'87 Sir

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wisdom from a big chief

I saw Act of Valor today. Loved it. Really great movie.  It will, of course never win any Hollywierd awards.  The good guys were valiant, the bad guys evil, there was NO moral ambiguity, no soul search or "gee, why do they hate us?" non-sense.... and the bad guys died horrible deaths in a hail of bullets, which was totally awesome. 

At the end, the movie character quoted this poem from the great war chief Tecumseh. Who is of course, also the most famous monument at Canoe U.

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion;respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
 Outstanding words to live by....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Anti-Intellectual? Hardly....

So there is a particular theme that seems to be circulating around the Internet that being conservative somehow equates to being ignorant, unlearned, or, dare I say "anti-intellectual."  This seems to be the PERFECT graphic that liberals want to use to pummel us poor hicks who have conservative political, economic, and social views.
Now, I had to contemplate this little quote a bit to try and understand its purpose.  And, as one of my favorite movies quotes goes-"You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means."  So what does your friendly Grouchy Historian mean by this?  Well lets start with an actual definition of who an anti-intellectual actually is-- "a person who scorns intellectuals and their views and methods."  Which, of course, leads me to wonder what an "intellect" actually is--"the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, esp. with regard to abstract or academic matters."

This of course, leads to the first piece of logical breakdown for liberals...i.e., the notion of objective truth...which by and large liberals hattttttee...how many times have I heard, "Well that may be YOUR truth, but it isn't mine."  I heard a brilliant quote from a young lady the other night, "You can chose between good and evil, but you don't get to determine good and evil." WOW, is that awesome or what?

 I find the idea that simply because someone graduated from college, or should I say the RIGHT KIND of college, i.e., Ivy League or with an approved major, i.e., women's studies, or a major in film they are worthy of being considered more "intellectual" than someone from a state college.  More educated? Maybe.  More intelligent? Possibly.  Someone with higher moral integrity?  Not necessarily.  As my daddy used to say, "There's book learning, and there's common sense, and they aren't necessarily the same."  True enough.  SO, do I consider someone who is an Ivy Leaguer my better or consider their opinions as more informed or superior to mine?  I don't think so.  I do find it amusing that the so-called "intellectuals" of the left consider it silly, at best, that Americans are studying the Constitution, Founding Fathers, American History and our Christian heritage.  OF COURSE, if everyone was reading Howard Zinn or another approved Communist historian, well, that would be just fine.

So, to continue with that notion of OBJECTIVE truth, this of course, is a major stumbling block for modern secular liberals who intensely hate organized religion, particularly their FAVORITE evil empire, the Roman Catholic Church.

SO, let's break down the crises du jour of contraception and the current poster child of the liberal left---Sandra Fluke.  I personally believe, subjectively speaking, that this deliberate deception plan by the Democratic Party is going to come back on them like the George Bush National Guard sabotage plot came back to bite Dan Rather in the behind.  The media landscape has changed dramatically and the liberal media industrial complex can longer control the story.  As more details begin to come out, I don't think this is going to reflect well on the narrative that "Republicans want to take birth control away from women", wherever the hell that story came from, since there is CLEARLY no move by an politician or even clergyman to outlaw contraception or abortion.  Does the Catholic Church believe both of these are wrong? Yes.  Do they want to provide, subsidize or be associated with them via their medical institutions or health insurance plans?  No.  Are the Bishops advocating to outlaw them?  Not that I have seen.

NOW, I am going to go out on a limb here...I think that this is just the first stage of the complete destruction of the Catholic Health Care System.  It is not too much of a stretch to see a fully implemented Obamacare MANDATING that ALL hospital systems receiving Medicare, Medicaid, or for whatever reason they can devise must offer abortions on demand.  YUP, it's a fairly linear progression to foresee the time when ALL abortions are federally funded, or part of a mandatory insurance plan, with NO religious or conscience exemption. Think I'm crazy?  We'll see.

OR, there's the other mantra of the liberal left, global warming.   Now, I personally don't believe in MAN MADE global warming, although, like most intellectuals (yup, I said it), I do know that the climate does change, mostly due to ocean currents like El Nino, sunspots and other natural phenomenon.  AND, being an intellectual, I find it difficult to accept a SCIENTIFIC explanation for man made global warming when it has come to light that some much data has been forged or intentionally misinterpreted.

To summarize, are conservatives anti-intellectual?  Some are, I suppose.  Are liberals anti-intellectual?  Some also are, I'm sure.  I have observed ONE major difference between liberals and conservatives when having an intellectual discussion or argument, as it were.  Liberals have become intellectual Pharisees, SO sure of their own righteousness and certainty of their opinion as FACT that conservatives can only be hicks, heretics, or homophobic, racist, misogynist, ignorant peasants that should clearly acknowledge their intellectual superiors and their RIGHT AND TRUE opinions.

Herein lies the rub.  Most people, of all political stripes, don't generally like being talked down to or looked down upon because they didn't go to Harvard or Yale.  So, does that create a bit of a backlash when REALLY smart people like Barack Obama and his intellectual cronies can't seem to understand basic economics like the law of supply and demand or the Laffer Curve on taxation.  Sure does.  As my daddy says, some people just have a lot of 'horse sense' (I love that term) and can figure things out by experience, i.e. the ol' school of hard knocks. 

And some people should just listen to Ronald Reagan:
"It isn't that Liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so much that isn't so."

Or there's Winston Churchill:
"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mining for Nuggets in the Federalist Papers

Here are a couple of more interesting, but still pretty pedestrian papers..Federalist and Anti-Federalist #14.  As always, the bold and italics are mine.

Federalist #14, written by James Madison continues to answer critics of the new democratic republic form of government by attempting to codify the differences between democracies and republics, and, more importantly continues to make the case of a United States to not only inhibit foreign encroachment on the new nation, but to protect the somewhat nebulous frontiers of the new nation.

WE HAVE seen the necessity of the Union, as our bulwark against foreign danger, as the conservator of peace among ourselves, as the guardian of our commerce and other common interests, as the only substitute for those military establishments which have subverted the liberties of the Old World, and as the proper antidote for the diseases of faction, which have proved fatal to other popular governments, and of which alarming symptoms have been betrayed by our own. All that remains, within this branch of our inquiries, is to take notice of an objection that may be drawn from the great extent of country which the Union embraces. A few observations on this subject will be the more proper, as it is perceived that the adversaries of the new Constitution are availing themselves of the prevailing prejudice with regard to the practicable sphere of republican administration, in order to supply, by imaginary difficulties, the want of those solid objections which they endeavor in vain to find.
Of course, the Founders intended the new government to exercise power cautiously, and only when provided for in the ACTUAL Constitution:
it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any. The subordinate governments, which can extend their care to all those other subjects which can be separately provided for, will retain their due authority and activity. Were it proposed by the plan of the convention to abolish the governments of the particular States, its adversaries would have some ground for their objection; though it would not be difficult to show that if they were abolished the general government would be compelled, by the principle of self-preservation, to reinstate them in their proper jurisdiction.
 Hmph, yea, limited government, that's the ticket....here's my favorite quote:
Is it not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example, of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness.
IN OTHER WORDS, Obama and his gang should stop trying to make us into some milquetoast,  European socialist democracy (loosely considered) where half the population supports the other 49% of OWS, welfare queens, illegal immigrants types AND the 1% of government bureaucratic elites who look down their noses at the peasants who are toiling for the bread, or arugula, for their betters.

So are are better of as one country..sure...did our Founding Fathers try to unite instead of divide us?  YUP, so what the hell our the current denizens of the White House trying to do...set up a race based PAC to try and reelect Barrack Obama.

Wonder what would happen if Rick Santorum set up a Sweater Wearing White Guy PAC?  Hmmm, think Maureen Dowd might have a little problem with that?   YA THINK???

But I digress...on to Anti-Federalist #14

Okay, to be honest this is another one of those papers only a lawyer or Constitutional scholar could love.  Oyyy, more legal jargon detailing opposition to the Federal appellate and Supreme Court plan as described.  Not that I do agree that our legislative courts are majorly hosed and need to be pretty much torn down and start over.

HOWEVER, there are always some interesting tidbits.
I believe it is a new and unusual thing to allow appeals in criminal matters. It is contrary to the sense of our laws, and dangerous to the lives and liberties of the citizen. As our law now stands, a person charged with a crime has a right to a fair and impartial trial by a jury of his country [county?], and their verdict is final. If he is acquitted no other court can call upon him to answer for the same crime. But by this system, a man may have had ever so fair a trial, have been acquitted by ever so respectable a jury of his country; and still the officer of the government who prosecutes, may appeal to the supreme court. The whole matter may have a second hearing. By this means, persons who may have disobliged those who execute the general government, may be subjected to intolerable oppression. They may be kept in long and ruinous confinement, and exposed to heavy and insupportable charges, to procure the attendence of witnesses, and provide the means of their defence, at a great distance from their places of residence.
Read this passage a couple of times and think about it...remember those LA cops in the Rodney King trial?  They were found not guilty by a jury of their peers and THEN retried in Federal court for violating poor ol' coke head King's CIVIL RIGHTS.  Now, one can debate the merits of the case, but this has been a recent tool of politically motivated FEDERAL lawyers to bring Federal suit in politically charged cases, usually involving race, gender, or sexual orientation when a state or local jury verdict did not produce the DESIRED result for some lefty interest group.  AND of course, let's not forget the absolute madness of enviro-whacko groups Federal judge shopping to stop their pet projects at the state and local level.

Hmmmm, maybe there's more to this than I thought.

Here's a particularly prophetic statement...from the 1780s no less:
The costs accruing in courts generally advance with the grade of the court; thus the charges attending a suit in our common pleas, is much less than those in the supreme court, and these are much lower than those in the court of chancery; indeed the costs in the last mentioned court, are in many cases so exorbitant and the proceedings so dilatory that the suitor had almost as well give up his demand as to prosecute his suit. We have just reason to suppose, that the costs in the supreme general court will exceed either of our courts; the officers of the general court will be more dignified than those of the states, the lawyers of the most ability will practice in them, and the trouble and expence of attending them will be greater. From all these considerations, it appears, that the expence attending suits in the supreme court will be so great, as to put it out of the power of the poor and midling class of citizens to contest a suit in it.
From these remarks it appears, that the administration of justice under the powers of the judicial will be dilatory; that it will be attended with such an heavy expence as to amount to little short of a denial of justice to the poor and middling class of people who in every government stand most in need of the protection of the law; and that the trial by jury, which has so justly been the boast of our fore fathers as well as ourselves is taken away under them.
Ain't it the truth....OJ gets away with murder cuz he can hire an army of lawyers...while some other gang banger gets a public defender...tired old TV cliche, but nonetheless true....not that I'm a fan of lawyers or anything, but you can bet a rich man has a better chance of getting "justice" than a poor man...or how about a corporation.  Again, not that I'm a fan of trial lawyer, but the Byzantine system of appeals courts seems to be to have one purpose---make judges powerful and lawyers rich.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lessons Learned in Counter-Insurgency

As the US military withdraws from Iraq and begins to wind down combat operations in Afghanistan, there will no doubt be a lengthy and painful reassessment of the doctrine, tactics and even roles and mission for the Army and Marine Corps.  Couple this with what are likely to be crippling budget cuts and the entire future of US ground forces becomes very cloudy.

Historically, the period after a major war, or when there are significant changes to warfare has caused a great deal in intellectual angst among military officers as they seek to understand the changes that are occurring and react accordingly.  These two books are excellent volumes to further that process, at least from a COIN perspective.

 Kilcullen's first volume, The Accidental Guerrilla, is part memoir, part lessons learned, and part instruction manual for conducting the sort of low-intensity conflict (LIC) and COIN operations the US military has traditionally been loath to conduct.  Kilcullen, an Australian army officer who became a major advisor to General David Petraus during his command of US forces in Iraq,  offers some historical insights to ethnic and religious guerrilla warfare, pointing out some significant differences from traditional Cold War communist insurgencies.  These differences, primarily resulting from the influence of religion, culture, and even geography, offer some fascinating insights into why US forces had such a difficult time recognizing the scale and threat of the Iraqi insurgency from mid-2003 until mid-2006.  Kilcullen's description of his service in East Timor offer additional insights on the role of military force in LIC operations such as "peacekeeping" or rather "peacemaking" where heavily armed Western armies try to keep lesser equipped foes from killing each other and everyone that gets in their way, ala Bosnia and Kosova in the late 1990s.  It concludes with some of Kilcullen's observations of the US efforts in Afghanistan in the 2006 time frame and his opinions on how to transfer the lessons from Iraq to the hills of Afghanistan.

His second volume is really more of a how-to guide for conducting COIN, or more specifically the newly minted "population-centric" COIN, where the use of light infantry units living among the population in a heavily urban setting is described in great detail, especially Kilcullen's 28 rules for successful COIN ops.  This volume also has some case study elements from Afghanistan but the basic principles could be applied by the company or field grade officer in a variety of situations.

Both of these volumes work well together and offer an excellent introduction to the changes and new face of COIN in the 21st century.  Kilcullen does an excellent job of explaining why today's guerrillas are vastly different from the Communist fighters for "national liberation" and are, in fact, even more dangerous due to the proliferation of cheap information technology to spread their propaganda and high quality weapons to increase their lethality on the battlefield.  Counterinsurgency should definitely be required reading for new company commanders as they grapple with the lessons learned from the last 10 years of warfare and help shape the future US Army and Marine Corps into the 2020s.

This begs a larger questions beyond this review essay of what the US military should be re-grouping, reequipping and retraining to do.  Hopefully, there will not be a reaction ala the post-Vietnam era where the military institutionalizes a desire to forget the last 10 years as an anomaly.  In the opinion of this Grouchy Historian, the US is much more likely in the next 10 years to be fighting narco-terrorists coming across the Mexican border rather than stopping the North Korean hordes sweeping down the 38th parallel.  As the US begins to reorient its military focus to the Pacific and begin to emphasis air and naval power, the ground forces face a tremendous need to retool and rebuild after nearly 10 years of continuous combat. 

The question will be-do we rebuild a heavily armored, mechanized force like we did in the 1980s, the one that won the First Gulf War and wiped out the Iraqi military in three weeks?  Or do we build a highly, mobile, but more lightly mechanized force ala Don Rumsfeld to react to smaller operations, like securing Pakistan's nuclear weapons and that country breaks apart into Islamic anarchy....which I think is truly the most important and dangerous mission the US military is likely to face in the next 10 years.

Whichever road is taken will have huge implications for the security of US and our allies.  Reading these two books gives a basic introduction to what the US military has learned and accomplished over the last 10 years and offers a valuable guide to being and decide where we go from here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lucky 13? Not so much

Clearly not all Federalist and Anti-Federalist arguments are created equally.  The 13th in our series of papers are, to be quite frank, boring and pedestrian with few Ahh-HA moments or zippy lines with quoting.

Not to say they don't deal with weighty matters, just not very exciting ones.

In Federalist #13, Alexander Hamilton is trying to make the round-about argument that a UNITED States will not only be better from a national security and commerce viewpoint, but better for taxation on the citizenry:

"The money saved from one object may be usefully applied to another, and there will be so much the less to be drawn from the pockets of the people. If the States are united under one government, there will be but one national civil list to support; if they are divided into several confederacies, there will be as many different national civil lists to be provided for--and each of them, as to the principal departments, coextensive with that which would be necessary for a government of the whole....Nothing can be more evident than that the thirteen States will be able to support a national government better than one half, or one third, or any number less than the whole. This reflection must have great weight in obviating that objection to the proposed plan, which is founded on the principle of expense; an objection, however, which, when we come to take a nearer view of it, will appear in every light to stand on mistaken ground.

If, in addition to the consideration of a plurality of civil lists, we take into view the number of persons who must necessarily be employed to guard the inland communication between the different confederacies against illicit trade, and who in time will infallibly spring up out of the necessities of revenue; and if we also take into view the military establishments which it has been shown would unavoidably result from the jealousies and conflicts of the several nations into which the States would be divided, we shall clearly discover that a separation would be not less injurious to the economy, than to the tranquillity, commerce, revenue, and liberty of every part."

So, if I understand this, we should not be buried under Federal, State, County, City, Property and Sales taxes, right?  I mean, it's not like there is ridiculous duplication of effort and wasted bureaucracy among varies levels of government...nahhhhh...haven't you ever heard of the Department of Redundancy Department?

Yea, right...maybe our Founding Fathers thought that a strong government would remain small and only do those things ALLOCATED to it by the Constitution,  but the Federalists clearly did not understand that bureaucracies are like an organism, they are designed to ensure their own growth and survival, and for the most part governments rarely get smaller over the long run.  Particularly when they are used as a TOOL by a certain segment of society to impose their views on the rest of us.  Can anyone say OBAMACARE?  This is clearly not something Federalists understood well.  Of course, back in their day, politicians had a life, profession and INCOME outside of politics, so they weren't so dependent on keeping their phoney baloney jobs using our money.

Anti Federalist #13 goes really, really down in the weeds to continue the arguments about the proposed Federal judiciary and its potential for abusive behavior.

"The proper province of the judicial power, in any government, is, as I conceive, to declare what is the law of the land. To explain and enforce those laws, which the supreme power or legislature may pass; but not to declare what the powers of the legislature are. I suppose the cases in equity, under the laws, must be so construed, as to give the supreme court not only a legal, but equitable jurisdiction of cases which may be brought before them, or in other words, so, as to give them, not only the powers which are now exercised by our courts of law, but those also, which are now exercised by our court of chancery."

So, your friendly Grouchy Historian had to look up what the heck a court of chancery was...thank goodness for Wikipedia:
The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of lunatics and the guardianship of infants.

So, this is why this paper is waaayyy down in the weeds.  We're talking property here, folks, the ownership and control of said property was a primary interest of our Founders.

To be honest, the rest of this paper is something only a lawyer or Constitutional scholar could really love...so I leave you with one quote that jumped out at me.

"The situation of the states will be deplorable. By this system, they will surrender to the general government, all the means of raising money, and at the same time, will subject themselves to suits at law, for the recovery of the debts they have contracted in effecting the revolution.

The debts of the individual states will amount to a sum, exceeding the domestic debt of the United States; these will be left upon them, with power in the judicial of the general government, to enforce their payment, while the general government will possess an exclusive command of the most productive funds, from which the states can derive money, and a command of every other source of revenue paramount to the authority of any state."

The question you're probably asking is huh?  Ok, here's the takeaway from this.  One of the overriding issues at the Constitutional Convention was retiring the war debt from the Revolution, both at the state and national level.  Essentially, our country was broke (sound familiar?) and needed to get a grip on paying back our international creditors (also sound familiar?).  SO, taxation was a major challenge for the Framers and the states basically agreed to give the new Congress the power of taxation in part to help pay back the COLLECTIVE debts from the Revolution. Now I normally hate that word, but it made sense at the time to get the Constitution ratified and have every new American have some skin in the game (so to speak) for the Revolution that gave everyone life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

NOW, fast forward 200+ years....once again we have the issue of state and national debt coming to the fore of political discussion...with a twist.  There are high-tax and low-tax states.  The typical high-tax states, like California and Illinois live FAR beyond their means and have seen the results of their high taxation as individuals and businesses flee.  You also see low-tax states like Texas and Oklahoma becoming paragons of economic growth, even in Obama's America.  So imagine what might happen when (NOT IF) California, Illinois, Rhode Island and other Progressive Blue states start clamoring for their own bailout overtly to the Federal government.  NAAAH, that can't happen here, right?  Well in Obama's America, do you really think he can afford to let his PROGRESSIVE, BIG GOVERNMENT buddies and their employee union cohorts go bust?  What will the rest of the states say?  All good questions.....