Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Aboard the USS New Jersey
Apologies for the light blogging of late. I've been on the road recently, and one of my journeys took me to the City of Brotherly Love, also known as Philadelphia. I enjoy history, so I spent my off hours wandering the city's historic district where the framework of this great nation began to take shape.
During one of my wanderings, I came across a pamphlet advertising tours of the USS New Jersey. My east-coast geography is still a bit on the weak side, so I'd forgotten that New Jersey borders Pennsylvania, but I jumped at the chance to see one of the biggest, baddest, and most feared battleships ever to sail under a US flag.
The New Jersey's history is a long and her decorations are many. Her 16" guns have projected American power in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, and other global hotspots. To help you understand exactly what a 16" shell can do, imagine a projectile weighing roughly as much as a VW Bug being launched from a position at sea, landing miles away in a pre-designated area about the size of your office cubicle - and blowing the surrounding location to smithereens.
No wonder the Marines love these ships for amphibious assault support.
In case you were wondering, this picture is found in the dictionary next to the term "Guns, Big Ass".
My grandfather's generation designed, built, and produced the most effective naval artillery the world has ever seen. Nothing in any navy's arsenal, past or present, has been proven to be more accurate or lethal than these guns.
A side note - there are four remaining Iowa class battleships. Two, the New Jersey and the Missouri, have been relegated to museum status. I have not visited the Missouri, but the New Jersey looks like she could be put to sea on a few days notice.
The two other battleships, the Iowa and the Wisconsin, are currently part of the Navy's Mothball fleet. As of March 17, 2006, both vessels were struck from the Naval Vessel Register as part of the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act. Needless to say, the Marines are not happy about this.
End of digression.
Touring the New Jersey take awhile. Though she may be a huge ship, she's also full of confined spaces and cramped quarters. I'm not a small person, so my skull now has a few more dents in it courtesy of the New Jersey's steel plating. My group was the last to be aboard the New Jersey that day. As we made our way up to the navigation bridge, a museum curator asked us to turn off the active radar and secure the bridge for the night. I'll add that to my list of cool things I've gotten to do.
Ships like the New Jersey are one of the reasons I like history. Its more than just books, dates, and facts. History is made and determined by people - people like those sailors and marines who took their turn in places like the USS New Jersey and stood watch in defense of liberty. You don't get than sense from a book. You need to go where these people were, see what they saw, and feel what they felt. Only then do you begin to understand the "why" behind the dates and places.
Thanks for the living history lesson, Big J.
Here endeth the lesson.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Memorial Day 2006
We will stand and guard though the angels sleep
While through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Jason Leopold Hears Voices
Via Captain Ed today comes yet another chapter in the continuing saga of Truthout.org's Jason Leopold and his descent in a Bizarro world of his own making.
Leopold claims to have a corner market on a scandal that would make the MSM pour into the streets of LA, New York, and DC in a celebration that would make New Year's Eve in Time Square look like a two-year-old's birthday party.
You see, Leopold claims he's received double secret scoop information indicating Karl "Sith Lord" Rove has been indicted in the CIA Plame leak case.
In Leopold's sorry excuse for journalistic prose he claims that:
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.There is but one problem with this statement - Howard Kurtz actually talked to Rove's lawyer, one Robert Luskin. I suspect that Kurtz has done more talking to Ruskin in the past week than Leopold has in his entire life.
Ruskin wasn't even at his office on the day (May 12) Leopold claims Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent half the day negotiating the terms of the alleged indictment.
Jason, just in case you were wondering, you are now seeing what we at the SOTR refer to as a View from an Earhole. As you have most likely never played the game of football, I won't waste time explaining it to you. To put it bluntly - you lied. Its pretty obvious to even the most dense speculators that you have about as much inside information from Fitzgerald and the White House as a high school gossip columnist.
Washington DC thrives on leaks like this. I can safely assume that if the news of an indictment had, as Leopold less than eloquently stated "...spread through the corridors of the White House" to both senior and low level White House staffers, said news would have been in three-inch headlines on MSM newspapers around the country.
News like this doesn't get leaked to a no-name, convicted felon, and drug user who spews forth baseless accusations masquerading as pseudo-journalism. Nor does it sit under seal for 10 days while said no-name does victory laps around the media.
Unless, of course, you were the one giving keynote address at a Michigan trial lawyer banquet, in which case you could not help but believe what you've wanted to believe for years. Again, another View from an Earhole.
I don't know who Leopold's alleged sources are, but I'm beginning to believe he may be talking to voices that exist in no other world than his own.
Here endeth the lesson.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The Key To Nagin's Success
Like many of you, I was shocked to hear Ray Nagin, the bumbling, fumbling, incompetent Mayor of New Orleans cruised to a comfortable re-election with 52.3% of the vote.
My first reaction was - New Orleans is stuck on stupid. The may be, and probably is true. If they are brainwashed enough to re-elect a man who took inaction to a whole new definition, they get the government they deserve.
Today, however, I learned that a very prominent leader in the Democratic Party gave Ray Nagin's opponent, Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, the proverbial kiss of death with an endorsement not even a Democrat could desire.
Who is that prominent Democratic leader? None other than Howlin' Mad Howie "I Have A Scream" Dean.
With Howie's endorsement of his opponent, Ray Nagin could do nothing but win.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Speaking Truth To "Professor" Churchill
Normally I don't participate in the "piling on" so common here in the Blogosphere, but when it comes to those few Wastes Of Skin And Breathable Air (WOSABAs) such as "Professor" Ward Churchill, I'll make an exception.
Yesterday, a five member panel at the University of Colorado found "serious cases of misconduct" in "Professor" Churchill's research - including but not limited to blatant acts of plagiarism and fabrications.
For those of you unfamiliar with those academic language, "plagiarism and fabrications" means when Churchill wasn't stealing the work of other academics, he was making his work up out of whole cloth. It means he's a fake.
The panel will decide "Professor" Churchill's fate on or about June 8. In my humble opinion, this WOSABA deserves to be kicked to the curb - nothing less.
CBS - W a Lame Duck
Dick Myer, the editorial director of CBS News, has declared W to be a Lame Duck - even though some 2.5 years remain of his Administration. Declares the ever prescient Myers:
The Bush administration is now locked in a triple-hammer hold that would defeat Houdini.The MSM - now known somewhat as the Drive-By-Media - has been writing the epilogue for W for nearly 6 years now. Their reports of his demise have thus far been greatly exaggerated.
The once great CBS News has its own credibility problems to deal with. Its inability to divorce its collective desire to attack W at all costs from its stated civic duty to just report the news has permeated all aspects of the CBS News organization.
Memo to Dick: We're being governed, sir. Just not by the people you want. That is fine with me.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
No Hiding Place
In what looks like an attempt to slide below the questionable journalistic ethics of the New York Times, the USA Today has published a front page blockbuster article exposing yet another example of the National Security Agency doing the job it was commissioned to do.
This is a transparent attempt to undermine the nomination of Air Force General Michael Hayden to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Memo to jilted civil libertatians seeking to shape policy via well-timed leaks: Get over yourselves. You do not make policy, you execute the policies and programs dictated to you by the duly elected leadership of this nation. If you cannot square this policy with your deeply held, albeit misguided, personal belief system - resign and get out of the way. End of memo.
The left leaning Blogosphere and the MSM have done their level best to use this data mining program to convince the American people the W Administration is listening into every phone conversation and scouring every email sent by anyone to anyone. By so doing, they hope the American people can suspend their belief in reality so the premise will be accepted as fact.
Well, dear reader, let's explore a few facts about the communication world we live in. This is common sense - but nobody ever required the MSM to factor that into their world view.
First - the Islamofacist Murdering Thugs communicate one with another to further their murderous plans. They do this using the same manner of communication that you and I use. Common sense dictates that the interception of these communications is paramount to the successful prosecution of the Global War on Terror.
Second - a record of every single phone call (cellular or land line) is made by the communications provider over whose lines said phone call travels. This data is housed in the proprietary databases of the Telecom companies (Verizon, AT&T, Bell South, Qwest, etc). This record consists of the date, time, place, duration, and phone numbers involved in the call.
The previous NSA program, so patriotically exposed by the hapless New York Times had to do with the actual interception, recording, transcription and analysis of communications between suspected terrorists. The USA Today reporter, one Leslie Cauley, makes this startling - and also errant - claim that:
As a result, domestic call records - those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders - were believed to be private.I'm sorry Ms. Cauley, the only person making that assumption is yourself. No such assurances or guarantees were ever given. Nobody even bothered to ask about "domestic call records".
I know a few things about databases. This NSA database is billed as the largest database ever assembled in the history of data management. No single Telecom company holds all the information, and it's very likely the different Telecom companies use different database software for their own records.
The only entity with enough horsepower to effectively mine this data for the needed information - that being who the terrorists are talking to and where those phones are - is the NSA. Somewhere in the bits and bytes of records is where those who seek to do this nation harm are lurking.
There are many things in this world nobody should ever see being made. One is hot dogs, another is the political process, and the final one is the process of gathering intelligence. The details should not be front page fodder for the MSM.
Here endeth the lesson.
PS. Qwest - rethink your policy. Now.
Today's Recommended Reading: Peggy Noonan
Peggy Noonan's editorial in today's Wall Street Journal should be required reading for anyone (Republican or Democrat) who is concerned about the upcoming elections, and the future of government in America.
It's hard to pick an appropriate snippet to give you the flavor of the article. I'll do my best. Noonan issues a strong warning to Republicans about paying attention to the "base". Republicans, both elected and campaigning, would be wise to listen.
The Republicans talk about cutting spending, but they increase it--a lot. They stand for making government smaller, but they keep making it bigger. They say they're concerned about our borders, but they're not securing them. And they seem to think we're slobs for worrying. Republicans used to be sober and tough about foreign policy, but now they're sort of romantic and full of emotionalism. They talk about cutting taxes, and they have, but the cuts are provisional, temporary. Beyond that, there's something creepy about increasing spending so much and not paying the price right away but instead rolling it over and on to our kids, and their kids.Amen to that. Read the entire thing.
I now return to my adventures in capitalism.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
United 93 - A Review Of The Experience
I don’t do many movie reviews – probably for the simple reason it takes nearly an Act of Congress for me to get time away from life to actually go and spend a few hours in a dark room watching a large screen.
For United 93 I made the time.
For me, the film re-defined the term intense. It was like watching the first 20 some minutes of Saving Private Ryan. The story is told in real time. You sit and watch the events of that Tuesday morning in September. You know how the story ends.
No corners are cut in the telling of this story. Most, if not all, sides of the conflict are explored – from the FAA’s reaction to the heart wrenching realization that the most powerful military on the face of the earth can do nothing but sit and watch the events unfold on CNN like the rest of America.
In the end it all came down to a group of ordinary Americans making the decision to fight back.
The word "No" is a very powerful term in the English language. People say it every day, some more so than others. When "No" is said by a unified group of people seeking to throw off the oppression of others, it becomes even more powerful.
Americans have done a lot of that in their short history. In 1776, 56 men came together in Philadelphia and collectively told the English King George "No." They pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in the hopes they might bestow the blessings of liberty upon themselves and their posterity. They banded together in Independence Hall to fight what they considered to be worth dying for.
225 years later, Americans again gathered together (not far from Philadelphia) to fight this same battle – this time in the skies over Ohio and Pennsylvania. They gathered in the aft section of an aircraft whose pilot was intent on destroying more of this great nation. They stood up to the Islamofacist Murdering Thugs and said "No." Not on our plane. Not on our watch. They voted. They took a stand, defended this nation – giving the last full measure of devotion not far from the battlefields of the last war waged upon the soil of the Continental United States.
I watched this film and every minute reminded me of one basic fact: I am still angry. Angry at the thugs who came into my country, killed my countrymen, and destroyed part of my heritage. Angry at those who would attempt to excuse such behavior and appease those who want to do more of it.
United 93 should be required viewing for all Americans. It is not a film to be viewed with lightness of heart. It is a film to be experienced, and remembered.
Here endeth the lesson.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Kennedy Capitol Collision
Somebody has to say it - so I'll just get most of the lame jokes out of the way.
Like father, like son. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Chip off the old, mostly drunk and always unintelligible block.
Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) had an unfortunate collision with a Capitol Hill barricade in the early morning hours of May 4th. No injuries were reported, all though Kennedy now has the unique distinction of having trashed a vehicle of iconic status in American automaking - the Ford Mustang.
The cause of the crash is still a bit hazy, much like Kennedy's reasoning abilities. He claims that no alcohol was involved and blames the collision and his subsequent behavior on the prescription medications Phenergan and Ambien. Ambien is a sleeping aid - so why he was driving after taking such a medication is far beyond me.
No arrest was made. No field sobriety test was administered. Kennedy was driven home by a Capitol Hill Patrolman.
And yet, for some obscure reason, included in the press release is a claim that "no special treatment was afforded to the Congressman".
Maybe they've just grown accustomed to dealing with impaired Kennedys behind the wheel because its been going on for so long.
Rummy Heckled By A Hack
Some people will do anything for their fifteen minutes of fame. Ray McGovern took shots at Rummy in a public forum so he could primp and preen for the cameras. McGovern is a hack. Rummy remained civil, illustrated by the fact that McGovern is still able to use all of his extremities. Video from Ian.
al-Zarqawi - How do you use this thing?
al-Zarqawi would have the US believe he's a battle hardened experienced insurgent whom we should fear. His propaganda films show him expertly using a machine gun (American made by the way) all the while wearing a bomb vest to guarantee his trip to Allah and some virgins should he be captured.
Propaganda films cut both ways - al-Zarqawi shouldn't leave his un-edited practice films laying around. Evidently he knows about as much about how to work a SAW (Squat Automatic Weapon) as I do. Ian has the video - note the qualified remarks by the CNN reporter - "this weapon has a heavy trigger and is hard to used unless you're trained to do it."
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Moussaoui - Not With A Bang, But A Whimper
In Alexandria, Virginia, the jury finally came back from deliberations with a verdict for the only person charged in the September 11 attacks.
For some inexplicable reason, this jury was not able to conclude this Waste Of Skin And Breathable Air deserved to pay the ultimate price for his crimes - that being death. Instead he was today sentenced to six life terms without the possibility of parole.
As much as I would have liked to see Moussaoui "ride the lighting" (actually slip peacefully away from a lethal drug cocktail), I actually like the idea of this WOSABA slowly rotting away in a Federal Supermax Prison. His comings and goings will be dictated by the country he attempted to bring down. He will be among the lowest of the low - probably even below rapists and child molesters - even hardened criminals have a hierarchy.
I, for one, hope he enjoyed the two-minute show he got to put on this morning. It was his last public statement - unless you count the conversations he gets to have with himself in his 7 by 12 foot soundproofed cell. Moussaoui can also talk back to the 13-inch black and white television which will beam a non-stop parade of anger management, parenting, and religious programming for him to enjoy.
Oh, and one more thing Moussaoui gets to ponder for the next few decades - his sentence was delivered by a female judge. That's right, Mr. Moussaoui, a woman has seen to it that you rot in a cell courtesy of the US taxpayer.
Enjoy your stay.
Here endeth the lesson.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Bolivia's Leftward Lurch
In a move sure to endear Bolivia's new President Evo Morales to the leftist socialist political movement slowly spreading across the South American continent, Bolivia announced today the nationalization of all Bolivian natural gas reserves.
Fresh off his visit with Fidel Castro and Venezuela's paranoid Hugo Chavez, the newly elected Morales decreed:
The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources. The looting by the foreign companies has endedAlgore was reported to have been spotted singing Morales' praises from a rooftop somewhere in Tennessee.
Bolivian soldiers were dispatched to gas fields and refineries to "ensure the steady flow and refining of hydrocarbons."
Under the new government decree, the corporations which have gone to great expense to develop the oil and gas fields will see the give the government majority stake in 67 oil and gas fields and raise the tax and royalty rate from 50 percent to 82 percent in Bolivia's two biggest fields.
Its important for you to understand Bolivia has done little if anything to exploit this natural resource. Most of the development in these oil and gas fields has been accomplished by foreign investment - a lot of it. Petrobras, Brazil's oil company, alone has invested some $1.6 billion dollars in Bolivia since the 1990's. Bolivia has little, if any, home grown expertise in the area of oil and gas exploration and reclamation.
Up until yesterday they were prepared to invest another $5 billion. As of today, that investment in Bolivia's economy is on hold. In addition Spain has stated through Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega that the nationalization "is definitely negative for Bolivia" and would likely deter foreign investment.
Morales has given into a temptation faced by many socialist politicians. They believe all wrongs can be righted if they take control of the evil industries and "return" to the people the resources which are being exploited by evil corporations. Never mind the fact said natural resources would still be sitting underground but for the investment of those same evil corporations.
These same politicians who ride into town on the white horses of progressive politics are the same guys who are shocked when the evil capitalistic corporations take one look at the contracts imposed upon them and subsequently tell the white horsed politicians to pound sand.
Case and point - also from Latin America, this time from Brazil. A major US based auto maker had gone to great lengths to begin building a plant in southern Brazil. The foundation had been poured and work had started on the actual structure. The left leaning state and local governments came up with the idea to "renegotiate" the tax incentives and other details of the deal - thinking that the auto maker would have no choice but to build the plant and submit to their demands.
The government boneheads were wrong. The auto maker packed his bags and left - ultimately building the plant in another state.
That's how capitalism works. For some strange reason, socialists, communists, and other like minded people can never seem to understand this simple fact of life.
Here's another fact they don't understand: Nationalized industries most often fail. They have no incentive to turn a profit.
Morales and his cronies have given the foreign oil companies 6 months to acquiesce to his demands or be kicked out of the country. If the corporations know what's best for them, they'll call his bluff.
Here endeth the lesson.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Sergeant Major Brad Kasal, USMC
What is the price of a Navy Cross?
For the former First Sergeant, now Sergeant Major Brad Kasal it was seven rounds from an AK-47, 40 pieces of hot shrapnel from a grenade, 60% of his blood, and roughly four inches of bone from his leg.
Since that fateful day in Fallouja, he's endured some 21 painful surgeries in the hopes that his shattered leg might be saved. Most of his leg injuries came from the AK-47. How did he get the grenade fragments? Covering one of his Marines with his own bleeding body.
Today he was promoted to the highest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps, that of Sergeant Major.
In the dictionary, under the heading "Man, Real", you'll find Kasal's name and a picture of him being evacuated from the battlefield, service pistol still in hand.
After all this, what does Sergeant Major Kasal want to do next?
I believe in what we're doing. I'd go back in a heartbeat.Just in case you were wondering, ladies, yes - he is single. Look for him at the Marine Recruiting Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
Semper Fi, Sergeant Major.