual was the first to teach and explain the use of the plane on all three axes, instead of two. Energy maneuverability theories for air combat later evolved from this technical study and are still used today. It was during Sam Johnson's second tour of duty in Vietnam that he was put to his greatest test. Then Major Johnson was assigned to the 433rd Fighter Squadron "Satan's Angels," flying the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II from Ubon Air Base, Thailand. In April 1966, during his 25th combat mission over North Vietnam, he was shot down and captured. He was taken to prisons near and in Hanoi, where for the next seven years he and fellow prisoners of war, were subjected day and night to all types of physical and mental agonies. Such treatment was designed to extract from them statements that would be used for propaganda to undermine the U.S. war effort. But despite all the horrors inflicted on him, Sam Johnson did not give in to his captors' demands. Along with more than 450 POWs, Johnson continued creative and innovative resistance to the prison authority. One such method was a "tap code" that allowed POWs to communicate on a cell-to-cell or building-to-building basis. Other methods of communication were receiving messages transmitted by American military leaders in letters from family members. Johnson and his fellow officers were released on February 12, 1973. Their ordeal is described in his book, Captive Warriors - A Vietnam POW's Story, written with Jan Winebrenner. Sam Johnson was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with Valor, the Meritorious Service Medal, four Air Medals, two Purple Hearts and three Outstanding Unit Awards.
Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

A New Ensign "Arrived"

The young man at Sgt Foley's Fire Eaters was commissioned on the 6th of December, 2005 as an Ensign. He's going to be an Intelligence Officer. I'd recommend congratulations are in's a link to his post on his accomplishment.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What Do We Have to Respect?

Senator John Kerry, speaking on Meet the Press this past Sunday made an interesting comment (see the video here):
"And the is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night terrorizing kids and children, you know, women breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs."
Many talk shows are focusing on the first part of that comment, regarding the women and children being terrorized. It may happen that people have been scared, much like when our law enformcement mistakes a place they are raiding and break in to a house where they shouldn't be. I'm sure the fear generated would easily be called "terror," by those who have suffered through it by mistake. On the other hand, we watch "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted" and collectively cheer when a bad guy gets snagged by helmeted and body armored SWAT teams smashing into their homeshere in our country. I think it's great myself, and think if our troops are on the trial of a criminal over there, it's good enough for them to find out what our domestic law breakers have happen to them. Politely put, John Kerry is misframing his comments, and acting like it's something "we" never do. As to evidence as to what is really happening when our troops are going into homes of the Iraqis, I submit this story by Thunder 6 in Iraq is more likely the case. That recounting by a California National Guard Officer, who commands a company is a mere 16 days old. Maybe Senator Kerry is behind on his reading and didn't realize our troops are making a difference in a very positive way. Look back at Senator Kerry comment again, and focus on the last half. All of a sudden, he's suggesting we are respectful of the religious customs of the Iraqis. I agree, but I'll take it a step further as we once more come to the season where those of the ACLU/liberal (think Democrat) persuassion are all over taking any reference to Christmas out of not only government, but even the private sector. This is a rhetorical question to Senator Kerry: Why do I have to fear black robed, unelected officials of the govenrment not respecting my religious beliefs? In one short sentence, Senator Kerry shows his contempt for Americans. He once more makes unfounded, unsupportable allegations of crimes he cannot prove about men and women in harm's way, and then is part of a party that would deny references to anything about Christianity for all Americans, for fear that might "terrorize" someone else. H/T to The Political Teen for the video part! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the open post...

Monday, December 05, 2005

"DOH!" Moment of the Day - 9/11 Commission Says We're Not Ready

In this AP story, we are treated to the hallowed, omniscient members of the 9/11 Commission telling us we aren't ready for another terrorist attack. Homer seems to not only be working for the AP, but I suspect he's also a staffer for the 9/11 Commission, based on the report and the report of the report.
They say the government deserves "more F's than A's" in responding to their 41 suggested changes.
Did you catch the "their 41 suggested changes?" In other words, unless we absolutely do what the omnicient Commission suggests, then we can't be, by (their) definition, making any headway.... First of all, I think that's pretty short sighted of them, because they are fundimentally treating thier "suggestions" as demands. The 9/11 Commission Report was not a set of laws passed by Congress and signed by the President into law. These people need to get a grip on having their way, versus living in the real world. Oh, yes, this whine is brought to you by the same people who covered for Jamie Gorelick's intentional barricading of intelligence data from being passed between the Defense Department and the FBI. To this day, that issue has not been addressed to the public, nor had a special investigation committee seated to discover why we had found the 9/11 terrorists, yet were not able to take action on the information gathered by the Able Danger Project. Yep, I can believe them to try and protect us, with all their demonstrated rejection of the information the was on the plate months before the 9/11 attacks happened...NOT! On the other hand, the recent hurricane season highlighted our ability to determine the Federal Government is incapable of doing anything. I see this as just one more change for people to raise not completely unfounded complaints to the level of sheer idiocy. I began drafting a post back in October titled "We Can Fix It, But YOu're Not Going to Like It," which would suggest the military style of managing and solving problems, such as extreme weather and terroriam, can have the effects lessened, but how we get there will be 1) expensive (bad enough by itself) and 2) interusive beyound comprehension for thos living in a free nation as to how much personal freedom would be lost. I guess it's time to get back to it. Based on 1) not scaring the public and 2) not wanting to let the enemy how successful we are agains their fellow jihadists, I will take on faith that honest, headworking people are on the front lines of domestic security working very hard everyday to keep me, and you safe, doing successful things in the war on terror. I'm sure the latest comments from the 9/11 Commision members that were the catalyst for this post have some validity, but right now, it seems like political posturing, and little more....and that's my opinion. For additional reading: Here's my thoughts on opinions... Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Thank You, Jack Murtha and Your Party

An open letter to Congressman Murtha: Many years ago, I noted an article in the Naval Institute's magazine, "Proceedings," written by a submariner. His thesis was: Just because you are in the Navy, and on a Joint Staff, it certainly doesn't qualify you to answer questions from non-Navy people as though you are an expert at every facet of the Naval Service. In simple terms: Know when to say "I'm not sure, let me call someone who's an expert in that field to get you a good answer." With all due respect to your current elected position, Sir, I believe you spoke "out of school." I invite you to begin consulting with experts in the field of strategic, political/military issues before you feel the urge to make top level national plans for our international policy. And, when you feel the urge to speak about "worn out" things, find a group of intelligent logisticians and LISTEN to them. The Marines have some excellent supply types, and they may be amoung your former shipmates. Give them a call and ask their professional assessment. My thank you is actually not that. It's a point of being sarcastic, for your comments are not only causing a degree of discomfort amoung our service members, but it now is being trumpeted around the world, and a cause for a big discussion as to whether our allies should stay in the fight, or to "cut and run," before we can "bag it" and beat them out of Dodge City. Take a look at this report from AP. Note this thoughtful comment by the writer:
"The vibrations of unease from within the United States clearly have an impact on public opinion elsewhere," said Terence Taylor of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington. "Public opinion in many of these countries is heavily divided."
I would invite you to view this report as a repudiation of the Democratic position that we went alone into this war, disregarding the possible help available. I ask you this: If we went this one alone, and didn't allow the World community in, then how can other countries possibly be considering the withdrawal of their troops? Just because France and Russia choose not to come along certainly didn't mena no one else did. Quit deleting facts from reality until your personal, political goals are supported. I ask you to be honest. I will say a heartfelt thank you, sir, for helping to convert previously apathetic young men and women from apolitical people into Republicans by your your demonstrated disrespect for those wearing the same uniform you did for so many years. I recall a time when it was fashionable to cut each other down in your own unit, but there was hell to pay if someone came along and poked fun, or worse, at your shipmates, for the bond between you was not to be broken or taken advantage of by any outsiders. I feel you violated the trust of not only the Marines, past, present and future, but of all who have stepped up and worn the uniform, or will. In summary, your remarks have put you on the World's stage. While it may feel good for a few weeks, and maybe win you a few seats in Congress in 2006, it has the potential to leave those from other countries to face the wrath of those who would "cut (your head off) and run (into the shadows and caves)." History shows, particularly in Germany, you make the society peaceful by dealing with the "insurgency" in a logical manner: you hold them accountable, as Jeff Herf points out in his artcle on HNN. In SE Asia, we did not, and the aftermath in the area was fratricide in Cambodia on a huge scale, where the best and brightest were particurly chossen for extermination, as well as those who might influence that society into thinking for itself. Similar things happened in South Vietnam after 1975, when many of the Viet Cong were placed in "reeducation camps," right alongside their ARVN counterparts, for the North Vietnamese felt their exposure to capitalism, regardless of their desire to support the Communist idelas, was dangerous in the reforming of the society. I respectfully ask you consider your words more carefully, and you elevate truthfulness to a main priority in your quest of understanding any issues before you.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's Not Just That Simple

My amazement grows regularly, as people against having our troops in Iraq (read: Those who are against the war, but lack the courage to just say it) now have this "new" idea on our witrhdrawal. Interestingly enough, they say since there are about 90,000 Iraqi troops and police trained, then we should be able to pull out that many of our troops. It's not just that simple. Case in point: The culture of the Middle East is not that of ours. I know, that's a blinding flash of the obvious (BFO) for most everyone, and it's not just because "they" are mostly Islamic in their beliefs. In the early 80's the Saudi Navy was purchasing patrol gunboats from us. There were the PCGs and PGGs. The equipment fit for the combat system was like that of the O.H. PERRY (FFG-7) Class guided missile frigates wew were currently building and commissioning. I was in charge of the FFG-7 Combat Systems mockup trainer at the time. One of my instructors had transferred from us to the Saudi Navy Fleet Introduction Team (FIT) and had asked for trainer time for the Saudi crews, due to the similarities in systems. It was granted for the evenings. Here's what I observed: The training for a US Navy pre-commissioning crew was four weeks. The first two weeks were operator specific training for each of the watchstations. The last two weeks were simulated battle problems for the entire crew. While little teamwork was required in the first two weeks, some was, and the crews, many of whom had never met each other before reporting to our classroom, fell into the swing of the team coordination naturally. I lamented, more than once, that some of the sailors and officers seems to lack the passion for really immersing themselves in the details of the overall system, but they always inherently knew how to work within a team environment. The Saudi Navy crews were an altogether different breed. As individual operators of specific consoles or equipment, they were, for the most part, head and shoulders above about 85% of the US crew members. As team players, they just didn't get it....My instructors and I were baffled that after 2 solid weeks of drills in the mockups, these individually skilled operators could barely hold a candle to the performance of a day one crew of US sailors and officers. I believe, particularly after getting to know one of the officers quite well, the difference lies in how we are socialized in our society, versus theirs. Team sports, or cooperative activities are a foundation of our society. The men have generally all palyed some, if not a lot of team sports, in many cases, outside of any strucutre like leagues or schools. We learn how soon, then that skill translates to our later performance in the professional world. The culture of the Middle East generally teaches children to be suspicious of others and to watch your own back. Besides football (soccer), it just doesn't seem there is any societal investment in team activities. With that background, only learned by extensive travel and being in a profession that allowed me to interact with people all over the world, I can say it's just not a case of sign some people up, give them guns, body armor, armored vehicles and call them "ready." Our troops are having to "socialize" the Iraqi Army and Police in the skills of teamwork, a attribute that is lacking. It can be learned over time, and as the Army and Marines yield control of areas to the Iraqi security forces, the training takes over and we can then see them rising to the occasion, not out of a blind, ignorant of the methods, patriotism, but as a force that has been given tools to allow them to bring peace to their country. It is dangerous, in this case, to project our way of dealing with adversity, and other things as well, such as equality issues, onto the people of the Middle East. For those who can't conceive that there are these not subtle at all differences in the world, I'd suggest they (SU)3, and then come back and make their statements about how to handle the GWOT. Until then, if they get treated like background noise, it serves them right. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way.... This post is linked to A Brief History of a Long War (1990-2005) at Mudville Gazette. It's a detailed read on how we have gotten where we are.