'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Outstanding Article

I subscribe to the monthly newsletter from Hillsdale College, an outstanding institute of higher learning.
This month's Imprimis has a very timely article on the bungling of the War on Terror by the Obama Administration.

America's War On Islamist Terror...Or Is It?

 These protocols are the laws of war, and they are older than the U.S. itself. They include requiring combatants to wear uniforms, to carry their weapons openly, to be part of a regular armed force, and, most importantly, to refrain from intentionally targeting civilians. They also define wartime powers and privileges. Enemy combatants, for example, may be captured and detained until the conclusion of hostilities. Fighters who adhere to the laws of war are entitled to various protections upon capture. By contrast, fighters who flout the laws of war—such as non-uniformed terrorists who target civilians—are unlawful combatants and may be prosecuted by a military commission for war crimes.

 Hmmm, sounds like a plan to me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another OUTSTANDING Facebook exchange

Okay, here we go again, another fascinating exchange on Facebook between yours truly and some completely thin-skinned, bitter, angry liberal women.  WOW, this was not what I expected.
Angry Liberal Woman #1: Amen! It is your right to agree or disagree with any Administration. But this has become uncivilized hatred and bigotry.

It’s long past time to acknowledge that a party that promotes ignorance and provides a safe house for bigotry cannot serve the best interests of our country.

Neutral Bystander Guy:  Totally agree it's foolish using hateful rhetoric when expressing opinions. We heard much the same from the political left during the lowness of the Iraq War and national elections since Y2K. Yet personal freedom is at stake with this healthcare bill so I can appreciate the challenge of maintaining self-control.

Angry Liberal Woman #1: Doug, I appreciate the respectful response and we can agree to disagree. I feel the same challenge when the personal rights of women are at stake.

Your Hero, the Grouchy Historian
"For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness."
Really? I suppose the current Administration is full of puppies and unicorns...remember the absolute trash hurled at the previous President? I do, and I have to say Mr. Herbert does not impress me. Where was the NYT for the last 8 years? Isn't dissent the highest form of patriotism?...oh that's right, only if you're a Democrat..otherwise, shut up, cause your betters will tell you what to think.

Really Angry Liberal Woman #2:  Don't even get me stad on the GOPPPPPPPPPP Tea Party People.

I'm about to explode the second I see one. I have to have a kid around me 24/7 just to keep my mouth shut.

Your Hero, the Grouchy Historian:  Tea Party versus Code Pink? Hmmmm, let me think.....

Really Angry Liberal Woman #2: Angry Liberal Woman #1, I would do some friend deleting on your page :) I had to delete 3-4 last week. Love Ya

Your Hero, the Grouchy Historian: What, no civil discourse?
Really Angry Liberal Woman #2: I'm on Angry Liberal Woman #1's page, I have to behave.

But I will say, I would love to see how you would handle my page if the truth in the Op Ed piece bothers you. It's the truth.


Cant handle people that act like that anymore. I JUST DELETE :)

Your Hero, the Grouchy Historian:  Hmmm, well nothing like sweeping generalizations, don't they call those prejudices?
Really Angry Liberal Woman #2: We will stop now. Have a good night :)

Now, normally, I would expect it to end there...after all, I can be a little bit :) snarky, especially with sanctimonious liberals.  BUT, the next day, Angry Liberal Woman #1 DE-FRIENDED me on Facebook.  SERIOUSLY, you're going to do that over a little spat about a MORON columnist from the NYT?  I would say a lot of things, but why bother, that's the liberal mindset...if you don't want to argue about the facts, call the other person names, leading up to the racist, sexist labels, then stop the conversation.  

SOOOO, whatever, it was excellent fodder for my Facebook page.....

Would love to see Really Angry Liberal Woman's face after the 2010 elections and when her Hero the Obamassieah becomes a one-term failed President who makes Jimmy Carter looks like a statesman.

The use of oral history

As research tools for historical projects, oral histories have many of the same issues as traditional documentary sources. They must be verified, can be biased, and often fade with the passage of time. The example of how courtroom testimony can conflict was very enlightening in understanding the challenges historians using oral sources can face if they are trying to reconstruct traumatic or controversial events. However, oral histories can be a tremendous untapped source not only for “forgotten” history not documented or archived by traditional methods, but also a powerful narrative of how ordinary people reacted to historic events.
The power of technology to resurrect this form of historical data gathering. Beyond traditional tape recordings, I believe that video can be a much more powerful means of gathering someone’s story by catching those non-verbal cues that strict audio recordings miss. Not to mention, digital video (or audio) files can be more widely distributed and archived for historian’s use. I believe that integrating oral histories into a historical project can be a powerful tool for bringing the audience into the story, which is after all, what the historian is trying to convey.

An excellent example of this is the integration of veterans’ recollections into the series “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific”. Hearing the veterans’ often choked-up remembrances-combined with the action sequences by actors, really does much more than just showing another war movie.

Probably the best historian I have read that uses oral history is Cornelius Ryan. His volumes on D-Day (The Longest Day), the fall of Berlin (The Last Battle), and Operation Market-Garden (A Bridge Too Far) are classics of World War II history. Mr. Ryan used hundreds of oral histories, combined with traditional documentary sources to write his books, and did an excellent job on overcoming the challenges of integrating many recollections into a seamless story. One of the methods he used was to rigorously cross-reference veteran’s recollections with either other veteran’s accounts or official sources before using them in his books. This is really no different that what historians should do with other sources.

Oral histories, properly scrutinized and utilized, can be a powerful addition to a historical research project. Although they are no more perfect or imperfect than any other source, their impact as personal recollections gives them a unique impact.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

South of the Border

Interesting article in the LA Times -Consular slayings spotlight Mexico's failures in fighting drug gangs....and certainly timely with the current Administration getting ready to set its sights on illegal alien amnesty, ooops I mean immigration reform.

What will the U.S. do if Mexico becomes a quasi-narco state?  How about that open border then?  Will we have the courage to enforce our sovereignty as a nation and defend our country from an invasion, albeit an unarmed one...for now.

This not a mere academic exercise, who knows what is or could be smuggled across our border?  And with the current crop of politicians attempting to suck up to the Hispanic community in order to buy votes (yes I said it, please, what do you think is all about?  As they said in Ghostbusters- "Millions of registered voters")

And of course, the line is quickly blurring, even in our country, between law enforcement and national security.

A "New" Dynamic in the Western Hemisphere Security Environment: The Mexican Zetas and Other Private Armies

Monday, March 22, 2010

History repeats itself...in the air?

History really does have a way of repeating itself.  Remember when the U.S. tried this before?

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II

It was called the TFX and it was a fiasco.  In the early 1960s Robert McNamara tried to achieve "cost savings" by forcing the Navy and Air Force to buy the same airplane.  The Navy dropped out and the Air Force turned it into the F-111, a modestly successful aircraft.

The military tried it again in the mid-60's, more successfully this time as both the Air Force and Navy bought 5,000 F-4 Phantoms, one of the longest-running production airplanes of all time.  But this time, the Air Force basically adapted a NAVY design and used it.  

Now here we are with the F-35, which is looking more like a TFX and less like an F-4.

Super Stealth Plane Breaks Through Cost Barrier

 Now, normally I would chalk this up to another issue of Christmas balls on the tree (DoD always wants to hang more), but the U.S. is going to face a real fighter shortage over the next few years as aging airframes that have seen a lot of action over Iraq and Afghanistan begin wearing out.

And, of course, to pay for UNIVERSAL UNICORN and PUPPIES HEALTH-CARE, we will not be able to buy nearly enough F-35's at this price to replace them.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Total Brain Candy

Okay, total brain candy.  But I love J.D. Robb nearly as much as I love bacon and this book is the best science fiction so far.  By that I mean the plot is absolutely marvelous and the mystery kept me guessing until Eve gets ready to make her move and trap the killer.  The character development is still one of the definite hooks of this long running series, and each book has gotten better, both in terms of the science, the mystery, the romance (there I said it) and the characters.

Oh, and the witty banter, especially between Eve and Peabody, never fails to crack me up.

Sigh, a long six months until the next one comes out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

How will we teach our children history?

As previously noted on this blog, how we teach our children history is very much a product of our own world view.  For nearly 40 years that world view has been, in my opinion, clouded by the post-Vietnam baby boomer angst and need to apologize to every minority group in reach.

For better or for worse, until the late 19th to early 20th century, women, blacks, Hispanics, gay, lesbians...and whoever did not really play a significant role in the political, military, or economic history of this country.  One may debate the reasons for this, but the essential fact seems pretty clear to me.

SO, when the Texas Board of Education approved some "corrections" to their state curriculm to tamp down the baby boomer angst, the reaction was pretty much pre-ordained.  I mean, are two different article.

New standards in history classTexas board endorses conservative-backed curriculum

Now, I wonder what they would have said if these new standards had been created by the ACLU, SEIU, NOW and La Raza?  Hmmm.

Here's what that paragon of journalistic integrity, the New York Times, had to say.
Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change

Ditto for the above statement.  But if you actually read the articles, here are the "radical changes"

Experts had recommended students study the impact of cultural movements in art, music and literature, such as Tin Pan Alley, the Beat Generation, rock and roll, the Chicano Mural Movement, country-western music and hip-hop. The board's seven social conservatives, joined by Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, R-Dallas, considered some of the hip-hop lyrics offensive and voted to eliminate hip-hop as an option for students to consider.
Seriously, Tin Pan Alley??, rock and roll?  How about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson???

Here's another one:
They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”
Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.
“Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”
Mr. Bradley won approval for an amendment saying students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. He also won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.
Okay, it seems to me if we should pound our students with the New Deal and Great Society, a little more fair and balance would require studying great Republican conservative political movements too, right?

Now, I read the books proposed for Fairfax County a couple of years ago and I was mildly appalled.  I mean they looked like Richard Scary books...you know lots of pictures to keep the kiddies entertained.  Historically, they were like a piece of Meringue, not much substance, and there was more space devoted to the Clinton Impeachment than to Ronald Reagan's entire Presidency.

In summary, I heartily applaued the Texas Board of Education...I think texts should be limited all together...READ THE BASIC BOOKS...how about the Constitution, some biographies...after all, pretty soon we're gonna give students Kindles, and then we won't have to worry about the whole cost of books issue...then maybe we can get down to basics and force, {ooo, dare I use that word} students to read primary source materials.

hmmm...thinking...hmmm, there's a concept.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Well, I had a couple of, what I thought were pretty good posts on the Pacific War, and Tom Hank's recent comments.

Well, today, I have to say, I have been mildly smacked down by Victor Davis Hanson is his outstanding piece at Pajamas Media.

Dr. Hanson takes my teeny logic and greatly expands upon it, in particular noting how quickly the U.S. and Japan became allies after the war, first as a matter of convenience to stop Soviet and Chinese communism, but later as lasting allies and trading partners. 

The interesting thing to note is his analysis of E.B. Sledge's memoir as a very stark accounting of the close quarter combat and its affects on both young Americans and Japanese"

But if anyone is interested in the role of race on the battlefield, one could probably do far better in skipping Hanks, and reading instead E.B. Sledge’s brilliant memoir, With the Old Breed, which has a far more sophisticated analysis of race and combat on Peleliu and Okinawa, and was apparently (and I hope fairly ) drawn upon in the HBO series. (Sledge speaks of atrocities on both sides in the horrific close-quarter fighting on the islands, but he makes critical distinctions about accepted and non-accepted behaviors, the differences between Japanese and American attitudes, and in brilliant fashion appreciates the role of these campaigns in the larger war. One should memorize the last lines of his book.)
Perhaps I shall have to add that book to my very, very long reading list.

Grouchy but still willing to learn.

Friday, March 12, 2010

America's Strategy in the Pacific War

The U.S. counteroffensive across the Pacific was driven by three major factors: geography, resources and personalities. The simultaneous drives began with limited operations designed to secure the approaches and security of Australia, America’s prime Pacific ally; then diverged as America’s capabilities and resources increased and reconnected again in the final phases of the war as the U.S. prepared for an invasion of the Japanese islands.

Personalities were the early driving factor in how command was allocated in the Pacific Theater and how the war would be fought on a strategic level. After being driven from the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur was sent to Australia to organize the first American troops in theater and prepare to defend the continent. Even though naval power would be the major weapon in the drive through the central and northern Pacific to an eventual invasion of Japan, MacArthur was not about to report to Adm. Chester Nimitz, so a convoluted command structure was set up to accommodate all the big egos in the Pacific. Although this command structure worked fairly well, and the U.S. was able to provide enough manpower and material to support two simultaneous drives, the command and ego issues would remain throughout the war; coming to a head in early 1944 when the major commanders discussed whether to invade the Philippines or Formosa. [FTCD, 422-423, 427]

Each offensive had its own unique features, mainly driven by geography and available resources. The Southwest Pacific campaign led by MacArthur was primarily an army operation, since Army divisions were available in mid-1942 and airfields were always available for land-based air power to support his drive. The Central Pacific Campaign was more of a joint operation, combining naval forces led by carrier-based airpower, land-based bombers and Army infantry and Marine divisions to conduct amphibious landings on heavily defended island chains. In the initial counteroffensives through the Solomon Islands and up New Guinea to keep lines of communication open to Australia, both drives depended upon land-based air power to support what were primarily infantry battles to capture and hold airfields or areas to build airfields. Both drives also depended upon amphibious operations to bypass heavy Japanese defenses and land troops around hostile geography. Once the Navy made good on their heavy losses from the Solomons campaign, the Navy-Marine Corps teams honed this to a fine art, utilizing “island hopping” to cutoff strong Japanese positions such as Rabul and Truk and establish fleet anchorages and air bases to keep the offensive moving. After 1943 as the operations diverged and the Navy began moving more into the Central Pacific to attack the Marshalls and Marianas, the Navy was actually able to supplant the need for land-based bombers with sufficient carrier air power to both support land operations and be able to defend against the remnants of the Japanese Navy. MacArthur continued to rely almost exclusively upon his Fifth Air Force to provide air support during his drive up New Guinea, and utilized his small naval force mainly to outflank Japanese positions along the coast. [FTCD 427, 441-443, 452-454]

Although the two advances were initially motivated as much by military politics as reasoned strategy, they ended up complimenting each other by keeping the Japanese off balance and under constant offensive pressure. A single thrust may have allowed the Japanese to concentrate their more limited resources and make offensive progress more difficult. This can be seen in the Leyte landings of October 1944, the reuniting of MacArthur’s and Nimitz’s forces where Halsey’s 3rd Fleet provided naval and air support to MacArthur’s 6th Army landings. The Japanese were able to concentrate their entire remaining naval power, numerous kamikazes and their massive army in the Philippines to provide their best opportunity to stop or severely delay America’s offensive drive. Only the incredible sacrifices of the escort carrier groups and the loss of nerve by the Japanese Admiral Kurita during the Battle of Leyte Gulf saved the U.S. from an embarrassing defeat on the scale of the Battle of Savo Island and the potential loss of the beachhead at Leyte. [FTCD 460-466]

Overall the strategy pursued by the U.S. worked well, and our industrial might was able to support what seemed like redundant operations in the Pacific Theater. By advancing on two axes, the Japanese were cutoff from the resources of Indonesia and Southeast Asia by MacArthur’s drive while losing most of their naval forces fighting off Nimitz’s naval thrust across the Central Pacific. A single thrust advance would probably not have been as successful and would likely have delayed serious offensive action since the U.S. was not able to build up a sizeable fleet from the naval losses around the Solomons until mid-1943. Having a single commander in chief with the same authority Eisenhower had in Europe may have made coordination easier, but the scale of the fighting in the Pacific, combined with the competing agendas of the Army, Navy and eventually Army Air Forces when the 20th Air Force and their B-29s arrived in the Marianas made this impossible.

If the U.S. had continued with an eventual invasion of Japan, watching how the command structure unfolded would have been very interesting.

Footnotes from For the Common Defense by Allan R.Millett and Peter Maslowski.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another History Lesson

Wow, major blogosphere hubhub about Tom Hank's comments about the war in the Pacific.  Many conservative bloggers are taking humbrage at  Tom's assertions about the nature of the war against Japan.   

"He is pleased that The Pacific has fulfilled an obligation to our World War II vets. He doesn’t see the series as simply eye-opening history. He hopes it offers Americans a chance to ponder the sacrifices of our current soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. 'From the outset, we wanted to make people wonder how our troops can re-enter society in the first place,'Hanks says. 'How could they just pick up their lives and get on with the rest of us? Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow, slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different. Does that sound familiar, by any chance, to what’s going on today?'"

Here's a few reactions and some more.  They believe Mr. Hank's assertions somehow make our troops seem racist.  Well, big news story- THEY WERE.   And that's okay, because the Japanese were just as racist about our troops.  The entire Pacific War was literally a race and culture war-- Japanese imperial aggression to throw out the "white imperialist oppressors" to establish a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere".  There was none of this nonsense about "poor misunderstood peasants"  or "why do they hate us, can't we all just talk this out over a latte and scone?"  Unfortunately, our politically correct, morally bankrupt schools have not taught proper history, because it can be ugly...but that is why it needs to be taught properly.  Shown above is one of the many propaganda cartoons from the war depicting the Japanese as monkeys...a very common theme of many editorial cartoonists during the war.

Let me explain a little further.  Militarily, the war in Pacific was VERY different than the war in Europe and the Japanese were very different enemies than the Germans.  One simple example- we took over 1,000,000 Germans prisoners by the end of the war- mass surrenders in North Africa, France and the Ruhr Pocket.  By contrast we took very, very few Japanese prisoners in the war...it was quite literally a war of annihilation.  As our Marines and soldiers learned, the Japanese fought to the death and after the mass surrenders in the Philippines and Singapore in early 1942, took no surrenders of Allied troops either.  Ever hear of any Nazi kamikazes?  No, because there weren't any...that was a particular invention of the Japanese-- the first suicide bombers.  The Japanese Bushido code did not allow for surrender-it was considered shameful and hundreds of Japanese soldiers committed suicide rather than surrender.   Sheer logic dictated that as soon as the U.S. got a foothold on an island in the Pacific, the Japanese garrison should have put up a heavy defense for honor and then surrendered.  However, this NEVER happened.  Every island the U.S. invaded had to be completely and totally conquered until the last Japanese soldier was dead or incapacitated.  EVERY SINGLE ISLAND.  In fact, this became the Japanese strategy toward the end of the war--kill enough Americans and they will sue for peace....and our guys knew it.

So, if you don't believe me...here is where I actually learned most of this...John Dower's outstanding book

Dower does an outstanding job of showing, using multiple propaganda cartoons and posters from both the Allies and the Japanese, how racism dominated the Pacific War much more than the war in Europe.  Pearl Harbor played a huge part in how Americans viewed Japan, as did the brutality of the Bataan Death March.

My issue with all this is modern Americans have unfortunately been inculcated with the idea that war is some sterile undertaking where we blow up bad guys with missiles from drones.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  War is ugly, emotional and involves killing people and breaking things.  The GIs in World War II understood this and I think most GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan do today.  We try to "civilize" war to the point that Americans don't understand that war is all about hating and killing your enemies...if they look and act and think differently than you, that just makes it easier to do because they are "foreigners".

Maybe Mr. Hanks stretches the analogy a bit to compare our fight today to those bitter island fights 60+ years ago...but not by much...ask any jarhead or trooper who fought in Fallujah, Iraq and they would tell you that very few jihadists surrendered and many fought to the death.  Most Americans don't understand the concept of fighting for a cause, belief or god to the death.  However, many of our enemies are perfectly willing to do so, and we'd better understand that.  Hate is a very strong motivator...and our enemies understand that.  Should we hate our enemies?  Should we try to "understand" or "reason" with them?

Ask a World War II Marine, soldier, or sailor how well that worked with the Japanese.....

How do we teach our children history?

As both a former homeschooling parent, potential history teacher and all around connoisseur of history, I was intrigued by the title of this article on Pajama Media, one of my daily stops on the Internet:
Homeschooling vs. Howard Zinn

This in an outstanding article for many reasons, the most important is the author's point about how we teach our children American history.  What point of view will we use?  This is not a rhetorical question- the point of view of the author/teacher of history is critical.  I am taking my second Masters level course on how to write history and the good and bad points about historical bias and how a good historian is self-aware about their point of view and bias.

SO, let's move beyond arguements about biased and unbiased history, because, let's face it ALL history is written from a certain point of view (yes, great Obi-Wan, how we think about history is highly dependent on our point of view) .

Now, hacks like Howard Zinn wanted to push their socialist, hate-America-the source of all the world's evil.  But he does have a point-> history and politics go hand in hand.  The garbage taught in American high schools and universities for the last 30 years (i.e. post-Vietnam) has brought us the modern America-hating left of Barrack Obama, Bill Ayers and most of the modern Democratic Party.  Not to mention a lot of messed up kids who don't know the treasure this country is....for now.

So, I completely agree with the author that we should teach our kids REAL American history:  the good, bad and ugly.  We don't cover up our mistakes, but we don't dwell on nothing but slavery, Indians, women, and "imperialism".  I agree that Dr. Bennett's books are excellent primers to build a course around, I may post my own book list for teaching American history...hmmm, have to think about that. :)

I suppose for a real challenge you could have students contrast Bennett's and Zinn's point of view to see who gets closer to the truth.  After all, doesn't a good history teacher let their students think?

But an American History teacher has to always be aware that they are not just imparting facts, but shaping how the student will view their country and its institutions, and be mindful of this responsbility.

I, for one, look forward to it.

And I don't need no stinkin' Howard Zinn in my classroom.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wherefore art thou Nancy? Where is thy Botox?

Hey, grip on the House, grip on reality, whatever...love this article

Nancy Pelosi's grip on House slips

 Well, DUH, I mean your basic Congresscritter has one goal in life-RE-ELECTION.  And while the modern Democratic Party is filled with corrupt hog wallowers (sigh, along with far too many Republicans)..THEY ARE NOT STUPID.  They now that Nancy will safely get re-elected no matter what {unless there is an even more left-wing loon in San Francisco---hello Cindy Shehan) and they also know that the Obamassiah will throw them under the bus if needed as well.

SO, they are not going to sign up for the Health Care Cliff Diver Bill, and I think you can forget Cap and Tax for this Congress as well.

One can only hope that when Nancy becomes the Minority Leader again in November, they will fire her for her awesome inept leadership and give her the job she deserves...maybe Chairwoman of the House Mental Health and Botox Subcommittee.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gone a while

Home from long business trip to Hawaii.  Very moving Friday afternoon excursion to both the  USS Arizona and USS Missouri.

Very anxiously awaiting the start of HBO's the Pacific.

The Arizona Memorial from the boat that brings visitors from Ford Island.

This is the flag that flies over the USS Arizona Memorial.